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Just in: Bowman Cycles Pilgrims disc-equipped road bike

Disc-equipped aluminium bike with space for 32mm tyres arrives in the office for testing

Kent-based Bowman Cycles launched its Palace aluminium road racing frame in 2014, which Stu gave a very glowing review, and at the same time revealed its disc-equipped Pilgrims road bike, which was still in development at that stage. Fast forward to May this year and we got to spend a short ride on a production sample, and now we’ve got a frame in for a longterm test. Here’s a first look before it gets built up.

What is the Pilgrims all about? Well, like the Palace it features an aluminium frame but there the similarities end. The custom shaped triple butted 7005 frame has been designed specifically for disc brakes, with internal routing for gear cables/wires and hydraulic brake hoses, and modified geometry.

Geometry differences to the Palace included a longer wheelbase, shorter top tube and lower bottom bracket. Speaking to Bowman Cycles it’s clear it has sweated the details in the geometry, aiming to produce a bike that handles like a regular road bike on the smooth stuff, but which can handle off-road terrain as well.

“It’s true that for years you could have done rides like this on a cyclo cross bike, but, in our opinion, a cross bike is not so much fun on the black top as a more dedicated machine. We have designed the Pilgrims to sit between the long, stable geometry of a cross bike, and the more agile true road machine. The detail of the differences are: fork offset, head angle and the corresponding trail measurement; bottom bracket height, tyre clearance and chainstay length,” says Bowman Cycles.

You could call that adventure riding, Bowman Cycles prefer to call it RoadPlus, which we reckon is a pretty good description, and certainly more accurate for UK riding than the gravel tag. It’s designed predominantly to excel on the road but it won’t get its knickers in a twist if you show it a bridleway or gravel track or two. To enable such a wide remit, the Pilgrims has space for up to 35mm wide tyres, providing plenty of scope for tailoring the bike to any sort of riding or terrain you want to entertain it with.

- Buyer’s guide to gravel and adventure bikes plus 11 of the Best

You want more details? The frame has a BB86 pressfit bottom bracket and tapered head tube, with the company’s own carbon fibre fork. The frame will take 32mm tyres with mudguards, with hidden eyelets at the dropouts and a 3D printed seatstay bracket that is nearing completion. There’s no mudguard eyelets on the fork, but that is something Bowman is working on at the moment, and is perhaps the only negative if mudguards are high on your agenda.

The frame isn't short of well thought out details. One detail that impresses is the modular cable routing, which uses small plastic inserts that bolt into place it’ll cleanly accept either mechanical or electronic groupsets. Another neat touch is the way the cables exit the bottom of the down tube and a guide bolted to the chainstay bridge directs the rear gear cable at the rear mech, and the brake line at the chainstay mounted disc caliper.

On the scales this 56cm anodised frame, with seat collar and headset, weighs 1,563g, and the fork with uncut steerer tube is 412g.

I had the chance to ride the Pilgrims for a few hours and was highly impressed, with great road pace and impressive ability to handle some dirt trails at the same time.

“The longer wheelbase gives the Pilgrims a good stance on the road, or dirt, and the steering is fantastically direct. It’s a very involving and exciting ride,” is how I summed up the Pilgrims following that first ride.

- First ride review: Bowman Cycles Pilgrims disc-equipped aluminium road bike

Keen to put more time on the bike, Bowman kindly agreed to lend me a frameset which I’m going to build up for testing. It’ll replace the Genesis Croix de Fer I’ve just reviewed, so it’ll be an interesting comparison. As for the groupset, I’ll be testing the new SRAM Rival 1x11 groupset, and I’ve got some tubeless wheels and tyres to complete the build. Look out for a blog update, and full review, soon.

The Pilgrims frameset (frame, fork, seat collar and headset) costs £750 and is available in five sizes and two colours, painted blue and anodise black.

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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wycombewheeler | 8 years ago

Thought it was perfect until I got to press fit bottom bracket.

Neil @ Bowman replied to wycombewheeler | 8 years ago

Thanks Wycombewheeler and others for the feedback.

I understand some people have issues with PressFit BB's. Historically, much of this has come from poor finish on carbon frames, and the issues with tolerances due to the manufacturing process. Being made from aluminium, we are more easily able to ensure quality in the bb shell size.

The reason for the choice is tyre clearance. The wider BB shell allows us to position the chainstays in a wider stance, without adding any potential week points when the BB shell is threaded. On a standard BSA threaded shell, you have 68mm to play with, so the welds sit over the threaded area. As the threading is done post manufacture (along with any facing required) there is the potential the stress the frame.

In the 26 months we've been testing various Bowman frames, all with BB86 and using shimano, sram and aftermarket BB's, we have not had a single creak, or BB shift.

Just like the graphics, we know that we wont please everyone, but personally, along with everyone behind the scenes, i have 100% faith in the choices we've made.


Neil at Bowman

joemmo | 8 years ago

@Neil I like the frame very much, just think you should have confidence in it and not overdo the sloganeering.

Neil @ Bowman | 8 years ago

Hi folks,
Glad those that do like the frame, and Joemmo,sadly, we wont please all the people all of the time, but feedback is always good.

For those asking about mudguards: We will be supplying 3D Printed braces for the rear (sits between the stays) for a solid but removable fitment option. Up front, we'll be selling the frame with adapters to mount on the forks, so fit the guards in a solid and stable fashion.
We'll put our hands up, and say we've had a few issues with the first batch, and thats why David didn't get a set with the frame. The first 15 updated rears are landing this week and are going out to those who already have their frames. The fronts are still a couple of weeks away, and once they are perfect ( we aren't prepared to send out substandard adapters as a short term measure) then they'll also be be going out. Once they are sorted, all subsequent frames sold will ship with the mounts in the box, and we'll be sending out a little pressie to our early customers as a thank you for their patience.
Any other queries though, you can fire them on here, or via email (link on our site, or on Facebook and Twitter.

have fun out there folks.


Founder and MD at Bowman.

Broady. | 8 years ago

Looks great, be interesting to see if they stay with post mount discs or adopt the flat mount which seems to be the adopted standard by Shimano and the big bike manufacturers.

P3t3 | 8 years ago

I hope they can sort out the ID crisis, robust bike with dirt capability but no mudguards... not sure that's really a frame with "well thought out details". Lovely looking bike though and a nice sort of bike to have.

Hicksdesign | 8 years ago

Much love for this frame - I've just built one up with Di2, Hunt Wheels and 30mm Strada Bianca's and it's a lot of fun! Ticked every box that I had on my list

joemmo | 8 years ago

I rather like this but it's a bit over-stickered IMHO. It's not really necessary to have the material or a slogan emblazoned on the seatstays.

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