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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
- Boardman ADV 8.9
- Vitus Zenium Tiagra
- Boardman SLR 8.9
- Giant Contend AR 3
- Orbea Avant H60-D
- Planet X London Road
- Ribble 725 Endurance Disc – Base
- Genesis CDA 30
|Price||EUR €1099.00GBP £1200.00|
|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|
|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|
|Cassette||Shimano 105, 11-32|
|Brakes||Shimano 105 rim calliper|
|Wheels||Fulcrum Racing 6|