As we reported back in August, Ridley has re-designed its longstanding Helium road bike for 2017 and the Belgian brand recently sent us through its toppest, top-end Helium SLX for test.
The climb friendly, featherweight that Lotto-Soudal frameset will debut at this year's Tour Down Under is draped in some pretty snazzy bits, so we took some time to ogle the new bike from every angle conceivable.
In re-designing the Helium, Ridley has aimed to create a bike that is a great all-rounder. Ridley engineer Bruno De Naeur stated in our overview of the brands 2017 range that “our mantra behind the Helium has always been [to create] the best stiffness to weight ratio... so you’ll find that we don’t have the lightest or the stiffest bike, but we believe that we’ve found the best compromise between those two characteristics.”
He goes on to say that although Ridley “had working bikes built below the magical 700g mark, we decided against putting it into production as the bike needs to be tough enough to last and be ridden in all conditions, including our own Belgian cobbles."
However, the updated frame weighs in at a mere 50g (claimed) over this “magical” number in a size medium, so we certainly can’t complain about the weight of the new Helium. The new fork, which has been updated with narrower and straighter blades, has also been on a diet and now comes in at an equally feathery 300g. Unsurprisingly, such a lightweight frameset has a rider weight limit of 95kg.
The Helium has also seen updates to cable routing, with all cables now cleanly routed internally through the frame.
However, the eagle-eyed will note that our eTap-specific frame is as smooth as an Action Man's groin, with no ports or stops for gear cables to speak of. So unless you're happy covering your bike with a bag's worth of zip ties, this special edition of the Helium has no provision for running a mechanical or Di2 groupset.
The layup around the headtube has also been modified, resulting in a claimed 15 percent increase in stiffness around the front end, which is said to improve the handling of the Helium while cornering.
Our rather high zoot test build, which features a full SRAM Red eTap groupset, Forza 4ZA Cirrus C30 wheels and a nicely integrated colour matchy-matched cockpit, weighs in at a paltry and sub UCI-limit of 6.38kg without pedals.
There is of course a not inconsiderable price to pay for such weightless luxury; the top-end Helium SLX comes in at a lofty £6,500 / $7,500 / AU$TBC and will be outfitted with alloy, Forza RC23 rims laced to Shimano hubs.
Our test model is kitted out with the upgraded carbon hoops from Forza, so you should expect to pay an additional £1,000-ish to get your Helium down to a weight comparable to ours.
We’re looking forward to trying out this true super bike. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review in the coming months.
- The top-end Helium SLX with Forza 4ZA RC23 wheels is priced at £6,500 / $7,500 / AU$TBC
- The Helium SLX frameset is also available separately for £2,699.99 / $TBC / / AU$TBC