Ridgeback’s Panorama has a lot in common with Fuji’s less expensive Touring Disc. It has a Reynolds steel frame and chromoly steel fork, a triple Shimano chainset and Shimano gears but there are a few differences.
For instance, the Ridgeback’s frame material is a step up the Reynolds steel hierarchy. The higher the number on a Reynolds steel frame, the more expensive it is, and more ‘exotic’.
The Ridgeback’s Reynolds 725 and the Fuji’s 520 might share the same chemistry but the 725 has been heat-treated and has a higher ultimate tensile strength as a result. Frankly, this isn’t something you’re likely to notice when it comes to the ride, though.
Ridgeback has specced Shimano’s familiar Sora STI levers, although there’s an upgrade to a Shimano XT rear mech. This may make a difference on the floor of your local bike shop, and may last longer on the road, but won’t drastically improve shifting, not that Sora needs a boost.
It’s a nominally lower-level Alivio triple chainset but this works more than well enough, as is usually the case with budget Shimano kit.
The 48/36/26 chainrings and 11-34 cassette provide a wide gear range with a suitably low 26×34 bottom gear.
The Panorama gets an upgrade to Shimano’s XT rear mech. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The wheels are built for toughness, with Jalco’s DM25 rims that are designed for cross-country and trekking bikes. They have 32 spokes, the minimum you’d expect on a touring bike.
One thing I’d always recommend before going on tour, especially if you’re hitting more remote areas, is to have your wheels checked and serviced by an expert wheelsmith – it’ll be money very well spent.
The tyres are Schwalbe’s 35mm Marathon Green Guards, one of my favourite touring tyres, and they’re not that expensive either.
They run smoothly without stealing all your energy input but, crucially, they have a 3mm GreenGuard puncture protection layer within the 7.3mm thick centre tread. Their tread is more suited to tarmac than gravel but the Marathons will cope with poor road surfaces, light grit and canal towpaths.
People often think that when you’re touring you get punctures all the time, but if you pump tyres to the correct pressure and check them regularly, you’ll keep flats to a minimum.
I’ve suffered only a handful or so during more than 10,000km of overseas touring, often on very poor roads and, occasionally, on Australia’s ‘corrugated’ country tracks, which could generously be described as gruelling.
In-line levers are great for heads-up touring and commuting. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The Panorama’s contact points are good and I got on very well with the Ridgeback Custom saddle, although the bar tops are round, unlike the slightly flattened tops on something like the Fuji.
The Ridgeback does have one extra feature I’m a fan of: in-line brake levers. These are a second set of levers that allow you to brake when you’re riding on the tops, as you often are when touring.
It’s a comfortable riding position and allows you to take in your surroundings. Crucially, in-line levers offer the same braking power as the levers on the drops.
The resulting braking from the TRP Spyre mechanical discs – from tops or drops – is very good. Cable-actuated discs are never going to equal the light action of hydraulic discs, but they still offer consistent and controlled stopping and are much better in the rain than rim brakes.
Ridgeback’s Panorama is absolutely spot on for day after day of long, leisurely riding. You don’t notice the fact that it only has a 9-speed cassette, rather than 10-speed. It comes complete with three bottle cages and full-length mudguards.
It’s a fine tourer and, although heavy, it’s a supremely comfortable commuter – no need for a backpack.
The low gears will get you up the hills comfortably, if not exactly niftily, and those Marathon tyres will keep on rolling until the sun goes down, again and again.
Touring cyclists can have confidence in the Schwalbe Marathon tyres. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Ridgeback Panorama geometry
Size (* tested): XS, S, M*, L, XL
Seat angle: 72.5 degrees
Head angle: 73.5 degrees
Seat tube: 49cm
Top tube: 54.7cm
Head tube: 14.5cm
Fork offset: 4.9cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7.3cm
Bottom bracket height: 27.8cm
How we tested
This bike was tested against four other top touring bikes that have been designed to let you unlock your inner adventurer.
Other bikes on test: