The Cervelo P2C may be the best looking tri bike I’ve ever seen. When we received the frameset, we took it out of the box, clipped it into a bike stand and just marveled at it. This frameset looks good from every angle not just due to the fabulous tube shapes, but the paint scheme and colors turn it into a piece of art. I even like the look of the Wolf fork as its shape and elegant finish match the frame perfectly.
After an hour or so of staring at the frameset and discussing its tube shapes, we put her on the scale. Aerodynamic tri bikes, even carbon ones, aren’t super light. The 54cm P2C frame as shipped with paint weighs in at approximately 3.2 lbs while the Wolf TT fork weighs 1.4 lbs. The frame weight is certainly acceptable given its aerodynamics, but the aluminum steerer fork is a little on the heavy side. Nevertheless, you can still build the complete bike up and keep its overall weight reasonably low. Tri bikes aren’t typically used to climb mountains or sprint to the finish line so the weight of the bike shouldn’t have any negative effect. Moreover, given the undeniable aerodynamic superiority of Cervelo frames and forks, I would suggest any perceived weight penalty is easily negated.
I built the frameset up with my standard set of components - a full Dura-Ace 10 speed group, Profile Carbon X with Bontrager carbon s-bend extensions and Mavic Ksyrium SL training wheels. There are two things about the P2C I immediately noticed – it’s remarkably efficient and comfortable. The bottom bracket is so massive and strong that I simply don’t have the size or strength to make it flex. Under my pedal strokes, the P2C simply moves forward in a supremely confident and natural manner. Moreover, this bike is fun to ride, responsive, stable and remarkably compliant over rough pavement, expansion joints and the like.
One of the more unique features of the P2C, which it has in common with the P3C, is the adjustability of the geometry. By way of a two position, carbon, aero seat post, you can ride a P2C anywhere from 74 to 79 degrees. The post is a breeze to use since all you have to do to move the saddle back and forth is move the seat clamp via a simple, two headed bolt. With the impressive range of sizes and the ability to choose your saddle position (effective seat tube angle), there is literally a P2C to fit just about everyone.
For example, I prefer a tri bike with a 53 cm top tube and my saddle height is 72.5 cm. If I want to ride the P2C at 76 degrees, then I should select the 51 cm frame size. The 51 has an effective top tube of 53.5 cm at a 75 degree seat tube angle. The effective top tube length would be reduced by .5 -1 cm if I move the saddle slightly forward to my standard 76-degree position resulting in an effective top tube length of 52.5 – 53 cm. If I want to ride the P2C at 78 degrees, which is what I did for this test, then I should select the 54 cm frame size since its effective top tube is 53 cm at 78 degrees.
Either frame size (as well as others) can accommodate a saddle height of 72.5 cm. Importantly, though, since the carbon seat post can only be inserted to the point where the seat stays join the seat tube, I had to cut 2 cm off the seat post to get it low enough. The post, though, when taped and gently held in place by a clamp, was very easy to cut with a proper saw. My post now rests fully inserted in the seat tube at my specified saddle height. (Please note that we have significant experience cutting carbon steerers and posts; if you don’t, then we recommend having an experienced shop cut yours.)
There has been some discussion regarding the difference in head tube lengths of the P2C and P3C. For the 54 cm and larger sizes, the P2C has a 1.5 cm longer head tube. I don’t think the difference has any real significance for the overwhelming majority of triathletes. Neither bike’s head tube is too long for most riders other than possibly CSC team members during pro tour time trials. Most of us would simply use an extra 1.5 cm spacer on the P3C to achieve the appropriate bar height. While stacking spacers on top of the head tube should be minimized since it places more stress on the steerer, I don't think an additional 1.5 cm will make much of a difference on a tri bike. Nevertheless, before you buy either bike, you should determine whether the head tube length is appropriate for your expected bar height.
If you want to read more about the design, geometry, etc. of the P2C, then Cervelo has a very informative web site that you can enjoy here. Since most of us, including myself, will simply ride/race the bike, it is my task to describe what it looks like in person and how it rides. On both of those points, the P2C hits a bulls-eye. If you want a reasonably priced, gorgeous, fast and comfortable tri bike, then the P2C was built for you.