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Unless you're a fixture on 'cross podiums every weekend in the fall, it's time to ask yourself if you really need a traditional Euro 'cross frame. A new class of bikes has been quietly emerging from the dust kicked up by adventure cycling's explosion in popularity, and they're worth your careful consideration. Better suited to weekend-long wanders through gravel, singletrack, and chip-sealed tarmac than ultra-aggressive 'cross courses, models like the 2016 Ridley X-Trail Force 1 Complete Bike promise versatility and comfort, a characteristic often overlooked by their high-strung racing counterparts.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that a focus on comfort leads to a sacrifice in snappy, responsive handling in the case of the X-Trail. Rather than being weighed down by aching shoulders, you'll be able to rail around switchbacks and throw power into the pedals leading into a climb on the X-Trail, with the carbon fiber frame reacting swiftly and effectively as you ride. A carbon construction also works to smooth road vibrations for a compliant, rather than harsh, ride, while an asymmetrical fork manages up front stiffness during winding descents.
Going out on weekend-long bikepacking tours with the X-Trail will truly let its more upright geometry and less aggressive stack and reach shine, as it orients you in a far more natural body position that shows its value during full days spent in the saddle. Ridley also blessed the X-Trail with clearance for up to 40mm wide tires, granting you access to a whole new playground of off-road terrain on some days, smooth tarmac on others. Further, you'll be shifting with the precision of SRAM's Force 1 HRD drivetrain and disc brakes, which blend the clarity of a one-by drivetrain with the confidence-inspiring functionality of hydraulic disc brakes for an impressively well-rounded ride.
- An all-terrain adventure bike with an aggressive disposition
- Long, stable geometry keeps its footing on gravel and washboard
- High-modulus carbon fiber frame is efficient and lightweight
- SRAM one-by shifting devours abuse
- DT Swiss wheels with 38mm tires punch back at rough surfaces
- Disc brakes keep stopping on point in inclement conditions
- Expands Ridley's X series beyond the limits of cyclocross
- Item #RID004K
- Q & A
If I could only have one bike...
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Sacrilege I know but this bike is pretty fast on the road while being capable on the trails. I ordered the Large, slammed the stem and it feels perfect for my 6'2" frame with 34 inseam.
The listed specs are incorrect, the chainring is a 44t and the cassette is an 11-36.
To make this work for me I swapped the cassette for a Shimano XT 11-42 11 speed and new sram red chain (needed more links), it shifts great and ended up only gained 11 grams.
Swapped the tires/tubes for some WTB Riddler 37c tubeless/Stan's 44mm valve stems, tape and latex.
Then I did something stupid, after only a 5 mile test ride, I took it to Old Caz, part of the Grasshopper Adventure Series in Santa Rosa, and did 54 miles/5k ft through mud and potholes etc. and it was a blast. What is notable about this ride is that there is a considerable amount of flat road in between the climbs, so the climbs are steeper than the overall elevation would normally account for. My swap of the cassette was perfect with just enough granny to never put a foot down. Given the number of flat tires I saw people fixing, the tubeless setup was the right choice as well.
I considered doing a dropper post but after riding it, I never once thought there was a time I wanted one (even though I use one on my MTB) so it's just not worth the weight/cost/complexity.
Last words: I would recommend it to a friend.
If you are curious, here is my Old Caz
Ticks all the boxes
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Great all-around road bike. As far as "adventure" bikes go, the X-Trail definitely skews more towards the "road" side of things as opposed to "gravel". The lower-than-usual bottom bracket, paired with bigger tires, will put your CG in a similar position as your road bike, which I really enjoy as far as handling goes.
I've put it through all day dirt road epics, some single track and fast road group rides. Added the integrated fenders for surviving PNW winters, which are really sleek and complement the bike well. Due to the X-Trail's versatility and fun, I probably won't touch my race bike again until the spring.
I'm 5'10" and went with a size S to keep the reach around 38cm and a relatively low stack to be slightly more upright than my road bikes with similar reach. In a size S (I'd say similar to a 54cm endurance road bike), it's definitely more of a road geometry compared to the trendier shorter and taller "gravel" geometry in a similar size.
I swapped out the stock parts for a slightly different spec, geared more towards road riding. Ben @ CC was super helpful, so don't hesitate to contact him.
I just wanted to put up a sizing chart for the Ridley. If you have any question on fit for this feel free to contact me.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I bought this bike back in the summer to replace my X-Night for long gravel rides. I wanted something that would be a bit more comfortable after 100 miles or so but the X-Trail is WAY more comfortable. I've done several centuries on it already, and it's absolutely incredible how much better I feel at the end of those rides. Instead of staring at the Garmin and desperately hoping that 100 mile point will hit soon, I now find myself pedaling with just as much power as I started out with and figuring out if I have enough time to take the longer route home.
Simply put, the bike is smooth and comfortable yet responsive and lively. I have no idea how they pulled it off but I've now owned 6 different Ridley bikes and they have all been absolutely spectacular for what they are designed to do.
One suggestion for the Force-1 drivetrain: Replace the "build" cassette with the NX PG-1130 11-42t cassette. It looks like a dinner plate back there and it's pretty heavy but I honestly have never noticed the weight at all. What I do notice is that it gives me a much lower gear range than even what I had before on the X-Night with a 34 tooth front ring and 28 tooth cassette in back. The high end is not quite as high but you rarely need that part of the range anyway. At least I can say I don't miss it. I think if you need the higher end there's an option to do a 10-tooth with some sort of adapter as well.
Seriously, this bike has made me say "wow" so many times already. I can't recommend the combination of Ridley and Competitive Cyclist highly enough.
Put some fun between your legs
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
The X-Trail bikes have to be some of he funnest bikes on the market. Beyond just a great gravel grinder, the X-Trail opens up huge opportunities for adventure. Road, gravel, singletrack, this bike is a kick in the pants. Hit me up directly if you would like to know more. 801-204-4557 email@example.com
Are you going to do another run of these 'pure line' X-trail bikes for 2017? They are a great concept at a very good price. I just haven't had the cash to pull the finger and obviously you're now running out of various sizes.
Is the cassette a standard 11 speed or SRAM XD drive? It's nearly a perfect bike but the 10-42 or new Eagle 1x12 would open things up. Any idea how much tire clearance is available? 40mm looks possible but I have a set of 50's on a Vaya that would look sharp on a notably lighter Ridley.
Hi Janeece! This drivetrain is 1x11 Force, with 11/30 in the back. We can special order and XD driver for this wheelset however. But this bike is spec'ed as is from the factory. I wouldn't be able to credit what we remove. You would still receive those parts however. Give me a shout directly and we can go over the details. 801-204-4557 firstname.lastname@example.org
It can take up to a 38 in the back.