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Cervelo launches P5X triathlon bike

Despite falling well short of current UCI rules, the design of the new Cervelo P5X has got everyone talking.

Josh Cunningham
5 Oct 2016

It's the Ironman world championships in Kona this week, and with the eyes of the triathlon community fixed upon the small Pacific island, Cervélo has chosen the moment to launch its brand new triathlon bike, the P5X. And while Cyclist is of course a road cyclist's domain, this bike is crammed with so many novel features that it simply can not be ignored. 

On first glance one would say that there is no seat tube or seat stays, but on closer inspection its clear that the bike doesn't really conform to the basics of a traditional frame, and so there's no 'seat stays' or 'seat tube' to go missing. It's just a frame, shaped by aerodynamic and practical design priorities and unconfined by rules on what a bike should or shouldn't look like. Some - many, even - will have reservations about the way it looks, but few could discredit its ambition and innovation. 

'Designed with nothing but the triathlete in mind, this badass ride represents the pinnacle of our systematic, engineering-first approach. The P5X is a personal best for us, and we know it will help athletes achieve their own personal best,' says Cervélo's Antoine Ballon.

The company began work on the bike in 2013, compiling test results, interviews, on-board bike data and over 14,500 photos from Ironman events around the world, to produce what it intended - the ultimate triathlon bike.

'We found that a different approach was needed to improve the entire triathlete experience, not only on race day, but also in training and travel,' explains Cervélo's engineering director Sean McDermott. 'From aerodynamically integrated storage to simple and wide-ranging aerobar adjustments, the P5X delivers a complete system that harmoniously addresses speed, fit and usage.'

For storage, Cervélo has equipped the P5X with three compartments, the Smartpak, Speedcase and Stealthbox, located on the 'top tube', then on top of and underneath the 'down tube', respectively. There's also been particular attention paid to the cockpit adjustability, with stack and reach as well as saddle positioning supposedly now a lot easier to adjust. 

Being Cervélo, there has obviously been a lot of attention paid to aerodynamics too. The brand reckon's that on average the P5X is 30 grams faster than the P5 from +15 to -15 yaw angles (common for normal riding) with a full Ironman set up, but also that the P5X can be up to 90 grams faster at 0 yaw. Over 180 hours has been spent in the wind tunnel to get the bike to that point. 

The frame, developed with input from the late Steve Hed, comes kitted out with a fork and handlebar system produced by Enve, as well as Enve 7.8 wheels. Sram Red eTap is the groupset that's been employed for transmission, presumably because the nature of the frame would make cabling highly impractical, and very noticeably the bike has been designed for disc brakes too. Cervélo say that this was a decision made on aerodynamics as well as braking capabilities. 

Of course, the bike falls well short of current UCI rules and so to use it competitively you will need to either go to the dark side and start triathlon, or buy one for the sole purpose of riding your club time trial series. But once you see the price tag - $15,000 USD - that might not be so appealing. 

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