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Tour Tech: Mark Cavendish's Cervelo S5 with an F1 paint finish

Sneak peak at Mark Cavendish's custom painted Cervelo S5 race bike

So we're in Düsseldorf for the build-up to the Tour de France Grand Depart on Saturday, roaming around the team hotels trying to shoot as many of the race bikes as we can, and as luck would have it the first team we bumped into was Dimension-Data. And here's Mark Cavendish. 

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Mark Cavendish is once again riding the Cervelo S5, the Canadian company's most aerodynamic race bike, and it looks pretty much the same as last year's bike, so far as we can tell. We didn't get a chance to have a real close look because the team were departing for a training ride as we arrived, but we rattled off a few shots - we're going to get a closer look later today so we'll update this piece with more detail.

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He's riding the brand new Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and there are the same Enve wheels he raced last season - come race day he'll have a new set of Enve wheels with matching green logos. The rims are laced to green Chris King R45 hubs, a nice touch.

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The Dimension-Data team is actually sponsored by Rotor but Mark Cavendish has shunned sponsorship duties preferring to use an SRM power meter, even if it means the logo has to be concealed. There's also an Enve aero carbon handlebar and stem. The garish bar tape of last year has been replaced by a standard black bar tape, which is no bad thing... There are Shimano Dura-Ace pedals and an Enve aero carbon handlebar and stem, and Ceramic Speed bearings in the head tube.

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What is new is the paint job, well it's not exactly painted as such...The finish on Mark Cavendish’s bike owes a lot to Formula One. Cervelo started working with a paint specialist company in Silverstone to produce a super light paint finish for the T5GB track bikes used by Team GB in the Rio Olympics last year, and this partnership led to Fav’s custom S5. 

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The company - Silverstone Paint Technology- has developed a heat-shielding material used for Formula One brakes and engines that is just 10 microns thick and weighs just 1g when used on the S5 frame. And when it's applied to bare carbon fibre it produces the stunning chrome finish. The Cervelo lead designer has then added a green dye to the material to produce a fade finish across the frame. You can see how thin the finish is, the carbon weave shows through in several places.  Because so little paint has been used, the frameset weight has been reduced by 75g. 

Update: So since photographing the bike, we've learned that the finish costs a staggering €4,000, so don't expect to see this option in your local Cervelo dealer anytime soon. We've also learned that the S5 differs slightly from the standard frame with extra carbon fibre added to key targeted places to increase the stiffness of the frame, intended to prevent it twisting and flexing during a sprint finish. 

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“It needed to be Mark Cavendish’s bike at its core, and this was achieved both technically and visually,” said Tom Briggs, Cervélo’s lead graphic designer. “To highlight his team pride we used DiData green and maintained the same mask lines as the Team Edition S5. We also included the Qhubeka charity logo on the inside of the chainstay because of Mark’s commitment to Qhubeka and what they are trying to achieve. 

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Mark Turner, Silverstone Paint Technology’s director, is similarly excited: “Watching Britain’s Olympians reach the podium in Rio on the T5GB represented the proudest moment in our company’s history. Now, with Cav’s S5, we’re pushing the incremental performance benefits of our paint technology even further. We’ve learned that every bit of weight savings can make a difference, and Cervélo’s willingness to explore technology outside of their industry has really pushed and challenged us.”

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So what do you think of his Tour race bike? Thumbs up or down? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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