Ridley Helium SL Ultegra Complete Road Bike - 2016

Lighter and brighter.

The Ridley Helium SL Ultegra Complete Road Bike continues the pedigree of low-weight, high-comfort, and an unyielding pedaling platform that made the original Helium one of the Belgian brand's most popular, versatile bikes. As the SL initialism implies, it's just a bit lighter than its predecessor. Shimano's latest Ultegra 6800 drivetrain enjoys a similar drop in weight over 6700, so pairing the two together makes for a bike that's equal to multi-peak epics, endurance centuries, and coffee shop loops alike.

Of course, weight savings are the key here, and a medium SL clocks in at a claimed featherweight of 1,110g for the frame and fork—a staggering 800g lighter than a similarly-sized Noah FAST aerodynamic machine. This was achieved with smaller, less aerodynamic tube shaping and a strategic arrangement of 60, 40, and 30 ton high-modulus carbon fiber to create a frame that efficiently transfers power.

Ridley also incorporates an ultra-strong nano-resin into the frame's lay-up, which allows the Belgian manufacturer to use less carbon, decreasing overall weight while boosting durability and stiffness. To further reduce weight, Ridley constructs the front triangle of the SL with a monocoque design. This means that the entire front triangle (head tube, down tube, seat tube, and bottom bracket lug) is made in one piece, saving weight by eliminating the extra material needed to reinforce frame junctions in multi-part triangles.

The SL features rounded tubing emanating from the seat tube juncture, which slowly becomes box-shaped as it approaches the head tube and bottom bracket junctures. As Ridley puts it, this system creates a clean transition from stiffness to comfort. Supporting this ideology, the rear triangle has been designed with a blend of the two shapes. The asymmetric, flat chainstays provide a stiff platform for power transfer to the rear wheel, while the ultra-thin seatstays create a vertically compliant ride quality without sacrificing rigidity.

Although the Helium SL falls solidly in the lightweight climber category, Ridley claims that it's stiffer than the original Helium. Its testing shows that the SL is 8% stiffer at the bottom bracket, 4% stiffer at the head tube, with a 20% increased side stiffness in the fork — all of which is a very mathematical way of saying the SL transfers power more efficiently than the Helium for a snappy ride. To cap things off, Ridley finishes the Helium SL with internal cable routing for clean lines and compatibility with both mechanical, as built here, and electronic shifting systems.

  • An airy race bike with Shimano's workhorse racing drivetrain
  • Lives up to its namesake gas with a frame weight of 1,100g
  • Lighter and stiffer than the standard Helium
  • Thin seatstays help to dissipate road noise and bumps
  • Blend of carbon contributes to weight loss and stiffness
  • Monocoque construction creates a more durable main triangle
  • Internal cable routing keeps frame lines clean and tidy
  • Shimano's Ultegra group is a favorite among the self-sponsored racing crowd
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

long time fan

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I got my first helium about 10 years ago, a friend of mine still owns it. I've owned about every Ridley road frame out in the last 10 years and am always impressed. For me personally the helium is my favorite since most my racing involves climbing and being a smaller rider I'm a bit of a weight weenie. Light isn't always good and it can also mean soft but the helium is stiff enough to stand up and crank on without flex. If you have any questions on the helium or the Ridley road frames feel free to contact me directly. 801-706-4191 kylebrown@competitivecyclist.com

I weigh in at 205 lbs. How would this frame rate for a heavier rider such as myself applying high watts?

Great frameset and setup

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have about 600 miles on this bike and love it more with every ride. It's smooth riding but stiff under pressure, and handles adroitly in city traffic, on hills, and on all types of rough roads. It climbs beautifully, either in a measured pace or under a real push. Tommy at CC helped get me a set of HED Ardennes+ for it, which is a great pairing. The 4ZA wheels that come with the setup will carry you for a while but they mute a lot of the frame's power. My mileage so far is lower than in the comments below but I have not had any frame noise at all.

Hi, can the crank arms be changed to 170mm on this bike?

Hi Jacob,



We are not able to do straight swaps on components on this particular bike. We could however, install a 170mm and send the stock crank with it.

Solid Frameset; Total Power Transfer

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Must've just commented on another's question last time; forgot to add my stars. Anyway, I feel like I have to add a little bit of a counterbalance to the overall reviews scenario. I just turned-over 1500k on my 2016 Helium SL. Maybe I just got lucky, but I've had no problems whatsoever with frame creaks/ticks/pops, etc. I have experienced a tiny, intermittent pinging when I'm riding forward on the saddle, 'on the rivet', but that's the seatpost hardware. Bolts are torqued to correct specs; go figure. I may try a very light coat of grease and/or a dab of weaker-strength Loc-tite on the contact areas. But I'll most likely swap-out the 4ZA post before too long, anyway. Same with the 4ZA stem. But the frame itself seems to be about as solid as any, if not more so. Nothing but quick, controlled, lasting power transfer and super precise handling--all very silent. The SL is the best bike I've ever owned--especially considering that it cost so little. Update on weight: with Campy Eurus wheelset, Speedplay stainless pedals, FiZik Arione carbon saddle, two Arundel cages and computer, it's 6751g/14.87 lbs. And that's with Ultegra all around. Ridiculous.

I recommend you stay away from Ridley SL

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought my Ridley SL from Competitive Cyclist in Sept. 2014. I was attracted to the looks the good price and the general reviews about how good of a ride it is. I do admit that when its not in the shop, it rides nice. The real problem is build quality. When I took possession of the Helium, I noticed that I could not mount my water bottle cage on the seat tube because the mounts were spaced too far apart (the mounts on the down tube is 64 mm and the mounts on the seat tube are 70 mm.) I was going to return the bike right away but I knew that doing so would result in another lengthy delay and the cycling season was already drawing to a close. Soon after I purchased the bike, another problem appeared. With less than 800 miles on the bike, my crankset/bottom bracket began to creak. I've logged 6300 miles on the bike and I have had to have the bottom bracket repaired for creaking 8 times including a bottom bracket replacement. After speaking to a local bike store mechanic about it, he thinks the issue is with with the frame itself. He said the mould for the PressFit system has to be exact. The tolerance for this type of system is very tight. If it is not exact then the BB will always creak. I believe that this is the case with my Helium. And now, after all this, the front derailleur mount recently broke from fatigue and there is no real way of fixing it. So frame is junk. When you take a close look at the bracket, its pretty flimsy compred to mounts on Specialized and Giant. I contacted Ridley several times about these issues including the derailleur mount and they refuse to make it right. I feel like such a sucker for bringing Ridley my business.

Have you attempted a Warranty Replacement?

I am experiencing the same problem. There was hardly 1000k on the bike and the BB started creaking. They changed one bearing (left side), apparently a cracked pedal spindle and it happily creaks on. Creaking gets worse into the ride. Creaking does not necessarily occur under hard pedalling. It may happen after coasting and as the pedal is at the upper apex and is pushed down it creaks. Fortunately, so far, the retailer where I bought the bike have been, so far, willing to resolve the problem.

Thanks Richard!! and Pavel I was going to buy one...now, you saved me...Cervelo is my new purchase and I couldn't be happier. Sorry for your misfortune...I would NEVER buy a Ridley now.

The description mentions several times about how much weight is reduced, but there's nothing that actually indicates total bike weight. Any idea what it is? Thanks!

Hey Michael, that will vary a little on frame size but the S will come in right about 15.25 lbs. feel free to contact me directly with any other questions on specifics or sizing on the Helium. I've owned two heliums and 4 other Ridleys and have become a real fan.

Mine weighs 6860g (15.1 lbs.) as per Park Tool's scale--without pedals or the stock wheels/tires/tubes that came with it. In their place (for now) I'm running a Ksyrium Elite front; Vuelta something-or-other in the back (w/ the stock Ultra cassette); both wheels wear Corsa EVO tires/Vittoria tubes. With the stock wheels/tires/tubes that came on it (in my case, Ridley's house brand '4ZA'--not Fulcrums) it weighed 7560g. As in, over a pound and-a-half more. With Speedplays Zeroes, cages, and seatbag with tube/inflater, my 'customized' Helium weighs 7460g/16.4 lbs. This thing is light. With minimal tweaks/associated cost, it's ridiculously easy to hit the UCI weight limit, and even below that. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one while you still can. It is a blast to ride. The best all-rounder bike I've ever ridden, without even considering the price--and I've ridden a lot of bikes. Snap it up.