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Tech feature: 2011 NeilPryde bicycle launch

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The Diablo is NeilPryde's lighter model with a claimed frame weight of 970g (56cm).

The Diablo is NeilPryde's lighter model with a claimed frame weight of 970g (56cm).
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Top tubes are slightly sloping on both of the new NeilPryde road bikes.

Top tubes are slightly sloping on both of the new NeilPryde road bikes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear dropouts offer lots of contact area for the stays.

The rear dropouts offer lots of contact area for the stays.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Dropouts are aluminum front and rear.

Dropouts are aluminum front and rear.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde neatly integrates its bull's eye trademark into the understated graphics package.

NeilPryde neatly integrates its bull's eye trademark into the understated graphics package.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde will offer each of its new bikes in three colors and five sizes with your choice of two build kits - or none at all.

NeilPryde will offer each of its new bikes in three colors and five sizes with your choice of two build kits - or none at all.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Diablo head tube is squared off at its base.

The Diablo head tube is squared off at its base.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The seat stays and chain stays on the Diablo are both medium-sized as compared to the competition.

The seat stays and chain stays on the Diablo are both medium-sized as compared to the competition.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde says this rib running along the top tube, head tube, and down tube give the front triangle more torsional stiffness.

NeilPryde says this rib running along the top tube, head tube, and down tube give the front triangle more torsional stiffness.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Diablo seat tube includes a slight cut-out for the rear wheel.

The Diablo seat tube includes a slight cut-out for the rear wheel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde has chosen to stick with well-known Shimano componentry for its initial foray into road bikes.

NeilPryde has chosen to stick with well-known Shimano componentry for its initial foray into road bikes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The front end of the Diablo features a burly tapered head tube and a 340g carbon fork with deep blades.

The front end of the Diablo features a burly tapered head tube and a 340g carbon fork with deep blades.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's a fair bit of material down here but bottom bracket stiffness is still middle-of-the-road in terms of numbers.

There's a fair bit of material down here but bottom bracket stiffness is still middle-of-the-road in terms of numbers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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In normal use, the 'Q-Fit' indicator sits right on top of the jacketed seat collar.

In normal use, the 'Q-Fit' indicator sits right on top of the jacketed seat collar.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Both the Alize and Diablo share this svelte-looking brake bridge.

Both the Alize and Diablo share this svelte-looking brake bridge.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Alize is NeilPryde's rendition of the 'breakaway' aero road bike.

The Alize is NeilPryde's rendition of the 'breakaway' aero road bike.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde gives the Alize head tube an hourglass profile in an effort to reduce frontal area.

NeilPryde gives the Alize head tube an hourglass profile in an effort to reduce frontal area.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Alize uses a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube.

The Alize uses a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde says the down tube's Kammtail profile and slight 'kicks' on the outer edges diverts airs right around the seat tube for lower drag.

NeilPryde says the down tube's Kammtail profile and slight 'kicks' on the outer edges diverts airs right around the seat tube for lower drag.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde will offer its new bikes as framesets or fully built with Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra componentry.

NeilPryde will offer its new bikes as framesets or fully built with Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra componentry.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Alize's internally routed derailleur cables reappear down at the bottom bracket.

The Alize's internally routed derailleur cables reappear down at the bottom bracket.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's some interesting shaping going on here, courtesy of the folks at BMW's DesignWorks USA studio.

There's some interesting shaping going on here, courtesy of the folks at BMW's DesignWorks USA studio.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Graphics on the new NeilPryde bikes are relatively understated.

Graphics on the new NeilPryde bikes are relatively understated.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde's 'Q-Fit' system is essentially a tight-fitting rubber seal (in grey) up top that helps record the saddle height in case the bike is packed for shipping.

NeilPryde's 'Q-Fit' system is essentially a tight-fitting rubber seal (in grey) up top that helps record the saddle height in case the bike is packed for shipping.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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NeilPryde gives the Alize head tube an hourglass profile in an effort to reduce frontal area.

NeilPryde gives the Alize head tube an hourglass profile in an effort to reduce frontal area.
(Image credit: James Huang)

Windsurfing powerhouse NeilPryde has decided to dip its toes into the hotly contested cycling waters with two new road models for 2011, the Diablo and the Alize, both of which are crafted in carbon fiber and were developed in conjunction with the Singapore branch of BMW subsidiary DesignWorks USA.

The Diablo is the more conventional structure of the pair with most of the design focus placed on the usual merits of lightweight and stiffness. In keeping with those goals, the Diablo frame features structural ribs that run along the sides and interior edge of the top tube, head tube, and seat tube (not unlike the previous generation Orbea Orca), a squared-off and tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" front end with matching carbon fork, and a relatively well-bolstered bottom bracket area.

Likewise, cable routing is a mix of internal (rear brake) and external (both derailleur lines) and the frame is topped with a conventional 27.2mm round seatpost.

The Alize, on the other hand, boasts a more original shape that places more emphasis on reducing aerodynamic drag. Key features include an hourglass-shaped profile to the tapered head tube, a deep-section seat tube includes a modest rear wheel cutout, and a diamond-shaped down tube that transitions to a truncated Kammtail shape down near the bottom bracket.

Other details include internal cable routing throughout plus a matching carbon fiber aero seatpost up top.

According to NeilPryde, wind tunnel testing at the A2 facility in North Carolina has demonstrated the Alize to be a legitimately aero machine – especially at higher yaw angles – and that the progressive Kammtail design works as advertised. In effect, incoming air is split by the lower end of the down tube but doesn't rejoin immediately behind, instead flowing cleanly all the way past the seat tube before trailing off behind.

Interestingly – and perhaps admirably – NeilPryde didn't litter its product launch with the usual marketing superlatives, though, and in fact was surprisingly candid in its technical claims. The 970g and 1,040g respective claimed frame weights (56cm) for the Diablo and Alize aren't awe-inspiringly light, and while the company says it has objective drag data to back up the Alize's aero billing it doesn't pretend to peg an 'X seconds per Y kilometers' savings to the description.

In addition, NeilPryde openly admits that it didn't intend for either frame to be the absolute stiffest out there and even publishes the test bench figures right on the web site: 90Nm/° for the head tube and 60N/mm at the bottom bracket – both of which are fairly modest. Contrary to current industry trends, both the chain stays and the seat tube are fully asymmetrical (with the exception of the cut-out for the braze-on front derailleur) and the aluminum bottom bracket sleeves take standard threaded cups.

So why should anyone buy one? Good question.

As always, the proof is in the pudding and to our surprise, the Diablo is actually a rather nice-riding machine based on our two-hour jaunt around Hamburg, Germany. True, it doesn't possess the lightning-quick pedaling reactions of some carbon superbikes we've tested in the past but as the numbers suggest, the front triangle torsional rigidity is quite good so it's also no noodle out of the saddle.

More importantly, it also feels good with an admirably smooth ride quality over smaller chatter like manhole covers and medium-sized pavement imperfections – with the exception of bigger impacts when it tends to crash through like most oversized carbon bikes – and pleasantly middle-of-the-road handling characteristics that should suit a wide range of rider types.

Save for some annoying rattle from the internally routed rear brake cable, it's at least worth mentioning that NeilPryde looks to have made very few mistakes – which is pretty admirable considering neither design is a cookie-cutter open-mold product.

Another reason is that NeilPryde is making it pretty easy for people to buy one of its new bikes, offering them up exclusively direct-to-consumer via the company's own web site at reasonable no-surprises pricing with fairly quick drop shipments coming ready to ride directly from the production site in Asia via DHL Express. Both bikes will be available with either Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra build kits – or bare framesets – with high-quality finishing kit coming from Mavic, FSA, Selle Italia, and Hutchinson.


NeilPryde's 'Q-Fit' system is essentially a tight-fitting rubber seal (in grey) up top that helps record the saddle height in case the bike is packed for shipping.

Each bike will be offered in three colors and five sizes, and a handy – though simple – interface helps users select the proper frame size for their build.

That direct-to-consumer model also comes with some caveats, though. Since NeilPryde currently has no bicycle dealer network in place, service and warranty concerns will all have to handled remotely and at least for now, the simplified inventory scheme leaves no room for customization such as component sizing or make and model – so what you see is what you get, whether it's exactly what you want or not.

Will the trade winds blow this season?

NeilPryde contends that many of its bike buyers will come from its expansive windsurfing customer base. According to bicycle division manager Mike Pryde (and yes, there's a relation – he's the founder's son), the company's market research suggests up to 60 percent of those current customers are also avid cyclists and fiercely loyal to the brand – to the point where some of them stated they'd buy a NeilPryde tennis racket if the company decided to make one.

That being said, the crossover from the other side is likely to be more tepid given NeilPryde's lack of brand recognition in the often-narrowly focused world of cycling but no matter – in keeping with the company's refreshingly frank discussions on the bike's merits, they've also applied some very modest sales goals. Provided those figures are met, there's a third model that will go into development later this year that sales and marketing manager Mike Rice says should be far more groundbreaking and the company doesn't rule out the possibility of mountain bikes or full-blown time trial/triathlon bikes further down the road.

Either way, the new NeilPryde bikes at the absolute very least are an intriguing new entry to the market. Bikes will begin shipping in mid-September with full inventory coming just a few weeks later.