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Ridley X-Ride 105 review

6 Dec 2017
Verdict:

A race-oriented cyclocross machine that's fun to ride and delivers decent value for money

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,699.99

If you want cyclocross pedigree, look no further: 14 world Cyclocross champions have ridden Ridleys to victory since 2002.

The Belgian brand makes no bones about the X-Ride’s purpose, either, stating that it’s a thoroughbred race bike suitable for use as your only cross racer or as a pit back-up.

Its design is honed from years of experience at the top end of the sport, but presented at a price more affordable to the beginner. 

Frameset

The X-Ride 105 is one of three distinct iterations of the model (the other two being a SRAM Rival-equipped model and a cantilever-braked racer).

Relying on race-proven construction and geometry, its triple-butted alloy tubing is fat at the tube junctions and audibly thin at the top tube when the finger-flick test is applied.

An oversized down tube attaches to a short, 115mm head tube, while the top tube is flattened across its length to make shouldering the bike easier.

Seatstays and chainstays flare outward to provide vibration-damping characteristics that smooth out the ride.

There’s a carbon fork up front, which features a steel insert on the inner left fork leg, designed to reduce the risk of damaging the carbon with the brake disc when performing quick wheel changes in the pits (further proof of its fully race-ready credentials).

Both the front and rear wheels are fixed to the frame with thru-axles. Internal cabling runs through the fork leg and down tube, to keep the cables away from grime, and prevent water ingress if you’re using a jetwash to clean the bike. The steering angle is a sharpish 72.4°.

Groupset

The lion’s share of the groupset is Shimano 105 – front and rear derailleurs, plus the 11-28 cassette – while the 46/36 chainset (a standard combination for cyclocross bikes) is an FSA Gossamer unit.

An 11-speed KMC chain completes the drive train. The shifters/brake levers are 105-comparable RS505 components, while the brakes are hydraulic Shimano stoppers.

Finishing kit

The Ridley’s finishing kit is from Belgian (despite the Italian name) company Forza, with 400mm compact drop handlebars clamped by a 110mm alloy stem.

The extra height of Shimano’s hydraulic brake hoods does increase the reach considerably when you’re riding on the drops.

A Stratos alloy seatpost is topped with a deeply padded saddle from the same brand.

While it’s all incredibly unremarkable fare, simple alloy kit keeps the price down and will take the knock it’s inevitably due to endure if you catch the racing bug.

Wheels

Fulcrum’s Racing Sport DB wheels feature low-maintenance double gasket hubs and an internal rim width of 17mm. They’re far from the lightest, but perfectly serviceable and durable – attributes you’ll be thankful for.

The 33c tyres are close to the limit of what you’ll squeeze on to them, but the Clement MXP wire-beaded rubber is designed to cover all bases, making it well suited to mixed race conditions.

Also worthy of note is that they’d cost you £90 to buy online, so they’re not a bargain basement fitment either.

On/off the road 

The Ridley’s curved rear stays suggest an alloy racer that will ably soak up the bumps, while one look at the steering geometry hints at rapid changes of direction.

What the X-Ride actually presents us with is a bike that’s clearly bred for racing, and all the better for it.

Dealing with the rear end first, the frame design does an admirable job of isolating your backside from the worst of any jarring on the trails, but pulls off the job of not feeling pedestrian at the same time.

The Ridley feels purposeful, and when given some serious injections of power it’s the one bike here that positively jumps out of dusty corners on to the next straight.

Given that a cyclocross race is effectively a set of intervals as you jump out of turns and get up to maximum speed and effort as soon as possible, this urgency to the bike’s power delivery is a definite bonus.

The stout 115mm head tube does provide the most feedback at the front end, but high-frequency vibrations are dialled out to some degree by the carbon fork.

The Ridley’s hydraulic brake set-up allows fine metering of braking input when finesse is required, yet will haul up the X-Ride in short order.

This is especially useful if someone stacks it in front of you, and crucially it does so without locking up either end in any circumstance except on mud – and then you’d have to really yank the levers.

The twin-chainring and 11-28 cassette set-up offers a useful set of ratios, and while we encountered a bit of chain slap on quick, undulating ground, the chain stayed firmly on the chainring.

Shimano’s 105 shifting feels instantly familiar if you’re coming from a pure roadie background, too – it’s predictable and reliable. The Ridley’s 60mm bottom bracket drop is also an advantage over obstacles.

Handling

The combination of a stocky head tube and a measured head angle of 72.4° contributes to a direct steering feel. Which isn’t to say that the Ridley feels twitchy when cornering; the rangy wheelbase and 110mm stem combine with a set of 400mm compact bars to create a package that tempers any nerves yet allows fast turns with maximum confidence.

Although the Fulcrum Racing Sports are not the quickest cross wheels we’ve ever tested, the 33c Clement rubber wrapped around their perimeters is the trump card in this package.

Their tread pattern allows them to grip on loose dirt, light gravel and hardpack – pretty much the only thing they won’t provide sky-high confidence on is deep mud. As an almost-suit-all set of tyres, they’re hard to beat.

Holding on to the brakes going into a corner doesn’t give us any cause for concern. Putting our body weight right over the rear when on the rear brake on technical downhill sections loads the MXPs up and allows them to slow the bike in a controlled fashion, rather than snake down a bank, skipping over tree roots.

We had a lot of fun on the Ridley, and could hold our speed on straights, hammer corners and crest rises with decent proficiency. 

Ratings

Frame: Race-proved geometry with lightweight tubing. 9/10
Components: Mostly 105 groupset, with cost-conscious finishing kit. 9/10 
Wheels: Not the lightest but reliable and dependable. 7/10 
The Ride: A pure-breed cross racing machine. 9/10

Verdict

The X-Ride 105 is designed for the more competitive type of cyclocross adventurer, and is well priced considering the spec on offer – although the wheels are  workmanlike and on the heavy side

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 535mm 530mm
Seat Tube (ST) N/A 508mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 632mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 400mm
Head Tube (HT) 115mm 115mm
Head Angle (HA) 72 72.4
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.5
Wheelbase (WB) 1004mm 1005mm
BB drop (BB) 60mm 60mm

Spec

Ridley X-Ride 105
Frame Triple-butted 7005-T6 alloy frame, Oryx Disc TA carbon fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano RS505 hydraulic discs
Chainset FSA Gossamer, 46/36
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Forza Stratos, alloy
Stem Forza Stratos, alloy
Seatpost Forza Stratos, alloy
Saddle Forza Stratos
Wheels Fulcrum Racing Sport DB, Clement MXP Wire 700 x 33 tyres
Weight 9.58kg (size S)
Contact ridley-bikes.com