Until earlier this year we had never heard of NeilPryde, a company dominant in the windsurfing market, but when they launched two road bikes we sat up and took notice.
There’s currently two bikes in the range, the aero Alize which we tested a few months ago and the Diablo, which we’re going to review today. The Alize impressed, but we were left a little unsatisfied at the ride; would the Diablo do better? To cut to the conclusion, it did, but read on to find out what we thought of the bike.
Firstly, the important part, the frame. Let’s get one thing out of the way first; that’s one very slick paintjob. One box immediately ticked in its favour. The company’s decision to play down the logo placement of its brand name may seem an odd decision but has actually played out perfectly, giving the Diablo a suitably classy and understated look that looks far more pleasing to the eye than some offerings from more established rivals.
So it’s off to a cracking start. But it gets better. NeilPryde has extensive knowledge of aerodynamics and carbon fibre manufacturer (both are key elements to designing windsurfing equipment) and put this knowledge to great use in the Diablo. They didn’t rely on their own experience, and wisely pulled in the brains of the BMW Group DesignworksUSA, a company with many years of working in the automotive and aviation industries. The result is an impressive-looking frame.
The Diablo is the light, race-ready alternative to the slippery Alize, and is a bike better suited to the demands of most riders, from those looking for a bike to race criteriums to those in the market for a stunning sportive bike. The full carbon fibre frame is elegantly styled, with the mandatory oversized downtube and profiled tubes. The downtube has a distinctive cross-section with a ‘ridge’ along the inside edge. The area around the bottom bracket is verging on massive, with tall chainstays to make sure the power you put through the pedals is transferred with maximum efficiency to the rear wheel. The seat stays aren’t particular skinny, their size helping ensure the frame offers the desired level of stiffness. Some comfort is provided by the skinny, in comparison to the frame, 27.2mm seat post.
Layout is right up to date too, with a tapered headtube allowing the fork to have a larger steerer tube, resulting in a stiffer front end. There’s also internal cable routing for the rear brake, keeping the lines of the bike nice and clean. The seat clamp is an unusual design, and is a good example of the company looking at each part of the frame and questioning how it can be best designed. A large two-piece plastic collar sits over the clamp and serves to smooth this junction for passing airflow. It does however look a little at odds with the skinny seatpost.
The frame sports plenty of sculpting and oversized profiles, and the paintjob only serves to show off the lines and enhances the quality feel of the product. The understated decals were a good call too; several times people riding alongside me had to ask what the bike was.
It’s a purposeful looking frame, and such a frame needs a respectable finishing kit. Here NeilPryde have scored well by not cutting any corners and by fitting parts from the top brands, ensuring that there’s nothing you would need, or want, to change when you get it home from the bike shop.
The list starts with a Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 groupset including a race-ready 53/39 chainset. No complaints here, shifting is light and crisp and braking is excellent. Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels wrapped with Hutchinson Atom tyres make a good combination, fast and light with excellent performance from the tyres – they lasted the test well showing little signs of wear or cutting up on London’s streets or the lanes of Surrey. To finish it all off, and using up the rest of the £3999 asking price, there’s a carbon FSA handlebar, stem and seatpost and a Selle Italia SLR saddle.
How does it ride?
What better way to find out how the Diablo performs than taking it to Majorca for a training camp. 33-hours later, slinging it down rocket-fast descents and racing up the island’s (in)famous climbs, I can confirm the Diablo impressed on all fronts.
Out of the saddle or putting the power down, the Diablo feels stiff. The front in particular is direct, you really notice it whether pottering around at leisurely speeds or pushing the 11t sprocket. Handling is great, with a tried and tested 73 degree seat and head angle combo giving a confidence inspiring ride, whether in a road race where you need a bike to respond instantly to the rapidly evolving dynamics, or knitting together umpteen corners on a long and fast descent.
The stiffness of the frame comes through loud and strong, and for the rider who wants a highly responsive, engaging and exciting bike to ride, whether it’s racing, sportives or just riding, the Diablo does it all. Some comfort is lost however, though the narrow 27.2mm seatpost does regain some compliance lost from making such a stiff frame, and with the Ksyrium wheels ride comfort was acceptable for this sort of bike. It’s certainly no better or worse than other bikes in this category.
The Diablo ticks all the boxes. Its performance is of the highest level, on a par with established rivals. It’s got the looks, it’s good value for money with a cracking build that is ready to race straight from the box. The one thing it doesn’t have is the brand heritage of its more established rivals, but if you want something a little different to everything else out there that still performs on the highest level, the Diablo is worthy of consideration.
Point your browser at www.neilprydebikes.com for more info.