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dr_yi100004717

dr_yi100004717

dr_yi100004717

dr_yi100004717wrote a review of on July 15, 2017

Ridley Helium SL Review
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought this to replace my Cervelo R3 with a creaky BB. I find Ridley appeals to me (you know, tough no nonsense Belgian approach) and was looking for a sporty bike that handles well and is lively for short rides. I bought the retro paint scheme version b/c it just looks so classic.
I am 69 inches tall and generally ride a 53/54cm or Medium frame but Ridley's are sized on a smaller side so the Small frame fits perfectly. This is a fairly traditional looking frame with double diamonds and pretty traditional geometry except for a tall 66 BB height. I though that would make the bike fall over into turns too easily but that isn't the case. Although it's made for racing, the reach is not very long so you can get a fairly upright position as well which is nice.

Mine weighs 15.8 lbs with cages and pedals which is very light for me. The finish is matte and seems less prone to scratching as with glossy finishes. In terms of performance, the initial feeling is that of stiffness and solidity. This is a racing bike and it feels best when you are cruising in the drops or accelerating/climbing out of the saddle. The frame is very stiff, I'd say only the Giant TCR is stiffer feeling, and feels very efficient. I found with Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels, it would cause brake rub whenever I stood up to pedal. So I switched them to Novatec Jetfly's which seem to have taken care of the brake rub. So I'd recommend using a fairly stiff set of wheels since the frame doesn't seem to flex much if any at all.

Like the TCR, it has a very stable handling. You can let go of the bars and it tracks straight, bumps around turns don't seem to really upset the chassis or your line. The bike handling is neutral, no over or understeer and it leans in progressively (although your tire and wheel combo choice may make a difference) . Steering is not lighting quick, bordering on twitchy like the Cervelo R3, it's a touch more gradual but definitely not slow. Once it's set into a turn it corners like it's on rails giving you a secure sense as you descend. With its secure handling, you can get a false sense that you are going slow as there is no drama at higher speeds as with some more twitchy bikes.

As for comfort, the geometry is good, you are not leaned over like the Giant TCR with it's long reach, but the bike is too stiff. I am running Conti GP 4000 S II 25 mm tires (which tend to be wider than their stated size ) with about 80/90 psi front and rear and the Jetfly rims which are pretty wide for maximum comfort/bump absorption. There is a small amount of space between the fork/chainstays and the tires on my set up, so you may be able to fit narrow 28mm tires or fat 25mm tires. There is no transmitted vibration but the amount of impact harshness transmitted and the bike's personality of prodding you to ride fast in the drops and standing up to hammer wears me out after a couple of hours in the saddle. But I have more comfy bikes for longer or more relaxed rides. So if you thinking about doing gran fondos and centuries on this thing, this may not be a good choice, unless your route is free from road imperfections. If you are looking for a stiff, stable handling, and a lively bike for racing or for shorter spirited rides, this may be a good choice.

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