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What we want.
It's hard to get much more pro than the Ridley Helium SL complete road bike, especially when we've taken the liberty of building it up with SRAM's Red eTap and Zipp's new 302 carbon hoops. Though the pros at Lotto Soudal ride Campy, this build is every bit equal to the needs of all-rounders like Gallopin and climbers like De Gendt—in fact, we'd be hardpressed to assemble a more race-worthy bike. Which was exactly the criteria behind why we built it the way we did. This is no manufacturers' slop with garbage wheels and an off-brand crankset. It's the product of us choosing what we want to ride and building a bike accordingly. Given the "what we want" clause, it's only fitting we started with a frame that we want to ride. Hence the Helium.
The name Helium calls to mind light, floaty things, which is no doubt what Ridley had in mind when selecting the naming convention. The Helium SL frame and fork are an astonishing 1,050 grams—that's around 170 grams lighter than most other big-name brands pro framesets and 200 grams lighter than the regular Helium. That low weight is the result of a strategic lay-up of unidirectional 60, 40, and 30-ton high-modulus carbon fiber, whereas the standard Helium only uses 30 ton. The SL also incorporates a nano resin to improve the compatibility of the resin and carbon, which decreases weight and increases durability.
The first time we built a Helium SL, we found ourselves questioning the strange seatstays and seatposts that have become all the rage in bicycle "innovation." The Helium's seatstays, which are simple, slightly flattened tubes, combine with the traditional 27.2 seatpost for a compliant ride by devouring road noise and bumps like Helium's halogen cousins gobble up other molecules' electrons. It's far more comfortable a ride than its drive stiffness and low weight suggest, adding additional depth to the "floaty" descriptor we used above.
We're also enamored with the Helium's thoughtful blend of internal and external cable routing. The brake cables, which undergo some contortions without getting down near the grime-collecting drivetrain to get where they're headed, are left out in the open for ease of installment and maintenance. The derailleur cables, which travel dangerously close to the drivetrain and are therefore more susceptible to collecting debris, are routed internally—but it's a straight shot. No tricky bends or silly, internal tube shapes that you have to guess at in order to get the cables through.
- A bike built for racing in the mountains and in the valleys
- High-modulus carbon boosts stiffness and sheds grams
- Geometry proven on the world stage by Lotto Soudal
- Rear triangle maintains efficiency without harshness
- Blend of internal and external routing for easy maintenance
- SRAM's wireless eTap is the cleanest drivetrain available
- The 42mm Zipps are ideal for virtually any racing scenario
- Item #RID006R
- Q & A
Light and Fast
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
This bike blew me away with the weight and build quality. The Sram eTap eliminates any cable routing issues with this frame (because routing cables through the bottom bracket on this is a pain) and makes it simple.
There's a good chance that you thought we made a mistake when we put this bike online. A grand tour level Ridley frame adorned with SRAM's earth-shattering Red eTap groupset, and plastered with Zipp logos.... for under $5k?
Yep. And that's not even the best part.
This bike is fast. Not fast for the money, but fast. Like, fast enough to singe the hair off your legs if they weren't already shaved. This steed was designed to carry the Belgian speed devils at Lotto-Soudal to glory at the top of Europe's most daunting mountain passes. In 2016, Thomas de Gendt rode a Helium to victory on Mount Ventoux in dominating fasion on stage 16 of the Tour. The long and the short of it is that you're not going to find a better bike for punishing your riding buddies on the climbs, and you're not going to have to refinance your mortgage to do it.
The real standout feature on this build is the eTap groupset. For those of you who have chosen to abstain from cycling-related media for the past couple of years, eTap is SRAM's bluetooth-connected answer to Shimano's long-standing Di2 electronic shifting system, and it is INCREDIBLE. The right shifter moves up the block, and the left moved down. Tapping them together controls the front derailleur. Now, as something of a traditionalist, I resisted this notion when I heard it for the first time, but after riding it, I can't get over how brilliant it is. It took me less than a quarter mile to become completely comfortable with the new shifting pattern. The buttons are nice and large, right around the size of a quarter, only square. Each push of the shifter comes with a nice, positive click, and the derailleurs react instantly. Performance benefits aside, you'll probably shift twice as much as you need to for no reason other than the fact that you feel like RoboCop. eTap gets a 10/10 in my book.
Now as for the wheels, yes, they are Zipp's, no, they are not THE Zipps. Zipp 303s run in the neighborhood of 2-3K, feature a dimpled, hyper-aerodynamic surface, and a roughly half a pound lighter for a set than the 302s that feature on this build. Half a pound, in my opinion is well worth it for roughly $1500 in savings. I loved the 302's. The did well in the crosswinds, never flexed noticeably, and braked better than any carbon wheel I can remember riding.
At the end of the day, this Helium is stellar. The fact that it's going for under 5k is just a bonus.
THIS IS THE CHAMPION, MY FRIENDS
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Best deal we have on a road bike right now. I've taken this bike out for a few rides now and am really impressed. Now, I had never actually ridden a Ridley before and have heard from co-workers and customers alike that have had great things to say.. but it was my chance now.
Okay, first off lets talk about the elephant in the room. YES this bike is under $5,000. YES this has Sram E-tap, YES this has Zipp carbon wheels. NO there isn't a typo.
Sizing: I am 5'11 and fit perfectly for most brands stock 56cm frame. On this bike I fit a 'M' frame. We actually do have a few Large frames as well. Please reach out if you do have specific sizing questions.
Looks: Well you can't be cruising around the neighborhood on something ugly now can you? Luckily this bike looks the part- nice almost classic look to it- no aerodynamic camm tail hyper fin robotic carbon dragon wings here. And gosh those Zipps to top it. Heck, I'd consider getting a poster made to go next to my collection consisting of Kelly Kapowski and Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Ride: What we're all waiting for: Good. Great. Grand. Wonderful. It rides like a high quality road bike should. Super light (Helium Superlight by name) the thing rockets up the mountain. Compact crank makes spinning up a breeze. I was actually quite impressed with the descent almost more so than going up. I knew it was going to fly going up with a name like helium super light. So bombing down Guardsmans Pass (though not as fast as the Tour of Utah guys) I was stoked to see how smooth, stiff, and planted it felt.
The new 302 wheels are 90% of the 303s with a lot of money saved. You still get the stiffness, and the aerodynamics, you just don't have the dimples or the firecrest shape of the rim.
The bike is an animal. An attractively priced animal. We can even swap components if desired. Give me a ring or email if you have any specific questions on my ride impressions, the components, why Sagan should still be in the tour, sizing, etc.
Scott Gartman - direct to my ears phone number- 801-204-4588 firstname.lastname@example.org
Actual Weight Confirmed
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
We just pulled one of these beauties into our demo fleet and are very impressed. This well-conceived build comes in at 16 lbs. without pedals. The Zipp 302 wheels look amazing and we are looking forward to getting this out for some test laps on our favorite road rides. Give us a call if you have any specific questions and we can assist in getting the right size.
You can reach out to me anytime :
801-736-6396 x 3596,
Or Sean W. on chat
I don't see a helium SL for 2017 on the Ridley website. There are SLX, is this the same thing? if not what are the differences?
hi Jose, the Helium SL was renamed to the SLX for 2017. It has the same carbon layup but the front end has a slightly different curvature at the tube junctions. Sorry for any confusion on that. contact me directly if you have any other questions on this bike or on customizations for it. email@example.com 801-204-4699.
I need a Large
Hey Felipe. I have a large available at the moment. I sent you over an email. Let me know what you think.