Neil Pryde has evolved in a short time from a wind sports company to one that sponsored the UnitedHealthcare team last year – and has just launched its debut endurance bike, the Zephyr.
The Zephyr frameset is as comfortable as it is fast. It’s also extremely stable, a result of our large frame’s relaxed 72-degree head angle and the generous 998mm wheelbase. The relaxed fork induces flex by positioning the dropouts behind the line of the fork blades, while the rear dropouts are cantilevered – which allows for shock absorption and some vertical movement.
The head tube is tall and the heavily tapered top tube is shortened to reduce reach by around 20mm compared with a regular road bike, but with the stem slammed it still gave us our usual drop. The down tube and seat tube are constant round shapes, but the chainstays are very deep for the first third of their length, before flattening and widening to meet the curved spindly seatstays, aiming for power transfer and vibration control.
Slim seatstays are curved for extra comfort
The extended wheelbase allows for 28mm rubber – and heaps of clearance – with the 27.2mm seatpost further softening the ride. Our large frame has a claimed weight of 1050g, showing the added strength necessary to fulfil pro riders’ cobbled race requirements, and built with Shimano Ultegra and RS31 wheels the overall weight is acceptable.
From the comfortable own-brand Aliante-like saddle, it feels like a race bike. The bump-defeating features haven’t dulled performance, with the stiffness and response up there with many top road machines. Sprinting shows great solidity between the bar, PF30 bottom bracket, chainstays and back wheel, which is capably managed by a planted front end. And though acceleration is hurt by rotational mass, it is still a very tidy performer.
The Zephyr is essentially a well-damped race bike. The wheelbase and angles provide stability, while the carbon lay-up and design protect you from the worst surfaces, fine handling making the extra cornering grip very accessible. It’s not as effective at smoothing the road as Trek’s Domane, but deserves its position among the chasing pack.