I’ve ridden a lot of bikes, a lot of tri bikes. I’ve also written a lot of letters to companies asking/begging to be sponsored so that I could ride their bike. Truth be told, up until now, the ‘best’ tri bike that I’ve had has been the Javelin Arcole. It was stiff, it was aero, and it fit me to a ‘T’.
Now that I have a Cervelo P3, it’s all changed.
Mid-way through the 2008 season, riding a Scott Plasma, I decided once and for all that I wasn’t going to write a bunch of letters asking for a bike sponsor. Instead, I was just going to ride whatever I wanted to for the 2009 season and beyond. I hadn’t even swung my leg over a Cervelo of any kind, but I was sold on the bike. The P3 was the bike that I wanted. The geometry looked right, the sizing looked good, it had the wind tunnel results, there were no ‘gimmicks’ on the bike, and it was what I wanted to ride. I was convinced more than ever, that even though “It’s not about the bike”, the Cervelo was going to make sure that it wasn’t about the bike. I wouldn’t be able to look at wind tunnel data and say that IF I’d had a different bike I WOULD have gone faster.
So, I had my mind set on a Cervelo P2C (for 2009 the P2). I liked the more traditional look of the bike than the curves of the P3C (for 2009 the P3). Luckily some things worked out just right, and Don and Adam at ATC convinced me to go with the P3. The geometry was basically the same as the P2 other than the slightly shorter head tube on the 54cm P3, but it was a faster bike. So, before Ironman Arizona I went for a P3 frameset. I was glad that I did.
This bike wants to be ridden in the aero bars. It wants to go fast. Without being too geeky, the geometry of the bike is made for time trialing. The front end is built to be very stable when in the aerobars. The seat angle is adjustable, and if you are a triathlete, then you probably want to use the front seat post position rather than the rear seat position. Save that one for the roadies who are used to riding slack and have to meet UCI regulations.
To summarize, the ‘pros’:
- great handling in the aerobars,
- very flexible geometry,
- light enough and stiff enough, and
- the same bike that Pro Triathletes and Pro Cyclists ride.
A review with all positives isn’t much of a review, so now the ‘cons’:
- seems like everybody has one,
- color scheme could be a little bit more flashy, and
- rear dropouts take a little time to figure out.
Don’t think that the P3 is for you? Take a look at the P2 or the P1. The head tubes are a little bit less aggressive. That means that it puts the handlebars just a little bit higher up. It seems counter intuitive, but a more forward and lower position in front can be just what the ‘doctor’ ordered for those of you who have tight low backs or seem to think that you are for some reason inflexible. The forward and lower position puts more of your weight on the aerobar pads so you are supported by your bones and not your muscles as you are in a road position. Adam wrote a good editorial on bike fit that you can find here. So, if a really aggressive aero position is not in the cards for you, go with the P2. If that’s a little out of your budget, go with the P1. Either way you will be getting a bike that just BEGS to be ridden fast and in the aerobars. You won’t be disappointed. Maybe the best way to close out this review is using what Amy commented about the bike on her first ride…”Is there a better bike?”