Cervelo P2 Di2 – The Benefits of Electronic Shifting on the Most Popular Tri Bike Ever


Cervelo P2 Di2There have been no structural changes to the Cervelo P2 frameset since my review last year.  The P2 remains a triathlete and TT favorite and the mechanical shifting version of the P2 is equipped the same as 2016. So why a new post?  Well, for 2017, the Cervelo P2 is now available from the factory with Shimano’s excellent Di2 electronic shifting. A Cervelo P2 Di2 shift version well under $4000 is worthy of note.

This post won’t rehash the blend of well sorted frame geometry, comfort, aerodynamics, mechanical simplicity and price that has made the Cervelo P2 the best selling triathlon bike of all time. You can check out our review from last year for that information. Today, I want to highlight the addition of a Cervelo P2 model that includes Shimano’s 6870 Di2 drivetrain and why it is worth considering.

Cervelo P2Cervelo P2 Di2 Front Derailleur Shimano 6870 Di2 Drivetrain

I have always thought that one of the best applications of Di2 technology is for tri bikes.  Properly fit and set-up, Shimano’s Di2 shifting system wastes no energy to shift – basically all you are doing is pressing a button.  Shifting is quick and precise and all but effortless. Riders tend to shift more frequently with electronic shifting and maintain their cadence better for these reasons. A higher and more consistent cadence usually means fresher legs for the run.

Electronic shifting also shifts more accurately and consistently than mechanical shifting. This is especially true on a triathlon frame where challenging twisted runs of cable and housing within a frame can create friction. By turning the shift command into an electronic transmission, there is no longer any cable friction to create sluggish or finicky shifting. There is also no longer a cable to break or fray at an inopportune time.

When it comes to shift performance, Di2’s front shifting offers notable benefits on a TT bike. The last thing you need is a dropped chain, particularly on the inside of the chainrings, during a race. Of course this always happens on a climb, trying to shift to the small chainring under high torque and low cadence. If the chain drops on the inside you have no choice but to stop, get off, put the chain back on, remount and get going again, uphill.  This is pretty good recipe to ruin an otherwise great bike split.  Such problems, while not impossible, are a rare occurrence with a properly set up Di2 system.

The Rest of the Cervelo P2 Di2 Component Specifications

The rest of the Cervelo P2 Di2 component spec is pretty much unchanged from the mechanical shifting version.  These include Shimano 105 brakes, which worProfile T4 Aerobark very well, almost on a par with 6800 Ultegra brakes.  The major differences are that the 105 calipers weigh a bit more, and they lack the spring tension adjustment of the Ultegra calipers.  The feel is great, as is the stopping power.  What a concept – a tri bike with good brakes!  The crank is a FSA unit specifically designed for Cervelo’s BBRight bottom bracket design.  The saddle is an ISM Prologue while the aerobars are a pedestrian, but very functional and adjustable, alloy Profile T4+. The wheels are Shimano’s R500, which are no race wheel, but are solid training wheels for most riders.

What is the Cervelo P2 Di2 Missing?

Outside of the aforementioned wheels not being race capable, the Cervelo P2 Di2 does not come with Shimano’s brake/shift lever combination that allows the rider to shift from the basebar.  Putting Shimano’s 6871 TT levers on this bike initially would have driven up the price a few hundred dollars, so they became a “future upgrade option”.  Thankfully, Cervelo included Shimano’s 5 port cockpit junction box, so upgrading to Shimano’s 6871 brake/shift levers is a simple matter that doesn’t require replacing the junction box.  Having the ability to shift when your hands are on the brake levers is a real advantage and this is very worth adding to a P2 Di2.

Cervelo P2 Di2 – A Lot of Performance and High-end Features for Under $4,000

I have said it many times, but will say it again.  The Cervelo P2 has always been a great tri bike for the money.  While not competition for the top of the line superbikes in terms of aerodynamics, few tri bikes offer as proven a frame as the P2, regardless of price. In terms of mechanical simplicity and braking, the P2 gives just about every tri bike on the market a run for its money. For ’17, the mechanical shifting Cervelo P2 is $2,800, the same as last year.  That is a lot of bike for under $3K.

The 2017 P2 with Di2 comes in at $3,700 – just $900 more than the 105-equipped mechanical bike. You would normally expect that kind of price difference over a mechanical Ultegra-equipped bike, not 105. If it is time to upgrade your old tri bike, or if you are getting into triathlon, a Cervelo P2 equipped with Shimano Di2 is a great value that provides the great benefits of electronic shifting at a wallet friendly price. Just make sure that you take a “fit first” approach to your bike selection – make sure the Cervelo P2 can be set-up to safely work with your riding position – before laying down your hard earned money.

Fit Werx was a pioneer in providing professional fittings based in biomechanics and taking a Rider First Approach to bike fit and bike selection. Contact us to talk more about whether a Cervelo P2 Di2 makes sense for you.





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