Ridley has long been known as building durable, no-nonsense bikes across all disciplines. Their mantra #BeTough is for real and their bikes reflect that as riders push their limits aboard their Belgian steeds. Ridley is also all about incremental improvements and that’s what we get with the new Fenix SLX Disc for 2018.
2018 Ridley Fenix SLX Disc Features:
- Built with 60-50-40T high-modulus unidirectional carbon fiber
- All-rounder geometry
- Utilizes Ridley’s classic diamond-shaped down and top tubes
- Clearance for 30mm tires
- Flat mount disc brake compatible up to 160mm rotors
- 27.2mm seatpost
- 12mm thru-axles front/rear
- Campagnolo Potenza 11 disc groupset (as tested), other groupsets available
- Deda Superzero alloy cockpit
- Forza R45-19C carbon clinchers (as tested), available as an upgrade
- Claimed 840g Medium frame weight
- Weight: 16.8 lbs (Medium, actual)
- MSRP: €4299 (Potenza kit with Zonda Disc wheels) — USD pending
Fenix SLX checks all the boxes
With the Fenix SL Disc, Ridley took one of their most renowned frames and adapted it for discs. After only a year on the market, Ridley has put the SL on a diet and dropped the new Fenix SLX Disc. There are lighter disc-brake frames, but Ridley claims this one is the lightest disc-brake all-rounder on the market at a lightweight 840 grams for a medium frame. Weight is not everything, so Ridley has also optimized this bike for proper power transfer and handling under the most demanding conditions.
I first saw the new SLX in person while at DealerCamp in Park City and was given a first-hand rundown of this new bike. On the stand, it checks off all the boxes for a modern disc-brake road bike with flat mount brakes, thru-axles and clearance for 30mm tires.
The geometry is well-suited for road racing and everyday riders alike as I’ve been able to get into the proper position aboard the Medium without excessive spacers while still using the setback seatpost. Most riders should experience a similar fit with the ability to get comfortable in a jiffy.
With the new Campagnolo Potenza 11 Disc groupset, Deda cockpit and the new Forza R45-19C wheels, this package comes in at a respectable 16.8 lbs complete. Certainly, getting this bike into 15 lb territory would be possible but would cost you a king’s ransom. The Forza carbon wheels drop weight, improve aerodynamics and certainly add responsiveness above the Campagnolo Zonda Disc wheels that are included off-the-shelf. As tested, this bike’s price is TBA, but expect $6499 USD for the Fenix SLX with Potenza 11 and Zonda wheels.
All-around fun aboard the SLX
As with every test bike, the menu here is always climbing, climbing and more climbing. But, the flip side of that is always descending. With Ridley’s claims that the Fenix SLX is a true all-rounder, it’s got to have good climbing chops in my book. With that in mind, the SLX was my compadre on several mountain ascents in American Fork Canyon — with one totaling 3000 ft. over a solid hour of climbing.
Some “endurance” bikes will feel wonky on steep, standing climbs. The Fenix SLX has nothing of the sort and you’ll also appreciate that all cables are tidied up quite well with zero pedaling interference on even the steepest of standing climbs. Stomp on this bike and it responds like a champ. No, it’s not an ultralight climber, but it feels very efficient on long climbs. Like any disc bike, you do have an extra weight penalty, but much of that is due to the Potenza groupset and alloy cockpit.
Certainly, I’d call the Fenix SLX a capable climber, but when it comes to descending, this thing has a one-track mind — absolute fun. On rolling terrain, this bike is great too as it responds quite well to rider input, but on alpine descents, the SLX simply shines. I feel as if it anticipates my body input and simply responds. It’s easy to point this bike into a corner and it just holds its line. Snaking back-and-forth at medium and high speeds is a serious gas.
The total package here is very nice — specifically the new Forza R45-19C wheelset. Those wheels feel fast and respond well when pushed. Beyond that, the shape of them feels impervious to crosswinds — something that’s hard to achieve on a 45mm deep rim. I’m still getting used to Campagnolo’s shifting pattern, but it grew on me and I came to like the thumb shifters (particularly in the drops). I love the Vittoria Corsa G+ tires and found them to be grippy, fast and extremely comfortable.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover a bit on the compliance of the Fenix SLX Disc. I’ll be quite honest here — it’s not the smoothest-ride on the market. Certainly, the Domane SLR Disc bests it and so does the BMC Roadmachine 01. That said, it is a comfortable bike overall — just not the most comfortable in the category.
Luckily, it can accept 30mm tires so you can drop some meaty tires and drop the pressure to add an extra dose of comfort should you choose. As it was, I never felt beat up, but I did notice road chatter and square-edged bumps a little more on this bike. I’d recommend a set of carbon bars for starters to soften the ride up just a touch. That would be a low-cost solution to improving ride quality.
Campagnolo is making a serious effort to gain traction in the OEM market and Ridley is excited to have the new Potenza 11 Disc kit as a standard option. It’s a good groupset, with shifting that’s on par with expectations and a shifting pattern that, for me, isn’t second-nature. I will say that where Potenza shines is in the shape and feel of the lever blades. Braking is absolutely superb with the best-feeling brake levers on the market.
- Handling is absolutely superb
- Efficient and fun on climbs of all sorts
- Not your typical endurance machine (in a good way)
- Can get low and aero on it or more upright
- Lightweight frame helps assuage the disc brake weight penalty
- Upgraded wheels are fast and seemingly-impervious to crosswinds
- Devours alpine descents
- Muted color scheme is a huge improvement from typical Ridley designs
- If you’re in search of endurance-level comfort, you may want to look elsewhere
- Stock package is still quite expensive
- Deda Superzero bars make for a stiff front-end
The Bottom Line: Ridley Fenix SLX Disc
It should come as no surprise that the Fenix SLX Disc delivers responsive handling and efficient climbing. The Fenix has long been known as a race-capable all-rounder and after going on a diet and adding disc brakes, the SLX is an absolute joy to ride. Yeah, it does yield a bit of compliance to some of the competition, but much of that can be remedied with a little wider tires with lower pressures and carbon bars. Count me in as a believer here — the Fenix SLX really is a great bike.
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It didn't take long to settle into this bike. The overall stiffness can be felt in how well it handles as the Fenix SLX simply loves to be pushed hard on winding mountain descents. And, it's no slouch getting to the top either. The Campagnolo Potenza groupset is pleasant but I'd opt for Shimano or SRAM if I had my druthers and the new Forza R45-19C wheelset is going to be a worthy upgrade for this capable all-rounder.