Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Ridley Kanzo Fast review

Verdict:

Fast on and off-road, the Ridley Kanzo Fast could be the only bike you’ll need. Photography: James Cripps

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
€4,999 (approx £3,850)
For 
Versatility makes it a ‘do (nearly) everything’ bike • Fast and fun to ride • Lightweight • Capable on and off road
Against 
You will find its off-road limits

It’s easy to while away the hours reading about other people’s cycling adventures, looking at the pictures of far-flung places and dreaming that one day you might do the same. Who hasn’t imagined strapping on some bikepacking bags and heading off into the wild, just you and your bike exploring the world?

Too often, however, real life gets in the way to rob you of the time and opportunity for globetrotting, so perhaps that steel-framed workhorse with dozens of mount points for bottles and bags isn’t really the bike for you.

Perhaps what you actually need is something that can hold its own on the tarmac but will happily clip off down your local Beeching-closed railway line when the urge takes you. Perhaps you need something that will tear up a gravel sportive and still have you home in time for real-life commitments.

That’s where the Ridley Kanzo Fast comes in.

 

Horses for courses, riders for bikes

Belgian brand Ridley offers a number of gravel bikes, including the Kanzo Adventure (the aforementioned round-the-world workhorse), the Kanzo Speed (a sort of ‘my first gravel bike’), and the Kanzo A (like the Speed but made from aluminium).

The ‘Fast’ denomination of the Kanzo tells you all you need to know: this is a bike for riding at high speed over mixed surfaces, whether just for fun or more seriously in races.

Visually, the Kanzo Fast looks much like Ridley’s road sprint machine, the Noah Fast. It has the curved top tube and deep, aerodynamic down tube. It has the dropped seatstays and the seat tube that hugs the rear wheel to minimise drag. Plus it has the aerodynamic cockpit with wing-shaped bars and fully internal cabling.

Buy the Ridley Kanzo Fast from Merlin Cycles now 

At first glance it’s hard to tell the difference, but on closer inspection you’ll notice the Kanzo Fast is sporting a 1x gravel groupset, tubeless 40mm tyres and a gravel geometry with higher stack and shorter reach than the Noah.

This last feature helps to make the handling more suited to what fast off-road riding can throw at you as it plants the rider in a slightly more upright position, moving the weight and centre of gravity away from the front wheel to better allow the bike to shrug off rough surfaces.

What’s more, the aero cockpit, while designed with speed in mind, comes with what Ridley calls a ‘gravel twist’.  The bars have a shallower drop and reach than the road version so you can be in the drops without having to get too low over the front of the bike, and the bars have a 16° flare to aid handling while riding in the drops.

Frame weight for a size medium is claimed at 1,190g, and another 490g for the fork brings an entire bike in at around the 8.5kg mark. That’s pretty light for a gravel bike, although not as light as some gravel racers, but Ridley claims the aerodynamic shaping saves 17 watts over ‘ordinary’ gravel bikes and puts it close to the Noah Fast in terms of drag figures.

 

A Kanzo attitude

As part of my testing for the Kanzo Fast, I took it to where it would feel most at home: a one-day gravel ride on the Isle of Wight (see issue 4 of Cyclist Off-Road for details of the gravel glories of ‘The Island’, undertaken on a different ride back in the summer).

The first thing that became apparent to me was that this bike lived up to its name. It was fast. The 40mm WTB Venture tyres gave little away in terms of speed on tarmac and were equally quick when taking on gravel and forest tracks.

The ride was stiff and responsive, with little concession given to comfort. It’s not that it was a harsh ride, but the emphasis is very much on beating your rivals rather than having a pleasant day out.

Buy the Ridley Kanzo Fast from Merlin Cycles now 

In fact, where other gravel bikes might encourage you to ride in a measured manner, the Kanzo Fast goaded me into pushing hard constantly, which quickly lead to me discovering the limits of my bike-handling abilities.

Chasing a friend down some technical and steep singletrack did result in a couple of offs while trying to wrestle the bike through tricky corners, one of these falls undertaken in comedy slow motion into a thicket of stinging nettles.

My friend, riding a heavier, altogether gnarlier bike, coped more successfully on the difficult terrain – ie, he stayed upright – but when the surface changed to more uniform gravel surfaces and forest tracks, the advantage was mine. I could stamp on the pedals and pull away with ease. As Ridley says, ‘This bike is designed to win gravel races.’

Pick of the kit

 

Dhb Aeron Equinox Thermal jersey, £75, wiggle.co.uk

This is just the job for those chilly autumn and spring mornings. When paired with a warm base layer and a wind-stopping gilet the Equinox will see you through all but the coldest days of winter. The close fit keeps it snug and aerodynamic, while the soft fabric is comfortable and breathable.

It is quite long in the body, so just be sure not to overload the pockets if you don’t want to find yourself sitting on your gels.

 

The rest of the kit

Lazer Z1 Mips helmet, £169.99, freewheel.co.uk  
Dhb Merino neck tube, £20, wiggle.co.uk  
Dhb Aeron Equinox Thermal jersey, £75, wiggle.co.uk  
Gripgrab Raptor gloves, £49.95, gripgrab.com  
Dhb Aeron Equinox bibshorts, £80, wiggle.co.uk  
Dhb Aeron Rain Defence legwarmers, £34, wiggle.co.uk  
Gripgrab Merino Winter socks, £16.95, gripgrab.com  
Shimano XC7 shoes, £179, freewheel.co.uk  
Shimano S-Phyre toe covers, £29.99, freewheel.co.uk

Alternatively…

Into the wild

 

When you finally head off on that round-the-world adventure, the Kanzo Adventure (approx £2,700) offers clearance for 50mm tyres on 650b wheels and all the fixings for luggage you could ever need.

Bit of both

 

If you can’t decide between road and gravel, the Ridley Kanzo Speed (approx £2,600) is the perfect compromise, with road-like looks and handling but clearance for up to 38mm tyres.

Spec

Frame Ridley Kanzo Fast
Groupset Shimano GRX800 Di2
Brakes Shimano GRX800 Di2
Chainset Shimano GRX800 Di2
Cassette Shimano GRX800 Di2
Bars Ridley Kanzo Fast integrated gravel cockpit
Stem Ridley Kanzo Fast integrated gravel cockpit
Seatpost Kanzo Fast Aero
Saddle Selle Italia SLR
Wheels Forza Levanto DB, WTB Venture 40mm tyres 
Weight 8.5kg (medium as built)
Contact ridley-bikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews