Friday, October 28, 2011

P4: the review

2011 P4 review - early impressions

After years of using the old Alu Soloist as my TT rig, I finally broke down at the last race of the season and sprung for that P4 in the window.  Is it a coincidence that I keep typing P$ when I mean to type P4?  Perhaps a subconscious slip, or just holding that shift key slightly too long.

Pricey yes, but this thing is feels fast and I was ~somewhat~ able to verify its speed.

The Good:
My local 10km rolling practice loop allowed for the best comparison I could manage.  I am lacking a powermeter in my current setup.  I tested with matching kit, shoes, helmet and a 404 clincher wheelset.  With Soloist laps typically in the mid 14 minute range, the P4 could consistently lop 15 to 20 seconds off a given effort level.  Needless to say, I was very happy with this.  Interestingly, I also set a new time record on the flat-ish ascent of Spanish Banks hill.  This was only by a few seconds, but I was surprised to have any improvements in even flat hill climbing on a TT bike.  The frame is very stiff and transmits some road vibration, though softer feeling than an alu Soloist.

Like the skinny rotor cranks, look cool.

Coming off a road bike with a flip around seat, I found body position to be the most strikingly different aspect.  The tighter position I could achieve is certainly part of what makes this a speed machine.  The front brake hangs out in space and would look nicer with a fairing of some kind, but apparently its the rear aspect of any foil that is most important in determining airworthiness.  In this respect the bike is great, all tubes taper off perfectly.

The Bad:
Rear brake  
Though faired beautifully in the bottom bracket -  No stopping power!  Remove crankset to adjust!  Better not ever plan to swap between carbon and Alu brake surfaces!  Arrg!  Perhaps these issues are just the price we pay for speed?

The bottle
Impossible to put back in!  After using several times the sharp edges of the cage had worn groves into the plastic bottle every time I tried to put it back and it wasn't perfectly aligned.  After each unsuccessful attempt to put away, the grooves are deeper and make the bottle misalign more easily and harder and harder to put away.  Another annoying aspect: I think the issue could be easily fixed if only they made the corners of the bottle softer, so it would self align when you try to shove it back (blindly) at 80kph.  The bottle is so wicked aero and for me was a selling feature of the design, so to have to change it out to an Arundel Chrono kind of irks me.  Anyway, I've given up on the damned thing.  I'll pray for a redesign...??

The Neutral:
Front end:
Would like a slicker aerobar/extension setup from the start, the ski jumps stick way up especially with shifters on the end.  Plan to swap out and find the perfect setup.  Pro missle evo perhaps?
Also regarding aerobars, I constantly whack my knees on the 3T Aura bull horns whenever punching it on a hill.  Arguably, this might happen with all aero bullhorns I suppose? - These are the first and only I've ever ridden on.

Somewhat bad, though I got a end of season deal from Jer at Speed Theory.  However, expect prices to continue to drop on remaining stocks on this bike as Cervelo's newest world beater will be released sometime next year.

Overall: 4/5.. so far.  More updates to come with further testing and front end changes, wheel upgrade?

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