Low-cost mountain bikes don’t have to be lifeless, no-fun burdens, but many of them are. And while long-established UK company Ridgeback don’t try to pretend that their budget Cyclone is a ‘proper’ mountain bike, this aluminium frame comes equipped with 24 gears, a tough 26in wheelset and a comfy mountain ride posture.
It sits three steps up from the bottom of their Terrain range, which rises to the sturdy suspension fork and hydraulic disc braked MX6 at almost twice the price. But if you’re limited by budget and looking for an all-rounder that can theoretically go anywhere, the Cyclone is a better bet than any bike we’ve seen with suspension at similar prices.
It’s lighter (26lb) thanks to its rigid fork, fast skinny tyres and rim brakes, so it accelerates and climbs better than a typical (30lb-plus) mountain bike at this price.
The Cyclone’s frame clearance allows you to ﬁt a set of proper mountain bike tyres. You could ride gentle trails with Continental’s Double Fighter 1.9in treads, but they’re made for hard surfaces and really won’t cope with the mud.
Also, with these low-proﬁle tyres you’re made painfully aware of the low (11in) bottom bracket whenever you try to pedal through bumpy corners: a set of proper mountain bike treads raises that by half an inch or so, and adds useful extra comfort and control for trail use.
Ridgeback cyclone: Jonathan Gawler/Future Publishing
As it is, the Cyclone is suited to urban workhorse duties with diversions along smooth or easy trails, and if mountain bikes are about trafﬁc-free pleasure to you that may be all you need. There’s nothing wrong with that – we’re happy to see there are still companies around that aren’t feeling pressured into ﬁtting heavy, low-capability suspension forks to their low budget bikes just for the look of the thing.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.