The all-new Fenix, from Belgian innovators Ridley, is a taught and strong all-rounder that’s at home being ridden fast and aggressively.
Frame & equipment: Undoubtedly strong and compliant
Ridley define their bikes not by geometry but by characteristics – the aero range is comprised of the state-of-the-art Noah, the super-light Helium packs out the stiffness-to-weight niche and the Orion and Tempo make up the race range. This, the new Fenix comes under the ‘strength’ banner.
The Fenix is claimed to be a competition machine that’s also capable of more recreational pursuits. The ‘strength’ moniker is down to the HM carbon used throughout, and Ridley's new diamond-shaped ‘sharp edge’ design, which they claim creates a super-stiff and incredibly strong frameset.
The high-calibre frame certainly has a great look to it thanks to a hugely oversized head tube joint and 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in tapered steerer fork. It comes with Campagnolo’s ever-reliable Centaur group, with its fast gear changes. It’s the uprated Centaur, too, complete with carbon Ergopower levers and a full carbon chainset.
The fork has an oversized crown and broad legs, creating a front end that’s positively solid. No amount of reckless sprint efforts or rutted road pursuits could knock the Fenix off the line we’d chosen for it.
The press-fit bottom bracket shell continues the oversized theme, as do the massively deep chainstays. With full internal routing and provision for electronic drivetrains, the new design is as bang up to date as you’d expect.
The frame’s upper construction uses a slimming top tube and minimal seatstays, designed to offer some vibration reduction.
The gearing combines a 50/34 chainset and an 11-25T cassette – that gives the option for rapidity but some might find the lowest sprocket just a little tall for longer or steeper climbs.
The Campagnolo Khamsin wheelset is shod with Conti’s ever-reliable UltraSport tyres, equating to a lightweight package for the money, with proven reliability. The finishing kit, all courtesy of Deda, is all good quality if a little basic – it won’t let you down but it’s certainly nothing that would sway your buying decision one way or the other.
San Marco’s Concor saddle is a bona fide classic; its narrow proportions and extremely rounded shape look positively retro compared to more modern, flatter, less deep perches. It’s fantastically comfortable, with the deep sides meaning a complete lack of friction when you’re pumping your legs. It’s no wonder the design hasn’t significantly changed in more than 20 years.
Ride & handling: Well mannered but aggressive when necessary
The Fenix geometry isn’t quite as aggressively proportioned as the aero Noah’s, but certainly not as relaxed as a sportive bike’s would normally be. The metre-long wheelbase also sits between the two types, with the effective top tube length at a racy 585mm (for our large size).
It all adds up to a bike that has a comfortable riding position but smoothly becomes the perfect partner when you want to get a little more aggressive, with an immediate response to rapid direction changes. Push up the tempo on the pedals and the reaction is just as swift.
We’re hugely impressed with Ridley's new debut – not just by its brilliant handling manners and instant response to pedal inputs but also by its price tag. We’d recommend the bike to riders who want a comfortable position but, most importantly, a bike that’s a real blast to ride quickly.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.