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Cervélo dives deeper into XC with ZFS-5 full suspension bike

Cervélo dives deeper into XC with ZFS-5 full suspension bike

Less than a year after tentatively launching its first mountain bike, Cervélo is jumping into mountain biking with both feet. With the launch of the Cervélo ZFS-5, a full suspension cross country race bike, the Canadian-founded brand looks to take on a full season of World Cup mountain biking.

Like its predecessor, the hardtail ZHT-5, the new ZFS-5 is a very race-focused bike. The story is that this bike is being created specifically so that two of the Cervélo-sponsored Team Jumbo-Visma athletes, Milan Vader and Fem van Empel, have a bike suitable to be seriously capable of contesting modern World Cup XCO courses. With the Paris Games Games just over one year away, Cervélo also clearly has its sights set on helping one or both of those athletes qualify to compete in the Olympic mountain bike event.

2023 Cervélo ZFS-5

If you set your expectations for Cervélo’s first full suspension bike based on its first mountain bike, the hardtail ZHT-5, you would likely not expect the ZFS-5. Where the hardtail was reasonably conservative, Cervélo goes all-in on its full suspension bike. Its geometry is by no means extreme, but it is more progressive than some other brands are offering. It also comes in both 100mm and 120mm travel options.

At the core of Cervélo’s first full suspension bike is a carbon fibre flex stay suspension design. That design comes with several advantages. It is light. It is well established, though Cervélo of course adds that it has tuned the suspension to its preferences. That design lends 100mm of rear wheel travel to the ZFS-5. The ZHT-5 uses size-specific rear centers, which should keep riders balanced in the same position on the bike, regardless of size. Chain stays run from 432mm on the size small to 440mm on the XL.

Geometry on the ZFS-5 is best described as balanced. A 67.8-degree head angle (66.6 degrees on the 120mm version) is aggressive enough to feel comfortable on the jumps and drops that litter a modern World Cup course while still steep enough to feel comfortable riding in a group. A seat tube angle that ranges from 75.3 degrees (small) to 74.9 degrees isn’t so steep that it will put a rider’s weight too far forward on the bike.

A floating brake

Cervélo does also take the step of adding a floating rear brake mount. It says this makes it possible to “equalized the flex of the stays on each side of the swing arm.” One bolt of the rear brake caliper attaches to the…

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