Cervelo P2 Review
The highly decorated P2 has been a much-cherished favourite of many for years. But can it still cut the mustard out on the road?
The P2 can probably claim to be the world’s most popular triathlon bike and, along with consistent rave reviews, has two Kona wins notched on its handlebars. The Cervélo P2 has been around for some time now, though, and with numerous new brands on the scene, does it still deliver podium-topping performance and value?
The P2 frame might not have some of the cutting-edge aero bells and whistles of some of its newer rivals, but it certainly doesn’t look dated. And with the amount of tunnel time this current incarnation and its predecessors have amassed, it’s not going to be a slouch through the wind.
Smartwall technology ensures the frame is stiff where it needs to be, and the P2 was one of the first mass-market frames to have a rear-wheel-hugging seat tube. The Shimano RS80 C50 wheelset is a sensible racing choice. Retailing around the $1,399 mark, it’s above the build-price minimum wheel spend of around 10-20% that we look for. Their 50mm depth, clincher set-up and alloy braking track makes them very versatile, as well as being up to training duties. They certainly won’t let the bike down but some deeper section, all-carbon flyers might well end up on your future wishlist in a couple of seasons.
Groupset is the ever-reliable and impossible-to-fault Shimano Ultegra with the ubiquitous Dura-Ace bar-end shifters. There are more aero brakes than the standard Ultegra road calipers, but for stopping power and ease of set-up, they’re hard to beat. The Pro Synop all-alloy cockpit isn’t the lightest, but does offer excellent adjustability. The contact point for your rear end is the titanium-railed Pro Turnix saddle; another decent choice, although some racers might prefer a slightly longer, wider nosed perch.
Once you’ve tweaked the cockpit and saddle position, riding off on the P2 immediately just feels right. Up on the bullhorns, navigating a few tight twists and sharp rises out of the village, it’s obviously nimble and doesn’t have any of the heavy handling issues that are the bugbear of many tri bikes. Shifts from the Ultegra groupset and Dura-Ace shifters are reassuringly positive and crisp, and there’s no flex from the frame when you muscle it uphill.
Once onto some flatter and straighter roads, settling down onto the aerobars feels relaxed and comfortable. It’s not an ultra-aggressive position but, importantly for long-course racers especially, it gives you an aero tuck that’s sustainable, that you look forward to getting into and that will deliver you fresher to T2. This comfort is enhanced by the P2’s excellent damping. Road buzz is virtually non-existent but, despite the comfort, you nonetheless still feel as though you’re punching through the wind efficiently and powerfully.
The Shimano wheels don’t give the slicing-through-the-air thrill of full 80mm-plus deep sections, but they’re certainly working with you. Testing on a blustery period during early April, they handled impeccably. The P2 climbs as well as the best tri bikes we’ve ridden, whether dancing out of the saddle, spinning from seated or wrestling it up a 25% killer. You certainly wouldn’t avoid hilly courses because of it and, once you’ve experienced its downhill prowess, you might even seek them out. That nimbleness really comes to the fore and, combined with perfect balance, the relatively relaxed position and the brilliant Shimano brakes, you can adopt full-on Kamikaze tactics.
There are faster straight-line dragsters but this is an all-round performer
You can’t fault Ultegra, and the RS80 wheels are totally in keeping with the rest of the build
It’s a race-ready Cervélo for just on $3,000
The second comfiest tri bike we’ve ridden (after the Van Nicholas Blaze)