Fenix SL 105 Complete Road Bike
As road bikes continue to splinter off into more and more specialized segments of drop bar bikes, it's refreshing when we come across a do-it-all machine like the Fenix SL 105 Complete Road Bike. The Fenix SL might be a few grams too heavy to be a pure climbing bike, and it might not be slippery enough to turn the head of a sprinter or criterium monster, but where it does excel is in its ability to do remarkably well over such a wide variety of terrain. Let's not forget that this is the bike that's often the choice over the lighter weight Helium and more aero Noah when Team Lotto Soudal campaigns the classics where the pros face cobbles, wall-like bergs and cols, and conditions that definitely favor a durable ride. Built up with Shimano's affordable, workhorse 105 componentry, this bike is ready for the Tuesday World Championship, day-long gran fondos, or just getting out after work for a quick spin.
The Fenix SL is Worldtour proven and is built from a sturdy blend of 30t and 24t high-modulus carbon fiber. Compared to the previous Fenix, Ridley claims this version of the Fenix SL is 15% lighter and 18% stiffer, and any number of First Ride impression articles from across the industry assures us that these gains don't come at the cost of cobblestone-worthy comfort. It's a rare mix of long-mile comfort and criterium-worthy stiffness in a package that doesn't entail an undue weight penalty on the climbs.
The Fenix SL maintains that plush ride in a lighter, stiffer package than the previous Fenix thanks to a few design updates. These include narrower, flat-section seat stays that absorb power-sucking road noise while maintaining lateral stiffness. The stays feed into a seatpost that's reduced from the previous model's 31.6mm to a more vertically compliant 27.2mm. The flat, curved top tube is another significant redesign, serving as a leaf spring of sorts that works in conjunction with the seatstays and slimmed-down seatpost. The net result is a system-wide increase in vibration damping and compliance for a more forgiving ride across everything from rural North American chip seal to the stones of Belgium.
The top tube and down tube feature a unique multi-hexagonal shape, which is undoubtedly partially responsible for the claimed increases in drive spine rigidity. At the front, Ridley uses a tapered head tube that's considerably shorter than the notably tall head tube of the previous Fenix. This makes for increased stiffness while torqueing on the bars and exceptional handling and cornering capabilities while sweeping through descents or diving through the final turn before a finish sprint.
For an extra dose of stiffness, Ridley opts for a beefy PressFit BB86 shell instead of the PF30 model featured in the previous Fenix. The wider bottom bracket shell anchors the oversized drive spine, solidly transferring power to the drivetrain while reducing watt-sucking lateral movement. While this frame isn't billed as specifically aerodynamic, it does boast an integrated fork crown for a smooth transition between the head tube and fork that at least offers the appearance of aerodynamics. You'll enjoy some drag-reduction benefits over frames without the integrated fork crown, and it just plain looks cleaner.
- A do-it-all endurance bike for road and race bike
- Geometry melds long-mile comfort and agile handling
- Lightweight carbon fiber construction is efficient and responsive
- Over-sized bottom bracket shell transfers power without lag
- Shimano's 105 groupset packs value and long-term durability
- Compatible with mechanical and electronic drivetrains for upgrades down the road