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P2C Ultegra.
By Tom Demerly.

Read This About Our Reviews First

 

2008 Cervelo P2C UltegraAt an MSRP of $2500 the Cervelo P2C Ultegra may be the best value in an all carbon tri bike.

We first reviewed Cervelo’s P2C after its first ever Ironman Triathlon World Championships win In Kona, Hawaii. The P2C has earned its credibility as the first ever Kona winner for Cervelo, a distinction not even owned by the company’s more expensive P3C aerobike at $1500 more.

Until recently the only version of the P2C available was the Dura-Ace equipped version at Cervelo’s suggested price (MSRP) of $3000 according to their website. Considering the quality of the frame, the recently earned Kona lineage and the technology borrowed from the $4500 P3C that is used in the P2C along with a nice Dura-Ace mix component kit the $3000 Dura-Ace P2C is a good value, priced well below comparably equipped aero, molded carbon fiber tri bikes from other manufacturers who haven’t won Kona. It is difficult to improve on that value but Cervelo has with the new Ultegra P2C.

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra
The P2C uses the identical frameset as the Dura-Ace equipped version with 12 identical component specifications.

It was a newsworthy introduction when Cervelo unveiled a new version of the P2C with an Ultegra component kit and fresh, new graphics package with a significantly lower price point than high end carbon bikes had hit before: The 2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra is listed by Cervelo on their website with an MSRP of $2500 U.S.D.

The big news is that, unlike other manufacturers who have entered the $2500 price point arena with carbon, molded aero bikes, the Ultegra P2C is a real P2C frame.

Other manufacturers may use the same mold but they do substitute lower modulus carbon fiber that produces a heavier bike with different ride characteristics. Cervelo didn’t do that on the P2C Ultegra: This is a real P2C frameset, the identical frame used on the Dura-Ace (Kona winning) version.

 

Since we’ve reviewed the P2C in detail for 2008 here we’ll let you complete your research by reading that in-depth review separately. It is an important piece of research since it provides insight into the differences between the P3C and the P2C and some history of the P2C frame development. Here we focus on the differences between the new Ultegra equipped P2C and the Dura-Ace version that are $500 apart.

If you are truly researching this purchase then your first stop should be a careful, detailed review of the real differences between a Shimano Dura-Ace front and rear derailleur and a Shimano Ultegra front and rear derailleur. Those differences can be explored in detail here. Armed with the knowledge and research you’ve done with the P2C comprehensive review and a close survey of the literature on Shimano’s two best front and rear derailleurs you are ready to review the information here that discusses the differences between the P2C Ultegra and the P2C Dura-Ace and what you get, exactly, on the $2500 Ultegra P2C.

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra

The Shimano 6600 Series 10-speed Ultegra front and rear derailleurs are controlled by a pair of Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 series 10-speed shifters.

 

The P2C Ultegra is an important bike because it puts the most significant triathlon bike technology at a price point that was previously not possible to reach. Those technologies include:

    • Authentic aerodynamic frame design.
      Cervelo’s aerodynamic frame designs are not “aero styled” frames but authentic aerodynamic configurations that were conceived using wind tunnel testing and then verified as aerodynamically optimal with additional wind tunnel testing. They offer a tangible aerodynamic benefit as opposed to simply looking aero. Proprietary details include optimal tubing width-to-depth ratios, technically correct airfoil shapes optimized for real-world bicycle speeds, purpose built profiles on the head tube and seat tube and integration of components such as fork and rear wheel into the design process.
    • New molded carbon fiber frames achieve the highest level of ride comfort, bottom bracket stiffness and durability.
      No other frame material or manufacturing process has been able to achieve these levels of durability and impact resistance according to EFBe independent engineering tests. As a result of these new, higher standards Cervelo has a limited Lifetime Warranty on molded carbon fiber frames as compared to shorter duration warranties from other companies.
    • High end, functional and efficiently priced component specifications that use money effectively. The components specified on the P2C Ultegra are functional and proven: The wheels are optimized for high mileage, real world training use; the derailleurs and shifters are lightweight, durable and shift dependably even in bad weather and with high pedal load; the aerobar cockpit is anatomically neutral for a comfortable, powerful and efficient forearm posture. There is no need to upgrade basic component specifications even for the highest level of use. The use of these components allows for any money remaining to be used for snug fitting, aerodynamic race apparel, an aerodynamic helmet and aerodynamic race specific wheels resulting in a greater overall performance advantage per dollar spent (as compared to buying the same frame with more expensive components that would not result in a tangible time savings).

Each of these features provides a tangible benefit to the user that was previously unavailable at this price.

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra
Cervelo's down tube is optimized for best aerodynamics at bicycle speeds.
It is a genuine aerodynamic configuration- not just an "aero-look".

When Cervelo speced the P2C Ultegra they differentiated it from the Dura-Ace version with subtle changes that include:

      1. Wolf TT aerodynamic carbon fiber fork with thick wall aluminum alloy steer tube and fork crown as opposed to the Wolf CL fork specified on the Dura-Ace P2C that uses a carbon fiber fork crown and a thin wall cro-moly steer tube.
      2. Shimano R500 wheels on the P2C Ultegra as opposed to R550 wheels on the P2C Dura-Ace. The R500 has conventional “J” bend spoke attachment at the hub flange whereas the R550 uses a straight pull spoking configuration.
      3. FSA Gossamer crank on P2C Ultegra as opposed to FSA SLK Mega-Exo carbon fiber crank on P2C Dura-Ace.
      4. Dia-Compe 188 brake levers on P2C Ultegra as opposed to FSA aerodynamic brake levers on P2C Dura-Ace.
      5. Shimano Ultegra front and rear derailleurs on P2C Ultegra as opposed to Dura-Ace front and rear derailleurs on P2C Dura-Ace (see differences here).

The similarities between the P2C Dura-Ace and P2C Ultegra are:

Component
Difference between
Ultegra and Dura Ace P2C
Specification
Seatpost Same
(Cervelo proprietary airfoil carbon)
Shift levers Same
(Dura-Ace)
Cassette Cogs
Same
(Ultegra 12-25)
Chain Same
(Ultegra)
Brake Calipers Same
(Cervelo Mach 2)
Headset Same
(FSA)
Stem Same
(Visiontech Sizemore)
Base Handlebars Same
(Visiontech aerodynamic alloy)
Aerobars
Same
(Visiontech ski bend alloy)
Saddle Same
(Cervelo TT Special)
Tires Same
(Vittoria Diamonte Pro Slick)
Frame Same
(Cervelo P2C)

 

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra 2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra

Aerodynamic features unique to the P2C design include the close-fitting and adjustable proximity rear wheel cut-out and the hourglass shaped, radiused head tube. These subtle design cues optimize frame aerodynamics.

In all there are 5 specification differences that separate the Dura-Ace P2C from the Ultegra P2C but 12 identical specifications shared by the two including the most important one, the frame itself. The bikes have much more in common than they have differences making the Ultegra version an efficient purchase with no real compromise in performance.

2008 Cervelo P2C UltegraCervelo uses the Wolf TT fork on the Ultegra P2C with full carbon fiber blades and an aluminum crown and steer tube assembly.

Cervelo used the slightly heavier Wolf TT fork on the Ultegra P2C as opposed to the lighter Wolf CL fork seen on the P2C Dura-Ace and the P3C. The Wolf TT has full carbon fiber, aerodynamic, bladed fork legs with a cast aluminum fork crown (the “shoulder” area of the fork at the top) and a thick-wall aluminum alloy steer tube. This design facilitates the use of almost every type of handlebar stem clamping system as opposed to carbon steer tubes that often have restrictions on the clamping method of the stem that can be used. The difference between the Wolf CL and the Wolf TT carbon fiber forks is weight. The Wolf TT is 4.2 ounces (120 grams) heavier than the Wolf CL and shares the same aerodynamic benefits according to Cervelo. The Wolf CL uses a carbon fiber fork crown and thin wall, cro-moly steer tube.

For most customers the bottom line in deciding between the P2C Ultegra and Dura-Ace bikes will be the difference in ride. On bikes configured identically for fit we could not differentiate any difference in shift quality, ride quality or performance between the Dura-Ace and Ultegra equipped bikes. This further underscores the fact that the two bikes have more in common than they do differences and emphasizes the value of the P2C Ultegra.

One reason the bikes are the same in ride quality is the components you actually contact or physically interface with; the saddle, handlebars, shifters and frame itself are all the same on both bikes. Both bikes use Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 series bar end shifters. The shift lever is where the rider receives the tactile interface that lets them feel how good the shifting is. Since both bikes use the same Dura-Ace shifters the shifting feels identical. Since both bikes use identical aerobar cockpits the cockpit feels identical. The bikes even use the same saddles.

Ride quality of the P2C is something we’ve talked about before. We haven’t been able to talk about this level of ride quality at this price though. Considering the more expensive version of the P2C actually rode better than competing bikes at $2000 more than the Cervelo, the new P2C Ultegra achieves a level of ride quality and performance that cost twice as much to buy only two years ago.

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra
"Using the original P2C frameset means the P2C Ultegra may be the best buy in a $2500 all carbon tri bike."

Another key feature of the Ultegra P2C is that it’s a first time triathlon bike that doesn’t need upgrading. The price of the P2C Ultegra puts it within reach of most first time triathletes and becomes an even greater value the longer you stay in the sport. There is no need to buy more bike after three years in the sport when an athlete decides to do their first ½ Ironman or Ironman distance event. This bike won Kona: It is all the bike any athlete will ever need. Even if an athlete decided to leave the sport the resale of Ultegra P2C is high due to the high demand.

From an economic perspective the Ultegra P2C makes more sense when you consider where to put your money to actually make you go faster on the bike. The bike itself will only make you so fast. The difference between an Ultegra and Dura-Ace derailleur isn’t going to a make a rider have a faster bike split. What will make a rider faster and more efficient is a wise us of the money they have to work with.

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra

2008 Cervelo P2C Ultegra

The durable, dependable component spec includes Shimano R500 wheels and a complete Visiontech ski bend aero cockpit with Dura-Ace shifters.

Firstly, a rider should be certain their race day apparel fits snug with no wrinkles exposed to the flow of air surrounding their body at speed. This includes not wearing a race number on the bike or, if race rules require it, wearing the number so that it does not flap in the wind creating drag. Secondly, the greatest speed advantage a rider can purchase for the least amount of money is an aero helmet. Between $150 and $230 an aero helmet offers time savings similar to a $2000 aerodynamic wheelset according to wind tunnel tests conducted independently by M.I.T. graduate students as published in Bicycling magazine. Lastly, adding a deep section aerodynamic race wheel set and/or disk rear wheel will provide tangible aerodynamic benefits above and beyond those differences between a Dura-Ace and Ultegra equipped bike. When you use your money wisely on the P2C Ultegra any money left over can be allocated where it will make a real performance benefit such as aero clothing, helmet and race wheels.

Perhaps the greatest contribution the new P2C Ultegra makes is that it levels the playing field. As recently as two years ago athletes with about $5K could buy a minute or more over the counter off their next bike split with just spending power. The Ultegra P2C levels the playing field putting the highest technology in the hands of the moderate price points.

Riding a nicely fitted, well designed molded aerodynamic carbon fiber triathlon bike with nice components is a joy. It makes your bike split faster and easier and helps your transition from bike to run, making the sport easier and more enjoyable and maybe even helping you move up a few spots in your age category. There is something to be said about the experience of using the equipment itself. There are no compromises and it is an indulgent experience to part the air in smooth slices with efficient effort on the P2C. The bike is simply a joy to ride and with the new P2C Ultegra price point pretty painless to own.

 

Cervelo P2C Ultegra's available.
Call 313 278.1350 to order.

 
 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
Site Designed and Maintained by: Intuitive Business Solutions.

 
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