The X-Night is built to race. It’s a quick-steering, efficient machine that is equally at home on technical tracks and modern American hairpin-laden courses. Stomp on it, and the bike will rejoice—at least, it did until it realized that my hard efforts were short-lived. Lacking motivation? It doesn’t hurt that you can look down and be inspired by seeing that you’re riding the same frame as Kevin Pauwels.
Looking for a plush, relaxed gravel ride? Look elsewhere. The X-Night isn’t bone-jarring stiff, but it’s built to get you from point A to point B without wasted energy, and relies on your tires and 27.2mm post to take the edge off a rough surface. And don’t confuse the X-Night for a gravel bike. While we’d have no issue racing it in a half-day gravel grinder, the frame is built for cyclocross racing, accepts only one bottle-cage mount and lacks any fender or rack mounts—making Oregon Outback attempts challenging.
The spec of the bike is ideal for the workingman. The Ultegra 6800 components performed well, even in a mudfest of a race; the 4ZA cockpit, with one exception (see below), performed to the point we didn’t notice or think about our bars or stem; and the high volume, light Clement PDX tires are some of our favorite all-around tires for inner-tube racing, despite their limited durability. We’d prefer a tubeless-ready setup for more versatility and better future-proofing for even the tubeless doubters, but this wheelset, despite being a bit heavy, won’t keep you from the start or finish line.
The Avid BB7S brakes, despite all the hydraulic options available today, still continue to surprise me with their performance and versatility. The ease of pad adjustment is something you’ll appreciate the more you swap between wheelsets. Despite the self-adjusting nature of hydraulic brakes, rotor rub continues to be a problem on most brakes, and nothing beats a quick spin of the BB7’s pad adjustment dials to return to a quiet ride. We’d upgrade to coated cables and compressionless housing, but the braking was solid and confidence-inspiring. See some muddy race in your future? Change the pads to a metallic option. Trust us on that one.
The one gripe I do have is with the seatpost. First race, three laps in, and a not-so-Nys-like remount had the saddle pointing up in angle. Yes, I’d love to lose a few pounds, but a saddle’s angle should be rock-solid in any situation, and I’d expect Ridley to spec a two-bolt, front-and back-clamp seatpost. So consider spending another $50 on a post upgrade when planning your purchase.
A few characteristics are worth mentioning. Riders with small hands may struggle to easily grip the down tube before run-ups, and the rear brake’s chainstay placement is a little difficult for adjustments. I wouldn’t consider either to be weaknesses, but rather inconveniences for most.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. If our biggest gripe about a bike is the seatpost (see Specialized CruX in issue 23), the company has created a winning bike. In the case of Ridley’s X-Night, there are countless victories over the best in the world to prove it.
You can’t stereotype cyclocross bikes as “Euro” or “American” anymore. Ridley’s newest version of the X-Night is arguably the least “Euro” Ridley we’ve seen, but we think the updates to its geometry and frames make sense for cyclocross racers anywhere.
Picking a bike just because a pro rides it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. Picking a bike because years of pro input have helped refine the bike and create a winning frame, one that won’t hold you back from your own pro or modest expectations? It’s hard to go wrong.
Ridley X-Night 30 Specs:
Frame: X-Night disc, HM/HR Unidirectional carbon
Fork: Oryx Disc
Weight: 17.7 pounds, 11.9 pounds without wheels
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
Crankset: Rotor 3DF 46/36
Brakes: Avid BB7 S mechanical disc, 160/140mm rotors
Cockpit: 4ZA Cirrus Stem and handlebar
Seatpost: 4ZA Cirrus 27.2mm
Saddle: 4ZA Cirrus Pro
Wheels: 4ZA Cirrus CD30
Tires: Challenge Grifo pro 32mm, folding bead
Warranty: 5 years
Country of Origin: Taiwan
More info: ridley-bikes.com