Sunday at Ironman 70.3 Aix en Provence, Ironman World Champion Frederik Van Lierde will debut his custom-painted Cervélo P5. This special edition features a stunning one-of-a-kind graphics and paint courtesy of Cervélo lead designer Tom Briggs, and LAVA spoke with Briggs ahead of the debut of Van Lierde’s flashy new ride.
“A personalized P5 is close to unreal for me– I never thought this could happen!” said Van Lierde. “The name of my wife and my two kids, together with my IM world champion badge and time on my P5, makes mine even more #SimplyFaster. “I had a great time when I rode it for the first time for 82km and, I look forward to racing it for the first time on Sunday. Thanks, Cervélo!”
In addition to the custom bike’s pixelated look and distinctive color, major graphic features include:
- Frederik Van Lierde’s name on either side of top tube
- Pixelated head tube, top tube and down tube
- Pixelated seat stays and chain stays
- Pixelated handlebar
- Ironman World Champion Badge on top tube
- 2013 Ironman World Championship time on top tube
- Belgian flag on rear of seat tube
- Aaron and Simon (sons’ names) on inside of fork blades
- Sofie (wife’s name) on inside of seat tube cutout
- World Champion called out on inside of chain stays
- Frederik Van Lierde’s name on inside of seat stays
- Cervélo wordmark on either side of downtube
- Cervélo ‘é’ on either side of seat tube
- Cervélo wordmark on outside of fork blades
- P5 logo on outside of chain stays
LAVA spoke with one of Cervélo’s newest hires in lead designer Briggs to find out what went into making a custom ride that delivered on several important messages for the reigning Hawaii Ironman World Champ
LAVA: At what point did Cervélo decide to depart from a history of stock bikes for pro triathletes? Certainly winning an Ironman world title is a motivator…
Briggs: When Freddy won Kona, there was a seed planted there. But it was Leslie (Loughlin, Cervélo marketing manager) who was the driving force. I didn’t start with Cerveolo until January, so I think the ball had been rolling before my arrival. But o nce I was established there, she brought it up with me. At that point, we started creating concepts, and reached out to Frederick to get his input.
LAVA: What did that communication with Frederick entail?
Briggs: We went back and forth. I asked a series of questions and gauged his response. There were sources of inspiration for him, the features he finds within his training and racing that push him forward, and it was my job to distill that into a graphics package. There were six or seven ideas we had.
LAVA: What was the timeline for this project?
Briggs: Start to finish, having the bike in our hands, was just shy of two months. It was easy going back and forth. Frederick had lots of good ideas.
LAVA: Certainly, there’s a storyline in any custom bike, a motivation. What’s the process here?
Briggs: There are three ideas we wanted to get across on this bike: family, technology and speed. Family is first for Frederick, and technology is important, but speed, that’s the whole point of this.
He has both of his kids’ names and his wife Sofie’s name on bike. That’s an inspiration he can draw from in a race.
From that, he wanted technology to be prevalent. So we looked at it: what are tools for his job? The bike, use of computers both in the race and in processing training data, so technology is a key to what he does. And of course, Cervélo is about high end technology. We wanted to visualize that technology and make that a graphic element. The idea of pixels really was prevalent; it’s the most basic element on a computer screen, and the P5 started on a computer screen. So the idea of pixels became a driving force.
And speed is a primary component of being an Ironman champion. I wanted the bike to look fast standing still. So we used a gradient within the pixels to create motion, a sense of speed within the bike.
There was back and forth in color, and green comes with his kit. It’s tonal, and it works really well as a complete package.
LAVA: What paint house did you use for this project?
Briggs: it’s called Exor and based in Montreal. It was a fun project. It’s not everyday you get to design a bike for a world champion, so all of us were excited about making it happen.
LAVA: Certainly this begets the question of whether you’ll be doing this for any of your other pro athletes.
Briggs: Lesley had a few back and forth with a few athletes. There’s nothing formally rolling along, but definitely, plans are in the works.
LAVA: Considering how much of a dynamic presentation this is, it’s definitely an example of what’s possible. And while Cervélo can’t be taken to task for its bikes, it’s often raked over the coals for its stock graphic packages. Might this be a bellwether to what may be possible in terms of stock offerings in coming year models?
Briggs: There has been internal conversations about stuff coming down the pipe. I can’t say this will influence any of that, but there’s definitely conversations about what we’re capable of doing. We haven’t done anything similar to this yet.
LAVA: the look is certainly something distinctive
Briggs: Yep. We moved Cervélo logo onto downtube. That’s a bit of a change in this bike and rolled up under the downtube. We moved the E, which now sits in the area where toptobe, seattube and seatstays meet, which gives it a lot of real estate.
We have the P5 logo on outside of chainstays. Inside of the stays are white, and gradating line that mirrors the front of the bike with the pixels extends out on to the 3T Aduro aerobars
And as for the top tube, we included time from last year’s Ironman World Championships. I wanted him to be able to glance down and have it be something to see as a motivation. We want to drive him forward, to go even faster. By knowing his time, it gives him a goal to shoot for. And the Ironman World Champion logo Ironman provided to us.
LAVA: How did you feel in knowing that Frederick digs it?
Briggs: Well, it was my first bicycle; I’d worked at design firms and ad agencies, and had worked for Nike and Red Bull within hockey. But a bike was new for me. So it was really important, and I was really happy that Freddie had a very good reaction.
I really wanted three groups of people to like it. Freddie first, I really hoped he would like it. I hope the general public likes it, and finally, I hoped the folks here at Cervelo like it. It’s a fun project, but also a reflection on the brand. I think it moves us in a good direction.