2012 Cervelo P5 First Look Review

2012 Cervelo P5 First Look Review

Cervelo has just launched its new triathlon bike platform, the P5. The bike, in a word, is magnificent. Anyone who threw stones at Cervelo for trailing in recent years has been silenced. The P5 is now, in my opinion, the very best tri bike out there, bar none.

Let me back up. Cervelo has long been a brand known for engineering prowess, innovative thinking, and no-nonsense bicycle design. When they say something is aero, they have mountains of data to back it up. When they decline to follow a design trend, it's because those same mountains of data said it wasn't worth the effort. In the last five years, we've seen the company move from the P3 Carbon, the quintessential tri bike, to the P4, arguably an iterative step, and finally arrive here, at the P5. This bike is no mere iteration of its predecessors. It's a complete re-working of every idea Cervelo has ever had, combined with a whole heap of features we've never seen before from this brand.

In creating the P5 as a main bike with swappable front-end components, Cervelo is bucking two competing industry trends of either selling different types of bikes with the same name (Trek's Speed Concept lineup, Specialized's multiple Shiv models), or selling basically the same bike with different components, and calling them different models (like the Felt DA). Instead, Cervelo has created a truly modular system, where the core of each entry in the lineup is the same, but the high-end parts can be retrofitted to any bike in the series.

That means that if you buy the lowest-end P5, you later upgrade it to the highest-end version, keeping your core frame and the rest of your bike. Ultimately, what Cervelo did was to create the fastest bike they could imagine within the UCI rules, and then created a brand new front end that chucks the rulebook, transforming the UCI-legal bike into a tri-specific powerhouse.

Before we begin, the questions that are on everyone's mind: when, and how much? The bike will be available in March, with four configurations:
Frameset + UCI fork + Tektro rear brake: $4,500
Frameset + Tri-specific fork + Aduro aerobars + Magura brakes: $6,500
Complete bike (UCI fork) w/ Dura Ace mechanical and Magura brakes: $6,000
Complete bike (Tri-specific fork) w/ Di2, Aduro aerobars, and Magura brakes: $10,000

I'll start by talking about the most integrated version of the P5, and work backwards from there. Hit the jump and we'll begin with that gorgeous front end.

So let's dive right in and talk about this thing from top to bottom.