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July 15, 2011
Back in May I was fortunate to be invited to join the Neil Pryde team and race the Tour of Friendship in Thailand with them. One of the perks of this gig was that they supplied me with a brand new Diablo to try out and race in some testing conditions.
I’m hesitant to post a review on any product that I haven’t had some extensive experience with, but I can confidently say that I got very familiar with the Diablo during the Tour. I completely bagged this thing and rode it like I owned it.
Neil Pryde has been in the Windsurfing game for 40 years now, have over 3000 employees and operations in 40 countries. They have an excellent reputation and they’ve now taken that experience and are applying it to bikes. Mike Pryde is Neil’s son and is heading up the bicycle division of the business. Mike is a keen cyclist himself and has worked extremely hard to bring Neil Pryde bikes to fruition. You can read all about their story here.
When I was speaking with Mike casually over dinner he was telling me the background of their design process. Since the company doesn’t have a heritage cycling, they didn’t have any image or commitments to adhere to when designing the bike. They literally started from a blank piece of paper to do what they wanted and collaborated with BMW on the design.
They’re not overly visible here in Australia, but I was shocked at the impact they’re making in Asia. Everyone knows about them.
NeilPryde has begun with two models: The Alize and the Diablo. The Diablo is more aggressive, stiffer and lighter of the two. This is the one I raced and I don’t have any experience with the Allez (although many of my teammates were racing the Allez).
In terms of ride behavior, the standout characteristics I immediately recognised was it’s descending and cornering capabilities. I’m not a particularly great descender, but I found that whenever we went downhill, I gained 50m on the bunch without even pushing myself. Cornering was the same. It cornered wonderfully and I would often need to break so that I didn’t run into the guy in front of me.
Going uphill felt a bit sluggish to be honest, but it was 40 degrees outside on melting bitchumen. The frame is designed with fairly “chunky” tubes which also may add to the sensation. I was also a few kilos overweight, so it’s tough to tell for sure. I’d like to ride it again on some terrain and conditions I’m more familiar with.
It sounds cliché, but the frame is stiff and solid as hell, just like it’s designed to be. There’s no mistaking it and it doesn’t take much familiarity with bikes to recognise this straight way. The Diablo built up with a set of Lightweights would be an awesome crit machine.
The Diablo I rode was equipped with Dura Ace and Mavic Ksyrium SL wheelset. It retails for $6399 AUD. You can also buy it with Ultegra and Ksyrium Elite wheels for $4799 (much better value in my opinion). The frame only option (including seatpost and fork), will cost you $3199.
I personally think the biggest differentiation that NeilPryde bikes has in the market is their tube design and customisation. They have a lot of very nice color combinations and also allow you the option to choose your own.
I had a hard time with the seatpost clamp while trying to adjust my seatheight. The seat clamp was buried under a rubber seal that was difficult to get at and adjust. When I was first trying to get the seatheight right I broke the bolt on the seatpost clamp which basically ruined it. Fortunately extra clamps were brought otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to race without a saddle.
The other thing I noticed was that riding on the roads in Thailand, there were these small rumble strips before intersections. The front end of the bike would produce this ‘knocking’ sound. Nothing was loose and I couldn’t pinpoint the problem throughout the whole week. It didn’t seem anything to worry about in the end, but it stood out as being a nuisance.
I had a difficult time picking which size of Diablo would fit me. I’m comfortable on a 57cm top tube, but the options available to me were Large (56cm) and XL (57.5). I’m right in between and decided to err on the smaller size. I chose the 56cm (L). It was definitely too small for me where most 56cms would usually fit me no problem. Just like any bike, I’d suggest taking one for a test ride before deciding on a size.
NeilPryde offers a 10 year workmanship warranty and 2 year cosmetic warranty. You can find the full warranty guidelines here.
NeilPryde first adopted a direct to consumer model, but with the appreciation that a bike is a very personal purchase that needs to be touched and felt, they’ve partnered with a number of dealers to carry stock. You can find list of dealers here.