Cervélo pushes the boundaries to create UCI-legal P5 time trial frame
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cervélo pushes the boundaries to create UCI-legal P5 time trial frame

by Ben Atkins at 9:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News
Canadian company's latest time trial frame goes to the edge of regulations, but UCI confirms it complies with the rules

cervelo p5Despite appearances in the teaser pictures that it released of its new P5 triathlon and time trial frame earlier in the week, Cervélo has confirmed that it does, indeed, comply with International Cycling Union (UCI) technical regulations. Pushing to the very edges of the rules, Cervélo claims that it has created “the most advanced and most aerodynamic traithlon and time trial bike.”

“Even with the advanced engineering resources and cutting edge tools that we have at our disposal, engineering the P5 took a massive effort on the part of our team and our partners on the project to make a bike that is not only fast, but simple and easy to live with,” said Cervélo co-founder and CEO Phil White. “There’s no question that we’ve succeeded. The P5 is 6 to 11 watts faster than so-called superbikes while at the same time being simple to set up and maintain. The fact that it is simply faster will make a measurable difference in a triathlon or time trial of any length.”

Right to the very edge of legality

While the P5 frame appears as though it should fall foul of UCI regulations – particularly with the sections of its head tube, seat tube cluster and bottom bracket cluster, which are clearly more than three times as deep as they are wide – it does not. While rule 1.3.020 states that no frame member may measure more than 8cm on any axis, 1.3.021 also allows for the assembly of the elements of the frame be assembled with a joint that fits within a triangle of another 8cm; this means – as Cervélo has exploited – that a head tube can effectively be 16cm deep; with an extra millimetre added to each 8cm for ‘tolerance’, making 16.2cm.

With different regulations governing UCI and triathlon bikes; unlike Specialized, which has made a triathlon-only version of its Shiv, Cervélo has made two different forks to fit one frame. The triathlon version, which is marginally faster than the UCI one, features a far more faired area around the brake calliper; the UCI one does not, and has satisfied the scrutineers in Aigle.

VeloNation contacted UCI technological coordinator Julien Carron, who confirmed that this was the case.

“I understand the confusion about the P5 model because they made 2 different forks,” he said. “One is for the time trial events and was approved by the UCI and the other one is for triathlon races and does not comply with the UCI regulation. However, the frame is the same for both disciplines and was recently approved by the UCI.”

As Carron also pointed out, the P5 frame – specifically with the FK37 fork – was added to the UCI’s list of approved frames in late December.

As well as pushing the boundaries for the tube shapes, Cervélo has also ‘tuned’ the skin surface of each ‘AeroZone’, to optimise airflow; with the complete package saving an estimated 30 seconds in a 40km time trial.

Along with Cervélo’s top road frames, the R3, R5 and S5, the P5 uses Cervélo’s BBright bottom bracket system, which it claims brings massive increases in stiffness.

Hydraulics on the road and integrated electronics

As well as its boundary-pushing tube shapes, the big innovation that comes with the P5 is the use of hydraulic rim brakes, developed jointly by Cervélo and Magura. While many might regard this as a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, the stopping power of brakes on many time trial bikes is often rather poor – with more emphasis put on going fast than slowing down, and often circuitous internal routing of cables robbing them of power – which can be problematic on technical courses.

Not only are the new RT8 TT callipers much stronger than their cable driven counterparts though, at just 495g for the complete system, it is also a bit lighter. While it was a joint development however, with “aerodynamics by Cervélo, hydraulics by Magura”, the system will be available to buy separately in the summer.

Cervelo P5With the frame fully embracing Di2, Shimano’s flagship electronic groupset, Cervélo has also come up with a solution for where to put the battery. The P5 features a ‘HiddenPocket”, where the battery is kept out of the airflow, while the system’s control box is accommodated in a neat cavity on the side of the new, fully integrated Anduro aerobars.

As the early pictures showed, the P5 dispenses with the integrated bottle system of the P4, which fell foul of UCI regulations shortly after its launch in late 2008. Instead, the frame features bottle cage bosses in the standard place on the down tube – although not on the seat tube, which is the more aerodynamic position – as well as a set each on top of the top tube and on top of the aerobars. The latter two positions will be of interest to trialthletes only however, since the placing of bottles outside the main triangle will be outlawed from 2013.

Frames will begin to become available to the public from March; prices will be $4,500 for the frame, $6,500 for the frame with Anduro bars and RT8 hydraulic brakes, $6,000 for a complete bike with slightly cheaper RT6 brakes and mechanical Dura-Ace, and $10,000 for the top of the range Dura-Ace Di2 machine.


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