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Bowman Palace Review

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It’s been roughly 1500km into my use of my Bowman Palace bike here in Canada’s Pacific Northwest including:
– multiple cat 1 mountain climbs
– 300km 2-day ride hilly group ride through Washington and Oregon (Seattle to Portland)
– daily commute
– there have been a few reviews online already but perhaps my thoughts with a few more kms on the frame would help curious people
I thought this would be a good time to review the bike and ride so far.

Why the Palace?
A good place to start is with my riding interests:
Everyone has different riding interests and my purchase of this bike was for these purposes:
Ride Type: I like to ride for fitness purposes and enjoy all-round road riding
Main reason for riding: exercise and enjoyment. Always looking to improve my Strava times
Not interested in formal racing and only for the occasional commute.

Carbon or Aluminium? As nice as having a carbon frame would be, through some extensive research, I’d rather have a high-end aluminium frame or a high-end carbon frame at this time. Seeing that a high-end carbon frame is beyond my price range, aluminium it is.
Geometry: in my comparison of other well known aluminium race frames, the Bowman has a slightly more relaxed geometry that suits my short legs, long torso, and long arms. While Specialized and Cannondale as very accessible in the Pacific Northwest and both make excellent Al road race frames, their race frames are too aggressive for me.
Pricing: At 650 British Pounds, it’s a pretty affordable frameset for customization.
The above has led me to two framesets for final selection: Canyon Ultimate AL or the Palace. Seeing that it would be logistically far more complicated at this time for me to get one into Canada from Canyon, the Bowman was my choice.
Weight: Claimed weight at ~1200g it’s a good starting point for a bike build (Actual weight on my scale came closer to 1400g). It might not be a weight weenie, but I don’t race enough to warrant it.
Aesthetics: With the black and Bianchi Celeste paint job, this frameset takes the cake. I love the eye-catching design, and makes accessorising fun.

Setup:

  • 54cm frameset
  • full 105 groupset, mid-compact groupset with 11-32 cassette, equipped with a long cage derailleur
  • Deda trim
  • H Plus Son Archetype Rims with 25mm Continental GP4000II tyres
  • Fizik Arione seat

With the bike built up, it weighed in at 18.3 lbs with pedals, so it’s pretty much the 18 lbs flat that other reviews have mentioned.

Handling
My benchmark when it came to handling was my first road bike, a 52cm Specialised Allez. Quick without being twitchy, it was great at handling corners. The only except which exception is on fast downhills, which I felt my centre of balance was too far forward for my liking.

Overall, if I were to use a fish analogy for the two bikes, the Allez felt like a minnow, quick and agile, while the Palace felt like a salmon: strong, sturdy and sleek.

It took a bit of time for me to get used to the turning of the Palace, and after a nice downhill from a local Cat 1 climb, I was able to get a good feel of how I should handle this mighty steed. I had to shift my body weight forward as the higher headtube had shifted my centre of gravity higher and slightly back.


Compliance
In addition, I’ve test ridden quite a handful of carbon bikes, including the BMC TimeMachine SL02, Cervelo R2 Ultegra. For a simple comparison, I used the same seat and have alloy stem and handlebars, using silcone gel bar tape on both the Allez and Palace. There are noticeably a few main differences:

The rear triangle feels anchored, always holding onto the road, a welcome difference that is likely to the slightly longer chainstays.

Maybe because it has a full carbon fork, the road vibrations on the front half of the frame are smoothed out considerably, but without losing the feel of the road, which I very much like from riding.

The Bowman Palace feels closer to the carbon bikes I mentioned above than my Allez aluminium. The only thing that I miss is the shorter chainstays for slightly stiffer feel on climbs, as compared to the Allez.

Small recommendations for the future?
I have a small niggle with the rear wheel, as I am not able to remove it without completely removing the QR skewer. One of the reasons is the derailleur hanger is not completely vertical. Also, a small connecting piece of the frame to stiffen the chain stays near the bottom bracket gets in the way of the tyre when removing.

Other that that, I’m very happy with the purchase and I wish Neil and his team at Bowman all the best in their upcoming new models.

[October 2nd, 2015] I was recently contacted by Bowman Cycles team as they offered to replace my rear derailleur hangerr with an updated version. Cheers! Looking forward to the fix for this very small issue.

[October 31st, 2015] Taking the opportunity to put on my fenders for the winter season, I replaced my rear derailleur hanger and the slight angle change made all the difference. No need to remove the QR axles now! Problem resolved.


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6 Comments

  1. Hi
    Love this review – thanks so much!
    We have a slightly different r.mech hanger. Could you dop me a line at info@bowman-cycles.com with an addess and I’ll send it on over.

    Thanks

    Jon (at Bowman Cycles)

  2. Administrator

    October 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Thanks Jon,
    I’ve emailed you and sent you my contact info. Appreciate the effort in following up with this!

  3. I know this post is a little old but I’m curious about getting dinged with any import costs. I’m also in Canada and looking at getting a Bowman.

  4. Administrator

    August 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, unfortunately there will be import duties. As to what percentage, I don’t quite remember the numbers, but I do know that it’s lower for individual parts, aka, frames, than complete bicycles.

    Hope the little that I know helps.

  5. Hi, again I know this post is a bit old but how tall are you. I’m looking at the new palace:r and can’t decide between a 52 and a 54. I currently have a 52allez but it feels a bit long. I see the bowman 54 is a bit shorter than the allez on reach. I’m 173cm tall. Any comments on fit welcomed!

  6. Administrator

    November 15, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Hi Rob, thanks for the message. When choosing the 54cm Palace for myself, I put leg length as a higher priority for choosing the size, and my 30.5″ leg length led me to the 54cm, as recommended on the Palace web page. Have a measure to figure out what size best fits.

    Feel free to also shoot an email to the people at Bowman as they’ll be happy to answer your questions. Hope that helps!

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