First look: Ridley Helium RS Custom

Custom heritage from Belgium

If there’s one country that can celebrate its cycling heritage it’s Belgium, home of Eddy Merckx, by common consent the greatest rider ever. And home, too, to Flanders-based Ridley Bikes.

Specifications

  • Frame: 30T/40T carbon
  • Fork: 30T/40T carbon
  • Wheels: DT Swiss Mon Chasseral clincher
  • Gears: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Stem: 3T ARX
  • Seatpost: PRO Vibe
  • Bar: PRO Vibe
  • Saddle: Pro Turnix
  • Tyres: 25mm Continental Podium TT tubular
  • Weight: 6.66kg

Frame options

If you buy any of Ridley's 2016 carbon road bikes you can use its ‘Customizer’ to choose from numerous frame, logo and detail colours, as well as a matt or gloss finish.

Our bike was a Helium RS made from 30- and 40-ton carbon fibre, which results in frame weights from 870-970g, and the frame was beautifully finished in Belgium’s national team jersey colours.

Carbon frame and fork dropouts, headset bearing seats and a carbon bottom bracket shell, for the press-fit bottom bracket, help to keep the weight down, while the tube profiles are pretty old school — straight with not a teardrop or Kamm tail in sight. The cabling is internally routed, save for the rear brake cable that runs beneath the top-tube.

DT Swiss Mon Chasseral clincher wheels
DT Swiss Mon Chasseral clincher wheels

Lightweight wheels

Our frameset was built up with a high-end kit spec based around Shimano’s mechanical Dura-Ace groupset. The DT Swiss Mon Chasseral clincher wheels are its lightweight mountain-friendly offering, weighing just 1,250g per pair.

The Spline hubs and rims are made from carbon fibre, the latter featuring high-heat-resistant resin braking surfaces designed to cope with Alpine descents, the bearings are ceramic and DT Swiss’s 36T Ratchet system should ensure a rapid rear-wheel pick-up. Their £1,999 cost is complemented by some similarly exotic tyres, Continental’s lightweight TT clinchers, which are £50 each.

Shimano’s component arm PRO is responsible for the carbon handlebar, seatpost and Turnox saddle, with 3T providing its ARX stem. The 6.66kg overall weight is low enough to worry the UCI’s clipboard carriers, but if you want to go lighter, choose the Helium SL frame, which’ll knock off another 200g or so.

The Ridley Helium RS Custom comes with Shimano's high-end Dura-Ace groupset
The Ridley Helium RS Custom comes with Shimano's high-end Dura-Ace groupset

Pricing and availability

Ridley’s UK distributor Madison is selling this as a frameset for £1,600 (Customizer extra) or in two builds: the Helium 40 costs £2,150 with a mix of Ultegra and 105, and there’s a limited edition of 100 Dura-Ace Specials at £2,750. Both look pretty good value too given the frameset price.

US and Australian pricing not available.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK
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