WITH ENVE 7.8 WHEELS AND SRAM’S RED ETAP GRUPPO; WITH HED JET 6.9 WHEELS AND SHIMANO’S ULTEGRA DI2 COMPONENTS AND A ROTOR FLOW CRANK
To truly understand how the Cervélo P5X came about, you have to spend some time with Lesley Loughlin, Cervélo’s triathlon marketing director. Loughlin spends a lot of her life taking care of Cervélo’s pro athletes and doing everything she can to make sure the company wins the yearly Kona bike count, which it has done for almost a decade now.
A few years ago I was having dinner with Loughlin in Frankfurt at the Ironman European Championship and we got talking about Cervélo’s next bike design. Loughlin talked about how she really wanted to get Cervélo’s engineers, who she felt were the best in the industry, to spend more time at triathlon events so they could see and hear what she did.
So, when it came time to design the next new Cervélo speed machine, the engineering team tasked with the new bike took her up on her challenge. And they took that challenge to a level she never imagined. They embarked on a three-and-a-half-year project to build what they feel is the ultimate triathlon bike.
First they interviewed athletes. Long-time Triathlon Magazine Canada readers will remember a feature we did on Caroline Steffen based on an interview we did when she was visiting the Cervélo’s Toronto office. Turns out the engineers were in on her meetings, too, asking her questions about what she needed and wanted in a new bike.
Then they started going to races. Ironman 70.3 events and full-distance races. The engineering crew suddenly became a photography crew, trying to take photos of every athlete in each race on their bike. In the end they had 14,500 photos of triathletes on bikes. They did focus groups, too, asking age group athletes what they carried on during their races. The soon learned a few key facts that would help them focus the design process: • People almost always use round water bottles (98%) • They tend to store a lot of food around their bike • There were 688 unique storage setups – people like to do things their own way • For a full-distance race athletes typically carry on their bikes: • 1 energy bar, • 2 packs of chews, • 8 gels, • 6 salt tablets, • 3 25 oz. water bottles. • Those athletes aim to try and take in 290 to 340 calories per hour. • They typically carry a flat kit with: • 2 tire levers, • 2 CO2 cartridges, • 1 CO2 head, • 1 multi tool, • 1 tube. • One of the biggest stressors for athletes is travelling with their bikes.
Based on that information, the engineering crew at Cervélo came up with the parameters they felt were necessary in their new bike. It would need to: • Have modular, integrated storage with easy access that could be set up in a
variety of ways. • Be compatible with round water bottles. • Be easy to fit. • Be easy for athletes to adjust after their initial fit. • Be more aerodynamic than their flagship P5 superbike carrying the same items. • Be as stiff as a P5. • Be easy and safe to pack. • Can fit on a trainer.