Ridley first debuted the Damocles in 2004, when its radical tapered headset and moulded tubes caused quite a stir. The head tube design was the subject of many a debate regarding the benefit of an even larger set of bearings to that of the comparatively new 1-1/8in standard – now it seems that almost all large manufactures are incorporating the design in their top road rigs.
Fast forward six years and the Damocles may no longer top Ridley's range but it remains largely unchanged. Current Italian road race champion Filippo Pozzato actually favours the integrated seatpost version of this frame over the Helium, Noah and Excalibur. He was aboard a custom version as he floated over the cobbles of Northern France on his way to second place at Paris-Roubaix last year.
Putting the Damocles through its paces on the roads surrounding Sydney, we were pleasantly impressed. It's the small changes that have improved this frame, some of which other manufactures may well be inclined to follow suit on.
The biggest single change from previous versions is the replaceable dropouts on both the drive and non-drive sides, which attach to the frame via three very sturdy looking M5 bolts ensuring crisp, consistent shifting. Scandium is now used for both dropouts and the bottom bracket shell – previously there was a choice of titanium or alloy.
The tapered 1-1/8in-1-1/4in head tube which provides the Damocles with reliable and confidence inspiring steering remains, as do its beautifully sculpted tubes. Looking closely at the frame, you will quickly notice that no two tubes are the same shape, and the internal cable routing adds a touch of class. The triangulated down tube adds torsional stiffness, while the beefed up head tube/top tube junction keeps the front end stable over even the roughest roads.
These design elements have been beautifully transferred from drawing board to the road, and the Damocles does it all with ease – climbing, sprinting, cornering or simply driving a big gear on a flat road. The frame may be a touch on the heavy side but it rides much lighter than its 1,200g weight would suggest.
At £1,549 for the frame alone, the Damocles slots firmly into the category of luxury purchase. Our test frame was fitted with Shimano's new Dura-Ace 7900 groupset, Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels and kit from Ridley's in-house 4ZA component arm. Various complete builds are available. Ridley's website allows you to select your own colour scheme.