Van Nicholas Zephyr £2890

Bold titanium ride

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Designed on a fresh page to be the ultimate racing-sportive and mile muncher, the Zephyr hits the ground running and immediately draws attention with its futuristic frame and sleek tube shapes. Extensive collaboration and computer modelling with the help of the Delft University of Technology has produced a ride where no qualities are left to chance.

Ride & handling: Good manners and groove-like behaviour are ideal for long days in the saddle

The Zephyr is one fast bike that’s totally steady and makes riding in a quick peloton a blast. This means you can let go of the bars and sit up, then grab a gel out of your back pocket in total confidence. It feels like it’s got auto pilot.

Blessed with that nice zing we’ve come to expect from titanium bikes, you can ride comfortably like the wind all day, and look sexy while doing it. Up front, the Reynolds Ouzo fork with oval blades is nice and rigid without too much torsional flex and keeps handling pin-sharp.

A generous amount of trail, the result of a relaxed head angle, gives a well planted front end. But when you get out of the saddle you end up oddly perched over the front wheel, despite having the saddle jammed rearward. Nevertheless, the Zephyr is very efficient and climbs beautifully.

We found the bike was happier on good surfaces than nasty cobbles. The rear end is pretty tight and rigid, so replacing the zero-offset post fitted here with Van Nicholas’s other curved kick-back offset seatpost would surely have taken out some of the sting. Overall, though, it's a brilliant all-rounder capable of being all things to all people with a taste for speed.

Frame & equipment: Outstandingly bold chassis design and execution; benchmark Mavic hoops

Full of beautiful touches, the 3AL-2.5V titanium frame represents a lot for the money. Besides being graced by an attractive head badge and beautiful seat clamp, there’s a bulgy head-tube, joined by a complex, trumpet-like top-tube that shifts into a horizontally oval cross-section as it intersects the seat tube.

A sort of ‘canti-flex’ concept is meant to allow the unbuttressed upper section of the seat tube to move rearward when loaded, taking some of the sting out of rough terrain. In practice, it’s pretty robust in all planes and is especially rigid laterally.

The rear wheel is kept firmly in place by some incredibly burly dropouts, machined with an attractive pattern that turns them into works of art. Unusually shaped seatstays look like Popeye’s arms, which, combined with burly chainstays, grab hold of the rear wheel as well as his spinach-assisted iron grip.

Superb Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels really perform. The larger section rear rim is heavily machined, while the stainless steel bladed spokes mean trouble-free durability and an attractive appearance.

With such a unique look, the unobtrusive VNT forged aluminium finishing kit proves light and confidence inspiring. Shimano Ultegra for the drivetrain can’t be faulted, other than the odd rattle over cobbles from the shifters.

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