No other brand is as deeply rooted in Belgian cycling culture as Ridley is. Can the Ridley X-Trail Carbon Ultegra HDB use its home-advantage? Do you want to know what surprises the Belgian manufacturer has in store for you? Then read on!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

Ridley X-Trail
Ridley X-Trail | 8.65 kg | € 3,499

At first glance, the Ridley X-Trail Carbon Ultegra HDB doesn’t claim a KOM for its aesthetics. Classic shapes, a matt finish and a decal-design straight out of the 90’s make the bike go almost unnoticed against its more attractive rivals. But if we focus on the frame details for a minute, things start to look more interesting, revealing a bunch of clever solutions. Year-round riders will be happy to see the frameset offers enough room and mounting brackets to fit mud-guards. In addition, the front derailleur mount can be removed, a welcome feature for all 1×11 lovers. The visual transition from fork to frame is very organic and resumes the sinuous connections we can see in the frame. Unfortunately, some monstrous post mount brake-adapters really spoil the overall harmonious picture.

Ridley X-Trail

In line with their “custom-philosophy”, buyers are given the option to choose a custom paint-job on Ridley’s website, completely free of charge – a very nice detail in our opinion!

Ridley X-Trail

With a weight of 8.65 kg for a medium size, the Ridley is one of the heavier bikes in our test, but with a price of € 3,499 also one of the cheapest. Ridley sent us the X-Trail Carbon with 32 mm Clement Strada tires. Yet, the tires failed to impress on the varied terrain, noticeably affecting our riding experience with a digital grip/no grip-feel. Frustratingly, we could not push the Ridley too far in our test, for fear of a close encounter with the bushes. The lack of grip also affects braking efficiency; the otherwise well-balanced 160/140 mm rotors of the Shimano BR-RS805 brakes struggle to transfer the braking force to the ground.

Ridley X-Trail Ridley X-Trail
Ridley X-Trail
Tuning Tip: Carbon-Cockpit for more comfort, tires with more grip.

The transmission, with a compact crank and an 11–32 t cassette, suits the overall orientation of the bike. After all, the main idea behind the bike was an allroad-concept and not the final sprint at the Roubaix Velodrome. The Ridley lacks the appropriate gear ratio and a crucial amount of liveliness to succeed on sprints. And that’s exactly why the bike feels tame and predictable, unfortunately missing a certain fun factor and suspense.

Ridley X-Trail
Helmet Giro Synthe | Cap Rapha Club Cap | Glasses Adidas Zonyk | Jersey Rapha Classic Jersey II | Jacket Rapha Core Rain Jacket | Bibshort Rapha Pro Team Bibshorts II | Socks Rapha Pro Team Socks | Shoes Shimano S-Phyre RC900

As far as comfort goes, the Ridley feels direct, with relatively little flex. In combination with the aluminium seatpost and cockpit, the stiff carbon frame sends most of the impacts and vibrations back to the rider, lacking the comfort for rougher roads or those grueling Belgian cobbles. On the other hand, the X-Trail is a pleasant ride on even roads, thanks to its classic road bike position.

The Ridley X-Trail Carbon Ultegra HDB in detail

Drivetrain Shimano Ultegra
Wheelset Fulcrum Racing 5 DB
Brakes Shimano BR-RS805
Tires Clement Strada LGG
Weight 8.65 kg
Price € 3,499

Ridley X-Trail
It’s an adaaapter. There are surely better-looking solutions for this.
Ridley X-Trail
Ridley customers can customise the paint finish of their bikes.
Ridley X-Trail
The Clement Strada tire is wide but lacks grip.
Ridley X-Trail
Thanks to extensive reinforcement in the BB area, no flex is noticeable.
Ridley X-Trail
Geometry Ridley X-Trail Carbon

Conclusion

The Ridley X-Trail Carbon Ultegra HDB is a solid bike, but has a few flaws. Do you have a carbon cockpit and a set of good tires lying around your bike shed? Do you ride all-year-round, and like leaving the tarmac behind from time to time? If this is the case,the X-Trail could be a good choice for you.

Strengths

+ Online custom paint options
+ Good tire clearance
+ Mudguard mounting option

Weaknesses

– Tires offer little grip on wet surfaces
– Low comfort level
– Old-school design


For more info head to: ridley-bikes.com

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

All bikes in test: 3T Exploro Team | BMC Roadmachine 01 | Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0Focus Paralane Factory | ROSE Backroad-4400 | Specialized Roubaix Expert Di2 | Trek Domane SLR 10 RSL | OPEN U.P.P.E.R. | WHITE Wessex


This article belongs to the GRAN FONDO Issue #005. For the full interactive experience we recommend reading it in our magazine app for iPhone & iPad – it’s awesome – and free!

Words: Benjamin Topf, Manuel Buck, Robin Schmitt Photos: Julian Mittelstädt