Ridgeback has been in the business for more than 30 years, though it’s been overshadowed somewhat in the road world by its offshoot brand Genesis. It’s still very much alive, though, and produces a range of bikes aimed mainly at the commuter and leisure markets. The Advance is in essence a drop bar version of its Flight hybrid.
The curvy aluminium frame has an attractive semi-matt finish that doesn’t draw attention to the slightly lumpy welds, and although the carbon fork’s straight aluminium steerer looks a little old-fashioned, it does the job well and makes sourcing replacement bearings easier. We’re also pleased to see not just eyelets on the fork, but also a handy extra set of bosses, so there are plenty of options for fitting mudguards or even a front rack. There are also two sets of rear eyelets, along with bosses for a down tube mudguard.
A fetching semi-matt finish makes the most of the Advance's svelte curves while playing down its ho-hum welds
The Advance is billed as a ‘fast commuter’ and comes with tarmac-geared 28mm Continental Contact semi-slicks, although there is clearance for larger tyres. Its flat bar DNA is evident as soon as you sit on the saddle: although it has the bar and angles of a conventional road bike, it’s extremely long.
Our 52cm (XS) test model had a 56.1cm top tube, and even with the short stock stem and compact bar it still felt stretched, even more so when we flipped the stem to its roadie-approved negative-rise position. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it was actually quite refreshing to be able to achieve our race position on a bike in this category – but not everyone will want a fit this aggressive.
There’s flat-bar DNA in the Ridgeback’s long position
The ride quality is on a par with other entry-level alloy bikes: under power, it’s stiff enough without being snappy, probably down to the heavy wheels – 32-spoke Alex rims on chunky Shimano hubs. The fat, straight seatstays don’t offer a lot of give and on rough surfaces there’s a tendency for the rear end to skitter around. That said, the racy angles and longish wheelbase make for excellent high speed handling – descending is a pleasure. Uphill, though, we were conscious of the bike’s not inconsiderable mass.
The Advance has Avid's BB5 brakes and includes the essential inline adjusters… and rather less essential inline levers. The triple chainset and nine-speed Sora transmission is somewhat at odds with an otherwise sporty demeanour; in combination with the 11-30 cassette, the range of gears on offer is very wide, useful if load carrying is part of the daily commute.
The Advance will make a highly competent all-weather commuter bike
Although the Advance will handle smooth tracks and gravelly canal paths with aplomb, its stretched position and firm back end aren’t ideally suited to off-road pursuits (larger tyres would help). It would make a capable winter trainer and all-weather commuter, though.