First Ride: The Cervélo Áspero gives gravel a fast new look

Images: Ashley and Jered Gruber


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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.

Then there is Scotland. On the flight over we were curious why a brand based in Canada would choose Scotland for its latest launch. It turns out, the company couldn’t have chosen a more perfect location. Gravel riding is exploding in Scotland and, with the Dukes Weekender, Grinduro Scotland and The Racing Collective, there is a group of young, creative cyclists putting Scotland on the must-visit gravel map. The riding is sublime and endless. The people are full of life and seek adventure. The “right to roam” laws open up miles upon miles of perfect gravel trails that link you to towns and inns. Put it on your list to visit immediately.

Four Reasons to Love the Cervélo Áspero

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. The pricing is another inspiring aspect: We rode the Áspero Force eTap AXS ($6,000), but it’s also available in Apex 1 for $2,800, with Ultegra RX for $4,000 or as frame only for $2,500.

We will dive deeper into the Áspero and provide a full review in our October/November Gear Guide issue but it’s safe to say this bike is on our must-have list and will remain there permanently.

More build and tech info:

More on Scotland: (ask for Andy or Aneela McKenna)

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