- Superlight frame
- Great handling
- Budget wheels
- Slightly underwhelming paint scheme
Price as reviewed:
The NeilPryde name has appeared on bicycle down tubes for just seven years, but the Hong Kong company has been manufacturing carbon-fibre booms and masts for the windsurfing industry since the 1980s. The NeilPryde bike division is now UK based but still selling to a global market via online platforms, including this the new NeilPryde Bura SL.
There are four models in the 2017 range: the Bura is the lightweight race bike while the Nazaré is the aero road racer. There’s also the endurance-oriented Zephyr and the UCI-compliant Bayamo triathlon/time trial bike.
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The NeilPryde Bura SL is made from NeilPryde’s C6.9 carbon-fibre – the company’s own label for the Toray 46T and 60T it uses in its construction, the Japanese manufacturer’s highest-modulus carbon suitable for bicycle frames.
NeilPryde’s Exoskeleton process means placing extra material – informed by finite element analysis (FEA) – to bolster stiffness in the areas where it is needed. This can take the form of ribs to keep chainstays – which are manufactured in one piece – rigid or more visibly in the gussets behind the Bura’s head tube, between the seat tube/down tube and the seat and chainstays.
Tube wall thickness is also manipulated via the company’s proprietary moulding process. The Bura has an asymmetric down tube that flares on the non-drive side to the full width of the bottom bracket. This makes the bottle cage bolts, despite being placed at the frame’s centreline, look strangely lopsided. The rest of the frame has a clean and purposeful look. The integrated seatpost clamp – despite it being a ‘non-aero’ bike – is a neat touch and the dropped seatstays also mark it out as a bike firmly in the late 2010s.
The fork has a graceful bow shape – better for comfort than straight blades – and has carbon dropouts to keep weight low. For the size large NeilPryde claims a weight of 750g – unthinkably light not so long ago.
The NeilPryde Bura SL is available in a top-end build with Dura-Ace 9100 for £4,200 but the more affordable second-rung one we have on test comes with Ultegra 6800. Finishing kit is FSA’s SL-K equipment – a 27.2 carbon seatpost, alloy stem with carbon faceplate and carbon compact bar wrapped in quality LizardSkins tape.
The saddle is the long, flat Fizik Arione, which suits most people. The Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels let the side down a little. You could damn them with faint praise and call them ‘robust’, but at just under 1,700 grams minus tyres, skewers and cassette they cancel out all those precious frame grams saved through time consuming and expensive FEA.
The NeilPryde Bura SL is unexpectedly comfortable, especially if you’re prepared for a super-racy, high-modulus ride. The cushioning at the rear is superlative, to the extent that you have to remind yourself that potholes still need to be avoided for the sake of the Clement Strada tyres – an iconic name from cycling history that it’s nice to see despite several changes of ownership.
The geometry of the size medium we tested is perfectly judged, with a 73.5° seat tube angle and 73° head tube slightly more relaxed than some race bikes. However, aggressive stack and reach measurements mean a head-down, flat-backed position is easily achievable. In corners and on descents it feels pin sharp – unsurprising considering the wheelbase is just 975cm.
The stiffness of the NeilPryde Bura SL is most obviously felt on bottom-gear climbs. At high levels of torque lesser bikes would flex; the Bura SL surges forward with an acceleration each time the crank comes round. Short chainstays at 405mm undoubtedly help power transfer. Due to the wheels, the extraordinary nimbleness of the frame is not so detectable in less extreme riding scenarios. In a lighter build the NeilPryde Bura SL frame would certainly explode into life in all areas.
NeilPryde’s decision to stay under the £3,000 price point by speccing cheaper wheels is a sensible one – serious riders with £3K to spend will almost certainly already have a favourite set of race-day wheels and the Fulcrum Racing 5s are great as training wheels. So we would say an Ultegra-specced superlight frame such as this for just under £3K represents good value.
This is a high-quality, sophisticated frame made more affordable by making some savings – the wheels – which inevitably affect its performance. However, as NeilPryde points out, in this build the Bura SL is supposed to be upgraded. At its heart it has a super-light, super-stiff 750g frame that could be built way under the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit and that, crucially, rides beautifully.
Frame: Bura SL C6.9 Toray UD Fork
Size range: XS, S, M, L, XL
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 6800
Gear Ratios: 52/36 11-28
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 5
Tyres: Clement Strada 25c
Handlebar: FSA SL-K
Stem: FSA SL-K
Seatpost: FSA SL-K
Saddle: Fizik Arione