Ridley Bikes Orion (09) review
The Ridley Orion shows that this Belgian company can still punch above its weight on the world stage.
Frame and fork: Well executed but it will be too rigid for many, with a zero-tolerance policy towards ﬂex.
Handling: High speed stability is the Orion’s forte – comes into its own on fast downhills and hell-for-leather sprint efforts.
Equipment: Does the job, but could try harder; Shimano 105 performs to its usual high standard.
Wheels: Basic Fulcrums are ﬁt for purpose and strong, with Vredestein Fortezza tyres providing necessary softening.
It’s not for those wanting outright comfort, but the Orion’s uncompromising rigidity makes it ideal for bigger, athletic riders looking for strength and peace of mind.
The instantly gratifying responsiveness of such a rigid frame is tempered by the extra weight of the basic kit and corpulent wheels.
At £1499, the Orion aims to provide competition level performance. Strength and rigidity seem to be its raison d’être, as Ridley claims to test its frames two to three times beyond their required breaking point. First impressions of heft and power are confirmed with further time spent in the saddle.
Stout construction, stiff ride
Featuring massive box section monocoque construction, and high modulus carbon, this bike is seriously stout at 8.78kg/19.4lb.
Although there’s a sticker claiming ‘Pavé Tested’, our test section of cobbles was one stretch we wouldn’t want to repeat.
With a rather leaden pair of basic Fulcrum 7 wheels, the only thing helping to soften the jackhammer blows were the Vredestein Fortezza tyres. These were the key in helping this bike shine where it was at its best: high speed downhills and hell-for-leather sprint efforts.
Characterised by a zero-tolerance policy towards ﬂex, the Orion’s ridiculously large bottom bracket box area and chainstays channel every ounce of power into propelling you forward.
It wanted to make quick work of our diesel-fumed climb (as we did), but was being held back by too much weight.
Where’s the weight?
The frame is actually a respectable 1350g, almost 150g lighter than the Museeuw MF-5 we tested it alongside, but the complete wheels and tyres weighed in at 1245g/front and 1737g/rear. That’s heavy for a bike in this class.
Further weight blame has to be apportioned to the homely ﬁnishing kit, although the Shimano 105 drivetrain performed to its usual high standard.
If you’ve got the extra muscle, and want a blunt instrument to bludgeon your way to the front of the pack, this one’s for you.