Ridley Crossbow 1116A 105 2012 Review

When it comes to building a cyclocross bike the Belgian company Ridley know a thing or two. Since 2002 no less than 5 cyclocross world champions have ridden to glory on a Ridley bike. The Crossbow is the company’s latest effort and the performance and ride highlight just why Ridley have been so successful.

The Crossbow really starts to shine when it comes to handling. The bike felt incredibly stable on both uphills and downhills and we felt completely happy flying down a rough track at high speeds and really letting go. The only disappointment with the handling comes with the Vittoria XG Pro tyres. While they offer good performance on rough roads and tracks they don’t have enough grip to work confidently on more muddy trails. The Crossbow is also not very comfortable to use solely as a road bike so if you were hoping to use it as a winter trainer it may be better to look elsewhere. One tip that does drastically improve the road performance of the bike is to let a little air out of the tyres. We had the tyres pumped up to 80 psi on our test ride and found the road ride very unforgiving but when we reduced the pressure to 60 psi the comfort increased drastically. Another tip to improve the road performance would be to replace the large diameter seatpost with a carbon post that has a little more flex.

The Crossbow is clearly not a road bike though so we may be doing it a disservice by criticising its road credentials. Ridley make this fairly clear by making sure there is good mud clearance under the fork crown, behind the bottom bracket and under the seatstay bridge. The top tube on the Crossbow is also flattened to make it easier to throw over the shoulder on those cross race rides.

We were very impressed with the 4ZA forged alloy cantis brakes and the carbon-legged Zornyc fork on the Crossbow. Cyclocross brakes can often suffer from juddering and squealing, especially on the front. While the Crossbow did suffer from the odd squeal from the brakes after a few rides it remained judder free and provided quick and reliable breaking in all conditions.

Because cyclocross races are often held across mostly flat trails the bikes often suffer from a lack of versatility in their gearing. Unfortunately this is also true with the Crossbow. The 38/46 standard chainring and 12-25 cassette means there are plenty of gear ratios in the middle but not enough at the top or the bottom to comfortably tackle big ascents and descents. If you’re going to use the Crossbow just for cyclocross events then this is not a negative issue but it is worth considering if you are wanting to purchase it as an all-round bike.

Ridley have produced an excellent bike with the Crossbow though and it really doesn’t have to be used exclusively for cyclocross events. The frame offers a very comfy ride, making the Crossbow a good choice as a winter trainer or a fast tourer. The fact Ridley have also included fixing points for racks and guards means the Crossbow would also make a good commuter or even shopper bike.

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