Ridgeback Platinum £999.99

More than a winter bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Ridgeback looks coy, as though it's shy to show what it offers beneath its matte platinum frame. Precious metal? Far from it on first appearance. But forget the non-lustrous finish, ignore the functional Far-Eastern welds and ride it. You’ll find the Ridgeback comes into its own.

  • Frame: Well-made, subtle-looking, triple-butted frame and carbon-fibre fork. A decent and light-ish setup (7/10)
  • Handling: Reassuring, neutral handling from the relatively light frame and fork. The stiff stem and bar combo inspires confidence even on poor surfaces (9/10)
  • Equipment: Shimano 105 does its usual sterling shifting job, while own-brand components work well elsewhere. The brakes are the only component letdown (7/10)
  • Wheels: Tiagra hubs and Alex rims form a sturdy wheel package and should be easy to service. Very good Conti rubber (7/10)

The Platinum is almost too good to be pigeonholed as a ‘winter’ bike, such are the excellent qualities it offers. One of the most crucial is its ability to cope admirably with the conditions you’ll find on British roads at this time of year. Wet leaves, greasy or rutted surfaces, potholes… None of them faze the Platinum’s combination of frame, fork, kit, wheels and tyres.

It’s quite a swift machine, and at 21.4lb it’s no heavyweight. The triple-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork provide a stable platform, while the wheels major on strength over svelteness and the Continental Ultra Race tyres doing a great job of keeping you planted on the road.

They’re a good size too (25mm), providing the ideal balance of comfort, weight and protection. Up front, the oversize stem and bar combo is reassuringly stiff, and it's impossible to get it to misbehave – or for the front end to shimmy – even if you try hard.

The Platinum offers the sort of stability that will appeal to experienced and beginner riders alike. No quirks, no foibles, just solid and stable handling. And while aluminium has had a reputation for being uncomfortable, we didn’t find that here. The ride was firm but ultimately forgiving.

The contact points help with this. The bar – with its good, grippy tape – was free from buzz and unwanted vibration. And the slimline own-brand saddle proved much more comfortable than a lot of budget seats. The standard 27.2mm seatpost is a good call for comfort on an aluminium-framed bike.

The components are what you’d expect on a £1000 bike. SRAM is making inroads but Shimano is king, and its third- and fourth-string groupsets are responsible for the drivetrain and shifting. There are 105 shifters, chainset and mechs, with the next groupset down – Tiagra – providing the hubs. It’s a sensible division of labour: the 105 levers mean you have 10 speeds, while the Tiagra hubs are high-quality, well-sealed items that are easily serviced. Just what you want on a winter bike.

Another essential is a set of mudguards to protect you from the elements. The Platinum delivers, with SKS at the front and rear, along with the company's Secu-Clip quick release. If something gets trapped between the tyre and front mudguard then the stays detach from the hub so you don’t get thrown over the bar.

We do have a couple of reservations. There's potentially a small amount of toe overlap, but our testers weren’t concerned. As the late bike guru Sheldon Brown said, "Some people worry a lot about this, but it's rarely a significant problem in practice.” If this is an issue, try before you buy.

We also weren’t entirely convinced by the brakes, particularly in the wet, when they took a while to bite in. It might be worth experimenting with different pads.

These concerns aside, there’s much to commend the Platinum, and not just as a winter alternative to your Sunday best road bike. An excellent ride in its own right, the full set of rack mounts means you can load up for some light touring. And the near-20lb weight – with guards removed and lighter tyres – means it wouldn’t feel out of place on a sportive.

So, not just a bike for winter, but a machine for all seasons and numerous disciplines: commuting, training, touring, sportives…

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