The fastest time-trial bicycle in the world makes its public debut this Saturday at Cronometro, the specialty bike retailer at 1402 Williamson St. "It's been shown to the bike industry," says Cronometro proprietor Colin O'Brien, who notes that the Cervélo P4 ignited great excitement at the annual Interbike expo convened last month in Las Vegas. "It's been raced in the world championships once," he adds, "but this is the first time that the public will actually see it and get their hands on it, anywhere in the world."
Cronometro scheduled a soft premiere on Friday night for its customers and invited guests, celebrating the 2008 cycling season and previewing next year's top-of-the-line Shimano and Campagnolo drive trains, Zipp wheels and other 2009 components.
Saturday, the rest of us will be able to marvel at and even touch the artwork between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. O'Brien describes the Cervélo P4 as the leading edge of bicycle design: Compared to the P3, the company's engineers have introduced such updates as an even more streamlined front end, a thinned-out profile toward the back of the frame, and extensive design improvements to the bottom-bracket area -- including a water bottle that is integrated into the frame.
The updates represent some $3 million of wind-tunnel time, O'Brien notes. This is reflected in the cost of the bike. The frameset alone will set you back $4,800. With wheels, drive train and other components, the retail price nearly doubles to about $9,000. But based on those wind-tunnel tests, O'Brien notes, "they calculate that on a 25-mile ride, it'll go 30 seconds faster than the next fastest bike." That may sound like a thin margin, but in competitive cycling and triathlons, half a minute can verge on an eternity.
O'Brien says at least a couple of area triathletes have expressed interest in the P4. A $1,000 deposit will earn you a place in line. He adds that Cervélo expects to begin delivering the P4 to customers in January, but cautions that the number of bikes available will be limited.
Even people whose interest in the P4 does not extend beyond idle curiosity are welcome to visit Cronometro on Saturday and, as O'Brien puts it, "see the future."
Any who do might want to keep their hands cupped under their chin to prevent their jaw from hitting the floor.