When Gerard Vroomen and Phil White first started working together with the goal of creating the world’s fastest bike they worked tirelessly on creating a bike frame and the associated components that would cut through the air like no other. Their work, in many ways, changed the triathlon bike industry. The P3 quickly became a sport standard, the P2 remains a go-to model for triathletes of all levels, and the P5 has, for many years, been the standard by which other bikes are measured.
But Cervelo, while it remains the regular top performer in the Kona bike count every year, is facing lots of competition in the super-bike category these days.
Which is why the P5X makes so much sense, once you learn about how it all came about.
Typically engineers and the marketing department of a bike company don’t spend a lot of time together, but Cervelo’s marketing manager for triathlon, Lesley Loughlin, has been an integral part of the development of the P5X. Not because they wanted to figure out the best way to market the bike, but rather because she kept telling the engineers at Cervelo that she was hearing and seeing lots of things from people at races and that they should listen and see all that when it came time to design a new bike.
Being smart guys, the engineering crew at Cervelo listened. For over a year they did interviews with athletes, took lots of pictures (14,500 to be exact) of people on their bikes and analysed that information. Here’s what they found out:
Of those 14,500 different bikes they looked at, athletes had 688 different ways of setting up their fuel and nutrition. Almost everyone (98%) uses round water bottles.
For a full-distance race athletes typically carry on their bikes:
1 energy bar
2 packs of chews
6 salt tablets
3 25 oz. water bottles
Those athletes aim to try and take in 290 to 340 calories per hour
They typically carry a flat kit with:
2 tire levers
2 CO2 cartridges
1 CO2 head
1 multi tool
And the biggest stressor for a typical Ironman and Ironman 70.3 athlete during race week? Traveling with their bike.
The P5X is born
From all that research the design team decided that what was really needed in the market these days was a triathlon-specific bike that made it easy to store all the nutrition an athlete would want or need. Instead of working on an aero bike, they decided to create an aero system.
The P5X is designed around being able to carry three round water bottles. It’s designed to carry a bunch of nutrition in the SpeedPak which can hold all that nutrition we talked about earlier and can even carry an iPhone 6+ with easy. It’s designed to carry a repair kit (StealthBox) or spare tubular. All within the bike. The days of strapping a tire or carrying a pouch behind your saddle? Gone. Taping a bunch of gels to your top tube? Forget about it. There’s even an option for more storage with another downtube box (SpeedCase).
Made in North America
Really. The frame is built by HED Design in Minnesota, Enve makes the bars in Utah. Cervelo, of course, is based in Canada
OK … so how does it ride?
We’ll have a chance at a longer-term review of the P5X later this year, but the two rides we were able to get on the new bike left us suitably impressed. The bike is a bit stiffer laterally than the P5, which you don’t notice at all in terms of ride smoothness, but helps with the handling and performance when you’re pushing hard or climbing. The cockpit is very comfortable and, once your fit is dialled in, you’ll have no problems staying down in the aero bars for long periods of time.
The disc brakes perform really well, too – they’re a combination of mechanical and hydraulic, providing smooth and sharp braking when you need it.
The P5X is really well designed when it comes to being able to access those three water bottles or any of the storage, too, so you won’t lose all these aero benefits struggling to access water or food.
We can’t wait to get more time on the P5X later this year. In a few days a number of Cervelo pros will be on this new bike here in Kona – a fitting tribute to just how fast and functional Cervelo’s latest super bike is.
A fast bike is nothing if you’re not comfortable on it and can’t stay in the aero position. To ensure that they dialed in the most optimal fit possibilities, Cervelo brought in Matt Steinmetz from 51Speedshop. Steinmetz works with pro (Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae are just two of his clients) and age group athletes alike, so he provided invaluable help when it came to designing the cockpit and fitting options for the new bike.
The result is nothing short of amazing. Ever wanted to be able to move your aero bars up or down during a ride, the same way you can adjust your seat post? You can do it with the P5X. Steinmetz is confident that fitters will love this bike – there’s lots of room to dial in the perfect fit for virtually any athlete.
Remember that other note the engineers kept hearing? The P5X has its own custom bike bag from Biknd. The handlebars, designed and built by Enve composites, actually split in two for easy packing.