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Bowman Layhams review

12 Dec 2017
Verdict:

A do-it-all stainless-steel bike for four seasons that aims to keep it fun

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,800
For 
Purposeful handling • Highly versatile • You're unlikely to bump into another one
Against 
Not the most comfortable • Steel is expensive to buy and work with • Paint could be more durable

London-based Bowman Cycles is a small but growing manufacturer, and that size gives some distinct advantages as latest trends and new technology can quickly be adapted to and rolled into its offerings.

It’s therefore interesting that the fourth machine off the design table should be one that hits an old niche, that of the mudguard-compatible, lightweight, winter machine that can be used all year.

It shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise though that Bowman has gone back to basics and created a thoroughly modern take on the do-it-all bike.

In fact, it's gone one step further, stating that it ‘combines the year-round dependability with enough zip to keep racers happy – a unicorn.’ That’s quite a mission statement!

Built using stainless steel, it’s a triple butted 17-4PH tubeset that works into a £1,600 frameset with a full carbon fork, so it’s not exactly a budget option, yet our version has been built with a choice set of components to make sure the end price is kept sensible.

As such it features the budget-conscious 11-speed Campagnolo Athena groupset and excellent Zonda C17 wheels. Keeping the Italian theme are Deda bar, stem and seatpost.

Primarily, Bowman sells framesets, so it’s easy to create a spec that best suits your preferences and needs. Despite the low-end groupset, the total weight is still only 8.5kg for the complete machine.

Bowman has spent money where it matters in the wheels and tyres and held back on the groupset, which can more easily be upgraded in stages as time goes by.

Out on the road, the frame’s qualities really show through. It’s a wonderfully nimble and lithe frame carrying the characteristics of quality steel: mild-mannered, big bump-damping, and comfy, with the positives you’d want from a race machine.

So it’s quick to respond, the weight is acceptable and it handles beautifully. While it wouldn’t be our inclination to agree with a manufacturer, it would seem that Bowman has created that mythical beast of a zippy all-rounder.

Ratings

Frame 9/10; Components 7/10; Wheels 8/10; The ride 9/10

Verdict: Seriously impressive work from Bowman, the stainless-steel frame offers durability and an inspired ride that wowed our testers, who loved its combination of road feel and comfort along with a purposeful edge that encourages you to push yourself; plus you can spec it any way you desire.

Spec

Frame Triple butted stainless steel, Full Carbon 4 Season
Groupset Campagnolo Athena 11 speed
Brakes Campagnolo Athena Skeleton
Chainset Campagnolo Athena, 50/34
Cassette Campagnolo Chorus, 12-25
Bars Deda Newton
Stem Deda Zero 100
Seatpost Deda Zero 100
Saddle Selle Italia Novus Super Flow Endurance
Wheels Campagnolo Zonda C17, Michelin Power Competition 25c
Weight 8.5kg (size 58cm)
Contact bowman-cycles.com

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