The Cervelo P5 Six triathlon bike tested, rated and reviewed
Cervelo P5 Six
Cervelo has a long history of truly radical aero triathlon bikes and the Cervelo P5 Six mixes power delivery, practicality and aerodynamics so advanced they’re illegal outside triathlon, to create a superlative superbike.
Cervelo P5 Six – Frame and Forks
The Cervelo P5 Six is designed purely for tri races. Indeed it gets its name from the fact the front end and other sections are double the maximum 3:1 length to width ratio allowed by road racing’s UCI governing body. This allows a super-deep-legged fork topped with a two-part fairing that shrouds the purpose-built Magura RT8 hydraulic front brake.
The unique 3T Arduro integrated stem/bar combo sits above the line of the top-tube. But an optional hard-case storage box can create a more areodynamic shape in real-world snack carrying situations.
The big slab-sided sections above the bottom bracket – the massive, curving wheel-hugger tail and equally deep forward-swept seat-tube top – look like a caricature. Cervelo’s massive aero-bike experience, exhaustive computer and wind tunnel modelling and collaboration with some of the world’s top triathlon and time-trial riders is detailed in a full developmental white paper.
BBright 30mm crank bearings and massive chainstays transfer maximum power to the rear wheel, held securely in short horizontal dropouts. The rear RT8 brake sits behind the bottom bracket with the conventional, Shimano warranty-compliant Di2 battery hidden in the seat-tube. Cervelo’s much copied, almost vertical seatpost secures with a twin-bolt rear clamp, while there’s a sliding seat clamp mount for multiple effective seat angles.
Cervelo also produces the P5 frame in an unprecedented seven sizes, from the 650c-wheeled 45 and 48cm bikes to the monster 61cm, making the P5 the most size-inclusive off-the-peg aero superbike available. At £4,999 for the full frame fork and brake kit it’s hardly price inclusive, but it’s decent value compared to similar exotica.
Cervelo P5 Six – The Kit
The 3T Arduro integrated bar can be subtly tuned with small under-stem shims, or swapping to a high-rise armrest sub frame. The extensions are telescopic and both gear cables with brake hoses plumbed from the stem directly into the frame.
The ‘Dura Ace’ is slightly misleading considering the Ultegra rear cassette and chain. Di2 satellite shifters are incompatible with the Magura brake levers unless you buy a set and glue them onto the levers yourself. The ISM saddle is definitely a love/hate item too, but we doubt many dealers wouldn’t swap it for your favourite seat to secure a £7,500 sale.
Cervelo P5 Six – The Ride
The P5 Six fork immediately gives the front end of the bike the same anvil-solid authority as the rear end. The steering feels better weighted to suit the overall handling package and the bars take the tactile precision right into your palms. This meant a growing grin even as we swooped round corners and surged away from junctions heading across town to our test hunting grounds, but the P5 really comes alive as you hit the open road.
Despite being no lightweight (the Cervelo P5 Six comes in at 8.46kg for the 54cm model), the zero deflection drive through the Rotor cranks, BBright bottom bracket and rear end, plus the ability to brace your legs unflinchingly against your shoulders means the weight only registers at the lowest speeds. Otherwise, as soon as the initial inertia is overcome, the Cervelo picks up speed and hunts down other bikes with an undeniable certainty.
As soon as they dropped into the perfectly placed pads of the uncluttered cockpit, all our testers reported an overwhelming sense of the PB-shattering speeds this machine is capable of. The harder you’re willing to flog yourself, the more the Cervelo will give you back, too, and even with the Mavic ‘space saver’ wheels it has a clear edge over other bikes in head-to-head combat.
Powerful yet perfectly controlled hydraulic braking and impeccably balanced steering, even with deep-section wheels fitted for comparison, means you’re never put onto the back foot by the road.
Even in gusty weather the proven ergonomics and smart aerodynamics conspire to keep things reassuring. It’s certainly unapologetically speed-focused rather than a featherbed on rougher roads, but feedback never became so noisy that we had to back off or felt overly fatigued trying to cope with it.
+ Radical aerodynamics and raw power allow outstanding solo speed
+ Impeccable rider positioning boosts effortless speed sustain
– High frame weight and occasionally harsh feel on rough roads
– ‘Dura Ace spec’ includes Ultegra and only half a set of Di2 shifters