Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cervelo P4 Report

Well for what's it worth here is my thoughts on the new Cervelo P4. I am not a pro cyclist or testing bikes for a living and can only compare it with the Cervelo P3 that I had for three years. I have done just under 900km with the bike.
To begin with the bike is definitely faster than the P3. What amazed me was that it is handling windy conditions better than the P3, especially cross winds. It has a better feel and you can feel the wind cutting through the P4 and not pushing it around. When reaching speeds of 35km+ you start appreciate the aerodynamics and it is at higher speeds that you definitely build momentum and maintain the high speed without pushing as hard as the P3.
What also amazed me was that it is a "softer" ride than the P3. It is not as hard and when you get rougher road conditions it is much more gentle on the body. Handling is similar to the P3 and if needed you can change direction quite quickly without loosing control.
Before I get into the detail of the specifics parts of the P4 the picture above is what I will hopefully use during IM South Africa next year, as disc wheels are allowed and with a Zipp 808 front as the course is not that hilly. Below is the "Kona" edition with a Zipp 808 rear and a Zipp 404 front.
I have ask Marco at Cycle Tech to fit my "bento box" while they do the cabling as the cables enters the frame at the top and not as the P3 at the side. They made small holes in the bag and routed the cables through it, that way it can still be at the same place where I am used to it. At first I did tried it tied to the seat post but it is to difficult to reach for my gels and my legs were chafing against it.
The new Zipp Chrono crank is awesome and I opted for the 54/42 combination. One thing to get used to is I've been riding Q-Rings for three years and now I am back using standard rings.
The water bottle fits very tight into its holder and with the bottle having special grooves to interlocks with the cage it can be difficult to put the bottle back especially if your are doing high speed. I have noticed that when you use the bottle you need to make sure it returns to its original shape after you squeezed it otherwise you won't get it back into the holder.
The rear brakes is very neatly tucked away under the frame but it is not as effective as the rear brakes of the P3. It slows you down but not very quickly. you need to use the front brake if you want to slow down quickly.
I have kept my USE1 handle bars and they are a real pleasure, very aero but also very effective.
I have changed the group set and are using Sram Red where the P3 was fitted with Shimano Dura Ace. Must say I enjoy the Sram shifters and they feel more robust than the Shimano shifters. Especially the front derailleur is shifting better and it has a more direct feel than the Shimano shifter. Coming to the wheels, I have decided to go back to clinchers. I sold my Zipp 1080's tubbies and Marco swop my Zipp 404 tubby for a clincher. It takes longer to change a clincher but I've seen at IMSA this year that it takes a lot of space to carry spare tubbies. I want to finish a race and would rather carry more tubes than to stand next to the road without a tubby.

The seat post is one area where Cervelo can improve. The post does not fit that tightly into the frame and the seat post clamp that needs to be tightened to keep the seat post secure is not effective. They say you can tighten it to 7NM but it keeps slipping down when you ride. Cervelo gave me another seat post as they say not all seat posts are exactly the same size but the new one was actually smaller than the old one. I had to apply Carbon paste to the post before I fitted it and for now it is holding.

Now here's my verdict.
The Pros:
A faster bike
Smoother ride
Handling windy conditions better
The Cons:
The rear brake is not effective
Putting the water bottle back at high speed can be a problem
The seat post clamp needs to be improved.
The P4 is a very delicate bike and I believe it is not as robust/ durable as the P3. If you are a sponsored triathlete and have the option the use the P4 only for races that is fine but I believe that doing your training and racing on the P4 it won't last as long as the P3. I think it is the same as with cell phones these days, the more gadgets and features the phone have the better change for it to break.
One must handle it very gentle and although it is an improvement on the P3, I think the P3 is more suitable for age group triathletes who wants a bike to train , race and travel with and don't want to worry about all the delicate things that can go wrong.



  1. Excellent report. Very interesting.

  2. Thank you for this info. I am considering between a P3 and P4 now.

  3. Hi RuninDC
    its a pleasure, let me know what you bought.

  4. Great review, thanks.

  5. Awesome bike Stemmet! Your review has convinced me to forego the P3 and save a few more pennies to get the P4. Have you had any problems with your 808 fitting in the P4?

  6. Anonymous
    No problem with the 808 fitting the P4
    enjoy your new ride.

  7. Can you lock the rear wheel by applying the rear brake

  8. Hi AKA "Fast Eddy"
    No, never been able to lock the rear wheel. Even applying the brake to the max it only slows the bike down. that is one downside of the bike, the rear brake is not effective and barely slows me down