One of the best bikes I’ve ever owned was my original NeilPryde Alize aero bike. I bought it when I worked with the brand as UK agent when they first arrived in the UK. It was also a great bike to test aero wheels on, like the review I wrote on the Reynolds Forty Six wheels a while back (http://girodilento.com/reynolds-forty-six-clincher-wheelset-review-or-how-i-learned-to-love-cheating/). Sadly financial pressures meant I had to sell that bike last year and it was a very reluctant sale and one I immediately regretted.
Discussions with a few different people in the bike industry in the months following and it became clear that for blogging and review purposes it made a lot of sense to try and get another one – especially as I’d spent so much time on my old one making it a frameset I knew very well for reviewing components on. Take aero wheels for example – it makes more sense to test them on an aero bike as well as my steel Stoemper Taylör, particularly as most people will put them on a carbon bike.
After a few discussions, my friends at NeilPryde found a frameset that they could help me out with. With the frameset safely stashed in my office I got to thinking about gruppos. Even after 3,000+ km on Campagnolo on my Stoemper, I’m a Shimano guy and I’ve been very keen to try out Di2 for sometime. Given that Ultegra 6870 had just been released, it’s the one I set my heart on and the good folks at Madison helped me make that a reality. They were even kind enough to build it up for me (there’s a blog to come on that). The only non-Shimano part I’m using is the Praxis Works conversion bottom bracket to allow me to run the new Ultegra crank (I’ve gone for 52/36) with the Alize’s PF30 bottom bracket (http://praxiscycles.com/conversion-bb/).
The Alize I have is the 2013 model year in matt black. It has some improvements over my original bike so it’ll be good to see how they work out. I rode 4,000km on my old one and I’m hoping I can notice the difference. The changes include changing from BSA to PF30 bottom bracket, which drops some weight and makes it easier to manufacture. The dropouts are now carbon. It’s now dual compatible with mechanical and Di2 groupsets. The headtube area has been stiffened following requests from the UHC who loved the frameset but wanted a little less weight and a bit more stiffness in the front end without sacrificing the compliance at the rear. I’m also curious to see if this new and improved bike can still run 28mm tyres like the old one could. All of the changes should have made what I already think is an excellent bike, just a little better. Time will tell. I may even get a TT seatpost for it. Maybe.
For the finishing kit, I’ve stuck with some personal favourites as the base point: Deda Zero 100 bars and stem. I love these Deda bars, so they’re a great starting point. Obviously I hope to swap them off to try and review others in time – but they’re the base case. The bar tape is my first time to try Lizard Skins highly regarded product and I have the 2.5mm version on the Alize (Nazaré). I’ve been given one of the new Pro Turnix saddles to try and that’s on the bike – they’re a new product, are very light and the one I have is the 132mm width.
Rounding it out is a set of fabulous Reynolds Aero 58’s including the new Cryo-Blue Power brake pads, which promise big gains in braking performance. I’ve just ridden these wheels at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on my Stoemper with the old pads, so I’m looking forward to trying the new ones out. Tyres are another old favourite now: Michelin Pro 4 Service Course in 25mm. I love 25mm tyres and I like race tyres and I find these both fast and comfortable.
I think the build looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve been busy since it’s been built up so I’ve only ridden up and down my street (in my jeans and boat shoes) to make sure the Di2 gears didn’t get knocked in the car on the way here. They seem fine and this weekend it’ll get it’s first ride at the Wiggle Jurassic beast – just on the short course. I may even dust my UHC Pro Cycling jersey off for the ride if the weather plays ball (not looking enormously likely).
I’ll be doing a long term test on Di2 and will also write a review on the Alize/Nazaré which I didn’t do on my old one as I was working with NeilPryde and I didn’t think it was a fair thing to do as I had a commercial interest in saying great things about it. I really, loved the bike but didn’t review it. Now I have no such commercial interest and will write a review but I’d be shocked if NeilPryde had dropped the ball with it. I’m expecting it to be very good still – perhaps a touch more race bike than before.
The great thing for me about changing to Shimano 11 speed on the NeilPryde is that now things are more interchangeable with my Stoemper which is 11 speed Campagnolo. I’ve been running the Aero 58’s on both bikes using an Ultegra 6800 cassette. My Campagnolo Chorus just needed a barrel adjuster tweak and it’s been working very, very well.
I also have some Rolf wheels here to try and again they’ll be run on both bikes starting shortly.
Actually, the only things I’m missing are new bottle cages, perhaps a Garmin Outfront mount (thanks to the Di2 junction box under the stem) and maybe new pedals – also made of carbon to match. Minor details and not ones that’ll stop me from getting riding.
More information here: