The Ridley Fenix is our premier ‘all around’ bike. It offers a perfect balance between true race performance, proven strength and durability and all day ride comfort. Make no mistake. This is not a lounge chair. Just ask Lotto Soudal who actively campaigned the frame in the WorldTour spring classics in 2015. André Greipel, sprinting ace, was surprised by the combination of stiffness that transferred his power into forward motion, and shock absorption, which helped him stay seated on the roughest cobbled road sections.
In an industry of niches and ever narrower specialization, it's refreshing to see a bike that can handle it all. All at once channeling a lightweight climber, long endurance mile workhorse, and a super stiff racer, the 2017 Ridley Fenix SL Ultegra Complete Road Bike is a one-bike quiver to cover all your road-riding needs. While it's not the bike's defining feature (that would be the Flanders-tested geometry and carbon construction), the Ultegra 6800 drivetrain is certainly no detriment. Ultegra is a favorite around the Competitive office because, except for a few grams of added weight, it's functionally equal to pretty much any drivetrain we've ridden. And we've ridden a few. Ridley doesn't skimp on the build kit, either, finishing it with an Ultegra crankset where most manufacturers opt for a cheaper third party option.
The Fenix SL carries over Ridley's 2016 updates to this venerable frame, and is built from the same 30t and 24t high-modulus carbon fiber as its pre-2016 predecessor. 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 assure us that these gains don't come at the cost of cobblestone-worthy comfort. It's a rare mix of a more upright, stable geometry for long-mile comfort, a high-modulus carbon lay-up for sprint-worthy stiffness, and an overall lightweight package that can soar—or at least not hold you back—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 to disperse bumps. The net result is a system-wide increase in vibration damping and compliance for a more forgiving ride across everything from rural chip seal to the stones of Belgium where the Fenix was born.
The top tube and down tube feature a unique, multi-hexagonal shape, which is undoubtedly partially responsible for the claimed increases in torsional rigidity. At the front, Ridley utilizes 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 bottom bracket wag. 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.
Ridley caps off the 2017 Fenix SL with internal cable routing that's compatible with both mechanical and electronic shifting systems for future-proof compatibility, clean lines, and a bit of extra aerodynamic advantage.
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