The Ironman World Championship is right around the corner, and new superbikes are popping up left and right. Last night, Cervelo took the wraps off their radical new P5X – a bike that has been many years in the making. After seeing that Biowheels in Madeira, OH actually had one on hand, we decided it was time to pay one of our favorite local shops (and a previous employer of Zach – Ed.) a visit to check out the bike, the tech, and the weight in person… 

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Like most new tri bikes, when it came time to develop the P5X Cervelo wanted to make it faster – but more importantly, they wanted it to be at least as fast with the addition of disc brakes. It seems that disc brakes are the way forward for tri bikes and Disc discs will become more prevalent (which is good news for those who have had to set up integrated aero brakes). Supposedly, Cervelo achieved their goal, not only making the bike as fast as previous P5 but making it a bit faster in the process. The addition of disc brakes plus the nature of the frame means the addition of thru axles as well with a 142×12 rear and 100×12 front QR thru axle. The brakes are flat mount with 160mm rotors and TRP’s HYRD mechanical/hydraulic calipers.

Cervelo also wanted to ensure their wind tunnel results actually translated to the race course which is what sent them on a massive investigation into the actual set ups found on the course. Supposedly, Cervelo took over 14,000 photos of different bikes to see exactly what riders were doing with their bikes. You can have the most aero bike in the world in the wind tunnel, but if you’re taping gels to the top tube and strapping tubes to the frame, those numbers go out the window. To make sure the bike is as fast as possible, the P5X features three main storage compartments that are both built in and removable depending on the location for the perfect amount of storage.



On the top tube, the SmartPak features a structured zippered pouch with internal organization for gels, a center section for deeper storage, and even a small tray for electrolyte tabs. It can be removed from the frame completely if not needed and includes a cover for the hole in the frame.


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Speaking of frame openings, Biowheels’ owner Mitch Graham pointed out that you can access the internal cable routing through the openings of the frame making assembly a bit easier.

In front of the bottom bracket is the Stealth Box which is the one completely integrated storage compartment. Nestled inside the opening is a small box which is big enough to hold a spare tube, small co2 inflator, and a multi tool to keep the weight down low. The compartment is accessed through a latch on the driveside and includes a secondary latch on the box itself to open the storage compartment.


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Finally, the SpeedCase is the third storage area which is also removable and bolts to a standard water bottle mount on the down tube. There is a secondary water bottle mount on top of the SpeedCase when the box is in use so you don’t lose the mounting location. The thought is that if you’re only doing a Sprint or Olympic distance tri, you don’t need the same amount of storage as an Ironman, so the storage space should be modular to fit your needs.


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Additional bottle storage is offered behind the saddle with a built in mount. The seat post can actually pierce the upper beam and is held in place by a single pinch bolt, but the post can be cut at the bottom for maximum aerodynamics. This bike’s post has already been cut. Most bikes will likely be fit, then cut to size for the owner who will then still have a small range of adjustment.

Perhaps one of the most surprising features of the frame isn’t really a design element, but where it is built. All of the P5X frames are being built by HED Cycling in Minnesota. Supposedly only 40 bikes were built in the first run with more on the way.


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Along with storage and aerodynamics, the frame features a number of impressive features to make it fit a huge range of rider and to make it easier to travel. Both the base bar and the elbow pad cradle can be flipped for different positions, and the height of the aerobars themselves can be adjusted 112mm with a sliding stack height “post.” Electronics can be integrated into the frame behind the handlebars with a window built in for junction boxes. Between the elbow pads you’ll also find another water bottle cage mount.



Anyone who has ever packed or traveled with a tri bike can tell you – it’s not fun. The bikes are modern marvels when it comes to performance, but getting them into and out of their shipping homes can be a challenge. However, Cervelo seems to have thought of everything with a custom P5X case from biknd as well as a unique collapsible base bar. To break the bike down, you just remove the four screws that hold the base bar together and it divides into two pieces which are then held to each fork leg with a neoprene sleeve. That allows you to slide the bike into the case without messing with the headset and preserving most of your settings. Built with inflatable sides for protection and thru axle mounting points, the biknd case isn’t included with the bike though – it’s another $800.

On Biowheels’ scale, the medium frame as pictured with all three storage compartments in place (without the spare tube) came in at 21.96lbs (9.96kg). That’s with the $15,000 SRAM Red eTap build and ENVE wheels. Later in December, there will also be an Ultegra Di2 model offered with HED wheels and a slightly more attainable price of $11,000. Who’s to put a price on your Personal.Best, right?

Thanks to Mitch for the run down on the bike!



  1. Tupac on

    I’m curious as to why they used the TRP HY/RD brakes which are bulky and clunky to use, and don’t offer much more stopping power and modulation versus a rim brake. Cervelo, in the past, has been an innovater in terms of using hydraulic Magura rim brakes. Why go back to mechanical brake levers?

    • Jon Francis on

      My guess would be leverage. I don’t think they could use full hydro because of the lever and line routing. I think the HY/RDs offered 1-finger braking leverage, which might matter.

      Also, the HY/RDs angle inward, they may actually me more aero.

    • JBikes on

      I’m assuming its to make breakdown for travel a little easier since you just have to remove the cable. The base bar has to be removed to fit in the case, so I’m assuming if it was a fully hydraulic system it could get hung up.

      • 1111 on

        The longer the course, the more likely weather change can impact things. Kona is only one race; one of the race venues is in Whistler, BC, Canada.

      • Japan on

        Disc brakes do more than stop well in all weather. They allow manufacturers (primarily wheel, but frame as well) to be released from the constraints of rim brakes. Disc brake specific wheels don’t have to manage heat or fall within widths that are dictated by the brake caliper, therefore you can aggressively shape the rim and make it lighter, stronger, better… The end result is a faster and better riding bike if the technology is executed against properly.

      • Jack Moore on

        Tri bikes notoriously suck at braking, the complicated cable routing and minimalist brake levers (Mine are about the width of a butter knife) make for low leverage and braking power. Add in carbon rims and you lose some more power. Disc’s make sense because you can get more power with less leverage – but this kludgy mechanical/hydro combination seems disappointing on a $15,000 (!!) bike. Supposedly SRAM has a hydro TT group in the works.

        Zach – 21+ lbs is pretty heavy for a ‘halo’ bike, but the storage boxes probably skew the results. Can you get a weight without the bento and frame-mount case so we can better compare?

  2. Grateful on

    From all these recent posts of the latest iteration of Tri-Bikes it looks like the same designer is designing for ALL the different manufacturers.

    What’s going on?

    • Matt Disney on

      There is a always going to be a shape or collection of shapes that is “more aero” than anything else. If companies want the most aero gains then all designs are going to converge towards that one “most aero” shape…

  3. mike on

    I’m sorry, but does anyone not see the horrific bonds and joints between the dropouts and stays???

    Talk about an afterthought. They look like garbage. Excess epoxy. The dropout doesn’t fit well with the stay. Seriously, for the price and what it is, I would expect much much better.

  4. Greg on

    I didn’t think about it until mentioned, but the best thing about discs on tri bikes is the elimination of integrated, aero “brakes” placed in sweat-and-excrement collection zones. Bravo.

  5. Beat_the_trail on

    I’ve said it before…
    Life is too short to ride an ugly bike or sail an ugly boat.
    Plus, @mike is right, for $15k you would expect someone to clean up the bond joints.

  6. Jimmie on

    If I were in that market, which I’m not, I wouldn’t care even a little about the aesthetics, I’d care about the wind tunnel numbers (and better yet data from a significant amount of speedway testing, with riders on the thing). Cervelo designs deliver good numbers, usually. The aesthetics on their bikes can be odd… sometimes they’re brutally efficient looking, sometimes just weird, but at least the philosophy of the company is clear, which is that theyre selling performance and are willing to place looks far down on the list.
    This cant be said of some, who build blandly performing and also odd bikes (Look, I’m looking at you).
    Finish quality, well, you’ve got a better argument there but one would hope that any compromises there are to keep the cost uh… down? (yikes, $15K!)

    • Alvis on

      ‘Cervelo designs deliver good numbers, usually’ Really? How do you know because they say so? Like all the other fastest bike?. A couple of pictures of a 3D print or finished bike in the tunnel and a meaningless drag plot and we all fall for it.
      Lets see a manufacturer release the raw data-if they truly are the fastest they have nothing to lose.

  7. Paul on

    Cervelo dethrone Diamondback after only a couple of days as having designed and actually built the ugliest tri bike EVER! And a poorly constructed and finished one at that. Come on guys – can we stop with the “fastest tri bike ever’ nonsense. Might work for the trolls but please bestow avid and technically knowledgeable readers a bit of respect. If you’re going to persist please back it up with real numbers – not meaningless and unsubstantiated headlines.

  8. Andy on

    Move over gravel bikes. With that much storage space I sense the marketers will be busy generating buzz on an impending tri-bikepacking craze next year.

    • Mick on

      There isn’t currently a hydro TT lever available…an issue that will be addressed fairly soon (TRP, SRAM, etc all have models in the works)…Thus the reason for the cable/hydro brakes

  9. ms on

    I appreciate the innoication Cervelo/HED put into the frame. As for the the joints that appear to have excess/sloppy epoxy bonds, it looks to me to be gaps under rough edges of decals applied to protect the carbon surfaces.

  10. Peter A. on

    Egads!!! My Cervelo NP2 comes in at around 18 lbs with a Hed Stinger PT Disc (not a light wheel) and Stinger 9. Not to mention it’s not THAT less aero than the P5X (and much cheaper). Of course, I don’t do IM events where I need 20 gel packs taped to my top tube…;)

  11. dbs0 on

    At 22lbs/9.96kg with Sram Etap & Enve wheels (at US$15,000!), you’ll probably have a hard time getting it much lighter. How much do the cheaper builds weigh?

  12. 1111 on

    The frame is NOT Sprint or Standard (nee Olympic) triathlon legal.

    There was a flair up at the regional Sprint championship because three days prior to the competition, the governing body declared that disc brake bikes would not be allowed on the course. 36 hrs until the race, the condition was relaxed to those riding on disc brake bikes would not get championship points.

    Here’s to hoping the rules get updated in the near future, as disc brakes are in fact road legal now, have been in cyclocross for years, and the true sign of the times – the new Dura-Ace has a disc brake option. Discs are coming to cycling events outside of mountain biking, simple fact.

  13. Rob on

    I think all of the criticism is at this point useless. How many of you remember when the UCI banned bikes like this starting on January 1st, 2000? It affected the entire bike industry. So many small manufacturers went under a few years later including one of my favorites Hotta. It seems now that the bike industry is starting to finally realize that the UCI doesn’t have anything to do with Triathlons and hence all of these radical bike designs.
    Forgive the length of this post but in my opinion now that these bikes are becoming available once again something wonderful is going to happen – these bikes will get better and hopefully as I have read recently the UCI is ready to relax some design rules and maybe some interesting bike designs can reenter the Pro Tour. I remember when Lotus, Hotta, Pinarello, Look and others where racing in the Tour De France back in the 90’s. I would like to see that again.
    Just have some patience, its only going to become more interesting from here on…

    • 1111 on

      The reason for the restriction is the same as the LZR swimsuit, or the 15 lb UCI road bike weight limit. Competitors risk getting “priced out” of the competition because they can’t afford the equipment.

      Nothing stops you from getting something custom done.

      • Rob on

        I am aware of that. I remember the UCI saying that only the top funded teams had the exotic bikes but what can you do about that? Even legal UCI TT bikes can be well north of $10k, The cost issue hasn’t been resolved at all because the best funded teams still have the best equipment even when the bikes fall within the UCI design guidelines.

  14. Morgan on

    I like it. Mean and bold look. I had many Cervelo, and I couldn’t be happier other than for the rear derailleur hanger that in some frames is not replaceable. I read this article in a hurry and might have missed any reference to it for this model. I hope it is as I still have my one year old P2C frame on the wall with no scratches and a bent hanger.
    In a world of super expensive bicycles (honestly a little exaggerated in my eyes), I still have hard time justifying one that costs as much as the like new used Acura I bought for my daughter as her first car. I did say CAR not bicycle. Perhaps I will be able to ride one and who knows, it might convince me it is actually worth the price.

  15. Paul on

    Kristi – Calling it a “Superbike” is misleading unless the author is simply referring to the outrageous price, but then the headline should properly read “Super-expensive bike”.
    As a freelance designer there is very little new here apart from the proliferation of storage space – Most of which will never be used. Read the majority of feedback………..Not very encouraging for a once dynamic brand.

  16. Hari on

    lengthy review with absolutely no mention of stiffness or frame flex. Seems a thoughtless omission considering that would be most readers’ concern with such an unconventional frame shape.

  17. Roy Payne on

    This bike is a bunch of cheap plastic junk! Don’t waste your money. I’ve had to replace almost every thing plastic within the first year due to broken parts! Bento box insert, stem covers, and frame storage box all cracked cheap plastic on a 16,000.00 bike


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