Home > bicycling, Fit Kit, Review, Triathlon > 2012 Cervelo P2 Full Review

2012 Cervelo P2 Full Review


NOTE: This is by far the most popular post on this blog with thousands of views. I would like to know what you didn’t find in this review that you would like to have answered and I will update it! Please comment!

Here are some core questions that I think people will want to know. Further down there are more details around these.

1- How much did it cost?

A: My bill was $3027 CDN. This included Tax, Dura Ace pedals, fitting but it did not include the wheels (which my LBS kept and gave me a discount based on this. I had plenty of wheel sets already).

2. Is it faster than your Road bike (in my case a Specialized Tarmac)?

A: Yes, in as similar conditions as I can figure out it is about 5-10% faster

3. Is it comfortable?

A: Not really, at least not yet. In particular the s-bend aero bars are bit cramped.

4. It comes with a compact crank..is that smart?

A: Not for me. For the Tris I do and my cadence style I am in 50×12 a lot and need a larger crank

Ok, let’s start the review.

1st glance

1st time with the bike was in the fitting room. I was in between the 51cm and the 54cm version and after trying to get the 51cm to fit we worked on the 54cm version and that one fitted me better. I am 5’ 8’” and I agreed as well that the 54cm fit better.  With that done paid and off to home I went.


It is skinny (ubiquitous front “my how skinny” shot below) and absolutely when you are in the wind the bike clearly pushes less wind. I have been amazed how in winds that in the past would push me down to below 30kph I can now keep it up at a higher speed.

Skinny view

The bike is pretty sweet in real life. There are a number of nice details that are very cool and dynamic. It certainly isn’t a bad bike to look at. I would say that the paint scheme is a bit off but the black in general is nice and it sure is glossy. I probably could do with a few less “CERVELO” and “P2” markers but that is a minor comment.

Build Kit

Will start at the beginning and work towards the back of the bike.

1st a quick comment on the Cervelo web site. Considering that they only have 10 or so products there really isn’t a lot there. A few more photos please! The gallery still shows shots from years ago and the spec sheet doesn’t really give you all the info you need. And there isn’t any of the indepth feature descriptions I would expect. I based my Cervelo research on online reviews and drooling over it in the shop.

In contrast, I was able to gather an insane amount of info on the new Tri Shiv and it’s not even released yet.

Aero Bars


For 2012 Cervelo moved from Vision alloy bar to the 3T Aura carbon bar with alloy extensions. I definitely like that change, the look and general integration of the 3T are very good.

The s-bend alloy extensions are the default setup. Since I have not used aero bars before I wasn’t sure if this was right for me. After about 300km I am getting more comfortable. My first ride was very painful and I had to move my wrists every 10 minutes or so. My last ride I was fairly comfortable so as usual the muscles adjust. Also means you need to put in some time before a Tri to make sure it’s not an issue. I think that so far I don’t see a need to move to a more upright bar.

There is one thing that does bug me about the bars. The little bar end caps refuse to stay in place. Since that is where I look a lot (my computer is there) I notice it and it seems cheap. I may gently glue them in place to overcome this.


Getting up when the roads heads upwards requires you get up from the aero extensions. I found this a bit odd at first but in the end was fine.


The bar end shifters are the fairly standard it seems Dura Ace shifters. I have seen this on a lot of Tri bikes and unless you are using SRAM or Campy seems to be what everyone gets. If you are used to shifters on the down top of a bicycle (like my old Gardin) this will be familiar. It’s the old push it up and down. I was surprised how hard it was sometimes to shift but it works and mostly clicks into place quickly. Definitely makes a bit of a case for Ultegra Di2. I noticed as well if you watch Fabian Cancellera or Tony Martin they seem to do the forward reach and pull manoeuvre as well so everyone is in the same boat here.


Stem is a neat 3T one and I really don’t have any comments on it.

Front Brake

The brakes are from FSA and are their Gossamer Pro editions. The front isn’t aero per say and are in front of the fork but seem to be streamlined as much as possible. They grab nicely and seem of good quality and stay centered! No concerns from my point of view here yet. For comparison I had to change the brakes on the 2010 Specialized Tarmac Elite within a week.



The fork is nice.

Front Fork

Cervelo has lots of technical details on the fork (http://cervelo.com/en_us/news-blog/article/the-p4-fork–a-prodigious-father/2936/) and in particular this fork is called the FK26 and has the following engineering specs. In the past they used 3T and other forks but now make their own. Seems to be the same fork as on the P3.

Fork Aerodynamics Model OFFSET, mm Brake hole? Max. axle nut diameter, mm Crown Leading Edge Shape Crown Trailing Edge Shape Layup Dropout
FK26 Optimum P2, P3 43 Yes 20 Round P4/S5 Heavier Carbon

But it’s a fork and a brake and front wheel attach to it and that works!


The frame, fork and seat mast are really all that you are buying that is Cervelo specific in a sense. Its a carbon frame (duh) and it’s light. It’s stiff and seems to be beefed up where it needs to be. I don’t know how to review a frame per say. Compared to my Tarmac it seems cleaner and the paint is about the same in terms of quality.


The frame uses “Smartwall” and in case you forget this feature there is a sticker about it. As far as I can see it adds a bit of depth to the side wall to add stiffness. Oh and by the way it’s made in China. Seems a bit odd to have both a highlighted design and engineering triumph (“we spend time and money on smart thoughts”) then point out that after that they look for the cheapest place to build it. Not really an issue (my company has a Chinese dev shop and those folks are amazing!) and like anything there are good and bad outfits anywhere, but just odd to have it so prominent next to the engineering bit.


The ride is a bit harsh IMHO and if this is an improvement over the older Aluminum one wow, how uncomfortable was that? But it’s not so harsh that I feel I was getting bruised. It seems harsher than my Tarmac but I would put some of that down to the riding position, you can’t use your arms as natural shock absorbers.

Cervelo is an Engineering company it seems before they are a bike company and also want folks to know it. Between you and me can’t really determine the difference between say a 3k and a 12k weave or something that was built in a wind tunnel versus somebody’s basement. But I don’t deny they probably know their stuff!

If interested Cervelo has lots of techie updates like this one on Modulus frames (http://cervelo.com/en_us/news-blog/engineering/article/the-myth-of-modulus/2939/) and while the web site is light on the products it does have a lot of interesting engineering bits. The P2 is an “old” design in a sense but it has been tweaked thru the years and certainly I don’t know if there really are frames (like the P3) that are worth the extra $$$.

Water Bottle

There is one set of water bottle attachments. I simply moved over one of the nice red cages I had on my Gardin over here. I don’t think I will care to put an aero bottle just yet although Cervelo has a lot of wind tunnel to data to help you choose the right spot and shows an Aero bottle probably helps. That report is here.


On longer rides one is too few but the longest TTs I do is 40km so I am fine here.


The derailleurs are Ultegra, which is fairly sweet and with my Tarmac running fantastic with its 105 gruppo I had not worries about the one level higher Ultegra would work and so far no problem.




Ok, here is where I know I wanted to spend some time on. Frankly I was surprised that a Tri bike would come with a compact crank. The 2012 P2 comes with an FSA Gossamer 50/34 compact crank. I was thinking about upgrading to the P3 just because it had the bigger 53/39 FSA crank. But the bigger crank retails for under $200 so seemed silly to pay $900 more just for that in a sense. So why the compact crank on the P2? One thing is that possibly the core customer for the P2 is more the beginner Tri athlete who can use it more effectively and has started with the higher RPM mantra. Using a compact crank if you have a higher rpm leaves your legs fresh and you can probably get up to a decent speed. If you aren’t a top competitor this is probably a significant factor. But not working for me. I have won bike legs in the (distant) past and in most Tris I am towards the top of the sheet in the bike leg.


In all of the Tris this year I have been averaging around 33-35 kph  on the Tarmac and I am still just getting back in shape.  So far all the Tris I have done have been fairly flat so the “compact cranks help you in the hills” does not apply. Still a lot of folks say “Dude, you don’t need a bigger ring”. I needed to do some research and it had to be specific to me. So I added ANT+ devices to the Cervelo to get a sense on how I ride. Here are the results of a recent run. Also this was just my 4th run on the bike and I expect to be much faster in competition as well.

Avg Speed
Avg Moving Speed
Avg HR
Max HR
Avg Bike Cadence
Avg Temp

Average speed was 34kph. I had entire splits at over 36kph and my cadence is pretty much 75 rpm. I had a long stop for a light towards the end but for the most part I was on clear roads where I could get a constant pace up. Now 75 rpm is considered slow these days but I know a lot of people who would die for a bike leg at an average of 35kph etc. And most of the time I found I was using 50×14 or 50×12. 

One of my goals in 2012 is to win some of the bike legs, so I am serious about this. What about the really big boys? It’s hard to find both crank and cadence info but I did find a few instances of cadence.

SRM does put out a lot of data and I am surprised people don’t dig into it more often.

There is some great analysis of the 2011 Ironman here including some info on the older 2010 and 2009 race.

Over the long distance Michi Weiss averages 89, 95 and 93 RPM. Average speed was slightly over 40kph in every case. That tells me he is probably doing a 53×18 or something (if somebody can do the math that would be great).

There is more info on pure TTs

Chris Frome came in 2nd in the 2011 Vuelta TT  Average RPM is 94 (see SRM data here)

Rigoberto Uran 2011 Paris-Nice TT RPM of 95 (see SRM data here)

Juan Antonia Flecha was 4th in the 2010 TDF TT. His RPM was 89. (see SRM data here)

Chris Sorenson 21st 2010 Tour De France TT. RMP was also 89 (see SRM data here)

Also I noticed that all of these folks are in the 150 bpm HR rate which is close to my 149 average.

Nothing on crank ring size but I doubt any of these guys have compact cranks. I know Tony Martin uses a 56T outer ring (but yes he is also World Champion)

So to me it seems like time trial folks needs to be at least over 85 rpm.  You certainly don’t need to be over 100. Gulp, sill have some work to do there. I find anything over 80 rpm hard to keep up. But even then a compact crank is probably not where I sit in the crank spectrum. I probably have been doing 75 rpm for 20 years plus and am a bit of a power paddler. I don’t do anything over 40km.

The Ant+ cadence sensor will help. So the goal is to get up to over 80 rpm but with a larger crank.


Effectively what I did here is replace the wheels with pedals when I bought my bike. I am standardized on Shimano pedals. I have 105 pedals on my Tarmac and R540 basic pedals on my Gardin and both have been fine. Since I was already spending a lot it wasn’t too much of an effort on the LBS to upgrade me to these! I noticed that the R540 are cheap spec and feels it but so far find both the 105 and Dura Ace pedals are very similar although the Dura Ace pedals certainly spin easier and are lighter.


Seat Mast

This is a Cervelo piece and is a glorious black finish. I like the cap that closes which of the two holes you don’t use. Tons of adjustability!


The adjusters are super cool. Since the fitting is done probably won’t have to change this much.


The saddle is a Fi’zi:k Arione Tri2 and boy is it comfy. After my challenges with the saddle on my Tarmac was a bit worried as again you don’t get you choose this. But it’s great. Some of that can be put down to the fitting I had (which was comprehensive) but I think it’s just a great saddle. Will keep this one.


Rear Brake

The rear brake is also the FSA Gossamer and is a bit better streamlined. But again it works and is a fairly good quality so happy with it.



I am using my Easton EA90s so there is a previous review of that. I think I will add some Chinese carbon wheels in the spring.

Has this Cervelo model won Ironman Kona?

Yes… but under Chrissie Wellington who probably could win on a clapped out BMX bike. But there is a sticker to remind you of that. Either way Kona bike count and lots of happy P2 riders mean that this bike has the chomps to do a great bike leg, just needs the right engine.


However, I do admit to thinking that if the new 2012 Shiv was already out, would have been a hard choice….

Can I prove that the Cervelo is faster than my road bike?

Yes, thanks to Garmin connect and my Edge 500 I am able to compare rides. I have a course near my house which is a loop with no real stops so I can be consistent. The 1st 4 rides were with my Tarmac and best was around 33 kph. Then first ride with the P2 and POW 34.6 and first time under 40 minutes and about 2 minutes faster! And this is before I really optimize my riding style and with the compact crank. If you consider that a transition can be 2 minutes I just got a free transition with this bike.

Start Time Distance

Avg Speed

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 11:47 AM
Thu, Sep 8, 2011 10:43 AM
Mon, Jul 25, 2011 5:55 AM
Tue, Jun 28, 2011 5:35 AM
Fri, Jun 17, 2011 5:40 AM
Wed, Jun 15, 2011 7:02 PM



So I am very pleased with the bike. The only thing I am disappointed with is the compact crank but it’s not like I wasn’t aware that may be an issue before I bought.

The only thing that I would like to add here at the end is that the new Specialized Tri Specific Shiv is pretty awesome. The entry point is around 3k and it has a few features that I think Cervelo has to be worried about. I agree, screw the UCI and build better bikes. Will be interesting to see if the Px or P5 or whatever the next big bike from Cervelo happens to be is along those lines. Just in talking to people and hearing already about Shiv shortages clearly Kona big count may be a different story next year. And I notice a lot of Cervelos are older, what is the market share in new sales I wonder?

Engineering is just one of the equations, innovation is the other. Specialized seems to be one step ahead there.

But lets end this on a positive note. I will love this Cervelo and like all my bikes, I will still have it and cherish it many years into the future!

June 2012 Update

My Cervelo P2 in action

My Cervelo P2 in action

This bike has been fast for me and I love it. Have pushed my local 23k route up to over 37 KPH from about 34 before I got it. I have now updated the crank to a Campy Veloce 53/39 (goodbye compact crank!) and we have been entering the Ottawa Bicycle Club Thursday Time Trial. Last run was ever so close to 40 KPH. See my progression below! Getting close to 40kph which is more or less where I left off 20 years ago! Did I mention I love this bike. It just feels so sweet and ready to go every time I mount it.  This Sunday (June 24th) we do our first Tri together, can’t wait and look for an update! Certainly don’t feel like the P2 is out of place among some of the more expensive rigs out there and I still don’t see my bike as the impediment to my speeding up at this point and lots of upgrades can make it better if desired. Buy this bike and you won’t be disappointed!!

Progression of my TTs on the Cervelo P2

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,, 3T Aura
Categories: bicycling, Fit Kit, Review, Triathlon Tags: , ,
  1. Leonardo
    November 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    You sell it ??

    • ducatifiend
      November 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Probably not for about 10 years!

  2. Jeff
    January 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Thank you for the great review!! I happen to have an Elite and considering a P2 also. Happy conquering another Tri this upcoming season.

    • ducatifiend
      January 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the review. Will have an update soon on what I am doing this winter with it. Nothing major but wheel upgrade and a few aero bits. You won’t be disappointed I think if you pull the trigger on one for yourself!

  3. meg
    February 11, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Very Helpful Comparison. Any comments on the FELT? It’s not up there in the Kona count as high but seems to have a lot of great features….

  4. September 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    It is not my first time to pay a visit this web
    site, i am browsing this site dailly and obtain good facts from here all the time.

  5. September 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Great review! I have a 2012 Trek Speed Concept I’ve been riding for a couple years, and was comparing the Cervelo to mine. My frame is a couple pounds heavier than the P2 and seems to take longer to get to speed than my much lighter Madone, but that may be in my mind, once up to speed in my tuck, I am 1-1.5mph faster than my upright position Madone. Read your review with great interest (thanks again for going into such detail), because considering buying a P2 on ebay.

  1. March 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  2. April 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm
  3. September 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm
  4. March 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm
  5. October 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm
  6. January 16, 2014 at 8:19 pm

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