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08/08/2018 16:56:15

Words by Arragons

2nd August 2018. Ridley Factory Visit, Belgium.

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The first day started with the short transfer from our hotel in Hasselt (Hassotel) to the “Belgian cycling factory” in Beringen. The home of Ridley bikes, Forza components and Eddy Merckx.

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Upon our arrival we were welcomed and introduced to the company by Rik Vanhoof. There was then a short presentation on the history of the company.

Company history

In 1997 Ridley was founded by Jochim Aerts. As a child he grew up in Flanders Beglium, where cycling is a huge part of the culture. From the age of 4, Jochim went to races to watch his older brother who was competing at a high youth level. This gave him aspirations to become the next Eddy Mercx, he then started racing at the age of 14. When Jochim was 19, he realised that making a name for himself in cycling would have to take a different path.

Continuing his passion for the bike, Jochim started working for Belgium-based Bio Racer. He started off as bike painter before moving onto welding. After mastering the trade of bike building. He made the bold decision to go off on his own to build his ideal bikes. By this point he was already making frames in his fathers garage. His goal was to create custom bikes that perfectly fit each individual’s riding style and goals, as well reflect their unique personality. This idea still stands with the Beglian cycling factory today.

In 1990, Aerts founded his first bicycle company called NV Race Productions. They made custom bikes for local Belgian bike shops. Seven years later, in 1997, Jochim took the final step towards realising his dream by founding Ridley Bikes. He named it after his favourite English film director Ridley Scott.

Fast-forwarding to the modern day, Ridley has now expanded into a global brand. Offering premium road, cyclocross and electric bikes with fully customisable paint schemes and component options. Also owning Forza components and recently purchasing the brand Eddy Mercx, with the aim to make Mercx great again.

Ridley Noah Fast

The presentation was by head designer Toon Wils, following information summary as follows.

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Aerodynamics

The new Ridley Noah Fast, is the flagship aero model and every feature has been re-designed. The company’s own wind tunnel, is next located door to the bike factory. Where extensive development and aerodynamic testing is continually carried out. It became apparent that head designer Toon, is passionate about aerodynamics. Relentless in development, as soon as a product is finished he’s rethinking ways to reduce drag.

This all means there is no rival in cutting through wind thanks to component integrations of the fork, handlebar, seat post clamp, thru axles and cables, next to F-Surface Plus, F-Wings and spacer profile updates.

Rildey F-surface airflow explained in diagram below. It is the application of a textured surface (similar to grooves in a golf ball) in strategic locations for decreased wind drag. What these grooves do is create a tiny turbulence, which causes the main flow of air to better follow the shape of the tube. With a smooth air travel around the frame, you’ll expertly cut through wind. The stronger the wind, the more you will feel this technology working for you.

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F wings reduce turbulence created from the hub, creating again smoother airflow.

Weight

Re-design of the fork, seat post and handlebar the bike's total weight is about 250 grams lighter than its predecessor. The rim brake version is able to stay below 7 kg, without the need of exotic lightweight components. This is feather light for a Aero type bike.

The disc model adds about 500g because of the heavier groupset, brakes & wheels.

Performance

The stiffness of the bottom bracket & head tube is further increased to its predecessor. At the same time the lowered seat stays create vertical compliance to enhance comfort

Ridley customizer and dream builder

The customizer and dream builder reflects Jochim’s goal of creating custom bikes that perfectly fit each individual’s riding style and goals, as well reflect their unique personality. You can choose from 5 designs 42 signature colours on the frame. Have a go yourself https://www.ridley-bikes.com/project/helium-x-ultegra-race/

Ridley X-trail A Fauza

All new e bike, based on the most flexible bike in the Ridley range. Available with drop bars and road gearing or flat bars. At around 14kg this E-bike felt super light. The Fauz system felt like no other e bike I’ve ridden before, smooth and without any harsh acceleration and cut-out.

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Factory tour

The factory tour revealed a vast quantity of parts stored capable of building any specification of bike. Approximately 30,000 frames are in stock waiting to be hand painted. This is a process that can take up to 2 days for a full custom paint job. After painting the frame is then sent to assembly. This is carried out by trained mechanics.

What was also explained that Ridley give less privileged people the chance in life. They may start by doing a simple job such as fitting a tyre or packing a box. However once they are ready then they can progress. One of the mechanics happens to be deaf has gone through this process. He is now one of the fastest mechanics building a Fenix SL in under 35 minutes!

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Wind tunnel

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Company Ride

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We embarked on what was to be a 53km road ride, in 32-degree heat with Pavé! I was aboard the all rounder Fenix SL Disc.

Post ride a nice meal was had at “The Century” before some more Belgian beer at Sky Bar Hasselt.

Friday morning we talked prices before been taken to the train station. Arragon’s cycles, Wallis cycles and Paul Milnes cycles made their way to Brussels for a few more Beers and finally back to Charleroi airport.

Massive thank you to Ridley for the factor tour and hospitality!

Chris.