Cervelo P5X Review. The Ultimate Tri Bike?
The Cervelo P5X takes a radical departure from what most companies are doing with tri bikes. By eliminating the seatstays, the Cervelo P5X frame design goes back to the future; the Cervelo P5X is the first tri bike from a mainstream tri bike company that offers the significant advantages of a beam based design.
I loved the concept and the performance benefits offered by beam bike technology ever since my first ride on one in the late ’90’s. Cervelo was on to those benefits early; if you look at the first prototypes that Cervelo ever built in the mid ‘90’s (almost before they were even Cervelo…), you will see that they have come full circle. The P5X takes the concept that Vroomen-White put into that early green Cervelo and injects twenty years of technology to create what will likely be a landmark triathlon bike.
While I don’t know how the Cervelo P5X will prove mechanically (it is too new) and I don’t have all the performance data on it, I feel very comfortable saying that it should be on the very short list of superbikes anyone who it fits well (we can help with that…). In fact, I will go a step further and say that I would order a Cervelo P5X sight unseen if I knew it fit me. How can I be so confident in what the Cervelo P5X offers? The beam design does things that traditional diamond frames cannot and Cervelo knows engineering like few other companies in the bike business. Here is a short list (in no particular order) of some of the main reasons why the Cervelo P5X is so compelling:
Cervelo P5X Aerodynamics
Beam bikes have always been some of the best aerodynamically. When you get rid of the stays, there is nothing to catch the wind and when you combine that reality with Cervelo’s engineering and aerodynamic expertise, the P5X is easily one of (if not the) most aerodynamic bikes on the market.
Cervelo P5X Rolling Resistance
While I don’t have any data on this yet, beam bikes in general test exceptionally well when it comes to rolling resistance. Why? The increased vertical compliance sucks up road vibrations and helps keep the tire contact patch as even as possible. Consistent tire contact patch = low rolling resistance.
Cervelo P5X Drivetrain Stiffness
When you disconnect the rider from direct contact with the drivetrain, you can make the drivetrain incredibly stiff without punishing the rider. The ’17 Cervelo P5X will likely not only have some of the stiffest bottom bracket numbers anywhere, it will also have some of the very best compliance and comfort numbers too. That is a huge “win-win” no matter how you look at it.
Cervelo P5X Handling & Responsiveness
The design of the ’17 Cervelo P5X clearly shows a bike that will have very little lateral give. When you don’t have seatstays, you need to make sure the front is well aligned and laterally stiff and I have little doubt Cervelo has done this with the P5X. Well aligned and laterally stiff front end = responsive and stable handling.
Cervelo P5X Rider Aerodynamics
Rider Comfort = Better Aerodynamics and a Better Run. By making vibrations go all the way from the rear wheel, through the chainstays, up the downtube, through the headtube and the top tube/beam and up the seatpost, Cervelo guaranteed that vibrations on the ’17 P5X will be far more dissipated by the time they get to the rider than if they just went straight up the seat stays and seat tube. Vibration is a huge consumer of energy, not to mention a significant reason for some lower back and other comfort issues for some riders. If you are more comfortable on the bike you will be able to sustain a more aero position and you will fatigue less, leaving more fuel in the tank for the run.
Cervelo P5X Disc Brakes
While I don’t believe that disc brakes are the right choice for every road rider yet, disc brakes get rid of the compromised performance and cable routing issues that have plagued many tri bikes for years. Disc brakes, like electronic shifting, offer a true step forward compared to how most tri bikes work (and travel…) today with caliper brakes. This is why some class leading tri bikes (like the ’17 Cervelo P5X and ’17 Parlee TTiR) have made the commitment to disc brakes.
Cervelo P5X Storage & Transportation
I haven’t had a chance to fully explore the inner workings of the integrated storage systems on the ’17 Cervelo P5X, but they initially look well thought out. The aerobar should prove a huge step forward in terms of ease of adjustability and travel and Cervelo even offers a travel case for the P5X that they co-developed with Bikend. (March ’17 update – The folding aerobar and other travel based design items on the Cervelo P5X are proving to be very well thought out. Making one of the fastest bikes available also one of the easiest to pack and travel with.)
What are the inherent downsides to a beam design like the one used in the Cervelo P5X?
There aren’t many downsides when it comes to performance, but there is one place where the Cervelo P5X will not be a class leader. A design like the Cervelo P5X is going to weigh a little more as you need to use more material to create the strength needed when two sides of the rear triangle are eliminated (seat tube and stays) and you add disc brakes. This being said, bike weight is a very small performance variable in triathlon.
Also, bikes without a rear triangle are more difficult to make – maintaining precise alignment is just harder when you don’t have as many fixed points. Working in conjunction with some of the most experienced carbon companies in the business (HED and Enve Composites), the P5X was in development for at least three years and is in capable hands.
Any others? Well the Cervelo P5X won’t fit every rider, but that is true of all production bikes. If you have been fit by Fit Werx before, we can use the information to help find out how the bike fits you before you buy. If you have not been fit by Fit Werx before, what are you waiting for? Another season of compromised performance to go by?
Cervelo P5X Price
The Cervelo P5X is slated to come in two versions – a SRAM Red eTaP bike with Enve 7.8 wheels at $15,000 and a Shimano Ultegra Di2 bike with HED wheels at $11,000. The eTap version will be the first to be available with the Ultegra bike scheduled to follow in December.
Fit Werx is proud to represent some of the most progressive tri bikes companies in the industry. The Felt IA has proven over the past couple years to be a world beater. The Parlee TTiR is the world’s first production disc brake equipped tri bike. The Trek Speed Concept and Cervelo P bikes have always held their own and been benchmarks. And now the Cervelo P5X offers the future today by going back to where Cervelo started 20+ years ago. ’17 is going to be a great year for triathlon bikes and we are super excited about what the compelling designs that the companies we represent offer.
The difference in performance of any bike is in the details and that is what we at Fit Werx specialize. A Cervelo P5X set-up by Fit Werx is not the same as a Cervelo P5X set-up by most Cervelo dealers. If you don’t want to be passed by a Cervelo P5X in ’17, you should keep up the training and contact us right now as every second does matter…