Ridley has developed a complete and comprehensive new women’s race and performance lineup that takes their popular Noah, Helium & Fenix bikes and reworks them as the Jane, Aura & Liz. Ridley was already known to offer their top bikes down to sizes that fit smaller women who raced, but now they won’t have to go the custom Dreambuilder route to get finishing kits to fit. The new women’s range offers the same premium level build kits as the men’s bikes, and get the same frontline tech improvements that are being developed at the same time on the men’s side…
Ridley’s new women’s bike range has been developed to appeal to how fast riding and experienced women set up their race bikes, and so they’ve pulled from top women athletes to fit and spec the bikes. Their interest isn’t really about getting more women onto bikes, but rather giving women a better option at the top end, where competitive athletes are looking for an aggressive fit and put a premium on performance.
The frame geometry of the bikes is the same as on their men’s bikes and gives a solid basis to dial in a proper fit. When looking closely at the differences from their elite men and women, Ridley found that saddle width, bar width, saddle offset, crank length and chaining spec were what these competitive athletes dialed in to get the most out of their performance on the bike. So that’s what they’ve decided to tune to be women-specific on their line of women’s bikes.
In general cranksets on the women’s bikes all stick with 50×34 compact gearing and 2.5mm shorter arms, which allows women to develop a higher output with less pedal force by capitalizing on the propensity Ridley discovered of women to spin at a higher cadence than men on average. The smaller gearing also benefits lighter riders, helping them climb more efficiently.
The women’s bikes get built with narrower handlebars, down to 36mm wide on the smallest frames, to better fit the narrower shoulders of smaller women. Continuing on cockpit geometry differences, the women’s bikes get built with slightly wider saddles to fit a wider sit bone distance, plus get women-specific padding shapes. Stems are also shortened 10mm vs. the comparable men’s bikes and seatposts are spec’d with zero offset to keep the rider’s balance centered on the bike, but again to support the ability to spin a gear at higher cadence.
Other than that the bikes stay with the performance race geometry developed on the standard competition range. Ridley already made some very small frames that had met the needs of women (down to a 40.5cm c-c seattube on the Helium/Aura).
Colors and graphics on the new Ridley women’s range do lean towards what they call a “feminine tone”. But for those women who aren’t interested in the high gloss pink of the new Jane SL Disc, there are plenty of more subtle (and non-pink) options throughout the range.
The aero road range gets named the Jane, and takes over the race winning tech from the Noah. It tops off with the <1000g Jane SL Disc which takes Ridley’s slippery sprint stage winning Noah SL and adds in flat-mount disc brakes for secure stopping and 12mm thru-axles for improved handling stiffness. The UCI approved bike (just waiting on that disc brake update) uses Ridley Fast-Tech with drop shaped seatstay, molded in channels in the downtube and seattube to improve laminar airflow over the frame and rear wheel, and the split fork design that is said to make the front wheel spin more freely out of the wind. The Jane SL Disc comes in high gloss pink (above) or this more understated matte black with purple and white details. The bike is available in the same Ultegra Di2 & Ultegra mechanical spec as the men’s version, plus even higher specs through Ridley’s Dreambuilder custom bike building tool. It is available in 5 sizes from XXS-L.
Next in line is the Jane SL, a direct analogue to the Noah SL, and sharing the same 980g frame with its premium 60/40/30T carbon mix. It gets the same aero tubing shaping tech and fork as the disc brake bike, with the substitution of dual-pivot, center-mount rim brakes. The SL is available in the same 5 sizes, in an Ultegra Di2, Ultegra mechanical & a Campy Potenza build options. Color wise it comes in the gloss mint green at the top of the page, as well as the same pink and black versions as the disc bike.
The standard Jane shares the tubing shapes of the SL, but with a lower grade 30/24T carbon layup and a simple straight blade fork. It is available in this white/purple paintjob, as well as the gray/green one in the road shot above. It gets the same Jane series geometry, and either Potenza or one of a couple of Ultegra builds.
Somewhat secreted away in the back of Ridley’s booth was an all-new bike for 2017 that made its way into the new lineup. The Aura SLX is a new frame that gets some updated tubing shapes versus the current generation Helium SL. Together with a new carbon fiber layup using a mix of 60/40/30T carbon fibers, the new frame keeps the same 750g weight of its predecessor (size M), but is said to improve lateral stiffness by 15%. It also gets and all new straight blade fork with the same mix of fibers that does trim about 50g off, bringing total frameset weight down in the process, and said to deliver a lighter improved road feel to better match the light frame. The Aura SLX will come in this black/purple finish, plus a bright magenta/purple version with Ultegra Di2 & mechanical builds, plus a Dreambuilder option when it is available in February 2017, in a 6 size range from XXS-XL.
The more affordable Aura X will get the same updated shaping of the frame and fork as the SLX, but in a 30/24T carbon mix that will bring the frame in still under 900g. Available from March 2017, it will come in white or purple paint schemes with mechanical Ultegra in the same 6 sizes.
The most affordable of the climbing bikes is the women’s version of the alloy Helium SLA that we saw earlier this summer. Under 1100g for the 600 series aluminum frame it should be hard to beat on value. The women’s Aura SLA will come in the same sizes as the rest of the range and get Ultegra and 105 builds in either a black or white paint job.
On the endurance side for women Ridley has four bikes in the Liz family based on the popular men’s Fenix. Like on the light climbers bikes, women will be some of the first ones in on the new disc brake endurance bike care of the Liz SL Disc. An all new bike, it takes the lighter tubing and carbon and build more comfort in, while also upgrading the brake setup.
The Liz SL Disc gets cleanly integrated flat mount discs (which have the side benefit of bringing 140mm rotor compatibility) and new 12mm thru-axles with improved lateral stiffness. The bike also gets a new dropped seatstay design for more built-in flex, in addition to the already tiny stays. The new bike also boosts tire clearance for up to 30mm tires for even more float and grip. The bike will come in black, dark blue, and white finishes in a wide 6 size range from XXS-XL.
The Liz SL is an analogue to the <900g Fenix SL and will offer all-day comfort in the same sizes and paint jobs as the new disc brake version.
The Liz Carbon is a less tech-focused endurance frame that still aims to absorb some of the road buzz. Like its Fenix C Carbon brother, it has a frame weight of around 1100g and offers entry-level carbon performance for hitting the pavé.
A triple-butted aluminum version call the Liz Alloy should bring the cost of entry down even further, while still offering a bit of respite from long days in the saddle. Both of these, more entry-level Liz bikes come in an abbreviated 4 size range from XXS-M.