The last year and a half has been a barnburner period on the triathlon side of things at Cervelo. The Toronto-based company deftly kept the wraps on a new bike before launching the P5 to a rabid consumer market late in 2012. They followed that last April with the debut of a whole redesigned P3.
But there was one bike that was left on the sidelines last year amid all these redesigns and re-launches: the P2. Sure, it’s the bike that many Cervelo fans buy when they can’t afford a P3 or P5. And yes, it’s the bike that Chrissie Wellington won the Hawaii Ironman aboard. Twice. It’s proven its mettle; the P2 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In 2014, the P2 gets its own makeover. To a greater degree than in any time in its history, Cervelo applies value, while adhering steadfast to its hallmark principles, namely aerodynamics with user utility. The P2 is speed at all costs-but at a low price; the dollar-conscious can finally enter the arena, without paying an aerodynamic penalty for being thrifty. That makes it a bike worthy of upgrading as time and finances merit-and further increases that value proposition.
LAVA Magazine was part of a small cadre of journalists invited to a global press launch held in the sunny, warm climes of Southern California. Not only that, it was in our own backyard of North County San Diego, in Oceanside, with the event being hosted along the run course for the coming Ironman 70.3 Oceanside.
Since its inception, the P2 model has been regarded a value model in a line of overachievers; The P3 was centerpiece for years, to be supplanted by the top-shelf P5 last year. And back in the shadows, the P2 existed. It was a different frame—and a good one to be sure—but it lacked the curved seattube that defined the P3, and certainly was of a different ilk when the P5 debuted. Along with a lower level parts kit, it lacked the flash of. But that was ok; it was still fast—and affordable—bike.
Ironically, while the P3 garnered so much attention historically (with the CSC team, etc.), the P2 has been the brand’s bread-and-butter bike at races. To wit: Cervelo said that as part of their own model count at the Hawaii Ironman bike count , that one model—removed from the P3 and P5 models—would have actually been nearly level with Trek and Specialized in total bikes on Kailua Pier.
One remarkable fact is that the model has been in the line for seven years—an eternity in an industry of increasing turn-and-burn model replacement. But yes, at seven years, old the model was long in the tooth. Cervelo admitted it needed updating.
Which was fortuitous. A year and a half ago, Cervelo set the tri world alight, debuting two models: the hotly-awaited P5, and the surprise debut of a redesigned P3 last spring. Each of them saw a complete reworking of the stack and reach numbers, making them more tuned to their consumers riding for comfort over instead of a ProTour time trialist. Now, the bread-and –butter bike in Cervelo’s line gets the same better-fitting, more aero attention.
So everything you’ve seen as key elements on the P5 and P3? Yep, the P2’s got em. For one, the P2 frame comes out of the same mold as the P3, and utilizes the same layup process. So the seat tube cutout exists in the P2 as well. Happily, Cervelo didn’t decide to make another model and create another frame that was different (and likely slower, since this is a “little brother” model” for the sake of it.
Future-proof cable-ready (for standard mechanical cable, hydraulic or electronic housing, each with its own guide). A dropped downtube (to aerodynamically mate up with the front wheel’s trailing edge.). BBright bottom bracket. A squared trailing edge downtube built aerodynamically for bottles. Easy-feed internal cable run. Horizontal dropouts. An aero seatpost with 75mm of fore/aft adjust. All there.
The P2 now also incorporates the clean aero cable run that the P3 enjoys, porting cables in at the front of the top tube.
It also has all the storage features, namely top-tube bosses for aftermarket fuel boxes like those that Xlab and Torhans have manufactured to work in concert with the frame.
And it has standardized parts, an advancement through simplicity. No special parts needed. No 2.5mm wrench requirement. No brake covers. No hard-to-access rear brake. No pre-race stressors. None of that. Like the P3 and P5, if the fork is damaged in transit, any ‘ol 1 1/8” steerer fork will slide into that headtube and keep you from having your race derailed. And it comes with standard FSA brake calipers, located in their traditional, easy-to-access, easy-to-service locations. And even at that “concession” of old-school brake caliper use, Cervelo designed the shoulders of the seatstays such that they shield the rear brake anyway.
So… if this thing is so similar to the P3, why the cost drop of over $1,100 between the two models? For one, it has a different fork, which is “a few” grams heavier than the FK37 model on the P3, while it’s markedly less expensive for Cervelo to produce.
Aerodynamically, the new P2 fork has what Cervelo deems to be a very minute aero disadvantage to the one provided on the P3, but that the variance “is within the noise of the tunnel.” That is, it’s so inconsequential, it’s not worth sweating. Whether that means a gram of drag or 25 grams, we don’t know, but have queried Cervelo to supply any data they have on the variance.
With a wife owner a new P3, it only slightly noticeable head-on that the fork legs at the crown of the P2 fork is only slightly frontally “fuller” than that of the P3. And that’s about it.
The rest of the difference in price comes in the parts specification. While its big brother, the P3 features Magura RT6 TT hydraulic brakes, Shimano Dura-Ace components, an ISM saddle, Mavic Cosmic wheels and 3T Aura aerobars, the P2 comes in with standard brakes provided by FSA, Shimano 105 and Tiagra components, a Fizik Arione Tri saddle, Shimano WH-30 wheels and Profile Design Aerobars.
With the new P2, now all P-model bikes under Cervelo’s umbrella in terms of stack and reach, with a consistent curve throughout the size range, becoming slightly taller and shorter than were previously made—perfect for us triathletes that don’t slam our aerobars onto the bearing race, and thus don’t need unsafe amount of spacers under the stem.
And with that unification comes two new smaller sizes for the P2: a 45cm frame with 650c wheels, and a 48cm with 700c wheels… along with bikes going up to 60cm. For those that might decry why Cervelo doesn’t offer a pink women’s specific bike, here’s your answer; they’re making better-fitting bikes for small women (and men) than many brands supposedly catering to the women’s market with dumbed-down parts and hints of lavender or baby blue.
While the P2 sees a downgrade from the P3 with the use of the Profile Design T4 Wing basebar and the T2+ Wing aerobar, we see it differently; no, it’s not a carbon fiber basebar, but The T4 lives up to Profile Design’s reputation as an wide-range fitting aerobar brand, with greater extension tilt and a few other microadjust capabilities that the 3T Aura aerobar lacks. Bonus fit points to the P2 on this one.
A few hours on our test ride up iconic Highway 101 into Cardiff, Calif. saw enough flats and rollers to provide an adept test run (and currently have a P2 in our possession for a longer-term review).
The ride was what we expected from a P3—except, well… we were aboard a P2. As the exact same chassis as the P3, we know there’s no aero quarter given to its big brother. Handling was a massive improvement over the old P2, with a headtube much more “connected” to the rest of the frame. Cervelo’s testing puts head tube stiffness at a 16.2 percent increase over its predecessor, but it felt like more than that.
Overall, the new P2 was what we have come to know with the P3, with a slightly taller headtube and a it’s not as long and low as it used to be, and thus it’s a bike that does it all well, for hours and hours.
Out-of-saddle front-end stiffness isn’t quite what it is on the P5, but hey, not many bikes of any brand are. What matters is how much stiffer both the head tube and bottom bracket are over its previous iteration. It is stiff where it needs to be, namely in the bottom bracket. Cervelo put BB stiffness improvement over the old P2 at 6.5 percent.
Knowing this model has the potential for being a first tri bike for many, the P2 was smartly spec’d with a 50/34 110BCD compact FSA Gossamer BBright crankset, making for a bike with greater climbing gear range. We had no problem staying seated to spin up the few rolling climbs through Carlsbad, then switched into overdrive on the flats and descents.
The only deficiency on this bike—if you want to call it that—comes in the brakeset; so used to hydraulic stoppers on the P5 and P3, the FSA Gossamer Pro calipers were good. No, they lack the stopping power of Magura Hydraulics, or Shimano Dura-Ace calipers. But again, look at the price tag; they’re good enough to do the job. We will say this: they are heaps better than the house-branded Tektro brakes that Cervelo bikes used to ship with, which took braking application to the rim as a suggestion. These FSA calipers are much, much better.
While the P2 is a bike a 10-year veteran podium-getter—or even the sponsored pro—would ride without batting an eye, it’s clearly atargeted to be an open gateway for the athlete starting the sport, and to get them onto the Cervelo brand without breaking the bank. The CalPoly student, the young business pro with a newborn—any athlete who really has to watch their spent, but drawn by Cervelo’s history with the P5 and P3 in terms of aero and fit, will be prime customers. It finally gets people who long wished to be Cervelo customers if not for the price, to finally become customers.
And after three, four years, when these athletes are ready to upgrade, it’ll be for wheels and aerobars, not another bike. The P2 is a chassis worth upgrading and growing with, instead of replacing with the “next best thing” a few years down the line. Cervelo’s track record of proven fast bikes is impeccable, so you have a frame that’s fast as the next, every bit as aero as the P3…. A bike that is claimed to be among the fastest in the game.
And even if you can’t afford the upgrade parts right now,, no big deal, as the P2 is ready out the door with components you won’t need to replace; components, saddle and wheels are no token window dressing, ready to take your worst in training. In fact, happily they provided training wheels instead of a token semi-aero wheelset; we know the buyer will be seeking out a set of dedicated race wheels for this rig anyway.
And when your wallet is ready for the wheel upgrade, or a new, lighter derailleur, or a carbon fiber aerobar, is ready, the P2 is worth hanging the good stuff onto.
The P2 is only available as a complete bike set up with a complete Shimano drivetrain (105 10-speed front and rear derailleurs, Tiagra cassette and chain, Dura-Ace bar-end shifters) Shimano R501 wheels (700c) or Vision Team (650c), a Profile Design T4 Wing aerobar, Fi’zi:k Arione Tri2 saddle, and is finished with Vittoria Rubino Pro tires. There is but one color option, and you’re looking at it: White with blue lettering.
Sizes will include 45cm (650c wheels) and 48 to 61cm with 700c wheels.
$2,800 complete. For comparison sake, the P3 with mechanical Ultegra (on effectively the same frame) prices at $3,950, with Ultegra Di2 outfitted bike goes for $5,800.
How about… now? Dealers only found out about this bike just days ago and were able to place orders yesterday. So if your shop doesn’t have a few models on the floor now, they should in the next few days. Our guess is based on the initial sellout order of the P3, (and despite that Cervelo has anticipated for it), that these will go like hotcakes as well.
For those fans of the old P2 (what will heretofore be dubbed the “Classic P2,” grab ‘em while you can; Cervelo has light stock left that they estimate will be around about a month or so before it’s all gone.
Need more info? LAVA will be executing a longer-term test for review on the pages of LAVA Magazine. In the meantime, check out www.cervelo.com/p2