Cervelo P3 (aluminum)
Speed & comfort are the two key goals for the P3. Every detail on this frame is geared towards aerodynamics, from the curved seattube cutout which exactly matches the width of the rear tire to the TrueAero shapes of its downtube, seattube, seatstays and seatpost. At the same time the frame provides excellent bottom bracket stiffness (the highest of any TT/tri frame tested by TOUR, Europe's largest bike magazine) as well as good comfort for the longer races.
- Curved and recessed seattube cutout
- Rear wheel adjuster screws for optimal tire clearance
- 650c/700c wheel size optimized per frame size
- Adjustable geometry with 74-79 degree seattube angle range
- More aero due to optimized rear wheel cutout
- Stiffer bottom bracket for even better power transfer
- Dura-Ace 10-speed components (starting January 2004, until then there is an Ultegra version of the P3)
- Velomax Circuit wheelset
To optimize aerodynamics, the tubes need to have a very specific shape, a profile determined by the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). This shape can only be obtained by extruding the tubes, as forming round tubes imposes too many shape limitations. As an example, a round tube has about 5 times the drag of a NACA-profile, while a crushed tube is about 3 times as bad. A very important part of the shape is its thickness-to-chord ratio. If this ratio is high (meaning the tube is relatively wide compared to its depth), the air flow will detach, creating turbulence and high drag.
It is also important to note that the correct NACA profile is not round at the front but eliptical. Aerotubes with a round front and sharp trailing edge are becoming more and more popular (because it they are easy to make out of a round tube, and because they will easily take a round seatpost if used as a seattube). But unfortunately they offer hardly any aero benefit, as the bluntness of the round front already deflects the airflow before it reaches the trailing edge.
The P3 has a revolutionary curved rearwheel cut-out, which is designed to better shield the rear wheel from the airflow. The seattube consists of a cross section that mimics the front half of an airfoil. Together with the tire and rim of the rear wheel (or even better, a rear disk wheel), this tube forms one intergrated section that guides the airflow past the rear wheel most efficiently.
In contrast to other frames with a rearwheel cut-out, this cut-out has a constant width, just like the rear wheel has. Cervélo was able to achieve this by producing this tube specifically for this purpose, as opposed to using a standard aerotube and then making a cut-out into it. The picture above shows how the horizontal cross section (which is the way the air flows) of the P3 cut-out is always optimal, whereas the cross-section of a normal cut-out is less than perfect at most levels.
A steep seat angle (around 78 degrees) in combination with aerobars works well for most people, as it enables a more aerodynamic back position without compressing the hip angle. Triathletes especially benefit from this, as it will improve their running coming off the bike. Most time trialists (although there are many exceptions) prefer a more relaxed seat angle (74-76 degrees). But the bottom line is that one has to try both options to find out what works best. This is why both the P2K and the P3 come with a custom aero seatpost that can be adjusted to suit seat positions of 74-79 degrees with a simple flip of the head. Now riders have the flexibility to experiment with their position without risking that their bike will not be able to accommodate them. The first table will show the dimensions of our frames with the seatpost positioned for an effective seattube angle of 78o, the second table shows the dimensions with the seatpost at a 75o effective seattube angle.
In 2005, Cervelo released the SL models, which had a hard anodized coating instead of paint.
At the 2004 Tour de France Ivan Basso made the maiden-voyage of the Cervélo P3 SL. A lighter version of the venerable P3, it once again underlined Cervélo’s excellence when it comes to designing time trial bikes. Thanks to its clean, aerodynamic construction including the patented curved seattube to create an optimal airflow around the rear wheel, the improvements made on the P3 SL allowed Ivan Basso, not a known time trial specialist, to ride the time trial of his life and defend his spot on the podium in the Tour. The P3 SL model that Basso rode in the Tour is now available to everyone as a 2005 model.
- Lighter frame
- DuraAce components
- Light and durable anodized finish