Ridgeback Flight 03 review

Traffic-darting commuter

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £899.99 RRP

Our review

Long, narrow-bar ride and tight road-bike-style gearing make it great for confident, fitness-focused commuters
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Ridgeback were one of the first brands to develop a flat bar road bike/high performance hybrid. Their very popular Flight range now extends from the £2,299 Flight Ti to the 01 at £529.99, with the quick-witted 03 in the centre. It’s definitely better-suited to confident riders on smoother roads than nervous novices and regular cycle path users.

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Ride & handling: Sharp steering gives snappy responsiveness but may worry inexperienced riders

A firm ride is the immediate – and lasting – impression of the Flight. The full size (rather than compact) frame is surprisingly stiff despite relatively slim tubes. That means a sharp, clean feel on smooth roads, but a fair mount of rattle on rougher surfaces. The firm saddle and grip contact points don’t take prisoners either and you’ll certainly want to steer clear of any significant potholes or kerb edges if you want to avoid a serious stinging.

The handling character set up by the long top tube, quick angles and the narrow, dead-straight bar is certainly an acquired taste too. If you’re a confident rider the lack of width is great for diving between gaps in traffic or going straight through anti-moped gates on cycle paths. It makes the steering very snappy and nervous until you’re used to it though, which isn’t ideal for novice commuters or slippery winter roads.

The powerful disc brakes might catch you out the first few times too, but offer clear advantages once you’re used to them. The long top tube and narrow saddle are welcome features on longer, faster rides, giving plenty of breathing space and a rub-free rump. Once the you’ve got the weighty wheels rolling, the Flight 03 holds speed well over smooth surfaces, with the quick steering enhancing the feeling of speed and spark.

The race rather than recreational ratio rear cassette means you’re not likely to run out of gears, even if you add some maximum effort sessions – although the steepest streets will definitely be a struggle. Acceleration is definitely not as rapid as the best of the Ridgeback’s rivals. Despite an extended alloy dropout to support it we also had to adjust the front brake carefully to stop it rubbing on the rotor when we were out of the saddle.

Ridgeback flight 03: ridgeback flight 03
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Frame: Surprisingly stiff, despite relatively slim tubes; carbon fork is a bonus at this price

The full-size (rather than compact) steel-grey frame looks understated, but it ticks all the SUV boxes. The tall conventional head tube gets a strengthening gusset just in case you stick the front wheel into a big pothole. Main tubes are triple-butted to save weight without losing strength too. The seatpost slot faces forward to stop salty winter wheel spray seeping into the frame and seizing everything solid, with a neat bolted clamp collar up top.

Twin bottle cage and rear rack mounts mean the Ridgeback is ready for longer rides with commuting or exploring cargo on the back. There are bosses for conventional mudguards or a Crud Catcher style mountain bike ‘guard and the disc-specific frame means no ugly redundant brake studs either.

Despite ‘same as the frame’ appearances that’s a multi-profile carbon-legged fork hiding underneath the paint (not an alloy one) too. While the conventional rather than sloped top tube means taller straddle heights, no fewer than five frame sizes mean everyone can find a fit.

Equipment: Road bike kit and tight gears translate well to training; narrow bar won’t suit everyone

There are some parts of the kit fit that won’t agree with everyone. The most obvious one is the narrow, totally straight ‘courier’ style handlebar. The mixed central mound and rough diamond grips are best handled with gloves too on rougher or longer rides. While they’re heavy, the Shimano hubs run for years with regular bearing maintenance and the Duraskin tyres are fast for reinforced rubber.

The Shimano disc brakes need a careful hand not to lock the wheels up, although the consistently high control in all weathers is a major bonus on busy roads. Disc brakes are legal for all cyclo-cross races now too, so you won’t get grumbles if you switch tyres and show up at your local park grand prix this winter.

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Otherwise, the Flight is running on a mix of proven Shimano road kit, with a narrow ratio cassette and compact chainset giving plenty of top-end speed, if limited lower gears. The narrow saddle also lets you know you’re on a performance-oriented machine.

Some parts of the kit won’t agree with everyone – most obviously the narrow, straight courier-style handlebar: some parts of the kit won’t agree with everyone – most obviously the narrow, straight courier-style handlebar
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Product Specifications

Product

Name Flight 03
Brand Ridgeback Bicycles

Available Colours Matte Titanium
Weight (kg) 9.93
Rims DP-17 32 hole with CNC sidewall
Saddle Flight SLX
Seat Angle 73.5
Seatpost SL aluminium 27.2 mm
Shifters SL-R440
Stem Alloy A-head SL
Weight (lb) 21.89
Rear Tyre Continental DuraSkin+ K 700 x 28C
Brake Levers Shimano M575
Spoke Type Stainless steel black
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28
Chainstays (cm) 44.5
Seat Tube (cm) 56
Standover Height (cm) 72
Top Tube (cm) 58.5
Rear Wheel Weight 2180
Rear Hub M495 disc
Available Sizes 60cm 54cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 54cm 52cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 56cm 58cm 54cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 60cm 52cm 52cm 54cm 52cm 58cm 52cm 54cm 58cm 58cm 52cm 58cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 52cm 54cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 58cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 54cm 54cm 60cm 58cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 52cm 56cm 54cm 56cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 58cm 60cm 58cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 56cm 56cm 56cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 54cm 54cm 58cm 60cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 52cm 52cm 52cm 52cm 52cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 56cm 54cm 54cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 56cm 56cm 56cm 58cm 58cm 58cm 58cm 60cm 60cm
Frame Weight 1760
Bottom Bracket External
Brakes M575
Cassette Shimano cassette 11-25T 9-speed
Cranks Tiagra 50/34T
Fork Carbon disc
Fork Weight 670
Frame Material 6061 double-butted heat-treated aluminium
Front Derailleur FD-R440
Rear Derailleur 105
Front Hub M495 disc
Front Tyre Continental DuraSkin+ K 700 x 28C
Front Wheel Weight 1740
Grips/Tape Triple-density
Handlebar 6061 aluminium 540 mm
Head Angle 72.5
Pedals Road with clips & straps
Wheelbase (cm) 104.5