Cervelo's New P5

Here’s Cervelo’s New P5. It’s not just a warming over of the old P5, and if you look at the images below, you'll see the profile of the old silhouette versus the new. The New P5 is an entirely new mold.

This is not the fastest bike Cervelo makes, if you’re an Ironman athlete. Or, it is. It depends on your habits as a rider, that is, what your hydration, storage, fueling plan is. Remember, Cervelo has two frame platforms at the upper end: this one, and it’s beam bike, the PX series. When is the New P5 the fastest of the two platforms? When its built-in storage is enough for you (or when you run it sans storage).

This new bike has disc brakes, and it is UCI legal. It is the lightest, stiffest, slipperiest, fastest timed race bike Cervelo makes. This frame has been reworked, and a factory change, to the proprietary Asian factory controlled by sister company Santa Cruz (PON Holdings owns both Cervelo and Santa Cruz), has made this possible. Cervelo claims the New P5’s head tube is 22 percent stiffer, the bottom bracket is 26 percent stiffer. The entire frameset is 18 percent lighter than the old P5; the frame only is 1100 grams out of the mold.

Beside the weight and performance upgrades, the New P5 has two things going for it. First, clearance. You can put a 28mm tire in this bike, front and rear, and the old P5, in particular if you rode it with the Magura brakes, was exceedingly tight, and tire and wheel restrictive. This New P5 manages tire clearance much more easily, in part because, well, of disc brakes!

The second big value to the New P5 over the old is the incorporation of the Speedriser, debuted by Cervelo in the P5X. If you had an old P5-6, with the Aduro aerobar, you had aero headset spacers – basically – that controlled the height of the armrest. Cables, wires, passed through those headset spacers. If you wanted to change the height of your armrests, you had to decable the whole thing. What a pain! The Speedriser is like an aero seat post, adjustable with a 4mm Allen key, easily accessible, you can stop in the middle of a ride and within a minute you’re back on your bike with the pads higher or lower.

The aerobar has a monoextension, much like the (2014 and later) Trek Speed Concept. The monoextension has a set of water bottle bossed built in, for those who want a front bottle cage.

The pursuit bar position is relatively low – in line with the top tube – and that’s a feature that the TT riders will want. This base bar position is for TT, and bear in mind what that position is used for. In triathlon, it’s the JRA (just riding along) position, especially for those who’re fit poorly to their bikes and who consequently spend little time in the aero position. It’s the everything-but-aero position (climbing, descending, turning, tooling along). In triathlon, that position is mostly accessed when you’re seated.

Not so in TT. That pursuit bar position is for when you’re out of the saddle. That’s why it’s lower.

In tri, that position more closely mimics the hoods, at least in how it’s used. In TT, it mimics the (road bar) drops position. I prefer the pursuit position lower. If I ever do come out of the aero position, I don’t want to sit up, because if I sit up then my pedaling mechanics are jacked up if my back angle changes.

The pursuits are straight, not upturned at the end, and you can cut down the pursuit bar if you want, that is, you can cut off some of the forward protrusion. But I don’t find that necessary. The spatial relationship between the pads and the pursuits is just about perfect for me. the pursuits have a molded grip that provides enough molded relief features so that you don’t feel that you’re sliding forward when you brake.

Cervelo made its own front end, just as Trek did for its Speed Concept. Trek did a great job, and so did Cervelo here with this bike. The pads are comfortable, the bar is plenty adjustable. As you all know by now, I don’t think many bike companies do this right. Most would be much better off if they just spec’d Profile Design’s hardware. Cervelo is one of the few who did it right. My one criticism of this front end is that the pads won’t adjust wide enough for a lot of riders. I didn’t think to measure this, but, were I to take a rough guess, I’d say that the pads might measure, center to center, 21cm at their widest? (I may be way off!)

If you love this bike but you find those aerobars aren’t wide enough in the pads, there are two workarounds for you: First, it would not surprise me if an aftermarket pad extender arrived in the future; second, there’s an option for you. But I can’t yet tell you what it is! You’re going to have to wait until a little later this month.

The aerobars also do not tilt. If you’re one of those who like to have your hands higher, option-2 just mentioned that I’ll tell you about in just over a week from now will solve this for you.

There are two builds for this bike: Dura Ace Di2, CeramicSpeed chain and derailleur pulleys, an ENVE 40/60 wheelset: $12,500. The build most of you will find interesting is Ultegra Di2 with a set of DT Swiss wheels – you’ll then be able to put whatever your wheel choice is on your bike – for $7,500. Both these bikes come with all the hydration and storage boxes. The frameset is also available standalone, for $5,000 again with all hydration and storage boxes, seat post, aerobars. All of these bikes should be available starting late March.

The two images highest above are of the Di2/ENVE build. Just below that, with the shallower wheels, is the Ultegra Di2 build.

Let’s talk a little about the bolt-on accessories. There’s an aero bottle, sort of a throwback to the P4, and adding this bottle adds 6 grams of drag @ 30mph. To be clear, 6g is nothing. It’s within the margin of error you get in the wind the tunnel. It’s basically a neutral add.

Me? I would not use this bottle for hydration. I rode this New P5 on a tricky 40 kilometer circuit last week, lots of ups, down, turns, and I found this bottle a little hard to get back into its custom cage. Maybe I’d get used to it. Just, heck, I’m much more likely to take advantage of the bottle between my arms, and the New P5’s seat post is built for a cage behind the saddle. So, I’ll use that frame bottle for my tools and flat repair storage.

The top tube allows for a pair of Bento-style boxes, and the front box holds 100 cubic centimeters of whatever you want to put in there; the rearward holds 400cc. The bike is slightly more aero without the storage boxes, but your bike is a lot more aero with those boxes than the hinky ways you typically put your storage on your bikes.

The bike is more aero on the disc brake side, in a yaw, than on the other side. Nobody expected this back when disc brakes were first debated on tri bikes. Why does the drive side test slightly slower than rim brake bikes? Because the air passes through the wheel and hits that disc brake caliper. The New P5 is faster when a crosswind is coming from the disc brake side, slightly slower when from the drive side, but nets out faster overall. You'll see this in the chart above: Grey is the old P5, green is the new. Cervelo's engineers number every project they work on. The numbers are sequential, but not all projects make it to market. FM78 is the designation assigned to the current (old) P5 launched in 2012. FM131 is the New P5.

This bike comes in 5 sizes, and has a conventional geometry. There are two fit tools: One is just a Cartesian graph, with parallelograms, that tell the fit story through the prism of Pad Stack and Reach (above, and note that with this bike Cervelo's Pad Reach is to the rear of the pad). The other is an online tool that I saw – can’t show it to you yet, it's in beta – but it works great. You’re going to find it very handy.

The fit range is not as great as with the P5X, as you can see from the graph above. But it doesn’t need to be. The fit range is appropriate (each size, as you see, allows about 50mm of fore/aft pad adjustment and about 85mm of pad rise adjustment). At a certain point, the fit range is so great on some of these bikes that it’s just a license to accommodate a poor position. Would you put a 90mm, +25° stem atop 40mm of headset spacers on a P2? Some superbikes today allow that position, just, you can’t tell how jacked that position is because it's hidden inside all the swoopiness of carbon molded stems.

This is a great bike. If it wasn’t, I’d tell you. Cervelo did a very nice job. (Above I'm checking the bike out pre-ride.) Almost half of you intend to buy a new tri bike this year, according to a poll we’re taking right now on Slowtwitch. I’ve polled this a couple of ways, to make sure I’m getting good numbers, and it’s about 44 percent of you. This is a higher number than typical. You guys have the itch to buy – more so than in recent years. Almost 1 in 3 of you expect to spend more than $6,500. The New P5, especially the $7,500 build, makes a compelling case for your money. I’ve been riding a number of superbikes over the Winter and this one stands out as first-tier.

That established, slightly more of you will spend under $3,500 than will spend more than $6,500. I think you’ll find that this company has plans for you all. Certainly the elitist outrage comments will follow the launch of the New P5, but I would simply say that these new bike projects are done when they’re done, and this one just happened to get done quicker than some others. I predict this will be a newsy year for Cervelo.

Here's more from Cervelo about its New P5.