Review: Ridley Bikes Phaeton R

By CLIVE DE SOUSA

Belgium-based Ridley Bikes has introduced a do-it-all road bike for less than $2,500. The company’s Phaeton R, new for 2010, is suitable for road racing, training, time trial and triathlon.

How is this possible when road bikes have become so highly specialized? To start, the Phaeton R can be used as a TT bike because of its aerodynamic features. The company has borrowed design features from its Tour De France stage-winning Ridley Noah model, though trickled them down to the practical alloy frame of the Phaeton R bike.

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Ridley Bikes Phaeton R

The Phaeton R uses an Oval Concepts fork that draws turbulence away from the spokes — a feature usually found only on high-end TT bikes. It also has a special treatment to the paint that feels like sandpaper. The rough strips are placed in strategic areas to increase aerodynamics. Further, all cables are internally routed to lessen exposure to wind.

Are you a triathlon freak? Swapping the bike’s standard drop bars for flat aero bars — and putting on some aero wheels — can quickly convert the Phaeton R into a tri monster.

Indeed, you can have it all with the Ridley Phaton R. But here’s the caveat: You have to be prepared to turn a blind eye toward its weight. At about 18 pounds stock (frame weight is 1,565 grams), the alloy construction makes it a heavy bike by today’s standards.

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Phaeton R test bike used by Clive de Sousa

But in my tests, the weight was easy to forgive. The alloy frame rides a straight line and has a fantastically predictable nature to it. The 73-degree seat tube angle and 73.5-degree head tube angle on the medium size bike I tested was just enough to be responsive and comfortable. (The traditional Belgium race geometry is not sharp and skittish like many other bikes in this category, and the Phaeton R is more inclined toward control and predictability.)

The Phaeton R also distinguishes itself as a race bike. The beefy alloy bottom bracket and chain stays ensure all the energy applied to the pedals propels the bike forward. Rest assured you can hit the last corner in a tight pack and blast for the line with complete confidence. www.ridley-bikes.com

—A former pro bike racer, Clive de Sousa was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He now runs Glory Cycles, a bike shop and online store in Columbia, S.C.

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