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Neil Pryde Nazare Ultegra road bike – review

The NeilPryde Nazare is an aero bike with a natural taste for speed but comfort suffers a little through the stiff frame

NeilPryde have been around in the bike industry for a few years now, but the company’s history is based in windsurfing and sailing, with carbon manufacture for those sports its main focus. Still, there’s a lot of crossover in carbon-centric businesses – just look at Simon Smart, who left Formula One to focus on Drag2Zero, the brains behind Enve’s aero wheels, and Adrian Newey, the Red Bull design supremo who has recently stepped into boat design himself.

Clearly, transferable skills are a valuable commodity in carbon manufacture and aerodynamics, so on that front NeilPryde look well placed. They make the Bura lightweight race machine, which we tested last year, the Nazare aero bike, and the endurance tuned Zephyr, all of which are available in the UK through Wiggle.

Our frame on test here, the Nazare, is designed to be an out-and-out aero bike, complete with race geometry. It’s not the top of the range aero frame, though – that honour goes to the Nazare SL with an upgraded carbon layup – but this one has the same aero profiling, so you can still expect a great turn of speed.

NeilPryde say the Nazare maintains of all the performance characteristics of the premium SL, but at a lower price point (this Shimano Ultegra build comes in at £2,300, while there’s also a Shimano 105 model at £1,650). So could this be the sub-£2,500 aero bike you’re looking for? We’ve been putting the Nazare through its paces in the lanes of Wiltshire to find out.

The Nazare is NeilPryde’s aero road bike

The frame – truncated aero tubing

The first thing that strikes you about the frame is the truncated aerofoil design – a design NeilPryde calls OTP profiling – that features Kammtail sections in order to shape air around the body of the downtube and seattube.

  • Specification
  • Price: £2,300
  • Weight: 7.57kg (size L)
  • Sizes: XS-XL)
  • Website: Neil Pryde Bikes

From the side, it looks like many other new-generation boxy aero frames, but from above NeilPryde have taken the trouble to noticeably contour the downtube inwards, creating a narrower shape to slice through oncoming air.

That characteristic in the downtube spreads up to the headtube, featuring an hourglass profile, with a slender toptube proceeding directly to the tapered and shaped seattube. Thanks to the paint job, it’s easy to spot the NACA-style aero profile at the tail edge of the headtube. The seatstays, like many an aero bike these days, make the junction as low down the tube as possible, with flared chainstays that sweep narrowly to the BB86 bottom bracket area.

This ‘standard’ version of the Nazare is constructed of ‘C6.7’ carbon fibre, while it’s lighter brother features ‘C6.9’ fibres. The idea with this frame is to maintain the ride characteristics of the lighter flagship bike, while enabling the brand to hit a more competitive price point. This version comes in at a claimed 1,100g for the large 56cm we have on test, while the SL frame is a claimed 940g.

The updated seattube takes inspiration from the likes of Cervelo’s S5 aero race machine (visually, it’s not the only similarity to our eyes) by contouring the tube around the rear wheel, leaving enough space for 25mm tyres, while both the fork and seatstays form the mounting points for the brakes, with dual-bolt calipers ensuring close integration with the frame.

A liberal helping of gripper paste was required to keep the carbon seatpost in place

That fork, meanwhile, is semi-shrouded towards the headtube junction, with direct handling targeted via a small 45mm rake and headtube angle that never exceeds 73 degrees through the five sizes (XS-XL). Even in the largest frame size (XL, which is the general equivalent of a 57.5cm measurement on the toptube) the wheelbase is 1,000mm exactly, with our large frame measuring 985mm. Throughout, chainstay lengths are 405mm in length regardless of the frame size you need, which should also maintain sharp rear end responsiveness even if you happen to need a larger frame.

The frame also features full internal cable routing, naturally, with inlets on the underside of the toptube and back side of the downtube.

Neil Pryde Nazare aero road bike (Pic: Ashley Quinlan/Factory Media)
Neil Pryde Nazare aero road bike (Pic: Ashley Quinlan/Factory Media)
Neil Pryde Nazare aero road bike (Pic: Ashley Quinlan/Factory Media)

The ride – quick and stiff, with direct handling

From the first ride, it’s the direct handling that really shines through on the Nazare. Bearing in mind this is the slightly heavier version – the entire bike comes in at 7.57kg in a large without pedals, so it’s still no heavyweight – the direct front end teamed with the short chainstays means the bike has a distinctly snappy feel when you rise out of the saddle and throw it side to side.

Indeed, it feels poised even when you decide to put the power down in the saddle, with power transfer again feeling sharp and direct as you gather speed. There’s zero sense of lag anywhere, while the sheer stiffness of the bottom bracket area means that every pedal revolution is maximised. Indeed, it’s a bike that really encourages you to dig in deep on tough ascents, simply because it’s so good at converting your energy into forward motion.

It’s funny to highlight the nimbleness of the Nazare first, because its main purpose is to be quick when the speed ramps up – this is an aero bike, after all. That’s where the OTP aerofoil profiles start to really do their job, firstly to slice the frame through the wind, and then insulate it against crosswinds respectively. In these days of creating aero bikes that function properly in real world conditions instead of controlled wind tunnels, the Nazare is bang up to date.

That shows in the frame’s speed, notably when you head over 30km/h and well into the 40s and 50s, with the efficiency tangible as the bike builds and holds speed This is helped by the tidy and integrated Aeroblade bar-stem setup, while its racy (if not crazily aggressive) geometry encourages you to lower your profile by adopting a position on the drops or tucking down on the hoods.

Through crosswinds (and we’ve had a few during my time with the Nazare), the frame itself is also remarkably stable, able to shed swirling air that may otherwise buffer the frame. It’s rare for the Nazare to be flummoxed by even gusty winds, but it’s true that the shallow supplied rolling stock will have helped highlight this capability.

It’s an impressive set of characteristics thus far, but I’d be remiss if I claimed it was the aero bike to have for every type of rider. Where the Nazare does fall short of something like the Oltre XR4 (admittedly, you might expect this since the Oltre costs significantly more for a similar build), is in how it cushions you from road buzz and deals with pimpled roads.

I’ll stop short of describing it as harsh, but you do feel every crease in the road through the bars and up through the seatpost, both of which are clearly designed for aero performance over comfort. While not necessarily a bad thing for the racer who may appreciate the raw information, as well as the stiffness and speed, over longer rides of 60km or more it stops being quite as enjoyable. I found myself bracing myself more than I usually do when faced with less-than-perfect road surfaces.

Like many aero bikes these days, the Nazare has an integrated handlebar and stem

The build – full Ultegra with proprietary finishing kit

The Nazare, in this £2,300 guide, features a strong all-round build that’s truly race-ready. The groupset is a full Shimano Ultegra 6800, with the only exception of a 105-spec cassette (we can assume the Nazare will ship with the new Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset when the product line gets refreshed for 2018), and a tweak from the norm in the 6810-designated dual-bolt calipers that sit slightly recessed into the fork and seat stays. For the record, performance is near-as-makes-no-difference the same as the single-bolt versions.

Elsewhere, NeilPryde hasn’t skimped on the contact points. There’s a Fizik Aroine saddle – an obvious and well-suited choice given the aggressive nature of the bike – while the Ultegra build bike features Neil Pryde’s slick Aeroblade integrated bar and stem, complete with attachment points for a Garmin mount. It’s a comfortable setup to grip, with easily accessible drops, although the tops are particularly wide. I’m not a fan of the very gummy LizardSkins bar tape, but I know other riders who particularly like it – what you want from bar tape often comes down to personal preference, much like the aforementioned saddle, which I do like.

That saddle sits atop a proprietary carbon bladed seatpost, fixed in place by an integrated wedge clamp. It took us a while to get it set up and clamped securely (with the seatpost dropping on my shakedown despite setting up to recommended torque levels and with a ‘normal’ quantity of gripper paste), but once fiddled with and lots of gripper paste applied, it’s a tidy, secure and svelte setup.

The spec sheet includes a Shimano Ultegra mechanical drivetrain

Rolling stock on paper is provided by Fulcrum in the alloy Racing 7s, although our test bike came shod with Racing 5 LGs – an ‘unofficial’ upgrade over the consumer spec sheet. To be honest, neither set the world alight (we know, having experienced both), but the 5s are about 100g lighter (1,658g compared to 1,763g). The Fulcrum Racing 7s are, in our experience, solid, dependable training hoops and, like many manufacturers, Neil Pryde have included them here to keep the overall cost of the bike down. It’s a shame a bike such as this doesn’t get a set of aero hoops, but then the assumption is that’s an upgrade us consumers could make later down the line.

In fact, it’s not until you look at the Nazare SL with Dura-Ace R9100 groupset that you get something remotely aero with Fulcrum’s carbon Racing Quattros. Then you’re spending an extra £2,500 – enough for set of (very) top end carbon clinchers to put on your standard Nazare, with a few hundred to spare and a leftover set of wheels.

The Nazare comes with a proprietary aero seatpost

Finally, our test machine also came fitted with 23c Clement rubber, as opposed to the 25c Schwalbe Duranos the bike will be made available with in shops. We also fitted a set of 25c tyres to see if that helped dampen the ride and while it helped to deaden some of the feedback from the road, the frame remains a tightly-wound beast.

Conclusion

The NeilPryde Nazare is a quick, racy frame, with an impressive ability to turn your effort into speed, while the handling is direct and sharp – ideal for tight racing scenarios. The rolling stock doesn’t match up to the aero frame’s talents, representing an upgrade opportunity, but the are solid enough for general riding.

Where the Nazare isn’t quite as strong a performer is over long rides. There’s a tendency to feed back to the rider in what might be best described as an overshare, so it’s not as composed over pimpled roads as some rivals if you’re a high mileage rider. Having said that, if you like a very informative ride and a seat-of-your-pants responsiveness, the Nazare represents good value.

As a result, I think it’s ideally suited towards racers and riders who like a fast, stiff, aero-efficient ride that handles directly and sharply and puts you right into the thick of the action. Throw on a set of quality aero hoops and the Nazare will be ready for action. That said, if you want an aero bike that has good levels of compliance for all day rides too, there are better options out there.

Pros

  • Very quick ride; stiff, responsive frame
  • Quick handling
  • Stable in crosswinds
  • Good value

Cons

  • Stiff ride can be harsh
  • Potentially fiddly seatpost setup
  • Basic rolling stock

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