We previously covered the all new Ridley Noah SL Disc aero road bike and while carbon bikes are what get most enthusiast’s blood going, Ridley hasn’t forgotten their heritage of aluminum framed bikes. The Ridley Helium SLA (yes, the A is for aluminum) is all new for 2017 and seeks to offer a balance of performance and value.
The Helium SLA is a lightweight race bike with a mixture of 6061 and 6066 aluminum. Ridley designed this bike to have “carbon-esque” weight and feel with an aluminum frame and price. The frame weight is sub 1200 grams. Ridley Vice President of International Operations, Richard Wittenberg explains, “The Helium SLA brings a higher quality product into a much more affordable price bracket. Heavy bikes suck, but if you don’t have sub 20 lbs. road bike (because everybody else does) you’re not gonna keep up.”
Wittenberg continues, “Largely because of the advancement in welding technologies, forming technologies, as well as material advancements we can now make that sub 1200 gram frame without it costing an arm and a leg.” Of course, there are other big brands out there who also make a quality aluminum frame with a lightweight but comfortable feel (Cannondale CAAD anyone?) but Ridley seeks to offer something similar, but much more affordable. While the Helium SLA is not quite as light as a CAAD 12, it is not as expensive either. Without pedals this new bike is under 18 lbs. complete with a price tag of $1999 with a carbon fork and Shimano Ultegra groupset.
Ridley is targeting this bike towards the fast group rider who may race or want to start racing. Of course, another distinct advantage of aluminum for racers on a budget is that, if you crash, it will be less costly to get you back up and running (for the most part).
The frame of the Ridley Helium SLA is a mixture of 6061 and 6066 tubing which allows Ridley to thin out the tubes and make them more compliant where needed. 6066 is stronger but can be harsher riding and 6061 is more comfortable but requires a thicker wall to achieve the same strength. Ridley uses a smooth welding technique to provide a sano look. Internal cable routing options help keep the bikes lines clean. The cable routing enters at the head tube, which gives a straighter path for the cables for easier installation and maintenance and also eliminates chaffing of the head tube. The rear brake cable is routed through from right to left to prevent the cable from chattering inside the tube.
Again, Wittenberg describes the process, “6000-series tubing is heated way up and then water clenched to cool it, so it sets the frame and it doesn’t change. 7000-series tubing, over time does change and can become more brittle. Double pass, smooth welding is important because there is less heat involved (two passes, heated then cooled, then heated and cooled again) and this method is also better when you are using thinner wall tubes.” The tube shape of the Helium is focused around stiffness-to-weight so you won’t really see overly designed aerodynamic tubes because that can add weight. Wittenberg stresses that this bike is all about minimizing weight while still retaining the stiffness of the bike.
Besides the Shimano Ultegra equipped SLA highlighted here, the bike will also be available equipped with a Shimano 105 group that weighs 19 lbs. and will retail for $1500. Both versions should be available September of this year.
For more information visit www.ridley-bikes.com