The Cervelo P5 Time Trial Bike 2019
When it comes to opportunities to be one of the first to see a new cycling product we always jump at the chance to get involved. This was the case when a text message came through on my phone as I was out, on holiday, in Portugal. “Would you like to fly out to Arizona in the US and meet up with the guys from Cervelo to ride and learn more about two new bikes?”. The answer was a definitive yes. Fast forward a week and I was on a plane heading to the states.
After 21 hours of travelling I arrived, tired, slightly confused what day it was, but excited to get going in Phoenix, Arizona. After a quick stopover, I was picked up by Jakub and Stuart, two members of Cervelo staff.
A short drive later and I arrived at what can only be described as a luxury mansion in Scottsdale, the Cervelo Media House for the week. After receiving a warm welcome from Cervelo’s triathlon marketing manager, Lesley, myself and the fellow three triathlon journalists that were joining me for the event, sat down in the expansive lounge for the first presentation of the week.
Also in attendance was Cervelo sponsored athlete, former Ironman World Champion runner-up and current pro triathlete Ben Hoffman. Ben is relatively new to the Cervelo family so would be using this time, just like us, to get familiar with the new products.
Two bikes sat covered up, ready to be revealed. Cervelo had brought half their marketing and half their design/engineering team to Arizona. Based in Ontario, Canada, the team explained how they like to choose different locations to launch their different bikes, each one designed to play into the model’s strengths. With wide, open roads here in Scottsdale a fast bike was surely on the menu and I wasn’t disappointed as the covers were pulled off to reveal the new P5.
The Pro Touch
‘Simply better’ - The tag line says it all. A brand that has one of the closest relationships with professional cycling teams and the world’s most successful triathletes, Cervelo know their athletes are always striving to perform faster and, quite simply, better. Working with the likes of the men’s, women’s and development Sunweb Professional Cycling Teams and 2013 Ironman World Champion, Frederik Van Lierde, Cervelo had a task on their hands to make the ultra-successful P5 even better.
So how do you improve on one of the fastest bikes in the world? First and foremost you bring two setups to the market. One, a triathlon specced, storage ready machine, the next an out and out time trial rig, ready to help Tom Dumoulin challenge for grand tour titles.
Although compliance with the UCI’s stringent regulations was undoubtedly a challenge for the Cervelo engineers and designers when creating the P5, it was by no means an impossible task, and the bike fully meets all required standards. Cervelo first developed the new P5 with Team Dimension Data, putting the bike through its paces in the velodrome and in the wind tunnel.
At a glance, you could be forgiven for thinking there have not been any major changes compared to its predecessor. Take a closer look though and advancements such as the longer and lower base bar, hint at Cervelo’s performance-driven mantra when it comes to the P5.
Lighter and Stiffer
Lighter than its predecessor, shaving off 18% (350 grams) on the frame alone is an impressive achievement. The impressive numbers do not end there though. With drag reduced by 17%, stiffness increased in the headset by 22% and bottom bracket stiffness also increased by 26% all these numbers result in a bike that really is leading the way when it comes to aero bike performance.
Usability should not be sacrificed in pursuit of speed and the designers have recognised this by making some key advancements in their base and aero extension system. This system allows for riser stack and extension adjustment, while the pads too can be adjusted both in width and reach. Ensuring you stay in the zone, the extensions have bosses to attach a Garmin mount and a bottle cage.
Seat Post Adjustability
The P5 is compatible with both the predecessor’s UCI legal seat post and their newly designed post, aimed more at the triathlon market, by providing the rider with a greater amount of fore/aft adjustability.
Future-proof, the P5 is designed in such a way that the front derailleur can be removed to change it into a 1x setup. Disc-equipped, the bike is compatible with both thru axle and RAT systems.
Cervelo Aero Bottle 500
It’s not just the frameset that the design team invested time in. A significant amount of effort was also put into the water bottle. No, the designers weren’t losing the plot, after spending time studying how WorldTour riders hydrated during long time trials a 500ml aero bottle was decided upon. Incorporating seamlessly into the frame, the Aero Bottle 500 is UCI legal and adds only a six-gram penalty when it comes to drag.
Cervelo SmartPak Bento Boxes
Even though the P5X is designed to be a pure triathlon bike, the team at Cervelo recognise that many triathletes enjoy racing on the P5 and as such have added storage options to satisfy the Ironman market. The seat post incorporates a rear bottle mount, while the top tube houses Cervelo’s very own SmartPak 100 and 400 devices. These two rubber bento boxes can be accessed via a slit at the top, with the 400 designed to hold your energy food and items you want close to hand while the 100 (on the stem) has been added to allow you to dispose of energy food wrappers.
Gone are the days where the majority of the peloton, or amateurs for that matter, would default to 23-millimetre tyres. With demand for wider rubber and concerns over tyre rub on the frame and fork, Cervelo has designed the new P5 to be compatible with wheel widths of up to 36 millimetres; Yes, that is wide enough to fit tyres suitable for Paris-Roubaix should you wish!
It’s safe to say the P5 stacks up well on paper but how does that translate to the road? There was only one way to find out and I was the lucky test pilot to go put it through its paces. The roads surrounding Scottsdale, Arizona are a mixture of wide flat highways, gentle climbs and twisty roads jutting out of hillsides, the perfect testing ground from a speed, weight and handling perspective.
Using the same fundamental geometry of its predecessor, the 2019 P5 comes in two guises, the Pro Tour and triathlon setup in the top spec, CeramicSpeed, ENVE equipped Dura-Ace Di2 version and the Ultegra Di2 version. There is also a frameset available, should you wish to spec your dream P5 to your exacting needs.
It’s safe to say the P5 stacks up well on paper but how does that translate to the road? There was only one way to find out and I was the lucky test pilot to put it through its paces. The routes surrounding Scottsdale, Arizona are a mixture of wide flat highways, gentle climbs and twisty roads jutting out of hillsides, providing the perfect testing ground from a speed, weight and handling perspective.
From the first push of the pedals and I knew this bike meant business. Power was direct and the bike surged forward with ease. Picking up speed I moved from the new, specially moulded rubber grips on the base bar to the extensions and settled into the aero tuck. Soon I was up to 60km/h, a speed to really test to the stability of the bike and even with trucks hurtling past I felt confident in the handling, with no scary moments.
Onto the rises and getting out of the saddle and you can be forgiven for thinking this was a top of the range road bike, with the advancements in weight saving and increase in stiffness clearly evident.
20 kilometres in and we began climbing into the hills around Scottsdale, it was here where the bike’s direct yet forgiving handling came into play, as I encountered a series of hairpin turns. Even on the rougher sections of road the bike felt comfortable and assured. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.