Ridley was founded in 1997 by Jochim Aerts, but by that time the Belgian racer had already spent years in the trenches building and painting bicycle frames. Having been employed by an esteemed European frame builder, Aerts reasoned that his time spent in the peloton, as well as his hands-on experience actually building bikes, left him positioned to build bikes that offered racers something better. And in 1997, Ridley made its debut. The early bikes were renowned for their responsive handling and trademark paint jobs, and the result was rapid acceptance among discerning riders. Although the lineup was originally based around steel and aluminum frames, Aerts was keen to adopt carbon fiber as a frame building material. His freshman effort in carbon became the Damocles, a stiff, responsive bike with exceptional durability that's still widely considered a classic by those in the know.
In the early 2000s, Ridley suffered some setbacks due to the limitations of maintaining strict quality control with vendors based overseas, but what would have sunk a lesser company only hardened Ridley's resolve. Drawing perhaps from the grit learned competing year round in Belgium's notoriously tough racing culture, Aerts doubled down on finding trustworthy suppliers who could build dependable bikes. And as legions of Ridley devotees will attest, that goal has been accomplished beyond any doubt.
The past decade has seen consistent growth, and with that has come high-profile sponsorships, such as the storied partnership with the Lotto Soudal team. More than a marketing resource, these sponsored teams and athletes often race on production frames, and their feedback has been instrumental in the continual improvement of Ridley's offerings. The combination of obsessive attention to detail and unsurpassed real world testing has lent Ridleys a well-deserved reputation for reliability under fire. And with the opening of a new in-house paint facility and a rapidly expanding fan base, Ridley continues to bring proven race bikes to cyclists the world over.