X-Night SL Disc Cyclocross Frameset
When we think of the mud-splattered fields of European cyclocross racing, one brand comes to mind before anyone else: Ridley. Maybe it's the brand's history that's rooted deep in the discipline, or maybe its just the Belgian home-court advantage, but the brand continues to prove its worth in the sand pits, hurdles, and grassy knolls with its flagship X-Night SL Disc Cyclocross Frameset. Proven time and again, the X-Night offers progressive, European geometry that blends in with just the right amount of modern technology for vibration damping on jarring hillsides, and lightweight construction for tossing over a shoulder and running full-speed ahead. The X-Night is fine-tuned for your gritty adventures off of the tarmac, and while you could take it on a quick gravel quip, we think it's better suited for navigating muddy fields, littered with obstacles, and zig-zagging ribbons of tape creating a hectic maze to the finish line.
If you're still on the fence between the X-Trail, its gravel adventure sled, and the X-Night SL, its cross thoroughbred, we'll break it down. The X-Night is much more compact with a slightly steeper head tube angle and a drastically shorter wheelbase. It also has a taller 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 scrubbing some speed. The frame's generous main triangle only has provisions for one water bottle cage and its goal is to provide 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 with plenty of room for mud. This makes it adept from everything from sticky Northeast mud to dry, West Coast dirt. If you recognize the names Vos, Pauwels, De Clercq, Vervecken, or Wellens you're looking at the right bike.
As with the previous generation, Ridley builds the X-Night 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 carbon blend found in the cobble-stone conquering Fenix frameset ridden in Roubaix and Flanders, so it sops up fatiguing vibrations while efficiently transferring every watt into forward motion for a fast, yet cushy ride worthy of the harshest race conditions. Its internal cable routing makes for a clean look, with the added bonus of eliminating the housing from snagging anything or anybody while out on the course or getting in your way while shouldering your bike up a steep wall of limestone stairs.
On 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 disc design allows it to fit 140 or 160mm rotors.
The rear of the frame gets flat-mount treatment as well, allowing for the same size rotors and thru-axles, which have become the standard for all new drop bar disc rigs. Its benefits include improved stiffness while pouring on the power as well as keeping the rotor from grazing the pads and proper wheel alignment each and every time you install a wheel.
If you look forward to 'cross every fall and your IG account is littered with more crossiscoming hashtags than empty beer cups on the ground at a Superprestige race, the X-Night SL is the frame you'll want as it has its sights set on the same intentions. And if your idea of the ideal course includes off-cambers, sand, and some barriers thrown in for good measure, this Ridley has the World Championship DNA to help you get though 60 minutes of pain and let you race your strength.
- Ridley's proven European CX steed comes back for another winning year
- Nimble geometry offers agility in tight quarters
- High-modulus carbon fiber construction is light and stiff
- Disc-brake stopping power and thru-axle security
- Generous main triangle for comfortable shouldering during run-ups
- Tapered headtube and PF30 BB further anchor down your power
- Ridley epitomizes the Flemish obsession with cyclocross