Ridley's brand pedigree lies in cyclocross. A Belgian brand creating bikes for a sport where the obsession has no equal must produce a frame that is competition-worthy and the brand's flagship 'cross model, the X-Night SL Disc Cyclocross Frameset is shaped by traditions at the heart of European cyclocross and some modern features too. If you're after a gravel bike, then the X-Trail has the geometry and demeanor you're looking for. The X-Night SL, on the other hand, is pretty much as Euro' 'cross as it gets.
Still on the fence between the X-Trail, a gravel adventure sled, and the X-Night SL the cross thoroughbred? Let's break it down. The X-Night is much more compact with a slightly steeper head tube and a drastically shorter wheelbase. It's also got a higher bottom bracket, which aids in preventing touchdown of your pedals on snot-slick off-cambers and allows you to get right back on the gas after braking ever so slightly to initiate a turn. The frame's generous main triangle, with provisions for only one water bottle cage, provides plenty of room to comfortably shoulder the bike on steep run-ups or relentless stretches of sand. The classic European cyclocross geometry gives the X-Night SL a fast, aggressive feel and it still has plenty of room for mud. This adapts it for tackling everything from sticky Northeast mud to dry West Coast dirt.
As with the previous generation, Ridley builds the X-Knight SL from a mix of 30T and 24T high modulus carbon fiber but the frame went on a diet and now comes in at an unheard-of 850g. This is similar to the blend found in the cobble-stone conquering Fenix frameset ridden in Roubaix and Flanders, so it sops up fatiguing vibrations and tenaciously transfers every watt into forward motion for a fast yet cushy ride worthy of even the harshest race conditions. Its internal cable routing makes for a clean, streamlined look, with the added bonus of eliminating pesky cable pinches when shouldering your bike up a steep wall of limestone stairs.
At the front, Ridley officially bestows its Belgian benediction on disc brakes with the 12mm thru-axle version of its Oryx Disc carbon fiber fork. The Oryx Disc is built with a barely noticeable asymmetry that counters the extra torsional forces applied to the left fork leg when scrubbing speed. The dropouts now anchor the axle in place and a scuff plate on the inside of the left fork leg fends off errant disc during frantic mid-race wheel changes to keep the fork free of unwanted wear. The flat-mount design allows it to fit 140 or 160mm rotors.
The frame gets flat-mount treatment as well, allowing for the same size rotors and thru-axles, which have become the standard for new 'cross rigs, also makes the way over. The benefits to this are improved stiffness in the rear of the bike keeping the rotor from grazing the pads, and propelling you forward with each pedal stroke.
If you live for cross, the X-Night SL is the frame you'll want since it has its sights set on the same intentions. And even if the line from point A to B is a crisscrossing ribbon of course tape designed to make you take the hardest route with some barriers thrown in for good measure, this Ridley has the World Championship DNA to help you get though 60 minutes of pain the quickest.
- A classically European cyclocross race bikeT
- Traditional 'cross geometry for agility in tight quarters
- High-modulus carbon fiber construction
- Disc-brake stopping power and thru-axle security
- Generous main triangle for comfortable shouldering during run-ups
- Ridley epitomizes the Flemish obsession with cyclocross