Belgian bike behemoth Ridley may only have been established in 1997 but, in their relatively short life, they've accumulated numerous wins at the highest level.
Currently sponsoring the Lotto-Belisol team, their bikes have the unenviable task of withstanding the sprint power of André Greipel. Now under the Madison umbrella in the UK, can this Flemish flyer deliver on British roads?
Although the Dean RS is number three in Ridley’s TT line-up, it shows plenty of trickle-down benefits from its more illustrious stablemates. FAST technology includes the super slippery F-Surface paintwork and the patented F-Splitfork.
Although the cabling is internally routed, the front brake hidden and there is definite aero profiling to the tubing, for a modern tri bike it’s fairly ‘un-aero’ looking; there’s a veritable chasm between the seatpost and the rear wheel that can create turbulence while, the headset, stem and the rear brake are all traditionally sited.
There can be no aero-grumblings about the wheelset, though, with the Madison spec seen here consisting of their excellent Profile Design Twenty Four Series 78mm tubular wheels. Added to those the Continental Sprinter tubs and you should be guaranteed a fast and responsive ride.
The cockpit, the Aeria T2 also from Profile Design, offers a superb amount of adjustability; Dura-Ace bar-end shifters will never let you down; and the Profile Design brake levers are paired with Ridley’s in-house 4ZA brakes, which come with a good reputation.
The groupset is the ever-reliable Shimano Ultegra in its latest 11-speed incarnation. We know that the number-of-sprockets arms race has got to stop somewhere but, especially on flat or rolling courses, losing that mid-range jump does make a difference and we’re now 11-speed converts. The PRO Aerofuel saddle, with titanium rails, is a lightweight and classy finish to the build but the pronounced central channel won’t suit all riders.
With the Profile Design Aeria T2 Bars, dialling in your perfect ride position is easy and, from the very first pedal stroke, there’s a genuine sense of familiarity and assuredness to the Ridley. There’s no wallowing, slowness to turn or sudden dives when negotiating tight slow speed turns. And, up on the bullhorns, it almost feels like a road bike.
Early out of the saddle, big-ring efforts on short steep rises reveal no flex from either the frame or the deep-section wheels, and it certainly gives a pleasing spring forward when you give it a dig. Rolling along on the flat it holds speed well and thrives at middle- and long-distance pace. You can really relax on it, turn your legs over and enjoy a wonderfully efficient feeling ride.
Comfort levels are up there with the best, so this is definitely a great bike to run off. But it’s no slouch when you ramp up the wattage and, based on our test segments splits, it wouldn’t let you down at your local club 10-mile TT.
The Profile wheels ride brilliantly – their handling of gusty winds isn’t far off the market leaders, spinning up to speed quickly without paying any acceleration penalties. The Ultegra 11-speed groupset is a crisp shifting joy. If you hit a steadily rising ramp at pace, it’s far easier to maintain power without a sudden jump in cadence as you shift, which, over 180km, is a potential leg saver. The bar-end shifters are oft-criticised for being dated but we like their positivity.
Both uphill and descending, the Ridley’s earlier hints at road bike aspirations shine through. And with the great wheels and solid brakes this is definitely a bike that you could tackle lumpy courses on. A TT bike that you seek out twisting technical descents on is a rare beast, but this Ridley can definitely join that club.
A TT bike on which you can tackle all roads with confidence.
Great wheels, excellent groupset and finishing kit.
Very versatile and great to ride but there are certainly better deals out there.
Wonderfully smooth ride, perfect for almost all courses.
(All images: Jonny Gawler)
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