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NeilPryde Nazare SL review

1 Mar 2018
Verdict:

A dependable, lightweight and well balanced aero road bike at a price that won’t break the bank

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,800
For 
Light for an aero bike, especially at this price | Well balanced ride feel | Better than expected comfort
Against 
Wheels are basic and heavy and need upgrading to get the best out of the bike | Lacks a defining feature to stand out from the crowd

Buy the NeiPryde Nazare SL Ultegra from Chain Reaction Cycles here

'Don’t they make wetsuits?’ says the man who’s looking my bike up and down, having just ridden up alongside me on the Sunday club run.

Yes, NeilPryde does make wetsuits, so he’s not wrong, but I can sense the condescension in his voice.

His statement is accompanied by an audible ‘phffff’, and I can tell he has already dismissed NeilPryde’s credentials as a bicycle manufacturer. The company is probably used to it.

Some people will always believe a brand that’s built its name in watersports has no business crossing over into the world of cycling, but this is the second NeilPryde bike I’ve tested (the first was the super-light Bura SL, which I really enjoyed) and so far I’m getting along admirably with the new Nazaré SL.

In light of that, I find myself inclined to come to the brand’s defence.

‘NeilPryde also makes the carbon masts for Olympic racing yachts,’ I reply, ‘and I reckon a force 10 on a sail probably puts a fair amount more stress through that carbon than the combined power of all the riders on this club run.

‘I think I can be confident in its engineering.’

This brings an abrupt halt to our conversation. Admittedly, making carbon yacht masts is no guarantee of being able to produce a decent bike frame, but it does prove that NeilPryde knows a lot about fabricating with carbon fibre, so the Nazaré SL deserves to be judged on its performance, not dismissed out of hand.

Moments later the same guy starts half-wheeling me, so I respond in kind, partly to demonstrate just how capable of speed the Nazaré SL is.

Before I know it, the whole group is at full tilt. Sorry, everyone. 

Gone with the wind

The Nazaré is NeilPryde’s aero road offering and this SL version is the lighter of two options, with a claimed frame weight of 900g (the standard Nazaré is 1,050g).

Aerodynamics should be a topic the brand is well versed in, having spent 40 years refining ways to harness the power of the wind, and so the tube shaping throughout appears well considered and in line with many of the current trends for wind cheating.

The fork crown flows organically into the underside of the down tube, the seatstays are lowered, the rear wheel is pulled in tight behind the sculpted seat tube and the tube profiles are carefully selected depending on their orientation.

Yet it’s the addition of the one-piece Aeroblade cockpit, NeilPryde claims, which provides the most significant performance increase given that this frontal aspect of the bike accounts for 15% of the total aerodynamic drag.

The bars are a touch narrower than usual, too – 410mm wide across the tops – to create a smaller frontal area by bringing the arms and shoulders in a touch.

I didn’t really notice the narrowness of the bars while riding, but I guess every little helps.

Direct-mount brakes also enable the front calliper to sit snugly within the confines of the fork crown, giving the front end a slick overall look.

Cyclist is still looking for funding for our own wind-tunnel, so as yet I can’t quantify how successful the design may (or may not) be but in terms of my immediate impressions out on the road, it’s no slouch.

Despite coming with only a very small amount (20mm total) of potential front end height adjustment, there’s plenty of generosity in the head tube length (160mm) such that I was not left struggling with an overly aggressive set-up.

That said, the Nazaré SL seemed to be at its best when riding hunkered down and attacking. It’s not quite as quick off the mark as the very best aero road bikes I’ve tested, with just a slight hesitancy detectable, but it still proved nippy for a bike that costs less than many top-end frames.

This bike’s frame has a solidity to it that makes it well balanced front to back, and the transfer of power is pleasingly assertive.

It feels well connected with the road, offering plenty of feedback so that I always had a good idea of what was going on between the tyres and the road surface (particularly handy during some icy conditions on wintry test rides).

Unscheduled excursion

Rather unusually for an aero road bike the Nazaré SL is not an overly harsh ride. The Aeroblade bar seems to dissipate road shocks better than other one-piece set-ups I’ve tested, and even the heavily aero-profiled seat tube and post proved better than I’d anticipated in this regard too.

On one memorable occasion I unexpectedly found myself (thanks to an unvetted Garmin route plan) riding off the road and onto a forest trail. I considered turning back but instead decided to continue.

I got some funny looks from families out walking as I slipped and wheel-spun past in the mud, but I made it out the other end just fine, and with a newfound sense admiration for the bike.

It’s clearly not designed for this type of riding, but it handled the rough terrain surprisingly well.

A complete bike weight of 7.57kg is fairly impressive, especially in the bulkier realms of the aero road sector, and particularly at a sub-£3k price point, and the weight could be even lower with a change of wheels.

The Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset is around 1,700g so there’s definitely scope to take this bike much closer to 7kg.

That would put a touch more spring in the Nazaré SL’s step in terms of acceleration and its climbing prowess while also offering the possibility for significantly more aero gains too, depending on the chosen replacements.

It’s difficult to be negative about a bike that goes about its duties so effectively, but if I did have to call the NeilPryde out on anything, it would simply be that it is hard to identify anything particularly remarkable about it. Well, unless you count it coming from a brand that makes wetsuits, that is. 

Buy the Neil Pryde Nazare SL Ulegra from Chain Reaction Cycles here

Spec

Groupset Shimano Ultegra R8000
Brakes Shimano Ultegra R8000
Chainset Shimano Ultegra R8000
Cassette Shimano Ultegra R8000
Bars NeilPryde Aeroblade one-piece
Stem NeilPryde Aeroblade one-piece
Seatpost NeilPryde Nazare Aeroblade carbon
Saddle Fizik Arione
Wheels Fulcrum Racing 5
Weight 7.57kg (size 56cm)
Contact neilprydebikes.com

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