Ridley X-Night SL Ultegra review

Modern tech mated with traditional geometry

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £0 RRP

Our review

Polarizing geometry in a proven package
Buy if, You’re looking for a cyclocross bike with modern tech and classic handling
Pros: Solid parts spec, stiff frame, agile on tight courses
Cons: Quirky geometry, quick-release axles, slight brake rub
Skip to view product specifications

No other company can lay claim to a cyclocross pedigree like Ridley. This Belgian company lives for the sport and its bikes reflect its unique approach to cyclocross, and the Ridley X-Night SL Ultegra is no exception.

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Despite the full carbon frame, tubeless-ready wheels and tires and hydraulic disc brakes, Ridley still relies on its traditional high and tight frame geometry.

True to form

The X-Night SL Ultegra blends modern tech with Old World geometry
The X-Night SL Ultegra blends modern tech with Old World geometry
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

There are some idiosyncrasies that accompany Ridley’s traditional frame geometry that make the X-Night SL a bike that riders will either embrace or shun. 

It all starts with the high bottom bracket. There’s just 62mm of drop on our size 52cm tester, as opposed to 68-70mm that is standard on many modern ’cross bikes. Across all frame sizes the high bottom bracket props up a seat tube that is taller than the top tube is long. When combined with a compact top tube and steep head angle, this fit positions the rider “on” rather than “in” the bike.

There's plenty of room in the massive front triangle for shouldering
There’s plenty of room in the massive front triangle for shouldering
Russell Eich / Immediate Media

This makes the X-Night SL good at some things and bad at others. Low-speed handling is good, the steep geometry aids in navigating tight turns with ease, and the high bottom bracket allows the rider to pedal through turns and off camber sections that will have other riders slamming pedals. This is also a benefit when riding through deep sand or mud.

In comparison to several of the other cyclocross bikes we tested this season, the X-Night SL suffers on faster and rougher courses. The steep geometry and short wheelbase requires a more attentive hand and the ride is not as smooth either.

If it were possible to have a quiver of ’cross bikes from various brands each suited to different courses, the Ridley would be reserved for tight courses and the muddiest of days.

Not quite up to speed

One can argue that the Ridley’s high and tight geometry is a matter of personal preference, or that it’s suited to the type of races the bike was actually designed to handle — European cyclocross courses.

We'd prefer to see thru-axles at both ends
We’d prefer to see thru-axles at both ends
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

And it might have been asking a lot for a Belgian brand with a deep sense of tradition to embrace disc brakes, but if you’re going to do it, then go all the way with thru-axles at both ends. Their absence makes the X-Night SL dated in comparison to its peers and results in a small but noticeable amount of brake rub when mashing up climbs. 

The Ridley X-Night SL Ultegra
The Ridley X-Night SL Ultegra
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media
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Ridley’s X-Night SL is smartly equipped and if you frequently race through tight courses and need a bike that can power through muck and mire then the X-Night SL is ready to serve.

Product Specifications

Product

Name X-Night SL Ultegra
Brand Ridley

Brakes Shimano BR-RS805/BR-RS785
Seatpost 4ZA Cirrus Carbon 27.2 x 350mm
Top Tube (cm) 53.5
Standover Height (cm) 79.7
Seat Tube (cm) 56
Chainstays (cm) 42.5
Weight (lb) 18.2
Chainring Size (No of Teeth) 36 46
Year 2017
Wheelset DT Swiss R23 Spline DB
Weight (kg) 8.25
Stem 4ZA Cirrus
Shifters Shimano ST-R685
Seat Angle 74
Cassette Shimano 105 (11-28t)
Saddle 4ZA Cirrus Pro Cr/Ti rails
Rear Tyre Clement MXP 700x33 Tubeless Ready
Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra 6800
Headset Type Integrated
Head Angle 72
Handlebar 4ZA Cirrus E.2
Front Tyre Clement MXP 700x33 Tubeless Ready
Front Derailleur Shimano Ultegra 6800
Frame Material Carbon
Fork Oryx Disc
Cranks Shimano Ultegra 6800 46/36t
Chain KMC X11
Wheelbase (cm) 99.9