Ridley did their work for the new year a step below their top of the line models. The Belgian brand’s RS line encompasses new versions for all of the well-known top tier models, including the Dean time trial bike, Noah aero road bike and Damocles workhorse. The RS versions bring 90-percent of the ProTour models’ performance at a much lower price, but with regular seat posts (RS).
Ridley’s ProTour models, which will be put to the test on the road this month in France — Dean, Noah, Helium and Damocles — remain unchanged in design for 2011. They do, however, become more affordable for 2011 due to the brand’s US distributor, QBP, importing complete bikes, rather than framesets and component groups, as they did previously.
Ridley’s RS models use the brand’s 24 and 30-ton carbon versus the 40 and 50 ton carbon utilized by the Dean, Noah and Helium flagship models. While new RS models feature lower modulus carbon and regular seat posts and chainstays (the top models feature the R-Flow aero technology in both forks and chainstays), they do still employ some of Ridley’s highest technology including the R-Flow aerodynamic fork design and R-Surface aerodynamic texturing (Noah RS and Dean RS). For comparison, the top level 2011 Noah will cost US$4895 with a SRAM Red group and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels, while the new Noah RS will cost $3495 with SRAM Force and the same Fulcrum wheelset.
Ridley’s new Noah RS is still in a pre-production form
While Damocles RS isn’t new, it falls inline with the two new models and features a new lower price. Katusha’s Italian Champion, Filippo Pozzato exclusively rides the Damocles model. He chooses to ride the slightly heavier bike due to its comfort and because it is built using a tube-to-tube construction method, which allows Ridley to build it with his custom geometry. The Noah and Helium bikes are monocoque molded and do not allow for custom fitting. Notably, Ridley considers the Damocles its strongest, most durable carbon bike. For 2011, Damocles RS will be sold as a complete bike with a Shimano Ultegra group and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels for $3250. The integrated seat post version will only be available as a frameset, which will cost $2050. The ISP frame weighs roughly 1290g in its 54cm size.
Brand building: ‘We are Belgium’ and ‘Flandrien’
If you’ve ever raced a true Belgian Kermesse, dreamt about it or simply love being following the Northern Classics more than any other part of the season, Ridley’s latest branding and graphics packages will appeal.
Ridley’s offers two new paint schemes on specific models to draw attention to its Belgian heritage. The Damocles comes with white or flat black paint and the ‘We are Belgium’ slogan on its seat tube or mast, in addition to other stock colours.
Ridley’s Damocles ISP will only be sold as a frameset in 2011
The Helium, Excalibur, a club racer built from Ridley’s 24 and 30 ton carbon which sells as a frameset for $1995, and new Icarus SLS entry-level bike, take the theme a step further with a flat black paint job emblazoned with the Lion of Flanders that’s called the Flandrien. In Belgium, a Flandrien is the highest complement to a cyclist who embodies the country’s humble blue-collar roots. Eddy Merckx is a Flandrien; Johan Museau is a Flandrien; Roger De Vlaeminck is a Flandrien. Today, Boonen might qualify, but an even better embodiment may be a blue-collar rider like Philippe Gilbert.
First ride on a Flandrien: the sub $1400 Icarus SLS
At Press Camp in Park City, Utah we took our first ride on the Icarus SLS Flandrien, a $1395 entry-level workhorse from Ridley.
Ridley’s Icarus SLS, a triple-butted 7005 series aluminium workhorse
The Icarus SLS features a triple butted 7005 series aluminum frame with the flat black Flandrien paint scheme. The complete bike built with SRAM’s new Apex drivetrain FSA cockpit, Tektro brakes and Alex wheelset costs just $1395. Impressive. While the Icarus 2 to 3-pounds heavier than a top tier bike its performance and hardcore aesthetic dramatically exceeds that of any other sub-$1400 bike we’ve ridden.
When considering the former attribute, the Icarus SLS Flandrien blows its competition out of the water. Show up to a group ride with participants that dream of cobbles and Duvel and this bike will get more ogles that a $10,000 Trek could ever garner. It’s a bike that will stroke any hardman’s ego no matter his budget.
The Lion of Flanders decorates the Flandrien down tube
On the road, some might call the Icarus SLS soft — compared to today’s carbon stiffness benchmarks — but we’ll refer to it as comfortable, for an alloy bike. This will likely make it a great option for those who live in climates that require ‘winter bikes,’ due to road and weather conditions. Trust us, the Flandrien paint scheme paired with the performance of the SRAM Apex parts make this bike appealing to enthusiasts.
SRAM Apex may set a new performance to price benchmark
After our quick hour long ride, we have one bit of criticism. The bike’s tire clearance doesn’t match the Icarus’ personality. It was tight on the 23mm Vittoria Zaffiro, which is disappointing as its attitude begs for a 25mm, or larger, tire.