Ridley’s marketing department make quite a bold claim, stating that “the Kanzo Fast is the fastest gravel bike in the world”. The aero look and “Fast” suffix back this up, but its hefty weight of 8.76 kg tells a different story. How does the heavyweight fare in our gravel race bike group test?
This bike was reviewed as part of our 2023 gravel race bike shootout. You’ll find a comprehensive group test and test field overview here: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review
Traditional bike brand Ridley have long been mixing up the scene, based in small but two-wheeled obsessed Belgium. Their presence at cyclocross events, where the atmosphere is more like a party than a race, will give you some idea of this. On paper, the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast could be a close relative of the 2023 Argon 18 Dark Matter. Many of their specs, including the weight, geometry, and stem length, etc., are confusingly similar. Accordingly, you would expect them to behave and feel the same way. But it’s nothing like that. All test riders came to the conclusion that the two bikes are different beasts entirely. Why is that? What makes the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast different? And how does it fare compared to the rest of the test field?
The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast – Aero features and weight
The design of the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast is based on their full-on aero road bike, the Ridley Noah, thus making a very aggressive and aero impression. On our test bike, this is further underlined by the custom paint job and team stickers. However, you can customise the colour scheme to suit your own preferences thanks to the online configurator. The oversized tubes and slightly curved top tube make the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast look like a lurking predator about to pounce.
On the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast, proven aero concepts like the D-shaped seat post and deep tube profiles are combined with new approaches. Ridley’s “F-Wings“ on the fork ends and structured surfaces on the seat post and spacers are said to further outwit wind resistance.
The one-piece cockpit looks great and feels ergonomic. Unfortunately, the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast doesn’t come with a chainstay protector. The elephant in the room is the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast itself, which is the heaviest gravel race bike on test, weighing in at 8.76 kg. However, that’s with tire inserts, which puts the weight in a slightly different perspective.
Ridley Kanzo Fast
Seatpost Kanzo Fast Integration Pro Kit
Brakes Shimano GRX BR-RX810 160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano GRX RX815 Di2 1x11
Stem Kanzo Fast Integration Pro Kit 100 mm
Handlebar Kanzo Fast Integration Pro Kit 460 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline
Tires Vittoria Terreno Dry TR GR2.0 700 x 38c
Size XS S M L XL
Weight 8,76 kg
test bike with tire inserts
no mounting point for front derailleur
The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast – Build spec
The build spec of the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast doesn’t have to hide from the competition in our group test or at all. For € 6,729.00, you get an attractive package, which you can customise in the online configurator along with the colour scheme. With a Shimano GRX 800 Di2 groupset, it’s the only race gravel bike on test that relies on Shimano components. That’s strange considering how well this drivetrain was received by all testers. The only thing we weren’t that happy with was the preconfigured shifting logic with a total of four paddles, but this can be customised via the Shimano app. The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast cements its gravel intentions with a frame designed exclusively for 1x groupsets. If you still want the gearing of a 2x system, you can select the 2-speed Classified hub in the configurator.
The ROTOR crankset is an eye-catcher and another aero plus. The aero cover doesn’t just look cool, but most likely offers some marginal gains, too. Ridley rely on a set of DT Swiss GRC 1400 SPLINE wheels, featuring carbon rims. Although it isn’t exactly the lightest wheelset on test, weighing 1,611 g, it provides a lot of riding stability thanks to the internal rim width of 24 mm.
These are fitted with fast and racing suitable 38 mm Vittoria Terreno Dry tires, ensuring a smooth ride. But you can’t go much wider than that. The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast only has room for 42 mm wide tires, which is below average. Speaking of tires, we find the tan walls are a bit too much, overloading the design. We made peace with the added 220 g weight of the tire inserts because they worked perfectly for us, even if they make the bike a bit more sluggish on the climbs. The integrated eyelets allow you to attach Ridley’s in-house mudguards, transforming the Fast into a high-speed commuter and winter training bike.
The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast in review – How does the aero race bike fare?
Climb on and go! No other bike seemed to encourage us to push ourselves quite as much as the Kanzo Fast. Despite the relatively high weight, it pulls away quickly. It’s unexpectedly easy to bring up to speed, and once it’s there, it stays there reliably and without much effort. This is underlined by its composed handling, which is due to the heavy wheelset and the weight overall. As such, it does a good job of carrying momentum. The aggressive but not uncomfortable riding position as well as the performance-oriented stiffness around the bottom bracket provide further speed on gravel pistes.
The final opponent in the test – no bike is faster and better suited for gravel races.
Although the frame is quite stiff and generates good propulsion, it still has the necessary level of compliance. This is partly due to the seat post. The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast feels planted and stable through corners. As such, it instils you with confidence. The gravel bike forgives small rider errors on fast descents, which makes it more beginner friendly. The agile, direct steering encourages you to tighten the radius of corners and results in very balanced handling overall.
Ridley Kanzo Fast
|Seat tube||470 mm||495 mm||520 mm||545 mm||570 mm|
|Top tube||522 mm||547 mm||565 mm||587 mm||601 mm|
|Head tube||115 mm||144 mm||168 mm||197 mm||221 mm|
|BB Drop||74 mm||72 mm||72 mm||70 mm||70 mm|
|Chainstay||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm|
|Reach||373 mm||380 mm||385 mm||393 mm||400 mm|
|Stack||537 mm||563 mm||587 mm||613 mm||638 mm|
Who is the Ridley Kanzo Fast for?
Are you looking for speed on gravel roads, whether in a race or during your well-deserved post work jaunt? Then look no further! The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast makes riding fast intuitive while providing sufficient comfort for long days in the saddle, whether you’re riding on woodland paths, gravel, or asphalt. The balanced handling makes easy work of technical trails, too, although you won’t do so in record time. Interestingly, both newcomers to gravel and competitive racers will find a reliable partner for speed and comfort in the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast.
Tuning tips: chainstay protector | black tires
Conclusion of Ridley Kanzo Fast
The 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast feels incredibly fast, even though it’s the heaviest gravel race bike on test. The overall package of speed, aero, comfort, attention to detail, and customizability, all at a fair price makes it stand out from the competition. For gravel newbies who want to feel fast, as well as race experts who want to be fast, the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast is an excellent choice. Thus, the 2023 Ridley Kanzo Fast takes the title as the best gravel race bike of 2023.
- value for money
- Shimano GRX Di2 is the best groupset in the test field
- aero concept consistently implemented
- attention to detail and high-quality workmanship
- tire inserts for added peace of mind
- tan wall tires don’t match with the paint job
- no front derailleur option for 2x drivetrains
- no chainstay protector
You can find out more about at ridley.com
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review
All bikes in test: Argon 18 Dark Matter | Berria Belador Allroad 8 | BMC Kaius 01 ONE | Canyon Grail CF SLX 9 eTap | Factor OSTRO Gravel | Fara Cycling F/All-Road | Ridley Kanzo Fast | Specialized S-Works Crux | Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of GRAN FONDO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.
Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Robin Schmitt, Jan Richter