Ridgeback Flight 05 - First Ride review

Seriously capable hybrid ride

BikeRadar score4/5

British brand Ridgeback have a reputation for making fast flat-bar commuters, but could their latest range topper be more than a bike for work? Could you do away with the drops and tackle a weekend century ride or a cheeky foreign trip on something less racer-ish? That’s a question you can easily find yourself asking on the Flight 05.

Ride & handling: Smooth and speedy – and you can enjoy the views!

You know how it is – a racing snake on a sexy looking bit of carbon overtakes you, pride kicks in and you give chase. On an ageing work hack you’ll keep up as far as the lights before seeing sense. On the Flight 05 you might just find you’ve missed the office because you’ve been drafting the racer for a little longer than you expected.

The ride is smooth, if a touch firm at the back, and it responds well to requests for a quick turn of speed when you’re trying to get out of trouble. Much of the smoothness comes from the own-brand carbon fork– it’s not stiff thanks to some fore and aft ‘give’ which helps soak up road bumps, but the steering is pleasingly direct and predictable.

The Shimano Ultegra drivetrain wouldn’t look out of place on a bike designed with sportives in mind. On the flat you can churn a plenty big enough gear for respectable pace, you won’t run out on descents and you have lots of options when climbing.

But what about the lack of drops, you ask? Come on, be honest – how much time do you really spend with your hands in a full-on race position? Add some bar-ends and you’ll be able to change position. And you’ll see a lot more of the countryside you’re riding through on a flat bar! 

Brilliant white gives the flight 05 a touch of flair: brilliant white gives the flight 05 a touch of flair
Brilliant white gives the flight 05 a touch of flair: brilliant white gives the flight 05 a touch of flair

Frame: Lightweight chassis has all the right braze-ons

A cursory glance could make you think there isn’t much about the Flight that shouts wolf in sheep’s clothing, though it is ‘faster’ looking than many other commuting bikes. While the latter go for hardwearing, fade-into-the-cityscape urban chic – gunmetal grey, matt black, that kind of thing – the Flight 05 is a little more flamboyant. Well, if brilliant white can be described as flamboyant. But a shiny paint job will shout ‘look at me, look at me’ to urban rotters and paint chips alike.

It isn’t just the paint though. The bike is a well thought out riding tool, with a frame made of lightweight, triple-butted ALX9 aluminium paired with an own-brand carbon fork. There are braze-ons for mudguards and a rack on the rear too, so it’ll also make a sensible light tourer. However, we did notice that the paint around the alloy dropouts was flaking even on our box-fresh model.

Equipment: Shimano disc brakes and drivetrain are benchmark items

As you’d expect from the house bike brand of Shimano’s UK distributor Madison, the Japanese company’s components feature heavily and help the Flight score big kudos as well as broaden its appeal.

The disc brakes are Deore XTs – paired to excellent Alex XD-Lite disc-only hoops – which provide reliable, progressive stopping power. A real plus is Ridgeback’s decision to pair the Flight 05 with an Ultegra compact double chainset and 11-25 cassette.

Rob Spedding

Editor-in-Chief, Cycling Plus, Cycling Plus Magazine
Editor-in-chief Rob has been pedalling Cycling Plus since 2007. His first proper road bikes were a Raleigh Sprint in the early 1980s and then a Trek 1000 in 1999. A former competitive runner, Rob has repeatedly threatened to become a competitive cyclist in every discipline from time-trailling to hill climbing to bike polo. We're still waiting.
  • Discipline: Road. Mainly commuting but with the occasional mountainous sportive that he'll complain about/fail to complete. Enjoys cake stops. Will never, ever do another triathlon after a bad experience in open water.
  • Preferred Terrain: Gently undulated roads – he's more of a rouleur. Likes gravel.
  • Current Bikes: BMC Alpenchallenge, Viner Perfecta, BMC Granfondo GF0, anything shiny that Warren Rossiter will allow him to ride
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Specialissima, Raleigh Banana
  • Beer of Choice: Innis and Gunn Original
  • Location: Bath, UK
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