In some respects, this is a Second Ride since we have already spent significant time on the P2 following the reveal in California, so we will skip the technical breakdown this time. If you’re looking for that, it would be better to read our First Look. With that out of the way, let’s get on with it. How does the P2 feel and how does it ride after a couple of hundred miles?
In our first article, we made some bold claims. We said, and we’re quoting, that “it frees your legs from the nagging of your mind and, all of a sudden, you’re flying.” It could be said that we have a flair for the grandiose. But in this instance, every subsequent ride of the P2 reaffirms our belief that the P2—and it’s fork-swapped sister, the P3—are every inch the bike we describe above. These are not budget bikes, no matter what the price tag may indicate, and they have only one setting: fast.
There is an adjustment period to the P2 each time we climb aboard, which lasts about five miles. Your legs become used to a particular cadence and wattage, and over time you build a sort of mental understanding of what that combination relates to in terms of speed. For the P2, the easiest way to explain it is to simply add two miles an hour to your mental model. The first time we check our computer is a double-take; our easy 22 mph warm up is suddenly a 24mph cruise. Saturday morning rides become race pace. Each time, we can’t help but grin and push harder; the P2 isn’t just fast, it makes you want to be faster.
The real surprise of the P2 is that with all of those deep section tubes and hair’s breadth wheel cutouts, it is extraordinarily well-behaved in a crosswind. While we haven’t put deep-section wheels on it, yet, we don’t expect it to change dramatically from how it handles on the R500s, even as our eyes deceive us into thinking that it should naturally be twitchy. The P2 is a study on why the eye is a terrible wind tunnel; there’s just no drama to the frame in any kind of wind condition, despite the deep head tube.
Of course, there are some things we would like to see done differently on the bike, though not as much as some may think. The compact crank just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us; we’d have fit a standard 52/39, for example. Then again, we live in Florida where the largest climb for 100 miles is a 7 percent grade for perhaps a quarter of a mile. So it’s possible—but only just—that Cervélo’s research people know better than we do what will work for the widest set of riders. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and just fit a set of chainrings that our legs like better; no big deal.
What is a little frustrating, however, is how tall the P2 is, even if ours is a 58cm. To get the position Devon feels most comfortable in, we had to remove all the spacers and flip the stem. And mind you his position isn’t all that extreme, despite what Mike might tell you. The P2 is part of Cervelo’s new geometry, which is both shorter in reach and taller in stack than the prior P2. This makes for a very relaxed aero bike from a fit perspective, but may require some number-crunching to find the size you should be riding if you haven’t ridden it before.
Let’s be clear; this geometry is going to fit more people better than the long-and-low trend in other bike manufacturers, simply by virtue of the fact that most people aren’t riding aggressive positions. Fitting the bulk of triathletes is a question of comfort, which means a more upright position. While not necessarily the most drag efficient, a more relaxed position means that the average athlete will spend more time riding on the extensions rather than the pursuits. There’s wisdom in this geometry decision, and we expect it to pay dividends for Cervélo in the long run. However, we do recommend that those of you who like a long and low bike fit look carefully at which size of P2 is right for you.
The relaxed geometry of the P2 aside, we are still impressed with how good this bike is for the price point. Yes, there are cheaper bikes available, but none of them are as quick in a wind tunnel as the P2. Yes, there are bikes with ostensibly better component sets, but 105 has one overriding character trait: durability. Simply put, the equipment set on the new P2 is bomb-proof. And if we’re being honest, the performance difference between well-tuned 105 and well-tuned Dura Ace is so small that’s it all but imperceptible.
We understand that there’s been some “discussion” over this, with claims ranging from the somewhat reasonable (Ultegra/DA/other-mechanical-gruppo are slightly crisper) to the absolutely outlandish (105 is rubbish and nobody should buy the P2), and we’re a little tired of it. Here’s the deal: we have at our disposal 105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace bikes. When the mechanicals are kept in trim, there is no perceptible difference in shifting at all. Claims to the contrary have been greatly exaggerated, to borrow a phrase.
The only thing that you should be concerned with about the P2 is how much bike you get for your dollar And by any measure, Cervélo’s youngest family member is a stunning bargain for a triathlete. In point of fact, we’d recommend prospective buyers of the P3 to take a serious look at what the P2 has to offer, as the difference in price is a set of race wheels, or a cockpit, or even a power meter. The more time we spend with the P2, the more we realize that this bike can be anything the rider wants it to be, and for thousands less than it’s real competition in the wind tunnel would have you paying. At AeroGeeks, that’s what our mission of Affordable Aero is all about.