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Updated aluminium race and high-performance road bike launched, we take a first look

Bowman Cycles has been busy. The British company is only a couple of years old but in that time has been evolving its model line, and this week founder and designer Neil Webb popped into the road.cc office to show off his latest additions. 

There are three new models: the Palace:R, Layhams Disc and Pilgrims Project X. Each is an update to existing models in the range but things go much deeper here than a new paint job or spec list, they’re practically new bikes in their own right.

In this video and article, we’re focusing on the new Palace:R, the Layhams Disc and Pilgrims Project X will follow shortly. 

Palace:R goes on a diet, swaps pressfit for threaded BB

The original Palace was a stunning piece of kit, so good it won our Frameset of the Year title back in 2014. It was one hell of a debut frame for the Kent-based company offering a bike that just wanted to be ridden hard and the harder you rode it the more it repaid you. 

Bowman Palace R.jpg

Bowman Palace R.jpg

“Balanced, stable and hugely responsive to the slightest touch. Above all, though, masses and masses of fun.” 

That was how it was described in our review but Bowman reckons they have made it even better. ‘Refined, Revised, Reborn' apparently. Sounds good to us.

Bowman Palace R - head tube badge.jpg

Bowman Palace R - head tube badge.jpg

The material may still be the same but the new 6069-grade aluminium triple butted tubeset has been evolved with new profiles allowing for thinner tube walls, and as a result it has dropped 150g whilst maintaining the same stiffness as the predecessor. Claimed frame weight for a 58cm is 1,170g, a very respectable weight for an aluminium frame, and right up there with the lightest examples we’ve seen from Kinesis, Cannondale, BMC and Trek over the years. 

A key feature of the new frame is the FlareSquare seat tube. It’s wide and squared in profile at the bottom bracket, the idea being to resist the twisting forces during hard accelerations. It then tapers to a round 27.2mm seatpost accommodating shape and size at the top. 

Bowman Palace R - bottom bracket.jpg

Bowman Palace R - bottom bracket.jpg

A change that will please a lot of people, the pressfit bottom bracket has been replaced with a standard threaded version. The cable routing has been improved as well to ensure smoother lines from shifter to mech.

The original Palace only really worked with mechanical groupsets as everything ran externally which it still does if you are going down the cable operated route. If you fancy a bit of electronic action, the cable guides are removable to be replaced by inserts to guide the wires through the frame for ultimate neatness.

Bowman Palace R - stays.jpg

Bowman Palace R - stays.jpg

The key thing though, despite all the tube changes, is that the geometry hasn’t been touched one bit which means the Palace:R should have that same beautiful handling as the original Palace while being lighter, though we are looking forward to seeing if the refined tube shapes and thinner tube walls has a positive impact on the ride quality of the bike. The previous Palace was a refined ride but Bowman reckons the changes have netted an improvement in the refinement. 

Bowman Palace R - chain stay.jpg

Bowman Palace R - chain stay.jpg

The updated Palace:R costs £695 and is available in six sizes, 50 to 60cm. There are two colour options, black/jade or green on green. Delivery is scheduled for mid-May. Included with the frame is a full carbon fibre fork with a tapered steerer tube.

Enjoy that read? Now scroll back up to the top to watch the video in which  Neil Webb gives a full lowdown on the new Palace:R, straight from the horses mouth as it were.

Stay tuned for a first look at the Layhams Disc and Pilgrim Project X coming soon…

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.