The Ridley Orion Ultegra Complete Bike is an exercise in pleasant surprises. Firstly, the price. It's a full-carbon fiber frame that borrows technical pedigree and geometry from Ridley's pro-level bikes, and is fitted with a race-ready gruppo for under $3000. Secondly, the Orion offers a phenomenally versatile platform on which you can competitively train, ride recreationally, and race, while still allowing room to grow and upgrade as you progress through your local ranks. It's Ridley's full-fledged value option, and worth more than a second glance if you're looking to get the most from your money. The Orion has an oversized, semi-round/semi-square downtube with a reinforced bottom bracket to maximize stiffness and power transfer. It's reminiscent in our minds of the 'Squoval' tubing on the Cervelo R3 ? its rounded boxy shape is difficult to explain in words, but is directly correlated to its resistance to torsional and lateral flex. It's no different from the Helium, Noah, Damocles, and Excalibur. The Orion is a pure race bike, and it's at home in any conditions ? flat or hilly, smooth roads or jarring. And not unlike the Excalibur, Ridley built the Orion with mono seat stays to deliver the sort of compliant ride that's nice on shorter rides, and absolutely necessary when you're out for upwards of four hours. You can rest assured that its stiffness under power doesn't make it a jackhammer on chip seal roads.Also like other Ridley frames raced in the pro tour, the Orion is built as a monocoque. This one-piece construction method allows greater quality control and a lighter final structure. It's made from 24-ton carbon fiber. By definition, it has a tensile strength of 24 tons per square centimeter. It's less expensive than the 30-ton and 40-ton carbon used in the Damocles and Noah, which means they have to use a bit more of it to achieve the intended stiffness and strength. However, the Orion foregoes the cosmetic layer of carbon.It's all unidirectional fabric and is simply painted. All told, the Orion tips the scales within 100 grams of the Damocles and costs an astonishing 40% less.Shimano's race-ready Ultegra 6700 gruppo handles all the drivetrain duties with the exception of an FSA Gossamer 34/50 compact crankset. Now, before you scoff at the thought of riding components not befitting of a pro cyclist, consider how a compact crankset offers most mortals the perfect gearing for long ascents, punchy uphill accelerations, and for holding a comfortable paceline in the drops. Concerns about spinning out are really only reserved for the longest, steepest canyon descents found here in Utah. For the rest of the build, Ridley's own 4ZA components make up the bulk of it. The 4ZA Stratos alloy bar and stem are a great complement to the 4ZA R-Blade carbon/aluminum fork. They combine to create a steering feel that inspires confidence at speed. And in keeping with that theme, the Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels are light enough keep you afloat during ra
Strengths: Value for money, stiffness, comfort and versatility
Weaknesses: 4za generic factory crap, but it cuts down on costs and allows for ugrading.
Got my Orion last year and haven't looked back. Best value ever in a road bike. I was saving money by buying it. All Ultegra 6700 apart from callipers and it's as tough as an old boot. I put a set of Ksyrium elites on mine and used it in an adventure race about 6 weeks after I got it. I weigh over 100kg and I took this bike over some very rough terrain during that race where you normally wouldn't dream of taking a road bike. I have difficulty climbing out of bed but being in the saddle on this bike all I want to do is look for mountains. I love my orion and know that when it comes to upgrading or replacing it I'm going to have a job doing so. This bike is excellent value, it's comfortable on long rides (60-100miles), and it moves like stink.
Similar Products Used: Terry Dolan, ALluminio with CXP30's and full campag.
Bike Setup: Ultegra6700 groupset apart from callipers which are v. Good 4za self centering cam breaks. 50-32 front chainset and 25-11 shimano 105 cassette. Standard bike as seen in shop apart from Mavic Ksyrium elite wheels.
Strengths: Value and versatility. I built up my own framesets, which allowed me to configure it to fit my body and intended uses. While it isn't the sexiest frameset on the market, it still inspires me to ride.
Weaknesses: A touch on the heavy side, but I could stand to lose a few as well.
Actually, I have 2 of them- a 2009 and a 2010. Both are pretty much identical setups. The '09 is my commuting/training bike and the '10 is my race bike. I tried a lot of bikes before settling on the Orion. Bang for the buck, it's a very solid and versatile package. It's stiff enough for my bulk, doesn't beat me up on long rides, climbs better than I do, is stable on descents... pretty much a jack of all trades. Plus, it's Belgian, which evokes a Northern Classics vibe of cobbles, rain, and frittes. You could say I'm a fan.
Strengths: All the strengths of a good caron frame for less $$. Very comfortable ride. Does a great job absorbing the road.
Great all around road bike. I have been riding for over 20 years and have been on many bikes and for the money it has been a great bike. There are better carbon bikes out there but I have not been able to find a better bike for the money.
Weaknesses: Quick steering may not be for everyone. There are lighter carbon frames as well, but you'll spend thousands more to shave off a few ounces.
Bike is actually 2008 model - pull down didn'y have this option.
A carbon bargain: A very nice frame. Alignment is spot on. Head tube is not too short and not too long, only needs a couple of 1 cm spacers. Suggested sizing on Ridley's website is spot on for me. Smooth ride that helps diminish vibrations one often gets on the chip sealed roads that are common where I live. It seems "stiff" enough to me (I can generate about 20 watts/kg power in a sprint, and despite this high number, I really don't seem to have any problems with frames (this one or others) being flexible - I think this is an overblown issue). Finish (white) is attractive.
One thing, however - this bike, at least in a small size, has lightening quick handling and steering response. If you tend to have a lot of upper body movement while you ride, or are not a competent bike handler, you may want a more stable bike.
Strengths: Climbs like a mountain goat. Stiff but still comfortable for long rides.
Weaknesses: A little heavier than I was hoping for but I don't really feel it when I'm riding.
I'll start by saying this is only my second road bike and my first carbon bike so I might not be the best person to write a review. I rode a few Tarmacs and Roubaixs around from the shop I use to work at but never really got a great feel for what these bikes are like in comparison. My first bike was a 2007 Specialized Allez Elite and I must say that the Ridley is a huge step above that bike, which it should be since it costs about three times as much. The Orion is just a great bike. From the first ride I could feel a huge difference in the bike. It feels so much stiffer and yet is more comfortable for long rides even on rough pavement, of which there is a lot in Idaho. It is so much faster when I really step on the pedals too. Climbing is amazing. The power is just instant and when I get up out of the saddle the effect is even more dramatic. The bike lurches forward with every pedal stroke. Everytime I get on the Orion I'm amazed at how nice it is to ride. On the scale it is a little heavier than I expected it to be at this price range but I think this is mainly due to the bottom end Ritchey cockpit that came on the bike which will be the first parts I upgrade. It's my first high end road bike but I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking at a bike in his price range. The components are great too especially the Fulcrum wheels which are a little heavier than the Mavic Ksyrium Equipes I put on my old bike but seem to roll faster and feel stiffer. My only complaint with them is the cheesy skewers that come with them. They are heavy and look and feel like the same ones that come on $400 mountain bikes. All in all it's a great bike. I can't wait to put many more miles on it since it is such a joy to ride.