by Clifford Lee
Based in Northern Flanders, Ridley has deep roots in cyclocross. For a company only 20 years old, Ridley cyclocross bikes have been ridden to more world cyclocross championship victories than any other brand, recently surpassing the venerable Alan brand that was until recently boasting the same claim to fame.
Ridley has two carbon cyclocross frames. While the European pros primarily ride the flagship X-Night, the U.S. Ridley-sponsored riders are all on X-Fires, as they make for easier flying without the seatmast of the X-Night. Intrigued? Read our Pro Bike Profile of Amy Dombroski’s X-Fire. The X-Fire comes in at a lower price point with similar features, but with slightly altered geometry, a normal seat post and the addition of bottle bosses.
Though in the new catalog, the 2012 Ridley X-Fire is so new it is not yet on their website, but we have an early edition that we’ve been riding and will be reviewed in Issue 13. New for 2012 is a flashy paint job sporting the world championship stripes earned under the likes of Mario Declerq, Bart Wellens, and Erwin Vervecken, and presently ridden by Zdenek Stybar and Kevin Pauwels. Also, new are internal cable routing and a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket, while retaining the flared heat tube from 2011.
We’re testing a pre-release production model, and out-of-the-box the bike is ready to race, with race-worthy gearing and rubber. The X-Fire, although designed with a slightly longer wheelbase than the X-Night, still features pretty traditional European cyclocross geometry, with a 61mm bottom bracket drop, short 42.5cm chainstays, and a square 56cm (effective) top tube and seat tube lengths with a 73.5/72 seat tube and head tube angles. The all-carbon bike that tips the scales at 17.75 lbs out of the box (11.25 lbs without the included Reynolds aluminum clincher wheels). Our 56 cm bike came nicely equipped with Ultegra 6700 and Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes, Ritchey bar, stem and seat post, and the Reynolds wheels were shod with excellent light and high-volume Clement PDX clinchers.The beefy all-carbon fork with a tapered steerer is shared with the X-Night, with a massive crown coming off the 1.5” bottom headset race. The internal cable routing is elegant requiring full cable housing runs from the levers to the terminus at the brake stops or derailleurs, giving the advantage of a sealed cable system.
Our initial rides prove this is a race-ready, stiff bike and chatter-resistant fork that also possesses versatility for longer trail rides with dual bottle mounts and a decent vibration absorption. It’s a bit taller than typical American bikes because of its taller bottom bracket, but perhaps you can bunnyhop taller objects or pedal over steep lips and through off-cambers. It’s also got a pretty long head tube for plenty of shouldering room and it makes a variety of handlebar heights possible.
Expect our usual detailed account of the frame and components, as well as ride and handling impressions in the upcoming summer print issue #13!
The X-Fire will be hitting dealers later in July. A non-PF30 version with SRAM Rival will still be available for $2495, while a SRAM Red X-Night is available for the Stybar impersonators for $4095.
2012 X-Fire PF30 Ultegra carbon cyclocross bike
MSRP: $3095 with PF30 bottom bracket, internal cable routing, 1.5″ tapered carbon fork, Shimano Ultegra. ($2495 without PF30, with SRAM Rival)
Component Highlights: FSA SLK-Light BB30 cranks, Shimano Ultegra Shifters, Derailleurs, Cassette, SRAM Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes, Ritchey 4-axis WCS stem, WCS bar and seatpost.
Weight: 17.75 pounds without pedals (56cm)
For more info: http://ridley-bikes.com
Out of your league or budget, or carbon not for you? Stay tuned for our spotlight on the new Airborned Delta disc brake-equipped cyclocross bike.