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Cervélo P5 set for January debut

By:
James Huang
Published:
December 14, 2011, 3:16 GMT,
Updated:
December 14, 2011, 10:56 GMT
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Cervelo's P5 TT bike is set to debut in January of 2012.

Cervelo's P5 TT bike is set to debut in January of 2012.

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Exclusive details, plus what we'd like to see

This article first appeared on Bikeradar.

Talk about the P5 in the Cyclingnews forum.

Cervélo is set to debut their new - and very highly anticipated - P5 tri/TT aero flagship at this January's European Brainbike event, and while the company has released a few teaser bits of information, BikeRadar has now uncovered more unofficial details into what will likely be on tap for Cervélo’s launch.

What we know

Specialized upped the aero bike ante this year by splitting its Shiv aero bike into both UCI-legal and non-compliant versions in order to simultaneously satisfy the technical guidelines of ProTour racing and the comparatively unrestricted arms race of triathlon. Cervélo generally aren't perceived as having those kinds of resources, however, and according to BikeRadar's exclusive industry sources, the new P5 will cater more to its highly loyal multisport clientele with a shape that's speedier and easier to fit but while still keeping the needs of its road teams under consideration.

Our sources have told BikeRadar that while the P5's overall shape will be highly evolutionary and easily identified as Cervélo. The new bike will be more aerodynamic with a taller down tube, a more aggressive seat tube profile around the rear wheel cutout, and a conventional single-crown fork-however, with and additional bolt-on nosecone to increase the effective aspect ratio.

The seat stays are set further apart than on the P4 to facilitate airflow through the area, and we’re told they're more upright and attached higher up than before, too-not unlike the blurred-out profile featured in Cervélo's own teaser document, in fact, which also depicts a rather elongated 'tail'.

The new P5 is said to boast a greater level of integration, including a BBright asymmetrical bottom bracket, fully hidden internal Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS-compatible routing, and a sleek new braking system developed with a different manufacturer, when compared to the P4. Details on the new brakes are scant but our industry insiders have suggested it isn't a variant of the TT/tri-specific linear-pull system TRP developed last year but rather something unique to Cervélo and distinctly different from what's already out there.

It also sounds likely that Cervélo will not include a totally integrated front brake à la Trek and Specialized, but a profiled linear-pull setup is still a possible candidate.

Cervélo tout new Shimano Dura-Ace and Dura-Ace Di2 complete bikes, however, we don’t expect the P5 to use Shimano's new 'direct mount' brake standard or SRAM's rumored drop-in hydraulic aero setup, which we're now told is still about a year out from OEM availability.

The former design isn't particularly aero from what we've been told by inside sources, and Shimano only released details on that setup to OEM customers at this year's Interbike show, which makes it likely too late to incorporate into a frame that was presumably already months into development.

Regardless, we expect the new brake to not only be at least as aero as the one on the current P4 but also easier to set up and maintain and more compatible with today's crop of wider wheels. The existing P4's 80's-inspired, rocker-actuated cantilever setup was clever, but never worked all that well, and was widely bemoaned by owners. We’d say it's a safe bet that brake won't make a second appearance.

Our sources have suggested that the P5 will shy away from the P4's ultra-aggressive head tube in favor of a taller setup that is more conducive to triathlon. How much taller, you ask? Try 2.5cm on average, coupled with a 8mm reduction in reach.

In fact, we're told that the P5 will not only wear a similar front end height to the current P2 but it's also pegged as a sort of more evolved spirit of Cervélo's bread-and-butter multisport machine.

According to BikeRadar's exclusive sources, the P5 is a triathlon bike first, time trial bike second-and multisport athletes who found the P4 to be beyond their comfort or flexibility levels will apparently find much to like here in terms of fit and positioning.

Speaking of fit, much speculation has surrounded the hyper-integrated, submarine-like cockpit setup that Cervélo previewed on an engineering mule at the Ironman World Championship earlier this year but we've been told that it's "not real". While something like that probably tests well in the wind tunnel and looks great for marketing, the realities of trying to make something like that adjustable enough to suit Cervélo's real-world triathlete public are more conducive to a conventional setup.

As such, we're told that the P5 will forego a dramatically sleek proprietary cockpit for a standard setup that will be easier to fit and allow more choice in components, a move retailers and fitters will undoubtedly support.

Even better, retail pricing is rumored to be lower than that of the P4-we're guessing around US$4,000 for the frameset with brakes and seat post.

Finally, Cervélo's teaser document touts two P5 frameset models but contrary to common speculation at this point, BikeRadar's sources are confident that there won't be different shapes to address specific triathlon and UCI-legal time trial requirements-at least not yet. Instead, both frames will wear the same profile but will be built with different carbon fiber technology-similar to the 'good, better, best' hierarchy that Cervélo first introduced with the S5 aero road frame.

BikeRadar's sources tell us that Cervélo's Asian manufacturing partner previously only worked with 24- and 30-ton carbon fiber at the high end, but the lessons learned from the R5ca project have borne fruit in the form of more advanced composite technology for the company's mass-produced frames so expect a top-end P5 VWD ("Vroomen White Design") and likely a second-tier P5 Team.

What we don't know

Cervélo broke new ground on the P4 with its clever water bottle, which integrated seamlessly into the frame shape and supposedly actually improved aerodynamic performance. That fell afoul with UCI commissaires, however, but since the P5 apparently brazenly shirks UCI guidelines, it's possible we might see something similar here. We don't have specific details aside from an "evolved" version for the P5 but regardless, some sort of integrated hydration is a safe bet – maybe even one involving that bolt-on nosecone.

Nor do we have precise information on aero claims or frameset weights, though Cervélo's teaser documentation makes it plainly clear that the P5 is faster in the wind tunnel than anything else the company has made to date. As for the weight, the recent S5 intro suggests to us that the P5 may be slightly lighter than the P4, but probably not by much. Cervélo has made it plainly clear that the flagship aero models are aero above all else and weight and stiffness are secondary metrics.

One especially interesting question that remains is how Cervélo will deal with its Garmin-Cervélo team requirements. Assuming our information is correct, the industry seems to be moving toward a model whereby the multisport market is satisfied first and those designs are then later adapted or modified to satisfy UCI technical guidelines. After all, the bulk of consumer sales lean heavily towards the multisport crowd, but bicycle manufacturers pour far more marketing effort and money into how their time trial athletes and teams perform at the Tour de France.

If the new P5's native shape isn't UCI-legal as has been suggested, what will Cervélo do come July?

It's worth noting that Cervélo is being intentionally vague in its "two available frameset models" description so things could still go either way. We've heard the term, "bolt-on", from a few different sources now so one possibility is something similar to what Trek has done with its Speed Concept: the same basic frame shape but with different add-on bits in order to tune the end product towards triathlon or time trials.

In addition to that bolt-on nosecone lending better aerodynamics, it's possible that Cervélo has figured out a way to incorporate that into the previously mentioned 2.5cm increase in stack – sort of like Argon 18's modular head tube system but one that's more aerodynamic and built into the top of the steerer.

That modular test mule previewed in October may also suggest that Cervélo will actually present two distinct frames but that seems unlikely for a variety of reasons. If Garmin-Cervélo ends up sticking to the P4, though, we're not sure how much of an objection there would be. Even competing manufacturers agree that that frame is still impressively fast and the fit already suits team riders pretty well so if Garmin-Cervélo has to make do for another season, we don't expect anyone will be too upset.

Time will tell and at least for now, Cervélo isn't talking. We’ll simply have to wait till January to know for sure."The information that's out there is the only information that Cervélo will be putting out there prior to the launch," said Mark Riedy, Cervélo's US PR agent.

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