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NeilPryde Alize

Jonny Gawler

ON TEST

Ridley Noah 1120a

Aero Road Racers With curves and fairings more commonly seen on a TT steed, could these aero road bikes be the perfect all-rounders for triathletes? Nik Cook puts two £3,000-plus flyers to the asphalt to find out… JUNE 2011 I

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Tonnes of carbon and aerodynamic expertise has gone into the making of the Alize

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bike test

NEILPRYDE ALIZE £3,169.00 www.neilprydebikes.com

New to these pages yes, but a history of cutting carbon hints at great things for NeilPryde. A seatpost upgrade option also helps

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rimarily a manufacturer of masts, sails and other windsurfing and sailing kit, the leap into bikes by Hong Kong-based NeilPryde isn’t really that big. Already experts with carbon and aerodynamics, the know-how for building a true speed machine should definitely be there.

THE BUILD Straight out of the box, the Alize looks slippery and fast. Wind cheating must-haves – aero seatpost, internal cable routing and profiled tubing – are all

present. The tubing has a Kamm profile, which is a cut-off aerofoil that’s claimed to be faster than a conventional 3:1 profile and shows that NeilPryde are thinking outside the (aero) box. The forks and seatpost are NeilPryde’s own but, given the company’s wind sport heritage, shouldn’t be a let-down. For an extra £70 on the £3,099 build we received an additional 76° seatpost to give a more TT and aerobar-friendly position. The groupset choice is the ever-reliable Shimano Ultegra and some of the pennies saved on not going the whole Dura-Ace hog are wisely spent on some classy

“switching over to the 76° seatpost and bolting on a set of aerobars, the alize transformed into a tt” 1

Mavic Carbone Cosmic SL wheels. Although they bump up the cost of the build by £300, there’s no point buying a great aero set-up and then sticking a pair of cheap, slow wheels on it. The Hutchinson Atom tyres are a no compromise set of light and fast-rolling racing slicks; FSA is a solid choice for the headset, bars and stem; and the Selle Italia SL Carbonio saddle is a top perch.

THE RIDE Or, more specifically, the rides. First up in regular road set-up, the Alize immediately felt light and responsive. Acceleration off the mark and out of corners was excellent, with no discernible flex from the frame or wheels and every aggressive pedal stroke rewarded with a satisfying burst of speed. Once up to optimum on rolling roads, the Alize was grounded, stable and not at all twitchy. The Mavic wheels positively hummed along and justified the extra

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spend, especially on the flat. The ride position down on the drops was aggressive yet comfortable, and once back up on the hoods all-day riding was a given. For such a stiff bike the ride wasn’t at all harsh and, even on poorly surfaced tarmac, road buzz was minimal. Although the Alize thrived on short power climbs, long drags are often where aero bikes fall short. But, due in no small part to the quality Mavic wheels, the Alize climbed exceptionally well. You always felt as if it was working with you and it encouraged fast-footed ‘dancing’ climbs. Descending was 100% predictable and it responded well to being flicked and thrown around. Braking was also excellent on the alloy-braking surface of the Mavics. Switching over to the 76° seatpost and bolting on a set of aerobars, the Alize transformed into a TT bike. All of the pluses still applied, especially the straight-line speed and stability. But, as opposed to just clipping aeros on a regular road bike, it genuinely felt like a TT speed machine. The change in seatpost angle kept your hips open but delivered a great aero tuck and, most importantly, some very quick times on the test loop. All in all, this is one fast chameleon. verdict

Handling

90 %

Spec

94 %

Value

92 %

Comfort

86 %

Responsive in a straight line and on the twisty stuff Quality wheels, extra seatpost and smart groupset

Two bikes for the price of one and little compromise Stiff but definitely not harsh

91 % 3

1 An extra £70 will get you an additional 76° seatpost, for a more aerobar-friendly position 2 Classy Mavic Carbone Cosmic SL wheels justify the extra spend, climbing and braking beautifully 3 Pennies saved on not going full Dura-Ace went into the wheels. But you can’t go wrong with Ultegra JUNE 2011 I

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The design may divide opinion but the Noah’s aero credentials were never in doubt

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bike test

RIDLEY NOAH 1120A £3,599.00 www.ridley-bikes.com

They come from the land of cobbles and positively drip cycling history. But the “fastest road bike in the world”? We’ll see…

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his is Ridley. We are Belgium” proudly states their website. But if you want a company with bucket loads of cycling heritage and from a country that knows a thing or two about wind, look no further. The Noah’s aero technology claims to offer up to 15 watts less power input needed to average a 50km/hr breakaway. Triple Green Jersey winner Robbie McEwen can certainly vouch for that, saying it’s the fastest bike he’s ever ridden.

THE BUILD With its bowed top tube and

massively profiled downtube, the looks of the Ridley tend to evoke a love it or hate it reaction. No matter what camp you fall into, from a performance point of view no aero stone has been left unturned – the Noah comes armed with wind-tunnel and race-proven tubing, integrated seatpost, internal cabling and even R-Surface paint technology that purports to reduce drag over a regular paint job by 4%. The in-house 4ZA forks have Jet Foil slots that actively channel air away from the turbulent spokes and reduce drag. But the weak link in this predominately top-end build is the 4ZA Cirrus wheels,

“instantly, the fastest bike claim made sense: with the 4zas the noah was good; with the mavics it was sublime” 1

which were a touch weighty and not the most aero. That said, the Vredestein Fortezza Se tyres were decent enough. FSA provide the headset but Ridley go back in-house for the bars, stem and saddle with 4ZA. A Shimano Ultegra groupset provides guaranteed performance for a minimal weight penalty without the bank-account clearing cost of Dura-Ace. The choice of a 50/34 compact chainset does seem strange for a speed machine but is perhaps a concession to the burgeoning Sportive market.

THE RIDE There’s always a sense of anticipation when heading out for a first ride on a big buck bike from a big name brand. This is heightened even more when the bike hails from the spiritual home of the heroic lone breakaway. From the first few stomps on the pedals, the stiffness of the Noah frame was obvious. The massive bottom bracket showed

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no flex and, even when honking on the bars hard in a sprint, the headtube didn’t give a millimetre. For such a stiff frame, though, something just didn’t seem right and acceleration, while by no means sluggish, didn’t feel as sharp as it should. But once up to speed on rolling roads the Noah flew, positively urging you to get down on the drops and ride hard. Heading downhill the Noah was superb and scored top marks. The only limiting factor was the 50/12 top gear and, unless you were planning on some seriously hilly riding, for racing you’d want to ditch the compact chainset. The ride was verging on the harsh side but road buzz was well within acceptable limits and ride position never felt strained. Climbing the Noah wasn’t bad but, for this sort of money, not bad just isn’t good enough. There was no lively driving-youalong feel and chief suspects were the 4ZA wheels. With a slight sense of dissatisfaction, our tester swapped in the Alize’s Mavic wheels and instantly McEwen’s fastest bike claim made sense. All of the lost power flooded back and it climbed like a true pro machine. With the 4ZAs the Noah was good; with the Mavics it was sublime. verdict

Handling

85 %

Spec

85 %

Value

83 %

Comfort

83 %

Rolls and descends well but let down by its hoops

About par for the price but again wheels let it down Big name brand so you’ll always pay a premium A tad harsh but generally comfortable

84 % 3

1 The own-brand forks’ Jet Foil slots are designed to channel air away from the spokes and reduce drag 2 The “massive” bottom bracket had zero flex; even in a sprint the headtube wasn’t for budging 3 We found the 50/34 compact chainset an odd addition to a bike built for speed JUNE 2011 I

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bike test

overall Verdict There are a couple of valuable lessons to learn here. First, and be sure to remember this when buying your next bike, wheels are vitally important to performance, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Second, new untried brands are always worth a look, so rein in that brand snobbery. There’s always a degree of subjectivity to a bike test but riding our 16km sporting loop, and keeping our heart rate within a five beat band, we got some interesting results. Slowest was the Noah with its own 4ZA wheels. Time was lost on the flat and slight downhills by spinning the gear out but, most significantly, losses were on the 3km draggy climb. Next came the Alize in road mode but its split on the climb

was the fastest. Second fastest was the Noah fitted with the Mavics. It gained time on the climb but still lost speed due to the smaller gearing. Significantly, the fastest overall was the Alize in TT set-up. Not a massive surprise but sticking a pair of aerobars on a bike doesn’t always guarantee a faster ticket and the seatpost switch has to take a large chunk of the credit. The respective wheels are a huge factor and the £430 price difference, including the extra seatpost upgrade, can’t be ignored. NeilPryde has built and specced a bike with triathletes firmly in their sights and, with an aero design and the simple addition of a seatpost, has effectively delivered two cracking bikes for the price of one. 220

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on test

Effectively two bikes for the price of one, the NeilPryde takes the spoils

bike SPEC NeilPryde VS RIDLEY

NeilPryde ALIZE

RIDLEY NOAH 1120A

£3,169.00 www.neilprydebikes.com

£3,599.00 www.ridley-bikes.com

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Size tested XL Overall weight 7.60kg (without pedals)

Size tested XL Overall weight 7.88kg (without pedals)

Frame and forks

COMPONENTS

Frame and forks

COMPONENTS

Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL Frame NeilPryde Alize Fork NeilPryde Alize

Stem FSA OS-150 Carbon Bars FSA Wing Pro Compact Headset FSA Saddle Selle Italia SL Kit Carbonio Seatpost NeilPryde Alize Aero SL Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6700

Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL Frame Noah 1120a Fork 4ZA Noah R-flow 1120a

Stem 4ZA Cirrus Bars 4ZA Cirrus Headset FSA Saddle Ridley integrated Seatpost Ridley integrated Brakes Shimano Ultegra

TRANSMISSION Chainset Shimano Ultegra 53/39 Bottom bracket Shimano Ultegra Cassette Shimano Ultegra 12-25 Chain Shimano Ultegra Derailleurs Shimano Ultegra Shifters Shimano Ultegra

WHEELS Front Mavic Carbone Cosmic SL Rear Mavic Carbone Cosmic SL Tyres Hutchinson Atom

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DIMENSIONS Head angle 73.5° Seat angle 73° (also optional 76°) Top tube 57.5cm Cockpit 87cm Seat tube 58cm Standover 81cm Chainstay 40.5cm Bottom bracket 24cm Wheelbase 100cm 10 Headtube 18cm 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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TRANSMISSION Chainset Shimano Ultegra 50/34 Bottom Bracket Shimano Ultegra Cassette Shimano Ultegra 12-25 Chain KMC X10SL Derailleurs Shimano Ultegra Shifters Shimano Ultegra

WHEELS Front 4ZA Cirrus Rear 4ZA Cirrus Tyres Vredestein Fortezza Se

DIMENSIONS Head angle 74° Seat angle 72.5° Top tube 60cm Cockpit 91cm Seat tube 56cm Standover 85cm Chainstay 40.8cm Bottom bracket 25.5cm Wheelbase 101.2cm 10 Headtube 20.5cm 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Review on NeilPryde Alize as TT choice