When we covered the Ridley India launch in December 2015, it was the most awaited brand in the Performance bicycle category in the country. The products have finally hit the Indian shores, and we couldn’t wait any longer to test them out.
Today we are reviewing the Ridley Fenix Alloy 10 (2016), which is an endurance focused road bicycle. The Fenix series was born from the inspirations derived from two of Ridley’s most famous and innovative bicycles, namely the ‘Excalibur’ – which is a Superlight, fast Road bicycle, and the ‘Damocles’ – which is a Road endurance bicycle.
Model: Fenix Alloy 10
Price: INR 1,02,000
The frame of the Ridley Fenix Alloy 10 is an Alu-Carbon combination with internal cabling. The frame is a Fenix A, Triple Butted Hydroformed 7005-T6 Aluminium unit, that is attached to a Carbon fork, that is a Fenix A, 24T HM Unidirectional Carbon, Tapered Aluminium Steerer. The Carbon used on the fork is a 24T low tensile grade of carbon, which has been used to improve the comfort of the ride. High-end race road bikes use around 65T tensile carbon that makes them a lot more stiffer, but not so comfortable.
The Frame essentially has two parts, which makes the Fenix so unique. The Front triangle, which consists of the top tube, bottom tube and the seat tube, is focused on making the Fenix lightweight, stiff and strong (known as the stiffness zone), and the rear triangle which comprises of the Seat stay, and chain stay focused on comfort and superior ride quality (known as the comfort zone).
A few features that help it do so are the oversized headset bearings and the maximized bottom bracket that are designed for superior stiffness, the diamond shaped (Like the Ridley logo) top tube that is tapered near the seat post and gets wider near the head tube ensures the transformation from the Comfort zone to the Stiffness zone. The seat stays are designed with flex areas in the middle to be able to absorb vibrations, and the chain stays are designed asymmetrically for optimum BB stiffness. To sum it up, the frame is very unique combination of comfort and stiffness. One has to ride it to understand the nuances that we have described.
The Fenix Alloy 10 seats you in a semi upright position, which is typical for any road endurance bicycle.
Ridley’s philosophy when it comes to design is focused on Reliability, Strength and Stiffness. So what this means is that the colour and decals on offer are not going to scream out loud. In contrast, the black and white combo on the Fenix Alloy 10 is simple and elegant. The focus on design has been highlighted through the exceptional tube profiles and overall build and finish, that will make you fall in love with the Design engineering. The tubes transform from broad profiles to sharp edged smaller profiles, giving it a sense of artistic balance to augment the simplistic colour schemes. According to Ridley, these unique organic tube shapes are inspired by nature. Going by their design philosophy, one would have to ride a Ridley to understand that design is not always gauged on visual appeal, but it is also to be experienced by product design.
The Ridley Fenix Alloy 10 comes with a 22 gear option. It is equipped with the Shimano 105 FD-5800 (2-Speed) unit in the front, and the Shimano 105 RD-5800 (11-Speed) in the rear. The crank is a Shimano FC-RS500, 50/34T coupled to a Shimano 105, 11-28T cogset. This combination allows an even spread across various kinds of terrains, and will be particularly useful while climbing hills. The gearing was precise and the Shimano 105 shifters worked like a dream as always. What was an added benefit to this enduro bicycle was that the frame had the necessary design to allow it to react quicker to gearshifts and the need to up the tempo, compared to most road endurance machines. The stiffness in key areas such as the Bottom Bracket helped the overall transfer and shift of power from gear to gear. The Fenix Alloy 10 comes with design that makes it Di2 ready, incase you want to upgrade to electronic shifters sometime in the future.
The brakes on the Fenix Alloy 10 are Shimano’s BR-561. It would have been ideal if Ridley could have squeezed in the Shimano 105 Brake set as that would have been the icing on the cake. We are guessing that price constraints would have made that difficult. Nevertheless, the stock unit works well and does provide the necessary bite required for most conditions.
The Steering is another area of the Fenix Alloy 10 that took us by surprise, but in a good way. Most road endurance bicycles have a bit of lag while changing directions, and are not necessarily in a hurry. With the unique engineering of the frame that the Fenix employs, the front Stiffness zone really comes alive to give you a responsive yet precise feel while steering. The only sore point was that when we wanted to get into aero position and change to the drop down section of the handlebar, we realized that the Forza (Ridley’s own brand of components) handlebar did not have the extra curvature at the end to help us go all the way down. This can be a little uncomfortable when you decide to notch up those extra miles in by getting aero or fully crouched. The good thing is that it is not as twitchy as race road bicycles, but it gives you the best of both worlds largely due to its tapered headtube, oversized headset bearings and it’s chunky fork.
This bicycle comes with 27.5 inch wheels, which seems to be the norm now for most road bicycles. This size gives you an advantage when you are riding longer distances. The rims that come on the Ridley Fenix Alloy 10 (2016) are the impressive Fulcrum racing sport, which are well weighted and designed wheels. Ridley have managed to give you a good pair of tires with the Continental Ultrasport II FB, 700 * 25c, which is a good differentiator in a market that has primarily seen Kendas and Schwalbe come as stock options on most bicycles. This wheelset is proven and will give you a good amount of miles on your endurance trips.
While designing the Fenix series, Ridley engineers were very clear that this is going to be a bicycle range that offers superior comfort to the rider, while also keeping the critical elements of stiffness and strength intact. To arrive at this rather tough formula, they tested the Fenix in the harsh cobble stone roads of Belgium, and got the boys from the pros at the ‘Lotto – Bellisol’ team and their mechanics to give them critical feedback during the design phase. The result is a plush yet responsive ride that we can confidently say, is very rare on a road endurance bicycle. The Comfort zone that is the rear triangle, has a clever bit of engineering with the necessary flex areas in the seat stay, along with the unique organic shapes of the chainstay, all resulting in superior comfort to the rider. In the view of falls and impacts that a rider may have during endurance rides, Ridley have ensured that the diamond shaped top tubes gives the bicycle more strength and makes it more resistant to side impacts. The forza saddle on this road bicycle was ergonomic and had the perfect width for placement of the sitbones. Being an endure bicycle a small grip patch on either side of the saddle would have made sure there is no slipping to the front of the saddle when braking hard.
The amalgamation of the Comfort zone with the Stiffness zone is engineering genius that makes the Fenix series a popular choice on the harsh spring classic races in Belgium, France and Italy. All this innovative design has resulted in a ride that at times makes you wonder if you are actually riding an alloy bicycle or a full carbon.
- Stiffness zone and Comfort zone in the frame gives it great adaptability
- Optimized and unique Tube profiling through smart engineering
- Superior rider comfort on long and harsh rides
- Drop down handlebar that does not have enough curvature at the end, while going aero
You know that a road endurance bicycles is right for you, when you have ridden over a long distance and period of time, without actually feeling the strain on your body. The Ridley Fenix Alloy 10 (2016) offers just that. A Superior and comfortable ride, that is perfectly balanced with stiffness, performance, agility and strength. We think it is safe to say that the wait for Ridley in India was worth it, and we would certainly be reviewing more of these Belgium wonders in the coming month. The Fenix Alloy 10 is a good road endurance for recreational riding as well as competitive races.