4th Ridley I've had. Started with an Excalibur, moved to a Damocles, then to a Helium. That Helium was sacrificed to the Cycling Gods after nearly 20k miles...and a pothole the size of a Smart car. Split seat-tube...sh*t happens. And here's the outstanding part about Ridley...
I did nothing more than send photos to the Ridley rep, and the frameset was covered. They even sent me the new frameset before receiving the broken one! That customer service my friends! But I digress...
My old Helium had the "archer's bow" seatstays, and to be honest, it was a bit of a jackhammer on rough roads. It rode very well, and was very lively, but was harsh-ish.
The 2011 I'm on now, which is the same as the 2012, is a completely different animal.
The headtube and fork are the same, but that's were the similarities end. The downtube is bigger, as is the BB junction, which we all know (or should know) makes the bottom end stiff.
The chainstays are a completely different shape, and much larger than the previous iteration of the Helium.
Now to the seatstays...
They are a bit flattish, and the "archer's bow" has been replaced with a more standard, triangle setup. These flat, thin stays lend themselves to much improved ride quality.
The bottom end of the bike is still uber-stiff, but the stays allow for a bit of flex on the vertical plane.
The Helium is smoooove.
As for high speed characteristics, it's like the other Ridleys I've owned before it. The harder you push it, the more alive it feels under you. I've raced all of them, and each has exhibited the same behaviors. No drama, no BS sketchiness...just rock steady and smooth carving corners.
The uploaded pic shows the bike as I have it built now. 7800 D/A, Deda Deep bars, Thomson X4 stem, Mavic SSC binders, and a boat anchor Flite Ti gel saddle. As shown, it weighs 16.2 pounds, which isn't bad considering it's a medium, and NO effort was made to build it light.
With new 7900, Di2 or Red, mid-15s will not be an issue. The dilemma is which group to buy this Spring!
Sure, it's not one of those new-fangled aero bikes, and it doesn't matter. I've ridden a Venge, and it's stiff and fast, but rides like a dumptruck. Given the choice, I'll take big, fat, round tubes and ride quality every time! And so should you!
Update: New 7900 mechanical went on about a month ago. Rotor crankset w/round FSA rings. Lost enough weight to get under 16 pounds. Saweeeet!