Call it all-road, call it gravel, call it whatever you like, but it is quite clear that trend of companies developing drop-bar bikes capable of going where traditional road bikes cannot is moving full speed ahead. Ridley is the latest company to roll out an all-terrain road model. BikeRadar got a look at a pre-production version of this soon-to-be-released bike.
The company has not released the name yet, though “X-Trail” has begun to circulate
“Don’t call it a gravel bike,” said Richard Wittenberg, Ridley’s VP of international operations.
In developing this new model, Ridley didn't what to limit the bike to one category; it sought to develop one bike that can excel in a variety of conditions.
“We saw a need for a bike that riders can use to cull the herd. Call it an N -1 bike,” he added, referring to the old saying among cyclists that the amount of bikes you 'need' is the current number (N) you have plus one.
While final geometry numbers have yet to be made public, it’s clear that this new carbon model has more in common with Ridley’s road bikes than with its cyclocross rigs. The Belgian brand is well-known for its very traditional cyclocross frame geometry, typified by high bottom brackets and steep head tube angles.
The bottom bracket of this new model appears to be more in-line with road bikes (most likely around 70-72mm of drop). The head tube angle appears rather slack, probably around the 71-degrees mark, which would put it in line with some of the more progressive North American cyclocross bikes. Unlike gravel bikes such as the redesigned Salsa Warbird, this Ridley looks to have a relatively short chainstays.
There's ample clearance with 700x38mm tyres installed
Aside from the slack head tube, the silhouette looks somewhat similar to Ridley’s Fenix endurance road model. That is, until you look at the tyre clearance. The bike we photographed was shod in 700x38mm Challenge Gravel Grinder tyres with room to spare.
The seatstays are quite slender
Notable frame features include the use of Shimano’s direct-mount standard for the chainstay-mounted rear brake caliper, internal cable routing through the down tube and chainstays and bridgeless seatstays, presumably to improve compliance. The bike also sports thru-axles at both ends and hidden fender eyelets.
Shimano's direct-mount standard is quickly gaining industry acceptance
According to Wittenberg, the complete details of this new model will be released in August, with production versions available in September.