Ridgeback, and other brands, have been selling big wheel (700c) hybrids for ages. The difference now is there's a good choice of big wheel suspension forks and tyres.
Ridgeback is offering three models in its Dual Track range. There's the £369 Advance, a £799 hydraulic brake equipped Pursuit and this one, the £550 Quest. They all get seat high stems, although you can do what BikeRadar did and flip the stem the other way up for a more efficient pull on the bar and a position that lets you make full use of the Manitou Empire Elite fork. The Empire is a fork intended for hybrids rather than full-blown MTBs but we weresurprised to find its 75mm of travel does a fair job of taming the bumps and a lockout switch will be welcomed by those who end up using this as a town bike rather than an off-road tear about.
Given that the Quest is designed as a multi purpose rig, surprisingly it doesn't have rack and mudguard eyelets on the stays: a rack plus skinnier 700/29ertyres could otherwise convert the Quest into a great load carrier.
As with most £550 MTBs, the Quest's 30lb weight can be a burden, with the slight rolling advantage of the 29in wheels though, and not only when the going got rough. Bigger wheels with fast rolling Continental Vapor 2.1in tyres always made sense around town and the choice of bigger grippier tyres have allowed Ridgeback to develop a bike that feels comfy on lumpy trails without losing its road-happy advantage. Disadvantages? The 11.25in BB height is too low for seriously bumpy twisty trails and most riders felt that the headset/stem were too high. Overall it's a solid hybrid, and for many riders, the ideal bike for casual town, canal path and occasional MTB work.