Real world Cervelo P2 Review
Cervelo is responsible for the majority of aero-stylistic features of the modern time trial (TT) / triathlon bike. Although Cervelo doesn't seem to be at the top of every bike company's independent aerodynamic testing, it is worth noting that, pre-P5 launch, they were usually the runner up to the newest "superbike" of the various companies that funded the tests!
Though heavily investing in wind tunnel time (and not relying as heavily on simulations… who does simulated races?) leaves them somewhat lacking in the propaganda department, and in recent years their paint jobs have come a long way (whatever you do, do NOT google "2007 Cervelo P2C". save your eyes!).
So what's with the 2012 bikes? The new P5 has received rave reviews from everyone from CyclingNews and VeloNews to BikeRadar. But what about their other bikes? How about the 2012 version of the tried and true P2?
The P2 has gone through several iterations over the years, but a few things remain that I really like about it. First is the geometry. Few people buying the bikes are contortionists like Dave Zabriskie, and it's no secret that exposed steerer tube is very un-aerodynamc. It's like racing a ferrari with roof racks. The P2 has "taller" geometry than the P3 and P4 bikes, about 1.5cm taller per equivalent size.
Along those lines, the P2 is an absolute boon for those with longer legs to torso ratio (like women in general, compared to men) as well as the really tall riders out there. Just this year a certain lanky TT geek captured the (cat3) Southern California State TT jersey on board an aluminum P2SL. When it was time to upgrade my bike and move on, there was simply no better bike to get than the 2012 P2. The fit is the same, and the carbon fiber shaping of the bike is highly inspired by "trickle down" stylistic elements of the contemporary P3 and P4 iterations conceived in the wind tunnel. The price range of the 2012 P2 fell within my "starving scientist" budget.
But, how does the bike ride?
I'm in a pretty unique position to critique the latest iteration of the P2, since my previous steed was a 2006 P2SL. I don't want to sound too much like every other bike review out there, but the 2012 P2 actually is more laterally stiff and vertically compliant than its predecessor. It's not as snappy as a few carbon road frames I've used, but I was more than happy with the perceived power transfer during sustained efforts. The carbon layup nicely dissipates mild and moderate road noise without feeling like you're riding a steed of jello.
I was initially skeptical of the 3T Aura Pro aero bars, but that may simply be because I was an ardent fan of the Vision aerobar setup on previous years' models. It also comes with s-bend bars, which are not for everyone. (I personally prefer ski-bend bars). The Aura Pro aero bars have been a pleasantly sturdy platform, and are noticeably more adjustable than the vision bars, in terms of elbow width and extension length. The cable routing is not as constricted as the vision bars, and provides for smoother braking.
The seat clamp has a 4nM torque limit, and based off recommendations and warnings from the Nytro staff, it is absolutely essential to have at least a simple torque wench around (LINK TO TORQUE WRENCHES).
The saddle clamp can occasionally click, but that was (mostly) ameliorated by application of a little grease between the alloy-alloy notches. The Arione Tri2 saddle is fairly generic as far as TT saddles go. Everyone has their own preferences for saddles, but it's definitely vanilla flavored and not "cold iced milk." I actually prefer the saddle clamp of the older aluminum Cervelo bikes.
I have yet to take the bike to Fiesta Island for field aerodynamic testing, so I will have to get back to you on that. The bike handles nicely and tracks well through corners.
The 2012 Cervelo P2 is an aerodynamic platform at a very good price. The geometry is a little more relaxed than other models and other brands, and that's a good thing for the really tall and / or leggy riders out there. The ride quality is great, the handling is good, and stock components and aerobars are functional and versatile. All in all, it's still my vote for best bang for the buck in time trial / triathlon bikes.