WELCOME TO THE ERA OF SPEED IN GRAVEL.
Coming from a world of high performance road racing machines, it should come as no surprise that Cervélo have entered the gravel market with a bike built for speed. After much anticipation and speculation, Cervélo Launched their first true gravel bike last week. The all-new Áspero, meaning ‘Rough Roads’, is aimed squarely at riders who are serious about gravel racing and covering distance over mixed terrain at speed.
A new breed of rider is emerging—one who loves the freedom and exploration that gravel culture was founded upon but who has a hunger to ride wild, to go full bore, and to explore not just geography but personal limits. This frontier requires a new kind of gravel machine, one engineered not to roam the trails, but to slay them.
For these athletes, we created a machine engineered for pure, unapologetic speed, ready to take down finish lines, KOM leaderboards, PR’s, and FKT’s. A single bike that first generates maximum speed and then second, controls that speed across the variable conditions gravel athletes must conquer. A machine built without limits, for the riders willing to test them.
Leveraging vast knowledge from road racing, the Áspero frame is designed with world tour stiffness for greater pedal power transfer, using less and lighter material to aid climbing and accelerating, while maximizing speeds with aerodynamic shapes critical to efficiency at speed.
“Gravel bikes these days fall somewhere on a spectrum that ranges from ultra-capable and adventure-ready, to pared-down and race-ready, and Cervelo is being very clear where its new Aspero gravel machine falls on that spectrum. The generous tire clearance and multi-diameter wheel compatibility are obvious nods to versatility, but whichever wheel and tire setup you decide on, the Aspero is meant for one thing: going fast.”
“For riders coming off of more traditional road bikes, the quicker handling should feel quite natural. In fact, overall, the Aspero’s handling reminds me of the Allied Alfa All-Road, a bike that I specifically noted for its road bike-like handling when I reviewed it last year. Looking at the dimensions, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Although that bike has a one-degree steeper head tube angle, the 48mm fork rake (and typical 35mm tire width) yields a trail dimension that differs by just a single millimeter.
You might have noticed that I haven’t said anything at all regarding ride quality on the Aspero, and to be perfectly frank, Cervelo doesn’t talk much about it either. Clearly, boosting rider comfort wasn’t as important during the bike’s development as nailing the desired fit, handling, and efficiency goals…
…Nevertheless, I didn’t find the Aspero to be unusually harsh or jarring over the highly varied mix of terrain I encountered in Scotland.”
“Generally speaking, I expect the Aspero to be one of the more polarizing gravel bikes on the market, and again, Cervelo makes no apologies for what it intends this bike to be. Clearly, the safe middle ground wasn’t the goal here.
That’s just fine, though. No bike is going to satisfy everyone, and if anything, I applaud Cervelo for not only taking a different approach, but totally owning it, too.”
“The Áspero does exactly what Cervélo set out to do. This is a race bike first and foremost, but one that’s aimed at gravel.
The chassis is smart and feels firm, stiff and efficient, yet doesn’t feel unmoving or neutral (even a little dead), like some of the pricier lightweight-carbon gravel rigs I’ve tried.”
“The Áspero’s handling inspires plenty of confidence and I ramped up the speeds on the rolling dirt-road terrain with ruts and bumps providing plenty of opportunity to get airborne, and that’s not something I can honestly say I’ve thought of doing on any previous Cervélo bike launch I’ve been on.
The ride position is race-bike aggressive with a low 580mm stack on the 56cm, but with my weight shifted slightly backwards this meant seated climbing was an option. When I got out of the saddle, the long reach (397mm on a 56cm) and short stem meant I could stand more centrally, putting more weight on the rear tyre, and I found the A Series much less prone to rear-tyre slip when really grinding up the steep slopes on a loose surface.
On the first section of singletrack, which included a killer steep climb that was made even trickier by the heavens opening, making the surface slick and traction limited, the Áspero’s smart geometry came to the fore.
I need to get the A Series back on home soil to get a better feel for it on more familiar terrain – but so far, so very impressed.”
“Every photo of a Cervélo bike we post or mention gets a dizzying amount of attention. Cervélo is a name synonymous with speed and engineering, and the brand enjoys a worldwide following of cycling aficionados and enthusiasts that want the best and want something different and more progressive. Knowing this, we were curious and thrilled simultaneously to travel to Scotland for the launch of the Áspero. After three days on the bike, and learning about its origins and engineering, we were blown away by how far Cervélo ventured away from its traditional offerings and, at the same time, stayed true to the core of its brand: The Áspero is a super-refined, high-end bike for the gravel and adventure set.”
“Let’s get straight to the bike. Hands down, it’s the best gravel bike we have ever ridden. Riding the Áspero on the ancient roads of Scotland reminded us why gravel riding is re-awakening adventure, fun and exploration in all of us.
- Design: You can assume any bike that Cervélo designs is going to be engineered with genius and care; and the Áspero is completely different from any other Cervélo model, but in keeping with the brand’s ethos. From the new colorways, to the name, to the impetus and execution, the Áspero is a departure.
- Speed: It’s a racing frame. It’s really fast and a stripped-down, deconstructed gravel race bike with minimalism and speed at its core. Its goal is to outperform overbuilt gravel-frame designs and it does this with determination and confidence.
- Handling: This bike changed the way we ride gravel and had the most versatile bike-handling characteristics we’ve ever experienced. You will notice this tenfold on steep and technical descents with slippery sections. The frame features a two-position, adjustable dropout called the TrailMixer created so that various wheels and tires work “in harmony” with the design geometry for optimum handling. This entire subject of fit and handling with Cervélo is a story in itself. Stay tuned for that. Suffice it to say that it has figured it out in spades. Also, a static seat-tube angle in all sizes has been a mantra at Cervélo
- The Package: We were inspired not only by the attention to core principles from a company dedicated to speed and winning bike races but also by how far this brand has come with the Áspero. The name in Latin means “rough roads” and from the new color schemes, the versatility and adjustability, the desire for riders to not only appreciate the brilliance of this bike but to also experience an emerging Scottish gravel scene, we have become even more interested in this company, this bike and where it will take all of us in the future.”
Canadian Cycling Magazine:
“I’ve ridden a few gravel bikes lately, from various brands at various price points. But what they had in common were plenty of tire clearance, decidedly slack angles, with tallish headtubes and stack. Which made for very comfortable straightline cruising, perfect for long days in the saddle, but I didn’t love them. I found the slack angles combine with tall stack, made the front end feel vague when cornering. I could never be quite sure exactly what the front tire is doing, am I about to wash out?
I am happy to report that the Aspero did not give me this feeling in my first few outings on it. The quicker steering, combined with a short headtube made this roadie feel right at home. The short chainstays and stiff carbon frame also feels a lot like Cervelo’s road offerings, despite the big tires. It’s a lot of fun to launch up a sharp, steep climb, with the big tires taking care of most of the traction duties. When it came time to point it back down, I appreciate the shorter stem letting me tuck low and back on the bike, and let the tires ride out the ruts.”
“It’s also one of the better looking bikes, gravel or not, I’ve come across lately. An informal poll around the Canadian Cycling Magazine office showed I am not alone, the Aspero looks like a proper race bike, and the Dune colourway on test catches attention without being overly loud.”