Posts Tagged ‘cervelo’

Why I choose to buy a Cervelo P2

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Buying a bike is a very personal thing. Like a motorcycle, a bicycle is nothing without a rider. It does not exist without a human, it simply falls over. So it is an extension of you. In this way I have always thought of bicycles and motorcycles as MECH model 1s. You strap them on (or clip them on) then they merge with your body. When you move it moves.

Deciding on a particular bicycle brand can be daunting. Basically you have only a few variables to play with. And there are lots and lots of brands. The group will be various levels of Shimano or SRAM (or in some cases campy), components will be a mix of other vendors, and you can change whatever you want except for two things. One is the frame, the other who you buy it from. And frames are usually well built by the bigger names. It would be like if cars always used the same 2 or three engines, dashes, windows, doors and shocks, but we focused all of our branding on the chassis.

My local bicycling store ( carries Specialized, Cervelo and Norco frames. I live in a small town with one (very excellent) bike store, and while there are excellent bike stores within 75 kms, my LBS is worth supporting. And I just don’t see enough differences in the frames of the top tier companies for TT bikes, which includes Cannondale, Specialized, BMC, Blue, Aragon 18, Cervelo, Trek, Planet-X etc. In the end I just don’t think a frame really matters. If that was true then pro riders would moan about their frames, but in 98% of the time they simply show up at the pre-season training and it’s Oh, we have Felt this year. Cavendish has gone from Scott, to Specialized to Pinarello and still wins. Thor won’t miss his S5… I would be fine on any of these frames. But I wanted to choose what my LBS had and the new Shiv wasn’t out yet. That left me with the older Transition frames and the P series from Cervelo. The transition was nice, but even the lowly 105 version was $2500 and it got steep fast.

I didn’t want a Cervelo for a number of reasons but I found one in the back of my car at the end of the process. How did that happen?

I have issues with Cervelo. Being in the technology business I see a lot of companies that are “engineering” companies first and they usually fail at the more important side of the business, which is revenue. Cervelo made a few good moves, getting into the Tour with CSC was a good move. And they have survived, but the rules change all the time (unless you are the UCI!) and you have to adapt. Cervelo TestTeam didn’t make a lot of sense in my mind and I think a lot of people now see that as a costly mistake despite the good press they got.  I wonder about companies that are very technology focused and if they will survive.

Indeed, shortly after my purchase, Cervelo went through some changes and introduced the buy one, get $2k towards another bike. That would have been helpfulSmile. I would have picked up an RS too. And then they announced some funding arrangement with the private equity firm PON. Both were poorly communicated. There is a very simple rule in business, if you have to announce bad news you announce it on a Friday. By announcing the funding change with the least amount of info on the Friday before Christmas, even if this was good news (it does mean the company has funding) means it wasn’t meant to be seen by anyone really. So either there was a problem with funding or they thought it was ok to announce good news on a Friday.

That is the type of mistake an engineering company makes. People were confused. Why the fire sale, why the funding news…hmmm.

Other things that concerns me on Cervelo.

1- Lack of understanding that the world is online. I know that bike fit is important, but that is an after sale process and some (if not most) people know what frame size they want. Not sure why they don’t allow online sales. Adapt or die.  It is pretty common now to see somebody with an online ordered bike and be very happy. Many brands live online. Canyon ( is a good example. They also supply tour level teams. And you can only buy it online. Phillip Gilbert seemed to enjoy his Canyon in 2011.

2- Web Site.  See above. When I was looking info on the P2 I found the site next to useless.  The picture has wheels you don’t get, some of the gallery looks like the bike from 2007, reviews are years old.  There is a link ( that has been static for about 2 years. Is there a Test Team 2.0 coming, is it just sloppy web clean-up???

3- BBright…world doesn’t need yet another bottom bracket standard.  This is called Hubris. I like that more and more people are having the conversation on all these bottom bracket formats. Velo’s 2012 buyer’s guide has a great overview of the problem (Adapt This. Why today’s variety of BB standards has hurt the consumer…pg. 20 not online that I can see). I have tried to understand all of this as I work to upgrade the crank on my P2 and I am still confused and am worried I won’t get the right BB for my new crank.

4- P5 pricing. This one I think I understand why, Cervelo can’t make tons of frames so they restrict it to the high end. But that also means I won’t see really any P5s for quite some time and I use Tri Transition areas as showrooms and I am sure others do as well. Specialized, who to be fair can probably create a lot more frames, has pricing from the low end (ok, you don’t get the wow frame) thru entry points for various spending groups. But it probably made some sense to push out a few more frames and get one lower cost mechanical build. Still the frame is $4500! That means that even with say a 105 group it will be over 5k…yikes.

There are some Good things.

1- Fantastic forum and customer service. Company is honest and really cares about the product.

2- Nice to see the bike under some teams, and I do hope that continues but didn’t need to be the high price of full team status

3- The new P5 micro-site shows they are starting to understand the power of the web

4- They have good ads..better than most

5- Beyond the Peleton was awesome…but it’s now gone. Would have been nice for them to at least end with the awesome 2011 TdF…

But…it’s not about the company. Since 80% of the bike I can still get support from somebody if Cervelo was to disappear tomorrow I want some value. And this is where the P2 really shines. I just simply have to say it’s a good value.  If you ditch the wheels and have some pedals you can probably get it for well under 2500 without trying, and less if you do. I tried to re-create a nice tri bike along the same lines at planet-x, Ribble, various chinese sites and in the end I usually ended up pushing against the P2 price point and having to do some work myself and piss off my LBS. So why not support my local LBS, get a great bike and not have to worry about waiting by the mailbox.

So why did I buy the Cervelo P2. It’s a great deal on a great bike from a great LBS.


2012 Cervelo P2 Full Review

November 3, 2011 14 comments


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 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 (–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 ( 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

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Guide to viewing the Paris Roubaix race and recap of my viewing of the Paris Roubaix 2011

May 2, 2011 2 comments

While in Europe recently I realized that I would be in Paris on April 10th and have nothing to do!  A quick glance at the racing calendar revealed that the Paris Roubaix is on that day..WOW, sometimes things just work out. The only cost to see this race is your travel to and from the locations. So I picked up a rental car and planned my day.

I struggled with finding out how to view the Paris Roubaix race and didn’t find a lot on line so here it is. The guide to visiting the Paris Roubaix race (or at least some of the most important parts) is thus revealed!

One word, I didn’t have time to get to the velodrome in Roubaix so can’t give guidance there. I focused on the start and the Arenberg Forest.


The Start (in Compiegne about an hour north of Paris) starts around 10am so I planned to be there by 9am. Not a lot happens until the buses arrive around 930 so I wouldn’t show up sooner.

It’s pretty simple to get there, take the A1 north of Paris then exit onto the E46 and head East!  Follow signs to Compiegne. You end up on the N31 and before you cross the bridge there is a parking area just ahead. Parking is Free on Sunday so just lock things up (however it’s a sleepy town, I doubt that was needed) then walk over the bridge to the Chateau. Start is in the courtyard of the Chateau de Compiegne and parking is tight around there so a short walk was fine. There is lots to see and do so the time passes quickly.

Here is the link to the city on google maps and a quick view below.


compiegne pr start

Buses, cars and motorcycles start to show up around 9:30am and play a delicate ballet to get settled in. Then the bikes get set up and and riders will pop out of the buses from time to time. I tend to like the Garmin-Cervelo team, not for my love as a proud Canadian of Cervelo the company per say (come on guys, bicycling is fun, not just a business), but their bikes are awesome and I have a Garmin 500 that I love. Also I like a number of their riders, especially Thor and Ryder. So I camped out right next to the bus. There was a bit of police tape keeping us back but basically you are right there. I watched the team get ready and gather themselves. Good stuff. Even got 6 seconds of Van Summeren who I didn’t know before the race but glad I got a quick view of him.

Van Summeren before his big day


I also hung out at the Leopard-Trek bus and then took in the atmosphere.

After a lot of presentations, the riders sign in and the ride out begins. This is when the riders still don’t know what the day will hold for them, and there are a lot of riders and teams, many of whom were not evident at the Arenburg forest later in the day! Takes a while for the whole gang to pass by.

Riders out on a day that will end badly for most! And King Fabian Waves!

The riders pass quickly and then it’s all over. Now these guys are fast, but cars are still much much faster so you have the opportunity to leap frog the peloton and see them many times. I wasn’t interested in chasing them to every cobble stretch and I was warned that getting to the Arenberg trench can be tricky, so I headed there.

Arenberg Forest

It was harder to work out where the Arenberg forest was but I knew in general it was near Valenciennes and I was able to cajole the amazingly confusing navigation system in my rented Citroen C5  to point itself towards there.  That got me back on the A1 heading north then on to the A2.

Warning, the A1 and A2 are toll roads, overall for the whole day it cost me about 30 euros! So the French get their money off of you one way or another!

As I got closer based on the view on the GPS it made sense to turn North onto the A23. In the end I somehow found the perfect place. Take the exit to the Rue Des Wallers and find a parking spot right around the highway entrance (but not on the ramps, they ticket you there)! Link to map is here.

arenberg park

Park right off the highway then follow the crowds to the trench! You should be heading west along the forest paths!

I would not recommend trying to park close to the trench itself, it’s a parking lot after and takes a long time to get out. I parked right near the highway exit and was able to get back on the road right away. It’s about a thirty minute walk through some nice forests.


Finally at the trench!

The trench is even more amazing in real life. It’s about 2.5 kms long and you can walk it (and even ride it) up to about 15 minutes before the pack arrives. The cobbles are huge! The atmosphere is very festive. If you stick to the entrances or the mid way it’s packed, but amazingly work your way in a few hundred meters and you can grab lots of real estate to yourself.

I got there about an hour and a half before the race arrived. There is a video screen at the entrance so you can keep up with the race then everyone starts to be settled. The race announces itself through the helicopters. I followed the race online with some live tickers and soon enough it was time for the show to arrive.

I wanted to watch as much as I could so decided only to film the first group through, here is that video.

The trench awakens!

The peloton is very broken up by this time, so it takes about 15-20 minutes for everyone to get through which means you actually get to see a lot of the dynamics and mechanics of how a race is run. Wait until you see the van that says "Fin de Course” because until then there are stragglers still coming by!

Clearly a lot of people were going on to the velodrome, but my flight was out of Orly at 7pm so back to Paris I went. Simple task of A2 to A1, pay the toll and you are back in Paris about 2 hours later.

Sometimes things just work out, and for me Paris Roubaix did. I doubt I will watch the race live again but I am glad I did and I hope this guide helps you one day as well!

Finally, just to show you how nice a day it was, I filmed our climb out of Paris, what a view and a fantastic weekend in the city and area!

Flying out of Paris after a fantastic weekend cycle wise