If you're into windsurfing, you'll most likely be familiar with the NeilPryde brand. Now the company is taking a step in another direction by diving into the high-performance road bicycle market. Designed in partnership with BMW's DesignworksUSA, the result is a highly aerodynamic machine developed from extensive wind-tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamic modeling that makes use of complex – and very distinctive – aerofoil cross-sections in the carbon fiber frame and forks, while weighing in at as little as 6.75 kg. Slick in more than just looks!
Seeking to find the optimal balance between weight, aerodynamic performance and stiffness, the designers have come up with a morphing frameset that takes into accounts the varying airflow at different points on the frame. The down tube, for example, is sculpted to accommodate the turbulence caused by the front wheel at the top, while the bottom incorporates a progressive Kamm back aerofoil (the abrupt cut-off in the profile) to create more streamlined airflow around the rear wheel. Every surface, from the carbon fiber forks to the integrated seat clamp and chainstays has been designed to optimize aerodynamic performance.
The aerofoil design also takes into account the need to maintain lateral and torsional stiffness and good handling. To achieve this, improvements have been made to the monocoque molding processes with C6.7 carbon fibres running continuously through tube-joint-tube transitions. Stiffness ribs have also been added to the fork blades, chain and seat stays.
Two models aimed at the high-performance bike racing market have been developed – the Alize and Diablo. Both use Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, FSA stems and handlebars and Selle Itallia saddles. Both are also offered with either Shimano's Dura Ace 7900 or Ultegra 6700 groupset. The Diablo Dura Ace is the lightest at 6.75 kg, but the heaviest model – the 7.3 kg Alize Ultegra – isn't exactly what you'd call obese.
As you might expect, these bikes aren't aimed at the budget conscious weekend cyclist. The Diablo Dura Ace is listed at US$5,400, the Diablo Ultegra costs $4,200 and the Alize models will set you back and $5,150 and $3,950 respectively.
The bikes are being revealed to the public for the first time this weekend (13-15 August) at the Vattenfall Cyclassics taking place in Hamburg. Pre-orders are being taken at the NeilPryde site and shipments are slated to begin in mid-September.
These are gorgeous bikes. It will be interesting to see what impression they make on professional cycling over the next year ... and a look at the design section of the NeilPryde bikes website suggests that some even more radical designs may be just around the corner.
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