Cervélo P5X Triathlon Bike Review

At first look, the Cervélo P5X comes across as a radical racing bicycle, due to its unusual frame configuration, disk brakes, and incorporated front part. Upon deeper examination, it can be seen that this product is a workhorse, offering a practicality that is not clear right away, particularly when looking at the cost.

The P5X was created with the sole purpose of addressing the requirements of triathletes, rather than the P5 which was meant to serve as both a time-trial bike and a problem solver.

Without the same limits of design on the P5 that a time-trial bike would have, Cervélo made the most of it and created a bicycle with both speed and usability.

Usual terms like usable and effective are not typically linked to bicycles that go for eleven thousand dollars (for the less expensive version), but consider the P5X as a fresh technology that might eventually be used in more accessible future models.

Initial Design

It took the engineers at Cervélo more than three years to come up with the P5X, though it looks very much like the Cervélo Barrachi – something produced by Gérard Vroomen and Phil White as far back as 1995.

The P5X was set to come out in the early part of 2016, however, as is common with advancements in technology, its release was put off.

In recent years, the triathlon bike market has been significantly expanding, with innovators such as Dimond, Ventum and Diamondback redefining the standard for bike frames. This has made it an incredibly stimulating period for someone searching for a triathlon bike.

Cervélo’s main objective was to construct the perfect triathlon bike. The seven goals below were conceived by the design team and are listed in order of their importance:

Modular, integrated storage that’s easy to access:

Compatible with round bottles

Easy to fit the athlete onto the bike

Easy to adjust the athlete’s position after the initial setup

More aero than P5 on race day

Same stiffness as the P5

Easy and safe to pack

The initial stage in the design development necessitated data excavation to get the most correct image of how triathletes were fitting their bikes for competition day. Therefore, engineers from Cervélo went to Ironman events and captured 14,500 pictures of competitors while they were participating.

An examination of these pictures demonstrated some intriguing patterns, such as gels stuck to the top tube and customary round water bottles positioned all around the bicycle.

The investigation ultimately produced the first and second objectives that had been planned: Construct a frame that includes easy-to-get stowage spaces which can provide enough energy to an athlete to finish an Ironman distance.

Cervélo, who had normally devoted their time and effort to creating the best bikes possible, even if it came at the cost of comfort, switched their main focus to the objective of adding convenience.

Storage and Hydration

You have enough storage on the P5X to go on a road trip. That comment may be an exaggeration, but it could carry all the items that you could ever need for a 112-mile journey.

The Smartpak is a container located at the back of the stem on the top tube of the bike which can be used to store food items. The bulk of the area of this two-floor space is located within the structure and provides sufficient room to accommodate multiple bars and a few gels.

A pill tray is available to make sure that your salt pills or ibuprofen do not move around while being transported. It is possible to take off the Smartpak if you would rather participate in short-distance races and have no need for extra storage.

The Speedcase storage unit can be easily detached and attached to the frame located beneath the bike’s saddle. You can attach a water bottle to the top of the Speedcase and because of its design, using a typical round bottle won’t negatively affect aerodynamics.

If you would prefer not to use the Speedcase, you can fasten a bottle holder right onto the frame.

The Stealth Box is designed to be built within the frame rather than being a separate piece like the Speedcase, and it is situated between the crank and the front wheel. This is a suitable location for keeping tools used for fixing punctures such as extra inner tubes, compressed gas cartridges, and tire levers.

It is possible to take out the Stealth Box and have the capacity to have items stored along the length of the down tube of the bike frame. This would be an ideal spot to store a water-resistant jacket or a warm set of gloves in case the atmosphere unexpectedly turned nasty while cycling.

The P5X has three potential areas where bottles can be installed: between the aero bars, on the downtube, and at the back of the saddle.

This bike has its mounts already installed, not including the cages, which means you do not have to purchase a separate hydration system unless you’d like to use a more streamlined design like the XLAB Torpedo Versa.

The saddle’s mounting point can be altered, permitting the rider to set the cage’s angle to their preference.

Front End

Cervélo collaborated with ENVE to design and make the fork, baseball, and extensions. This bike’s very best attribute is the adjustable armrest stack, enabled by a mechanism similar to that of a seat post.

You require a 4mm Allen key to either increase or decrease the post that fits inside the frame, providing up to 112mm of vertical changing. This is a gigantic accomplishment for competitors of triathlon who are always modifying their fitting.

Changing the settings for different types of superbikes, especially the P5, could be hugely difficult.

The ENVE extensions that come with the bicycle have a curved gradient going upwards, nevertheless, if you would like them to be more elevated regarding the armrests, you may alter the angle to up to 12 degrees.

The base bar can be installed with the bars curving either up or down, depending on if the cyclist wants a more relaxed or assertive hand placement.

These bars have a great feature that allows them to be divided into two parts, making transporting the bike easier, especially when you get the specifically made Biknd carrying case.

Disc Brakes

Cervélo provided the P5X with disc brakes for two primary reasons. It permitted greater liberty when constructing the frame to enable the bike to have a more streamlined shape.

Second, discs provide more stopping power than rim brakes. The P5X is equipped with TRP Hy/Rd brakes that are directly attached and can be operated with standard levers. The front and back of the bike have 160mm brake discs, with a 12×100 axle on the front and a 12×142 axle on the rear.

Cervélo viewed disc brakes as the ideal accompaniment for a bicycle that was crafted to serve as your one and only triathlon ride. The research has demonstrated that discs are consistently better performers, especially in terms of the feel of the levers during modulation.

Cervélo believes disc brakes are superior, however, the common theory is that they are not beneficial in terms of being lightweight and aerodynamic. The company does not dispute the significance of weight, yet it is about to publish a research document regarding aerodynamics where it is certain it has demonstrated that discs have the benefit.

Test riders noticed that when they had discs and thru-axles installed on their bikes, the bike had improved firmness and control, and they felt more in tune with how the bike was handled.

Cervélo is at the forefront of the industry, as no one else has managed to develop a full hydraulic TT set-up as of yet.

Cervélo has contacted each of the suppliers of bicycle components (Magura, SRAM, Shimano) who all have hydraulic systems ready to go, yet they are not accessible as of yet. For the present, the organization has employed the TRP Hy/Rd, which are hydraulics that is operated using a cable, with the reservoir located at the calliper.

Cervélo stated that, from a design perspective, disc brakes can actually open up more potential for creativity as opposed to constraining it. It is not necessary to weaken the front portion of the frame and fork, nor to incorporate a convoluted shape in the rear to incorporate the brakes.

Disc brakes may not be aerodynamic as much as callipers (although that is debatable); they are situated in a less stable atmosphere, thus, the disadvantages are smaller. If you modify a bike from rim brakes to disc brakes, you will be at a disadvantage. The P5X was designed with discs in mind so there was no need to make any sacrifices.

The Numbers

Cervélo’s internal testing showed that the P5X was 25 per cent stiffer in the head tube area than the P5. The development in this area has been due to the construction of the bike frame in a single piece and by attaching the axles of the wheels directly.

The P5X weighs slightly more than the P5, but the difference is only 13 per cent when the weight includes all items that would be brought to an Ironman event.

When you think about it, the fact that this bike wasn’t initially intended to be lighter than the P5 (reducing its weight was not a priority at Cervélo) yet still managed to be 13 per cent lighter is impressive.

At every angle of wind direction tested in the wind tunnel, the P5X was quicker than the P5 aside from a +15-degree angle.

The P5X outperformed all other bikes Cervélo tested, including multiple of the most sought-after models on the market. Scientists conducted an examination at the San Diego Wind Tunnel, and it is said that the people at Cervélo put in roughly 180 hours at the site.

Sizing and Fit

The P5X will come in four separate dimensions: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. This product is great because it comes in different sizes and has an extensive range of fit options available due to the sliding post that is part of the aero bars.

Cervélo created a sizing tool on its online website to help people discover what size is right for them, based on their desired fit measurements. It doesn’t matter how you like to ride, there is a good probability that the P5X can meet your requirements.

Mechanical Rather than Electronic Shifting

The design of the frame with its large down tube offers a direct route for mechanical cable runs, allowing for effective mechanical shifting; however, given the expense of the bike, electronic drivetrains are a more realistic expectation.

Cervélo has developed a device without any required tools that are positioned above the stem, where a Di2 junction box or the particular Blip-Box from SRAM for time trial can be concealed. It also has a small window that allows you to monitor the battery level.

Cervélo has learned the hard way that the stem on their P5 must be taken off to get to the junction box. When one of their athletes who was competing had a Di2 breakdown in their rear mech, it ruined their chances in the race for the period that it took to have the situation mended.

Packing up the Cervélo P5X

In the beginning, Cervélo worked to make the handlebars as adjustable as adjusting a seat post. The tri-bars have been designed with a riser-post which allows for 112mm of adjustment in the height. It also includes visuals that make tweaking the settings simpler.

By constructing the front part in this way, Cervélo got rid of the requirement to trim the fork steerer, meaning one can adjust their posture more conveniently. As a bonus, it makes reselling simpler, though we’re certain Cervélo wouldn’t be thrilled at the thought of you getting rid of it shortly.

Cervélo put a lot of thought into the design of the front end of the triathlon bike to make it as effective as possible for packing.

The base bar fits together in two parts, which can be separated and then attached to the sides of the fork legs via its built-in neoprene holster. This secures the bar and prevents damage to it and the frame, whilst also making the front end easier to safely store.

To achieve its goal, Cervélo collaborated with another Canadian brand known as BiKnd, who are the creators of their practical inflatable-style bike bag.

The Helium 4 model for the P5X recently came out, and the bag it comes with has an incorporated frame that keeps the frame stable by using its thru-axles, sections for the tri-bar extension assembly, and two aero wheelsets stored in its side sections.

The P5X set consists of two torque wrenches, 4 and 5 millimetres wide, that can be used to fasten and unfasten any bolt on the bike. So, everything needed to assemble and disassemble will be at your fingertips.

Biknd Case

1 (17)In order to make the bike easier to travel with, Cervélo partnered with bike case manufacturer Biknd to design a custom case for the P5X. The bike mounts directly to an internal frame in the case and is protected by two inflatable airbags. The case can hold two sets of wheels and comes with everything you need to safely pack the bike, so no need to steal towels from your hotel room. Once you are familiar with the internal strap system, you could pack your bike in about 15 minutes. There’s also a storage compartment to stow a wetsuit, helmet, shoes and any other gear you don’t want to pack in your suitcase. MSRP is £675 or $849.

Cervélo P5X aerodynamics

Aerodynamics may come last when we go over the qualities of the P5X, following the discussion of user-friendliness, memory storage and portability, but Cervélo promises that plenty of research went into it, including hundreds of hours of using computational fluid dynamics, and over 180 hours of wind tunnel testing.

A point of comparison was the P5; every piece of information was documented using Cervélo DZ which is a foam humanoid made from a replica of ex-professional biker David Zabriskie.

The testing was done in the San Diego wind tunnel, according to Cervélo. This tunnel uses a mannequin because when a real rider is involved, the drag could reach up to 90g due to even the tiniest physical action. Once we had the design finalized, we brought David Zabriskie in to make sure we could accurately reproduce the measurements.

We tested the frame with the storage boxes, and three round bottles; the same amount of gear that a P5 would normally carry, to best mirror how it would be used in the real world.

It appears that Cervélo’s major selling point with their P5X model is that while testing it, they found that it was able to achieve an average of 15 per cent (30g) better performance than the P5 even when it was loaded with supplies for Ironman distances and the DZ dummy in place.

The speed mechanism situated atop the crankshaft has an influence on aerodynamics. Depending on the setup (fast wheel assembly and water bottle mounted behind the seat), it helps reduce drag by 12g, while bringing a water bottle to the handlebars increases it by 5g.

Having all the containers in the correct position adds 5 grams, based on the understanding that 10 grams of drag are equivalent to 1 watt. By putting a single bottle positioned on top of the speed casing, it would result in a 23g weight loss. Cervélo is trying to emphasize how all of the components contribute to or reduce air resistance, and how each is heavily related to one other.


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