NeilPryde BuraSL road bike - review - Road Cycling UK

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NeilPryde BuraSL road bike – review

Well-balanced race bike which performs impressively across the board

NeilPryde’s super-light race bike, the BuraSL, has been updated for 2016 and the result is an excellent all-round machine which brings more to the party than low weight alone.

NeilPryde is a relatively new name in cycling, having launched in 2011, but the firm has a long history in the world of windsurfing dating back to 1970. So while NeilPryde may have only been making carbon fibre bikes for the past six years, they’ve actually been working with the stuff since the late 1980s, at a time when steel frames were still being ridden at the Tour de France.

The BuraSL joined the NeilPryde range in 2012 but it’s been revamped for 2016. It remains the Hong Kong-based firm’s lightest frame at a claimed 710g but NeilPryde have focused on more than making the BuraSL as light as possible.

NeilPryde Bura SL road bike – review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

The chassis

NeilPryde’s road range is made up of four bikes. The Nazaré 2 is their unbridled aero machine and the bike it superseded, the Nazaré, remains in the line-up. There’s also the Zephyr endurance bike, which hones in on comfort, and that leaves stiffness-to-weight ratio as the BuraSL’s calling.

– What should you next bike me made from? –

Let’s run through some of the BuraSL’s main features, then. It’s made from NeilPryde’s top-level carbon fibre, dubbed C6.9. They say it’s the highest modulus blend suitable for bikes and something which goes a long way to achieving that 710g frame weight.

NeilPryde’s ‘Exoskeleton technology’ places external carbon fibre ribs on three key areas of the frame – behind the headtube, at the seattube/toptube junction and at the chainstay/seatstay junction – in a bid to improve stiffness, while NeilPryde say this has a dual benefit in helping to smooth airflow around the frame.

The square-to-oval profile of the toptube, asymmetric downtube, deep, boxy chainstays, and bulky PressFit 86 bottom bracket (the previous version of the BuraSL had a PF30 bottom bracket) are all there in the name of stiffness, too.

Among the updates on this latest version of the BuraSL are an integrated seatpost clamp and bow-shaped fork – both primarily to improve comfort – and a switch to internal cable routing, with the frame capable of running either a mechanical or electronic groupset.

The ride

Low weight may be the BuraSL’s calling card, but it’s a well-rounded package which combines that featherweight frame weight with comfort, ample stiffness, well-tuned handling and a planted, relatively comfortable ride.

  • Specification

  • Price: £2,999
  • Weight: 7.2kg
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: NeilPryde

Let’s deal with weight first. Based around that 710g frame, our test machine with mechanical Shimano Ultegra and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels weighs in at 7.2kg – it’s certainly not troubling the scales for what is essentially a mid-range build. It feels light on the road, too, and has the immediate acceleration and turn of pace you expect from a little bike, though that’s most keenly felt when the road rises and the BuraSL is a worthy companion when the gradient really ratchets up into the steep stuff.

Low weight is nothing without a solid platform, however. As we’ve already covered, stiffness-to-weight ratio was key when NeilPryde were redesigning the BuraSL and it feels solid under effort, both at the headtube and bottom bracket. It doesn’t have the outright ruthless rigidity of the most efficient bikes – the BuraSL arrived in the RoadCyclingUK office on the heels of the Canyon Aeroad, which admittedly is an aero bike – but it provides a level of stiffness which is more than a match for short attacks on steep climbs, hard sprints and prolonged efforts in the saddle.

The handling is excellent; quick under hand but stable, precise but controllable – a finely-tuned balance for a race bike like this. It’s an easy machine to ride and descends with stability and confidence, but retains a fast, aggressive instinct when required.

Neil Pryde Bura SL road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Neil Pryde Bura SL road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Neil Pryde Bura SL road bike - review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

NeilPryde offer the BuraSL in five sizes and the geometry reflects the characteristics of the bike: it’s racy but not overly aggressive, with a 56cm toptube and 16cm headtube on a large bike, combined with short 405mm chainstays and a compact 985mm wheelbase to help keep the handling snappy.

The BuraSL has a hint of aerodynamic styling to it, thanks to the frame ribs – even if they are there with stiffness in mind – and integrated seatpost clamp, but beyond saying they help to smooth airflow, NeilPryde don’t make any definitive aero claims. We wouldn’t expect them to, really – the Nazaré 2 is NeilPryde’s aero machine.

The seatpost clamp, an easy-to-use wedge design, also helps to improve comfort. The integrated design effectively lowers the seatpost clamp over a traditional collar and exposes a little more of the post itself, thereby increasing the amount able to flex under load.

Combined with the use of a skinny 27.2mm seatpost, the BuraSL offers a good level of comfort for a race bike when ridden over broken road surfaces, and that’s also reflected at the front end through the headtube and handlebar. It’s not on a par with the best endurance bikes, but certainly not a bike you’d worry about beating you up on long rides. Comfort is also helped a little by the 25mm tyres specced as standard.

NeilPryde describe the BuraSL as an ideal companion “no matter if you’re looking to escape on an Alpine ride, in the final sprint or on your Sunday morning ride” and that, ultimately, is a fair call. It feels more like an all-rounder than an outright climbing bike.

Specification

Speaking of which, the BuraSL is well-specced across the board. It’s available in two builds: a top-level model with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels for £3,999, and this £2,999 machine with mechanical Shimano Ultegra and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. In short, NeilPryde haven’t cut any major corners with either of the builds and there’s quality kit across the entire bike.

– The evolution of the chainset and the rise of the semi-compact –

We’ve written at length about the quality of Shimano Ultegra and nothing changes here. It’s one of the best groupsets of the market. Light, both on the scales and the lever feel under hand, with precise shifting at the front and rear, and excellent, powerful braking. NeilPryde have specced the BuraSL with a mid-compact  52-36t chainset and an 11-28t cassette and that’s a sensible choice, providing a generous spread of gears at both the top and bottom end for sprinting and climbing.

The semi-compact 52-36t chainset is a good match for the BuraSL

Fulcrum’s Racing 5 wheels are on par with what you’d expect to normally see on a machine at this price point, in that they could be significantly better but they keep the overall price sensible. They’re decent training wheels in their own right but certainly won’t set the world alight, weighing in at 1,658g. You won’t necessarily be looking to upgrade them before you leave the shop floor but the bike really benefits from a wheelset more in line with the quality of the frame – something to turn it from a nimble machine into something lightning quick.

As for the Clément Strada LGG tyres, once again there are better tyres out there for more money but the 120 TPI casing provides a relatively supple, smooth, grippy fast-rolling ride, and they’re pretty good all-round tyres in their own right. We had no inclination to swap them out through the test.

The finishing kit is excellent, with a carbon fibre FSA SLK handlebar, stem and seatpost, and the Fizik Arione saddle is a popular model from a respected brand, even if it may or may not suit you.

Conclusion

The NeilPryde BuraSL is a fine race machine which marries low weight, stiffness, comfort and assured handling. It may not have the x-factor sparkle in any one area but that’s the point, really – it performs well across the board, with an impressive spec and sensible price, and brings it all together in a well-balanced, all-round race package.

Pros

  • Excellent balance of stiffness, comfort and assured handling
  • Well-priced and sensibly specced

Cons

  • It doesn’t break any boundaries

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