Bowman heads off beaten track with new models

Upstart UK brand breaks cover with fresh, unorthodox road and cyclocross bikes

Bowman’s debut bike, the Palace – an alloy chassis with handling at the centre of its design ethos – gained the UK brand a great reputation.

The speed-oriented steed was named for the famed circuit races at London’s Crystal Palace. In keeping with Bowman’s riding-focused philosophy, the two new bikes, the Pilgrim (named after the ancient Pilgrim’s Way route across southeast England) and the Footscray (named after the longest running British cyclocross venue) both aim for the same goal.

Pilgrim: versatile all-road workhorse

The Pilgrim is described by Bowman head honcho Neil Webb as a ‘Road+’ bike. He told us he sees road bike design moving into a similar series of types as mountain biking has.

“You have the lightweight 650b carbon hardtail, or short travel full-sus for the racing crowd at one extreme, and at the other the big-travel downhill racer,” Webb told BikeRadar. “In the middle is the trail bike, which most people will naturally gravitate to ride – and that’s what we’ve done with the Pilgrim’.

The bowman pilgrim's bottom bracket shell is forged and the design includes a neat channel for routing the internal cabling around the shell. all of the fittings are removeable/replaceable, making the pilgrim frame compatible with pretty much any drivetrain configuration:
The bowman pilgrim's bottom bracket shell is forged and the design includes a neat channel for routing the internal cabling around the shell. all of the fittings are removeable/replaceable, making the pilgrim frame compatible with pretty much any drivetrain configuration:

The Pilgrim's bottom bracket shell is forged and includes a neat channel for routing the internal cabling around the shell

The Pilgrim’s geometry retains the Palace’s sharp handling, but the bottom bracket is lower, which will even out to a more traditional height, as you’ll be using bigger volume tyres. The Pilgrim can run up to 32c cyclocross treads should you wish, or 28c items with full mudguards.

The Pilgrim’s design is aimed at being able to do pretty much anything you’d want to on a road bike (and a little more besides). The fork is standard length to keep the responses swift, and at the back the chainstays are 415-418mm (dependent on frame size), which is as short as Bowman could get away with while still being able to run wider-gauge rubber.

The frame is very neatly appointed, with full internal cable routing that also features modular inserts to make it easy to switch between standard, hydraulic, electronic and 1x setups without leaving gaping holes.

The 3d-printed rear bolt on bridge provides mudguard compatibility:
The 3d-printed rear bolt on bridge provides mudguard compatibility:

The 3D-printed rear bolt on bridge provides mudguard compatibility

The fork and rear dropouts have ’guard eyes, but the bridges and main tubes don’t. Bowman includes 3D-printed mudguard mounts with the frame. For commuters and expedition riders (two entrants in this years Transcontinental rode Pilgrims) the fork also features built-in mounts for a dynamo – the only one of its kind we’ve seen.

As Bowman fully expects the Pilgrim to go a little further afield than your traditional tarmac-only road machine, the designers have slackened the head angle by half a degree to help soak up the bumps. For better rider comfort over longer distances, the head tube is 5mm taller than the racy Palace, while the top tube is 5mm shorter. That said, because the bottom bracket is in effect 5mm lower this doesn’t make the front end feel overly tall.

The frame is made from 7075 triple-butted alloy manipulated and shaped to Bowman’s needs. The seat tube, for instance, is massively oversized at the bottom bracket but tapers along its length to become compatible with a 27.2mm post.

The down tube is hexagonal, and bi-ovalised. The bottom bracket is forged, and features a built-in channel for the cables to route around the shell, separated from the bottom bracket itself.

To add a nod to compliance, the seatstays are minimal tapered and flattened. Webb told us the Pilgrim was developed and tested over many months, the emphasis always being on delivering a bike that will track quickly and confidently round corners and can handle going wherever your will takes you.

Footscray: cyclocross-based marauder

What about the other fresh model, the Footscray? “It isn’t really a race bike, though you could race on it; really we just wanted a bike you could get out and explore on, and really rag it off-road,” said Webb.

The footscray is a go-anywhere cyclocross bike built, as bowman boss neil webb has it, for
The footscray is a go-anywhere cyclocross bike built, as bowman boss neil webb has it, for

The Footscray is a go-anywhere cyclocross bike built for "ragging around" at speed off road

“That’s why we’ve designed in things like a front that’s 76mm wide between the legs at the crown. That allows you to fit a 2.1in 29er tyre up front.”

The frame’s shape matches a head angle between 68 and 70 degrees (depending on size) with a seat angle of 72.5 to 73.5 degrees. The bottom bracket drop ranges from 68mm to 72mm depending on size, with top tube lengths between 525mm on the small, and a whopping 600mm on the XL.

The geeometry is designed around using a shorter (by 30mm) stem than a standard bike. this keeps the steering sharp despite the slacker head angle:
The geeometry is designed around using a shorter (by 30mm) stem than a standard bike. this keeps the steering sharp despite the slacker head angle:

The geometry is designed around using a shorter (by 30mm) stem than a standard bike

The overall effect gives a shape slightly reminiscent of the slack’n’long Forward Geometry profile that Mondraker has helped introduce to mountain biking. It’s not quite as ‘forward’ as, say, a Whyte cyclocross bike, but Bowman still recommends you run a stem 30mm shorter than you would on a standard road bike.

Unlike the Pilgrim’s front and rear traditional quick releases, the Footscray uses thru-axles at both ends. But like the Pilgrim, there are mudguard eyes at both dropouts – and the bikes comes with the 3D-printed mounts.

The Pilgrim frame kit comes complete with the full carbon fork, headset, seat clamp and 3D printed guard mounts for £750 (AU$1,560 at time of writing).

The Footscray comes with frame fork, headset, seat clamp, thru-axles and the 3D mounts for £775 (AU$1,610 at time of writing).

The kits are available worldwide via the Bowman website, priced as per the exchange rate at time of ordering.

A rendering of bowman's 3d-printed front mudguard mounts:
A rendering of bowman's 3d-printed front mudguard mounts:

A rendering of Bowman's 3D-printed front mudguard mounts

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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