The Cervelo P5 was launched at the company’s 2012 Bike Brain event in Fuerteventura, quickly prompting jaws to hit the floor. But three years is a long time in the TT bike world, and despite the many trendsetting innovations the P5 ushered in, it’s time for something new.
There’s always something on the drawing board, so here we’re speculating on what a Cervelo P6 might have in store for the ravenous aero junkies out there.
Not UCI legal
Coming soon after the reveal of the non-UCI legal Specialized Shiv in October 2011, Cervelo opted for a modular system with the P5 that would allow triathletes an aero benefit over UCI-conscious riders by implementing a different fork and brake cover.
The Cervelo P5 is a fast and beautiful machine
For the P6, we’d like to see Cervelo forego UCI regulations and create an outlandish, outrageously quick design.
With the Falco V and Dimond, we’ve seen a couple of attempts recently to revive the Zipp 2001 and Softride-style designs from decades past, in which the seat tube and seatstays are removed in order to eliminate any drag in that area.
These beam bikes are reputed to be the fastest things on two wheels and Cervelo once had just such a design, created in 1995 for time trial world champion Gianni Bugno. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the UCI cracking down on frame designs in the 1990s (something Cervelo had great success in foreseeing and adapting to) companies including Cervelo might well have continued to refine this frame format.
The likelihood of such a resurrection might be low – Cervelo claimed the P5 was the fastest bike it had ever wind-tunnel tested, regardless of regulations, but now the Canadian company is owned by the colossal Pon Holdings, we’re hoping there’s space for its developers to go nuts with an illegal superbike. After all, we’ve seen Specialized, Felt and Scott forego the UCI's edicts with their flagship machines.
Yes, we know aero always wins, but it’s still nice to feel like you’re flying up climbs as well as down them.
Like the Shiv and Felt IA, the P5 is extremely aero, but certainly no lightweight. Cannondale’s new Slice shows a lighter tri setup is possible, but with the admission that some aerodynamic benefit is lost in the process.
We think if anyone can lighten the load without conceding speed and stiffness it’ll be Cervelo. The company’s latest S5 aero road bike has a claimed stiffness improvement of 35 percent while also saving a claimed 21.3 watts at 40km/h. Now granted, most of the stiffness improvement was in the fork and the claimed watts savings came thanks to an aero road bar, but if a similar magic trick could be pulled off with the P6 – with a weight reduction too – it’d be spectacular.
Asking for a weight reduction would be extremely tough for a beam bike as it takes a lot of carbon to make that kind of structure stiff enough. Still, Cervelo is known for pushing the limits of bike design – so let’s see it do so again.
Cervelo’s P5 featured a wealth of integration including a behind-the-stem nutrition box, an above-the-BB toolbox or bottle and a hidden Di2 battery compartment. In fact, it had pretty much everything you need.
So what does that leave for the P6? It would be great to integrate the drag-saving bento box, and we’d also like to see a computer mount with no aero penalty.
Scott's Plasma 5 has to set the benchmark for front-end integration
It’s extremely unlikely we’ll get an internal bladder on the P6. Aside from Felt’s version on the IA, which bore such a similarity for Specialized’s design, mysteriously disappearing for the 2015 editions, Cervelo developed a similar system called Tank in 2007, but dismissed the idea because the straw generated more drag than a frame-mounted bottle.
In fact, Cervelo’s assertion that a regular drinks bottle between the bars lowers drag makes us think the cockpit will remain similar too. We’ve seen the Scott Plasma 5’s nosecone doubling as a drinks container and the Falco V’s integration of the Elite Crono CX drinks bottle – if Cervelo could integrate a mount for a standard bottle without a drag penalty, it would be a spectacular feat of practicality.
The cockpit will probably feature space for a drag-saving, bottle between the extensions setup
Then there are fairings. Trek uses one under the BB – along with the rear-mounted toolbox – to effectively increase the ratio of the Speed Concept frame beyond UCI limits. We’re sure Cervelo could offer us something similar, but, you know, faster.
For the P5, Cervelo teamed with Magura to create a set of hydraulic rim brakes, the front covered by a nosecone for triathlon use and the rear brake mounted under the chainstays. The hydraulic brakes offer the power to brake late into corners, giving an effective speed boost. We’ve not seen these specced on other TT machines but they're undoubtedly effective if you can get over the need for a proprietary lever and bleeding during setup.
The Magura RT8 brakes are aero, extremely light and very powerful
With the growing proliferation of disc brakes on road bikes, could Cervelo take this concept even further with the P6 and spec discs? Cervelo's recent alignment with HED wheels, a company famed for its aerodynamics and which also has a range of road disc wheels means the brands would be in a good position to work together on this. If this path is followed, its likely that we'd see an wider fork to accommodate a thicker wheel creating a larger aerofoil to push air around the disc - something that wheelbuilder Reynolds is also looking into.
Always innovative, Cervelo could be the first company to employ the use of a one-by TT system? SRAM is likely following up its MTB and CX one-by systems with just such a product. This would remove the drag associated with the front derailleur and second chainring as well as make cable routing simpler. Okay, so it’s less down to Cervelo than its component partners, but surely one-by will be more aero – and we think that’ll be hard to resist for the company’s engineers.
If Cervelo sticks with a double up front, there could soon be another option too. We’ve also already seen SRAM’s wireless electronic shifting system being used by pros and this technology has to be tailor made for TT bikes. If you’ve ever undertaken a TT bike gear cable swap, you’ll know how painful a process it can be. Imagine never having to thread gear cabling again. Bliss.