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Ridley as a brand is extremely young in the timeline of performance bicycles in the world, and it is even younger when it comes to the Indian market. Having started business in 1997, the company is lead by its passionate founder, CEO – Jochim Aerts, who focuses on building top-notch bicycles whose performance speak for itself. The Damocles 3, which has been exclusively designed for the Indian markets, draws inspiration and character from its more than accomplished predecessor – The Ridley Damocles that debuted in 2004. The Damocles is a Road endurance bicycle that is extremely versatile to play the role of a true enduro roadie, or an able spirited bicycle that has put many riders on the podium. The original pro version of the Damocles has seen victories in some of the most illustrious races such as the Tour de France , Giro d’Italia and many National race championships. To test the Damocles 3 that has been purpose built for India, we had to review the bicycle without keeping any prejudice of its lineage and illustrious predecessors. Here’s our take on it.
The frame employed on the Ridley Damocles 3 is a completely new design from any of Ridley’s other bicycles built in the past. The first thing that catches your eye is that every tube profile found on the frame, is unique. The unit is a Damocles 3- Road- 6061 Aluminium Alloy frame that is relatively light. The frame boasts of a massive and tapered bottom tube, which is complimented by a combination of tapered and circular tubing in the other areas. The headtube and the uniquely designed fork are responsible for soaking in the vibrations on your ride. The overall geometry and ergonomics for the Damocles 3 were leaning towards endurance rather than race. I felt that the Seat post angle was designed in a way that I was positioned more backwards that forward. This caused a bit of an issue as the long stem (90mm) and oversized handlebar (44mm) meant I was overreaching. The solution for riders, who experience this, would be to ensure you get a smaller stem, and do a basic bike fit to get the precise position of your saddle w.r.t to the cockpit (handlebar). The frame felt well-built, sturdy and composed on the ride. The weld finish could have been smoother on the key joints. We must point out that Ridley does not mention the frame size on any of its frames, thereby making it difficult to identify for novices and newbies, unless highlighted by the store salesman.
The Design philosophy of Ridley has been subtle over the years, and one sees that on the Damocles 3 as well. Ridley puts more effort into ensuring that a rider enjoys the way the bicycle rides, rather than how it looks. This is a product design strategy that has worked well for them in global markets. The frame of the Damocles 3 is brought to life with a glossy Blue that is electric. The designers have used embellishments of black and white very sparingly across the frame, to give it’s subtle Ridleyesque look. The badging is in Black, and the brand name ‘Ridley’ on the bottom tube is placed on the upper section, which almost hides the name. Again, their focus is on the bike and not so much on shouting out loud. The one negative on the design front was the oddly shaped and designed large reflectors on the spokes, which seemed completely out of place on this otherwise suave bike. Overall you’ve got yourself an elegant looking bicycle that has mature design cues.
The Ridley Damocles comes well equipped in the gearing department, with a 22 speed Shimano Tiagra groupset. The Shimano Tiagra- FD-4700- 2-Speed As front derailleurs, and the Shimano Tiagra- RD-4700- 10-Speed as rear derailleurs. These are controlled by Shimano Tiagra- ST-4700- (2x10-Speed) integrated shifters. The shifting was smooth without any lag across conditions. The large handlebar (440mm which should have been 420mm) that comes as standard made me stretch out a little more than usual while shifting, but it wasn’t a problem that affected the ride. The Tiagra groupset along with the FSA, Gossamer, CK-C6028SS – crank with the 50/34T options, goes a long way in providing a good bandwidth of gearing across various terrains that one might face on an enduro ride.
The brakes used on the Damocles 3 are Tektro- R-325- Alloy Dual pivot brakes. These brakes provided the needed stopping power for this road enduro bicycle. The Dual pivot caliper brakes ensures that the riders have consistent and real life lever feel along with accurate stopping power.
The steering and handling of the Damocles 3 was more very composed. The bicycle felt sure-footed, well balanced while changing directions, and it also eased in well into corners. It showed characteristics of a true endurance roadie that was not necessarily twitchy and in a hurry to get in and out of corners. The bicycle was also not in a raring hurry while riding off the saddle to pick up pace, or while climbing a hill. You can be confident if you are new to road bicycling, that the Damocles will be reassuring and responsive in it’s handling, to give you the confidence on your medium to long rides.
The frame has been built to take on the harsh roads that one can find during an endurance ride. To aid this, the Ridley Damocles 3 comes with 700 * 23c Kenda Kadence tires, which are lightweight, well priced tires that are good for light touring, training and your regular commutes. This is put on to the solid Shimano RS500 Rims. These rims are sturdy, well built and will be a dependable pair on you long endurance rides. However, the one thing is that it is relatively on the heavier side, which can be felt when you are someone who is looking to sprint. This being said, it is a good wheelset to start of with, and it will serve you well for 2-3 years without a problem. The ride quality on the whole was quite pliant and stable. The saddle that comes as standard was comfortable and provided a stable and well supported position, all through the ride.
Ridley - Belgium have certainly thought through their Indian foray really well, by introducing affordable and value for money road bicycles that will make the brand accessible to a larger audience. I am sure that these riders who experience a Ridley, will then move on to their international Alu – Alu/carbon range that keep pushing the bar of bicycle engineering. The Ridley Damocles 3 is a good start for a new rider who wants to get into medium and long road endurance riding. It offers a good stable frame, well specc’d components, all at a price point of Rs.72,500, which is too good to be true. Ridley has certainly turned the heat up in the Indian sub-continent as far as the bicycle industry is concerned.