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Ridley is a Belgian bicycle brand known for its state of the art frames on all their bicycles. Ridley was started as a frame builder and has slowly evolved over time as a successful bicycle manufacturer. Ridley falls under the TI cycle’s performance bicycle brand umbrella for India. Launched in India last year the Belgium made Ridley bicycles did create a stir in the market. This year Ridley has launched an exclusive made for India range of bicycles. From this range we got the opportunity to test the entry level Ridley Damocles 1 (2017) Road bicycle and here is what we thought.
The 6061 aluminium frame on the Damocles 1 (2017) is built with simple round tubes, no fancy bulges or profiling here. Unlike some more expensive bicycles the welds aren't smooth, but they are neatly done. The ride isn't the most refined on rougher roads and the frame does transmit quite a bit of the bumpy road surface through to the rider. While it never gets jarring, it can get a little uncomfortable at times. The fit and reach of the frame is good, and it's a comfortable ride position for everything from short blasts to longer Sunday rides. You can't help but notice the weight when scaling steep and long climbs, but the Damocles 1’s frame build quality does an impressive job of masking the weight the rest of the time. The fork on this bicycle is a threadless alloy fork which is flat and curved giving it an aero shape.
The Ridley Damocles 1 immediately gives a good first impression. The neat black gloss paint job and red graphics smartly thread the fine line between understated and eye-catching. It's a well smoothened finish, and gives an air of expense compared to other road bicycle offerings at this price. This bicycle comes only in this 1 colour variant. This colour combination does look simple and with a colour coded saddle.
It takes a good frame to make a good road bicycle, and the right parts to bring out its qualities. The Damocles 1 (2017) is built with a Shimano Claris 16-speed groupset. It is impressive to see this Shimano groupset on an entry-level road bicycle. Claris is a really good groupset and mimics the design of Shimano's more expensive components. The KMC Z72 chain set works well with good shifting performance. The compact (50/34t) combination gives you enough low down gearing for really steep hills, and a good top-end for hitting some high speeds. The integrated Shimano Claris ST-2400 16 speed shifters felt comfortable and easy to use.
It’s good to see cartridge caliper brakes on the Ridley Damocles 1 (2017), in the shape of Tektro’s R312s, rather than the non-cartridge items usually found on road bicycles at this price. The Tektro R312 dual pivot brake calipers do provide a nice level of braking performance and offer enough reassurance that you can remove excess speed with a reasonable level of control. There's a bit of flex in the system though, it's not quite the same solid responsiveness of Shimano's higher end brakes. They work well enough though, and certainly stop you when needed.
The Zoom alloy road handlebar turns nicely through corners. The 660mm wide handlebar provides good stiffness and compliance and gives the Damocles 1 an edge in the handling department.
The Damocles 1 rolls on a pair of Kenda Kadence 700C x 23C road tires. They were good at low speeds but more spirited riding did find them average in rolling speed with just about reassuring traction in dry and wet weather conditions. Tires are easily replaceable though, but these tires are good enough to get you going. A move to wider 25mm tires would provide much-needed comfort.
The Ridley high-density foam PU saddle was ergonomically designed for long distance riding without enduring soreness. The overall ride quality was comfortable on flat tarmacs.
The Ridley Damocles 1 is a really good road bicycle priced at Rs.46,110. It's clearly well thought out, with some nice attention to detail, it's really good value for money, and most importantly, it rides very nicely, with a level of performance that will appeal to a new road cyclist. Sure it's a little heavy at times, and the tires don't impress, but that's a small con when compared what is at its core a fundamentally well designed entry level road bicycle.