Cervelo's P5X explores a life without UCI limitations

Disc brakes and a radical frame design

This article first appeared on BikeRadar

Ahead of this weekend’s Kona Ironman event, Cervélo has teased its latest P5X triathlon bike. Along with a radical frame design, the new P5X debuts disc braking, and in general represents what a manufacturer can do when it chooses to no longer conform to the restrictive regulations that the UCI imposes on the world of time trialling.

Following a full year of data acquisition from athletes, bike fitters, coaches and Cervélo dealers, the company set out to design “the ultimate triathlon bike”. It didn’t rush, either; work on the P5X began back in 2013.

Unsurprisingly, an enormous amount of effort went into getting the aerodynamics correct for the P5X, with Cervélo developing and testing more than 150 iterations and burning through 180 hours of wind tunnel time before it went to production with the final beam frame design.

The P5X frame also caters to the triathlete’s appetite for storage. “Whether training or racing, everything you need to support yourself, including nutrition, flat kit and cold weather gear, can be securely stowed in the exclusive Smartpak, Stealthbox and Speedcase components,” claims Lead Designer David Killing.

Arguably, the biggest performance upgrade a competitive triathlete can make is achieving a proper bike fit, and that’s something Cervélo is well aware of. With that in mind, the P5X claims to offer “unprecedented micro and macro-adjustability” through a unique sliding stack adjustment, something Cervélo says will allow every athlete to find their perfect position quickly and with ease.

If we are talking figures, the P5X front end can be shifted through 112mm of stack and 91mm of reach adjustment — both via one 4mm Allen key bolt. Its base bar can also be flipped for an 80mm change in drop. The frame’s saddle clamp allows fore-aft adjustment results in an effective seat angle of between 74 and 81 degrees and the P5X frame will be sold in four sizes ranging from S-XL.

Triathletes travel regularly, and so can the P5X. The bike can be disassembled by removing a few bolts, while its two-piece foldable aerobar is padded for quick and secure packing. A fully customised Cervélo travel case, co-developed with Biknd, also comes as an option for P5X customers.

Another new (to triathlon) but always controversial topic is the use of disc brakes. The P5X features TRP’s HY/RD bulky mechanically actuated hydraulic discs in a flat-mount fitment. Cervélo has also given the P5X thru-axles at the front and rear for improved safety and stiffness.

When it comes to building the P5X, Cervélo turned to two of North America’s most well-renowned composite suppliers — Hed Cycling Products and ENVE Composites, who each took on separate aspects of the build.

The P5X is available in two different builds. The top-end version features the latest SRAM RED eTap drivetrain, and comes equipped with ENVE 7.8 wheels.

Currently, the P5X is sold at 80 select Cervélo retailers around the world, including 35 North American shops, and is priced at US$15,000. The second, slightly more affordable build, will showcase an Ultegra Di2 groupset, a Rotor crank and Hed 6.9 wheels. That’s expected to arrive in December and will retail for US$11,000 USD. UK and international pricing along with availability is still TBC.

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