The Cervelo P4. Is it (blasphemy!) a Letdown?
Cervelo has plenty of P4’s here at the expo – I may even ride one if they have one big enough. I have not heard that any pros will be riding them on Saturday. I know Rhodesy is not, and I have seen none of them going by on Alii.
My first in-person impression of this much-anticipated frame was, “an all-black P3c with an extra $2k tacked on the price tag – hmmm…”
Yes I am well aware of the supposed wind tunnel results and the enhancements vs the P3 (which is what I have ridden happily for the past 3 years). But this bike really lacks that “Ohhh yeaahhh, I gotta have that, no matter the cost” quality. And in my opinion it needs that in today’s market (and crappy economy) with all the strong challengers popping up. When I got my p3c, there was nothing like it. Not the case today.
The test bikes at the expo are all missing their water bottle/bento box units, so the frames look clunky. The display bike actually has one taped in place with electrical tape. Hmmm. Maybe this part of the frame is still being worked on, and maybe that’s why no pros look to be riding it Saturday.
So what is different (at least as far as visible changes) from the P3? The aforementioned bottle thing? I can almost duplicate that with an aero bottle on my P3. On the P4, you must have this thing installed or the fame will be very dirty aero-wise. The hidden rear brake and lack of a protruding seatpost binder? I like that – apparently that area is important air flow-wise, as the QRoo boys confirmed in regards to their new (so far a one-off) Tri frame (look for more on that one soon). Of course Felt pretty much did this a couple years ago. Horizontal Rear seat stay joints? Also already done by Felt. Better cable routing? Good, one of the P3’s major shortcomings (also done my many others already). Front brake? No changes, still sitting out there in front of the fork. Maybe this doesn’t make much difference, but I have a hard time believing it doesn’t make as much difference or more as rear brake placement. Little pointy fin over the rear tire? Ok, looks cool, but also showing up on many other frames. Fork blending in with downtube and tight gap to front wheel? Good, but also done by lots of others (Specialized etc etc).
That’s pretty much it. Is all that worth the big price premium to the P3?
Now, this may point out that the P3 was pretty close to as good as these guys or maybe anyone could do. But lots of other manufacturers are coming out with some interesting stuff. Ridley has its “rough leading edges” to break up the boundary later (more on the Ridley soon). QR has this new asymmetrical frame that sucks air away from the drivetrain. Etc.
So consumers will have to decide if they need a P4, especially in these “hard times”. I spoke with an industry insider who told me that the various competing brand managers were not looking forward to the intro of the P4 (to say the least) – they expected to be blown away. Instead, their reactions were more of a collective “so what…”. Now, I expect Cervelo will get this bike under alot of fast people, and it may start putting up fantastic results, and then maybe everyone will want one. Maybe.
At the very least they could have used a 2nd paint color, a few stripes, or painted the word ZOOM! on the downtube…
Michele and Paul Marvin
October 9, 2008 @ 10:37 pm
Wish Lisbeth (and you .. . sherpaing is just as hard) good luck this weekend, we’ll be cheering for you.
Michele and Paul Marvin (from your Miami days)