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Van Rysel EDR AF review

Van Rysel's reworked road bike is a real flyer

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £1,200.00 RRP | EUR €1,099.00
Pack shot of the Van Rysel EDR AF road bike

Our review

A confident, fun ride that flies on the flat and has excellent rim braking to boot
Pros: Low weight; great high-speed handling; full Shimano 105; easy serviceability
Cons: Limited tyre clearance; slightly raised front-wheel pin
Skip to view product specifications

While it’s unsual nowadays to see new bikes specced with rim brakes, it’s not unheard of and Van Rysel has done just that with its 2021 EDR AF, the successor to the Ultra AF we rated highly last year.

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Van Rysel’s Flanders-based designers haven’t simply stuck a new name on an existing frame, though, the new bike is significantly different from last year’s Ultra.

Van Rysel EDR AF frame and kit

As mentioned, the EDR AF now has traditional rim brakes rather than the Ultra’s direct-mount versions. While this may be seen as a retrograde change, and they may lack the absolute power of direct-mount brakes, the Shimano 105 brakes are still excellent and proved to be more than adequate during testing – a good deal better than a number of cable-actuated disc brakes I’ve recently tested.

Other changes for this year’s model include dropped seatstays and a complete 105 groupset, save for the KMC chain.

Shimano 105 rim caliper brakes on the Van Rysel EDR AF road bike
Traditional rather than direct-mount rim brakes feature.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

The move from the Ultra’s 52/36 and 11-28 cassette to this year’s compact 50/34 chainset and 11-32 cassette pairing is one that I’m a big fan of.

It provides more all-round appeal and that 28in bottom gear really helped me on my local hills. And if you’re riding at a cadence of 100 in the EDR AF’s 120in top gear you’ll still be doing 33mph, so I didn’t miss the 125in top gear – although some might.

The frame also now features external rather than internal cabling and a traditional rather than press-fit threaded bottom bracket – which will be good news for many home mechanics.

Shimano 105 drivetrain on the Van Rysel EDR AF road bike
Other than the KMC chain, the EDR AF gets a complete 105 groupset.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

The Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels are a cut above many found on bikes at this price. Their claimed 1,760g weight is very good, too,  and they have a rider weight limit of 109kg (over 17 stone).

The stainless steel spokes are paired with brass nipples, which should prevent spokes seizing and the only issue I experienced was a slight click from the front wheel when braking, due to very, very slightly imperfect pinning, which should diminish over time.

Michelin’s 25mm Lithion 2s are a very decent set of training tyres, nicely balancing puncture protection and rolling resistance. If you want to eke out a little more comfort, the Van Rysel frame has clearance for up to 28mm wide tyres, but don’t expect to fit mudguards.

Van Rysel EDR AF ride impressions

Those lightish wheels and the Van Rysel’s low overall weight – along with the stiff, semi-compact frame – help to make the EDR AF really fly on the flat.

Compared with the Boardman SLR 8.9, which has the same length 555mm top-tube, the Van Rysel has both a lower stack and longer reach, and when you factor in the Van Rysel’s radically shorter head-tube – 138mm compared with 160mm – you have a much more aggressive frame.

There’s no obvious flex from the frame, no brake rub in high-torque efforts, just great acceleration and handling. And when it comes to the hills, the Van Rysel is an equally impressive climber.

The lower bottom gears let you stay in the saddle longer than on last year’s higher-geared bike, but when you need to stand on the pedals, the Van Rysel absolutely rockets its way up hills.

It’s also a very impressive descender, and you can confidently throw the Van Rysel into corners with its pin-sharp handling and, yes, excellent braking – even from those supposedly forgotten rim brakes.

Van Rysel’s EDR AF also manages to combine an exciting and dynamic ride with decent comfort. It doesn’t absorb road buzz as well as the Boardman’s carbon frame, but dropped seatstays, a fair length of exposed 27.2mm seatpost and a good saddle dissipate rear-end harshness.

Van Rysel has also specced my preferred flattened handlebar tops and plush bar tape for a very appealing front end.

Van Rysel EDR AF bottom line

Down tube of the Van Rysel EDR AF road bike
Decathlon’s Van Rysel brand continues to impress.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

So is the rim-braked bike really dead? Certainly not; long live the rim-braked road bike!

Rim braking may have quite niche appeal these days – and the EDR AF has a very dull name – but Van Rysel should be applauded for giving fans of rim brakes (and external cabling and threaded bottom brackets) a home.

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The Van Rysel EDR AF has an excellent groupset, good wheels and tyres and a low weight. The result is a fast, flickable, thrilling ride that majors on fun.

How we tested

The £1k price bracket is a competitive one for road bikes and you can buy a lot of bike these days for that.

So I put nine of the most competitive to the test to see which perform best for your hard-earned dosh – hopefully proving you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a grand day out.

Testing took place on my local roads and tracks, with the bikes covering a range of intentions for the road and beyond, and prices range from £800 to £1,300.

Also on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €1099.00GBP £1200.00
Brand Van rysel

Features

Available sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XXL
Handlebar Van Rysel T6 aluminium
Tyres 25mm Michelin Lithion
Stem Van Rysel oversize
Shifter Shimano 105 R7000
Seatpost 27.2mm Van Rysel aluminium
Saddle Van Rysel Sport 900
Rear derailleur Shimano 105 R7000
Headset Integrated
Grips/Tape Van Rysel
Bottom bracket Shimano BB R500
Front derailleur Shimano 105 R7000
Frame Van Rysel aluminium
Fork Carbon blades, tapered aluminium steerer
Cranks Shimano 105, 50/34
Chain KMC X11
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-32
Brakes Shimano 105 rim calliper
Wheels Fulcrum Racing 6