The New Cervelo P5 – First Look

If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram you know that we just spent the last week in Arizona with Cervelo (and if you weren’t following us – well, why not?) And while many of you suspected we were spending time with a new bike (and some probably guessed which it was) – today we get to share all the details and you are going to be more surprised than you might think. The new P5 is finally here! And this is not just a disc brake equipped P5 – no this is a ground up redesign of a bike still considered to be one of the fastest on the market. Over 7 years in the making, the new P5 represents the best UCI legal TT\Tri bike that Cervelo could bring to market. So what make this new P5 so special – read on to find out. (Though before you do – we do need to mention that Cervelo covered our travel and lodging expenses while we attended the P5 launch event. And while this didn’t affect any of our thoughts or commentary we wanted to ensure we are fully transparent with you – our readers.)

The New Cervelo P5

The new P5 has not been exactly a secret to both those in the industry as well as anyone that keeps up to date with the cycling gossip sites across the internet. Last summer a photo of a disc brake equipped P5 shot across the web and gave a sneak peak into what Cervelo was up to. And so 3 weeks ago when Cervelo reached out to us about a secret launch event (they don’t tell us what we are going to see before hand) – it was a pretty easy guess that we were going to be seeing a disc brake equipped P5. But how wrong (and right) we were. The new P5 is a completely new bike. To paraphrase Graham Shrive, Director of Engineering for Cervelo – the original P5 was built based on what the computers told Cervelo would be the fastest bike possible. The new P5 takes that same idea – build the fastest bike possible, but also adds in best in class goals for stiffness and weight on top of aero.

“We worked with our Pro athletes for real world testing, feedback and validation to ensure we were continuing to build a better bike,” Graham Shrive. “The new P5 was designed with our Pro Tour team and triathletes in mind, and is the fastest bike we have ever tested. It is Simply. Better. Than anything else out there. Our athletes are always focused on being better. Everytime,” continues Shrive. “They tweak their setups for every advantage, and personalize every element to see success. And that’s exactly why we’ve made the new P5 better.”

The P in P5 stands for performance so there is no better place to start with describing the new P5 than its aero data. Cervelo has built a disc brake equipped bike that is not just as good as its rim brake equipped predecessor – but Cervelo tells us on average, beats it by 17g.

Unfortunately we do not have the full details on the test criteria they used for the chart. But Cervelo does tell us they used disc and rim versions of the same wheel set to get these results. (And we will update this as soon as we get them.)

But a fast bike alone is so 2012. Cervelo developed the new P5 to dominate the short prologue style TTs common at 1and 3 week grand tours that require riders to burst out of the corners – a super stiff bike was required to do this.  The new P5 is 22% stiffer at the head tube and 26% stiffer at the bottom bracket than the previous P5.

And all that speed and stiffness does nothing on a bike that is too heavy to climb and race effectively. So Cervelo cut the weight 18% as compared to the previous generation. With a size medium frame and fork cutting down on the weight by 350g. We had a chance to weigh a size M Dura Ace build complete with bento box and down tube cage (more details to come on the builds later) and found it to be roughly 8.41 Kg.

So how did Cervelo build it? Well it started with a completely new frame design. Since the launch of the last P5, not only has the UCI updates it’s rules, but Cervelo’s understanding of aerodynamics as well as carbon fiber construction has increased as well. This mean that simply updating the existing frame wasn’t going to be good enough. Like all UCI legal TT manufacturers Cervelo used the UCI dictated boxes (illustrated in the image below) as the guidelines for the new P5 and then went to work on just how far they could take the shape. A few things you will notice quickly is behind the seat tube, the bottom bracket, and the fixed base bar.

On the previous P5 the area behind the seat tube extended out over the wheel. While aerodynamic this removed from the overall stiffness of the bike.

Likewise in the bottom bracket. As compared to the previous generation, the new P5 has a much smaller frame footprint around the bottom bracket. And for the same reason above – the few extra grams of aero that was achieved by the enlarged bottom bracket of the previous generation had a negative effect on the total stiffness and weight of the P5. (This sort of thinking – balancing aero grams vs weight grams is paramount to the philosophy behind this bike).


The basebar itself is fixed with the cockpit providing all the stack adjustment via a mono riser system. This is a simpler and far more adjustable design than not only the previous P5 but many of the other super bikes on the market.

A single bolt on the underside of the cockpit allows you to adjust the 95mm of possible extension reach.

The pads have 45mm of pad reach.

And 30mm of inside outside adjustment. Both of which can be set by removing two screws underneath the arm pads (and something we were able to do in under 5 minutes prior to our test rides).

The pads themselves have just enough lateral support to keep you stable while not being overbearing. Graham tells us the actual pad material is derived from the same material mouse pads are made with – the benefit is a strong cushioning feeling that in our small amount of time with the bike did not seem to wear at all.

Three sets of extensions are being offered with the new P5. It will ship with a 30 degree bend extension. Those looking for either more or less can also order a 50 degree bend or S-bend extension from their local Cervelo retailer.

And here is a closer look at the new extensions.

The cockpit also has mounts for both a between the arms hydration cage. As well as a Garmin spoon mount. And while it’s a small detail, the Di2 interface\charge port located in the rear of the extensions may be our favorite element of the cockpit. It is such a clean and elegant design – something that we expect to see others attempt to copy in the future.

One thing to note – the P5 cockpit does not support the ability to tilt the aero bars. For those looking to do that (but still retain the P5 frame), the basebar is compatible with the P5X monoriser that does support tilt. Cervelo will be partnering with your local retailer to help you offer additional purchase options to fully customize your P5 cockpit.

The basebar has a 380mm width. And features molded grips so that you do not have to tape (or even wear gloves) to ensure a slip free ride.

The grips can be flipped and cut back (20mm) with basebar to provide for shorter reach options.

While the seatpost of the previous generation P5 is compatible with the new P5. The new P5 will ship with a new seatpost that includes a P5X rear bottle mount interface. In talking with Graham as to why they only included a single bottle interface versus a dual cage setup. They shared that aero testing showed the single bottle was a far superior aero setup (and may be the reason why in the past week the AeroGeeks personal bikes have all switched to a single cage in the rear).

Front and back of the bike you get standard flat mount disc brakes. We were a bit surprised to see that Cervelo had not added any fairings around the brakes or calipers (something we have seen other companies starting to integrate into their bikes). The answer came down to cooling and the current state of road disc brakes – simply stated Cervelo does not believe fairing the brakes would benefit the bike enough versus the concerns of the brakes overheating. The new P5 supports both RAT and threaded thru axles. An aero thru axle is also provided. (The rear dropout is now a vertical dropout to better support quick wheel changes).

With 1X groups now becoming a normal occurrence in transition (and even making an appearance in the pro peloton), Cervelo made sure that that front derailleur hanger is fully removable.

And we really love the removable plastic chainstay protector they developed for the new P5. No longer must we suffer scratched paint, or a plastic coating on the frame to protect against chain rub.

Because the new P5 was developed for both TT AND triathlon – on board nutrition and hydration storage is a must. And that starts with a newly developed UCI legal 500ml aero bottle – the Aero Bottle 500.

A bottle which only averages 6g of drag across the sweep.

And while we appreciate the extra hydration savings – because you also get a rear bottle cage and front BTA. We suspect many triathletes will find a way to convert the Aero Bottle 500 into a flat kit container (we are already looking forward to the SlowTwitch How-To).


On top of the top tube are your standard bottle bosses. What is not so standard is that Cervelo developed a pair of bento boxes to fit on them – the Smart Pak 100 and Smart Pak 400. The 100 nestles up against the mono riser while the 400 sits behind it.

In practice we found the 400 is great for hauling nutrition while the 100 quickly becomes your trash dump (way better than tossing it in a jersey pocket or even worse on the street).

The new P5 has 36mm of tire clearance (up from 33mm on the P5X). In practice this means the P5 can handle up to a 28mm tire with a required 4mm of clearance on either side of it. For comparison the Cervelo R and S has 37.8mm of clearance.

Available in 5 sizes – the new P5 falls into the long and low class of bikes. Built with pro and top end age group triathletes and TT athletes in mind, the fit is going to be more challenging than a bike like the P5X which has a larger amount of fit compatibility (you can see the pad stack and reach options below comparing the two bikes).

And for those that like to see the full geometry:

At launch the new P5 will be available three ways. The first is a coral and navy frameset available for $5,000 USD ($ 6,000 CDN, € 5.499). The frameset also includes the SmartPak 400, SmartPak 100, Aerobottle 500, Rear Hydration Mount, and Barfly Computer Mount.

Those looking for a complete bike are in luck as there are two options – both of which come in AeroGeeks lime green. For $7,500 USD ($9,500 CDN, € 7.499) you can get the Ultegra Di2 build. This gets all the goodies of the frameset plus Ultegra Di2 and a DT Swiss P1800 wheelset.

At the top of the line is the Dura Ace Di2 build. Like the Ultegra Di2 you get the SmartPak 400, SmartPak 100, Aerobottle 500, Rear Hydration Mount, and Barfly Computer Mount. For wheels there is an ENVE 5.6 wheelset. And Cervelo also includes a Ceramicspeed Oversized Pulley Wheel System, bottom bracket, and UFO chain. This build will set you back $12,500 (USD$15,000 CDN, € 11.999).

Your local Cervelo dealers will have a limited supply of bikes both in the US and Europe immediately (as in you can go down today and order one) with wider availability as spring turns to summer.

Our Thoughts

We got to spend a day digging into the new P5 plus a 32 mile ride with nearly 2,000 feet of climbing (and descending) to get to know it better before we had to fly home. And the first thing you notice about the P5 is how light it is. Now we admit the bike we rode was not fully loaded. Our Trek Speed Concept is usually weighed down with deep wheels, 3 bottles, plus a long haul flat kit. But the P5 we were riding was not empty either – with both 2 bottles, medium depth wheels, and some nutrition. And it was noticeably lighter. Considerably lighter. As mentioned, we weighed in the Dura Ace model at 8.41 kilos (about 18.5 pounds). In comparison we have previously seen our Trek top out between 20-21 lbs – and you can feel that weight – not only in the garage. But on the road as well – especially coming off a U-turn or from a standing start.

The added stiffness is noticeable as well. As mentioned the ride included nearly 2,000 feet of climbing. When you danced on the pedals you felt the bike jump to respond. We wouldn’t say it’s up to current road bike standards of stiffness just yet. But it is far beyond what used to be acceptable for an aero road bike just a few generations ago. It wasn’t long ago that we were told you could have either an aero road bike or a stiff road bike – but not an aero stiff road bike. Now we have a time trial bike that you can get out of the saddle and punish up a hill or hammer out of the turn at your local TT.

And our butts say it’s fast too. We were cruising north of 40 kph (27 mph) with ease. We can honestly say it was a blast at speed (and this was on a demo bike with a quick fit, we cannot wait to get one perfectly set up to our fit and see where it takes us).

Cons? We do have a few. The lack of tilt as compared to the P5X is definitely a big deal. Maybe 3 years ago it would not have been. But tilt is now an expectation of fitters. Yes, you can purchase the P5X bar but when you are already at least $5,000 in (and more likely $7,500) this is not an insignificant deal.

Ben Hoffman’s P5 with the P5X bar

And the geometry is definitely not for everyone. If you do not have the body type for a long and low bike this probably will not be the frame for you. We get that this is a fact of life when you are building a bike for pros. But we wish that a frame this good was a bit more accessible to the middle of the packers out there.

We also would have liked to have seen Cervelo offer a second down tube bottle option as a flat kit. This being a UCI legal TT bike we know that frame storage was out of the question. But considering the development for an aero bottle – a similarly shaped storage unit would have been fantastic. (And in this case we would be ok with an up-charge). But we would call this more of a nit-pik than a serious con.

We also did not get a lot of time on the aero bars, with the roads around Scottsdale either too congested or too vertical to allow us to get comfy for a long TT style cruise. Because of this we will reserve our full review and thoughts to a long term test hopefully in the next few months.

Wrapping Up

The original P5’s tagline was Simply. Faster. For the new P5, Cervelo went with Simply. Better. And based on our day with the bike we have to agree. Faster, lighter, stiffer; what more could we want in a new bike? We flew out to Arizona expecting to see a P5 with discs – instead we got a brand new P5 that we suspect will more than hold its own in objective aero tests. At $7,500 and $12,500 this is far from a cheap bike – but well within the price range of today’s modern disc brake equipped super TT and Tri bikes. So what’s next. A long term review of course. But we are thinking we may get creative. A new P5 with SRAM 1X AXS sounds like a pretty sweet ride to us! As always thanks for reading and make sure to stay tuned to for the latest from Cervelo including a long term review of the new P5.

7 responses to “The New Cervelo P5 – First Look

  1. Great read! Converted aerobottle to flat kit with a curved slice along one side. Flat gear goes in a little zippered bag, tuck it in, voila!

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