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Ridley Excalibur / SRAM Rival Complete Bike - 2012 $0.00
A quick perusal of the Ridley lineup might leave you scratching your head at the myriad of similar choices amongst the Belgian brand's top-tier models -- namely, between the the Damocles, Helium, and Excalibur. However, there are two marked differences that establish the Excalibur as Ridley's best-selling race frame, and this Excalibur SRAM Rival Complete Bike as one of the frame's most popular buildouts. Some of this popularity is self-evident: At 1100 grams, it's second only to the Helium in Ridley's spectrum of lightness. This is because the Helium uses higher grade carbon fiber (and therefore less of it) netting a lower weight, while the Excalibur relies on 24 ton material with 30 ton reinforcements in the high stress areas of the frame. And when those cost savings are coupled with this thoughtful SRAM Rival build, you'll discover a compelling and competitive offering that won't leave you scrambling for funds when it's time to renew your race license.
Unlike the triangulated "Sharp Edge Design" you find on the Damocles, or the super-aero tubes of the Noah, the Excalibur is built with oversized round tubes. Here's a good tip: If you're interested in assessing the likely torsional stiffness of a frame without eve riding it, inspect the girth of its tubing and junctures -- larger diameter tubes resist deflection better than small. Then take a long look at the head and down tube juncture and the bottom bracket cluster -- the 'wow' factor is immediately evident. You'll gleefully verify this stiffness under power on the first ride as the Excalibur leaps forward with every pedal stroke.
While you might look at the Excalibur and think it's a mere kermesse bike -- the sort of "grip it and rip it" rocketship suited for little more than the warp speed circuit races so popular throughout Ridley's homeland of Belgium, think again. It was the team bike of the UCI Continental Pro Team Unibet. Unibet riders cracked the top-20 in such six-hour epics such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, as well as a host of other rough-and-tumble spring classics on the worst roads of Belgium and northern France. Team Unibet knew the secret of the Excalibur: Its oversized tubing gives it top fuel racer-like acceleration and resistance to flex, but it won't brutalize you when you head out the door for an all-day gran fondo ride.
You'll be hard-pressed to find another carbon bike in the Excalibur's price class built with such care (both structural and aesthetic), with similar lightness, durability, smoothness and with anything even closely resembling its pro pedigree. It's a thoroughbred that has many of the markings of frames priced well above it. And with this sensible SRAM Rival build kit with Reynolds Shadow wheels, you'll quickly find your previous glass ceiling not only being lifted, but removed outright. Rival borrows many of the same technologies from SRAM's flagship Red line designed to give you a competitive edge in crisp shifting, carefully modulated braking, and season-long reliability.
The Ridley Excalibur SRAM Rival Complete Bike is available in White/black and comes in five sizes from X-Small to X-Large. Given its compact geometry, we strongly suggest that you focus on the effective top tube length as you make a determination of the proper size.