The Asteria’s squared-off tubes often make it the odd one out among curvy female-friendly rides. Ridley’s Sharp Edge shaping gives the main tubes a diamond-shape section, designed to be strong but light.
There’s extra bulk at the front end of the frame and around the bottom bracket, as well as beefy chainstays and seatstays – all designed to give a solid base for sprinting.
The bladed fork is one of the few aero points on the bike; cable routing is external and, coupled with alloy dropouts, it’s clear that practicality is also a priority on this build.
Ridley say the women-specific geometry of the frame was designed in conjunction with bikefitting.com. On paper it looks like a pretty racy setup, with a short head tube, steep seat angle and long reach encouraging a flat-backed ride position.
However, the bike doesn’t spring into life on the flat; it takes a good push to get it up to speed. That could be down to some of the kit choices; we weren’t convinced Ridley’s in-house 4ZA Cirrus wheels were quite up to the job for this bike.
Once you’ve settled into your pace, though, the Asteria holds a high speed comfortably. Shimano Ultegra 6700 gearing is a reliable, light and smooth shifting choice, and good to see at this price, so it’s easy to cruise around feeling in control.
In fact, the overall character of the ride is solid, smooth and reassuring. Despite the bike’s bulky tubes we never felt battered out on the road, and although our test frame was just a bit on the big side for some of us, it was easy to relax in the drops and let the miles fly by – helped by the fact that the 4ZA Cirrus Lady saddle that comes with the bike was one of the more comfortable models we’ve tried.
The bike’s stiffness was a plus when climbing, too. The solid Rotor 3D chainset, boxy back end and wide handlebar give a firm foundation for pushing your way up short, steep climbs without feeling that any of your effort is being wasted.
Unfortunately, that solid and reliable feeling continues into the bike’s handling, and though it took wide corners almost on autopilot, we never felt able to respond to quick changes of direction.
The bike just doesn’t feel nippy, and here the big bar seemed to work against us with a feeling that we just couldn’t nudge the bike round with precision, although fit may have played a part here.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.