London Bike Show 2014: Parlee, Starley, NeilPryde, Cannondale, Singular and Primal
A roundup of some of the hottest and newest road bikes from the London Bike Show
So we spent most of Thursday at the opening day of the 2014 London Bike Show checking out some of the hottest and latest road bikes, components and accessories. So much so that we’re going to split our coverage into several articles, here is part one, featuring Parlee, Starley, NeilPryde, Cannondale, Singular and Primal.
On the Cannondale stand was this Peter Sagan Green Edition Cannondale SuperSix Evo bike, the first time we've seen it with our own eyes. Apparently there are a couple left unsold in the UK, so if you’re really really quick, you could still get one.
Why would you want one? Because it’s a pretty close replica of the bike Sagan raced last year, that's why. It's finished in the same special green paint finish they used to celebrate his winning of the Tour de France green jersey last summer. It’s available in stock sizes (you don’t get Sagan’s custom geo sadly) and is built with a SRAM Red groupset, Vision Metron carbon clincher wheels and FSA handlebars, stem and seatpost. The tyres are Kenda Peter Sagan signature tyres for that extra little detail.
Buy this bike and you get a few extras. It’s provided with both standard 53/39 and compact 50/34 spider and chainrings for the Hollowgram crankset, Elite Race Cages and a SciCon AeroComfort 2.0 Travel Bike Case finished with Cannondale Pro Cycling stickers - that case alone is worth nearly £500.
The UK distributor for Cannondale, CSG, decided to have a little fun with the Slice time trial bike. They sent it to a local paint shop and requested this ‘Cheetah’ paint job. You really need to see the bike in the flesh to admire the astonishing high level of finish. Now you just need a skinsuit to match it…
Cannondale has a good history of striking paint jobs of course, most notably with the old Saeco team and sprinter Mario Cipollini, and more recently with current sensation Peter Sagan. Remember the glow in the dark ‘Hulk’ bike we featured recently?
Cannondale only launched the new Synapse last year (I was at the launch don’t you know) and hot on the heels of that new bike is the Synapse Disc. The level of finish suggests they have probably been working on this bike for a while longer than they let on, though they’re not making much fuss about it at the moment. We first saw it at Eurobike last September, but it’s also on display at the London Bike Show in all its glossy loveliness.
So it’s the regular Synapse Hi-Mod with the necessary changes to fit disc brakes, in this case Shimano’s hydraulic offering. Our Dave has ridden these new stoppers at the Shimano launch last year, it’s worth a read if you want to know more. Back to the bike, it’s finished in motor racing inspired colours and decals with a very nice glossy finish.
The London Bike Show provided plenty of standout bikes, but for me this Parlee Z-Zero Disc took top honours, and it’s the first time I’ve seen one in the flesh since it launched last year. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of disc brakes on road bikes (we hear you at the back) because there is a regular canti version available too.
The Z-Zero is a full custom bike, Parlee don’t hold regular stock of the frame, each is made to order so it’s fully bespoke to your measurements and riding style. It’s not cheap, but you probably guessed that, given Parlee’s reputation. It costs £5,699 for the frame and fork.
But what a frame and fork it is. This one is shown with a new wax finish they offer, there’s no lacquer over the carbon, just a thin film of protective wax. It allows the carbon weave, different for the tubes and the lugs, to be on full show. And it gives the frame a very smooth feel. If you go to the show, make sure you give it a stroke.
An interesting little fact that Parlee’s marketing manager Tom Rodi, who has flown in from the US to be at the show all weekend, is that disc brake frames are making up quite a chunk of sales on the Z-Zero at the moment. Admittedly, the Z-Zero isn’t a frame that sells in huge numbers, but it does show that quite a few cyclists are into the idea of disc brakes.
Parlee’s brand new bike though is the ESX, their first aero road offering. It’s been several years in development, you might remember the Parlee collaboration with Toyota back in 2011? well that bike is now the ESX.
Key to the new frame is what they’ve dubbed ‘Recurve’, a novel tube shape that is unlike anything else being used in the bicycle industry (that we know of) right now. Part of the reason for this tube shape was to maintain the ride quality of a Parlee, while giving it the aero benefit. There’s still quite a rounded shape to the tubes, but some clear truncated teardrop shapes in evidence. Parlee reckon it’s a better aero shape than a Kamm tail that some companies are using, but not as fast as a full airfoil shape.
It’s used on the fork, head tube, down tube, top tube and seatpost. Parlee’s marketing man Tom Rodi admitted the all-black stealth finish of this bike, while admittedly a popular option at the moment, doesn’t really show up the shaping of the frame so well. He told of a frame finished with fluoro yellow details that apparently shows up the tube profiling much better. That we want to see.
The geometry is based on the regular Z5, which is offered with two head tube lengths to dial the fit, but the ESX has an optional faired spacer that sits on top of the head tube to create the taller version. Remove it if you’re happier running the handlebars low. Aero frames typically carry a weight penalty, though that is starting to change these days, and the ESX is a case in point. The frame weighs a claimed 950g. It’s fully compatible with mechanical and electronic groupsets with all cables or wires routed internally. It’s also one of the only aero road bikes we can think of that can take up to 28mm tyres.
Starley used the London Bike Show to launch the new AO aero road bike, which replaces the current AR frame. Compare the two and it’s obvious where the changes are, the new frame is a lot more aero in appearance. The tubes are also much straighter between junctions with none of the curves of the old frame, and they’ve switched to a regular seatpost, gone is the old integrated seatmast.
The aero bladed fork cuts into the teardrop shaped down tube, a design detail we’ve seen on a few other aero road bikes. The slim top tube finishes with an integrated seat clamp, to reduce clutter. The seat tube has a cutout section around the rear wheel, and the tapered head tube is pinched in at the centre to reduce the frontal surface area.
All cables are routed internally to minimise drag, and it’ll take mechanical and electronic groupsets. Starley don’t just do frames, they also do some of their own finishing kit. The display bike was fired with this interesting looking handlebar.
The AO costs £1,200 for the frame and fork, and complete bikes will start from £1,950 with a Shimano 105 groupset.
Starley have partnered with clothing brand Primal clothing to launch the Starley Primal Pro Cycling Team for 2014. This is the team bike way they’ll be racing, it’ll certainly stand out in the peloton we reckon.
They’ll be using the regular R1 road frame, the same as you can purchase, and they’ll be using Shimano Ultegra groupset with RS80 wheels and Rotor chain sets. The frame has a distinctive appearance, lots of curves, and is made from Toray 800H and T700S carbon fibre, with race geometry. There’s a tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket, and it’s mechanical and electronic groupset compatible.
Last year Primal launched the Helix jersey and bib shorts, the London Bike Show was our first opportunity to touch and feel it. They’ve used a fabric with a dimpled surface on the shoulders and sleeves to give it some aero benefit, but not only that, the four-way stretch is said to make it very comfortable, with just the right amount of compression.
This is the team kit they’ll be supplying for the newly launched Starley Primal Pro Cycling Team, to match the painted Starley team bikes a little higher up this article. Primal is keen to offer its custom service to shops and clubs, but they also do the Helix outfit in several colours if you want a nice off-the-shelf strip. The jersey costs £80 and the bib shorts £130.
NeilPryde has a new distributor in the shape of 2Pure, which should mean a bigger presence in bike shops across the UK. This is the brand spanking new Zephyr (well, we did first see it at Core Bike the other week, but that was a trade-only show) but they had a few more on display at London. The frame will be available in two colour options, and two builds, or you can buy the frame on its own if you wanted to build it up yourself. Frame only will cost £1,999 and an Ultegra bike £2,899.
The main thing to know about the Zephyr is that it’s designed for sportive and endurance riding. That essentially means the geometry is a little more relaxed and upright than the Bura SL, with a 20mm taller head tube and 10mm longer top tube. The frame weighs a claimed 740g for a medium, so a light overall build should be easily attainable.
The tube shapes have been heavily manipulated to balance the demands of delivery a stiff frame for power transfer, and providing a decent amount of comfort such a bike like this needs to offer. They’ve used curved seatstays with variable wall thicknesses to provide vibration absorption by allowing some degree of flex. It’s a similar story for the fork, with curved blades and various wall thicknesses to take the harshness out of the road surface. There’s also a 27.2mm seatpost. We're keen to find out how it actually rides, so we're arranging getting one in for testing.
Like many such endurance road bikes, it’ll take 28mm tyres. Weight is saved with carbon fibre headset cups, a press-fit 30 bottom bracket, tapered head tube and internal cable routing.
Singular showed a couple of interesting bikes currently in the final phase of development.
This is the Firebird, a road frame made from Columbus Life and Spirit tubing with traditional road racing geometry, and a price of £600-700 for the frame and fork.
This one actually belongs to Singular founder Sam Allison, he’s a tall chap hence the large size of the frame, and the used appearance. He’s currently riding it before it goes into final production you see. He’s still deciding on the final tubeset configuration, so it might change before final production. Even in this state, it’s a lovely look bike complete with some nice details, like the seat clamp and headbadge.
And here’s a disc version of the Kite cyclo-cross bike, the Kite Disc. To adapt the frame for discs, the seat stays and chain stays have been beefed up to cope with the extra forces the disc brakes impart on the frame, and not only that, also to tune the ride feel. The rear brake calliper is mounted on the seat stay and the dropout is reinforced with a short section of tube. Singular boss Sam Allison told us this was the best approach for ensuring adequate stiffness in this area.
The frame has a tapered head tube, but rather unusually it has external headset cups rather than the more regular integrated headset bearings that we’re more used to seeing on frames with tapered head tubes. The reason for this is simply down to aesthetics, Sam didn’t want the oversize appearance of regular tapered head tube contrasting with the otherwise skinny main tubes.
He reckons the frame weighs the same as the cantilever version, so about 2.26kg (5lb) for an XL, equivalent to a 59cm frame, and 1.8-2kg (4-4.5lb) for a medium. The frame and fork will cost about £600-700, which seems pretty good for a classy looking steel disc-equipped ‘crosser. The tube set is triple butted 4130, used simply because it’s a significant chunk cheaper than a Reynolds or Columbus tubeset, but offers decent performance considering its lower price.
Sam is a single speed fan, so the development bike is fitted out as such, but it can be run as a geared bike easily enough. The PF30 bottom bracket can accommodate a regular bottom bracket, or this eccentric setup which allows easy adjustment of the chain tension. This is a Problem Solvers Eccentric 46 Bottom Bracket.
The production frame will differ slightly in that the rear brake hose will be routed more cleanly along the top of the chain stay. There’ll also be mudguard mounts on the final version, so you could conceivably run it with fat slick tyres for commuting and winter training, or lightly treaded tyres for ‘gravel racing’ type riding.
More shiny bikes in part two...