It’s really hard to define the best features of Cervélo’s P5. An incredibly aerodynamic frame is combined with a handlebar designed specifically by Cervélo’s engineers to create a completely customizable position. Cervélo worked with Magura to come up with hydraulic brakes that are simply second to none in terms of aerodynamics and performance. For the most part the bike uses standard parts, which allows you to throw on your own bars, stem, handlebars … well, pretty much anything you’d like to customize on the bike. Bike fitters love this frame because they can set people up to be in the super-aerodynamic position Cervélo’s P4 allowed, or as high as a newby or less flexible athlete might have gone with Cervélo’s P2 frame to get.
So we won’t even try to come up with the best feature on this aero super bike. We’ll just be happy to acknowledge that the sum of all the engineering parts is what makes the P5 one of the sleekest tri or TT bikes on the market right now.
Gerard Vroomen and Phil White started Cervélo more than 20 years ago as part of a master’s thesis. The goal was to create an incredibly aerodynamic bike. The P5 Six that arrived at the Triathlon Magazine Canada office is the result of years and years of innovation, aerodynamic testing, engineering design and, well, plain hard work from what is now a group of engineers who are determined to create the world’s fastest bikes. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details on whether or not this is the fastest out there, but I have no qualms saying it’s amongst the fastest, without a doubt.
It all starts, of course, with the aerodynamic carbon fibre frame that features the extended seat tube cut out we’re used to seeing on Cervélo frames (well, ever since the P3, anyway) and completely hidden cables to ensure that aerodynamic drag is minimalized. The beefy down tube ensures that the any energy that’s put into the bottom bracket will move the rider ahead. When you’re riding this frame you really feel like all your energy goes into moving you forward. The “Six” designation for the P5 we reviewed indicates that it’s a triathlon specific bike, which means it can utilize a thicker, more aerodynamic fork than can be used for road cycling – twice as thick, actually, than the 3:1 length to width ratio roadies have to adhere to.
Everything that’s attached to the frame is designed to cheat the wind on this bike. The 3T Arduro handlebars offer lots of adjustment options so you can dial in the optimal fit to ensure you’ll be both aero and comfortable. This is a huge boon for triathletes in general, but even more so for Ironman athletes who will be trying to stay in the aero position for five to eight hours. The hidden Magura brakes are simply amazing. Typically rear brakes tucked in behind the bottom bracket don’t provide much stopping power. That’s hardly the case here – the hydraulic brakes do an amazing job.
The P5 Six we reviewed came with Dura Ace Di2, which provides excellent shifting and performance. One drawback, though, was that there are no shifters on the brakes – shifting can only be done at the bar ends. My guess is that the shifters aren’t compatible with the Magura brake levers and, if I had to choose between those incredible brakes and being able to shift while my hands were near the levers, I would take the brakes every time. Besides, this bike is really designed for you to be able to get into the aero position and stay there.
Cervélo rounds out the package with Hed Jet 6 Plus SCT wheels and Rotor aero cranks which certainly continue the aerodynamic and high-performance feel of the bike.
Cervélo’s engineers spent a ton of time making sure that the P5 Six allows for the “integration of the rider to the frame.” I think they’ve done a good job of that. The bike handles really well for climbs, descents and corners.