Float the climbs.

Few bikes manage the low-weight/efficient-stiffness balance better than Ridley's Helium SLX Ultegra Complete Road Bike. As the Belgian brand's superlative climbing bike, it's got plenty of lightweight pedigree; however, it's also still a Belgian bike, so it's built to handle the abuse of cobbled muurs. When mated with an Ultegra drivetrain and Campagnolo-built (shh!) Fulcrum 5 wheels, the frameset becomes a classroom for putting on a climbing clinic.

The SLX's climb happy personality starts with a blend of 60, 40, and 30-ton high-modulus carbon fiber. The result is a World Tour worthy frame that efficiently transfers power while shaving about 30g of claimed weight compared to the SL. The front end sees a slightly different curvature at the tube junctions, a small change that Ridley claims boost stiffness by 15% and translates into even snappier, more responsive handling when diving into switchbacks or pushing out of the final corner.

As with the SL, the SLX 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 blends 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.

  • A race bike for those who turn the screws on climbs
  • Racing geometry proven on the world stage
  • Ridley's lightest, stiffest carbon fiber layup
  • Shimano Ultegra drivetrain is equal to a racer's needs
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

The bike I'd buy

    I'd take this over an F10.

    I use the F10 as an example because it's such a popular choice in the superbike market, and it enjoys it's popularity for a good reason. It's an extremely fast all-arounder with an extremely impressive race pedigree.

    It also costs $6000. That's 4 times more than you'll pay for this Helium at closeout pricing, and after riding them back to back, I honestly liked the Helium more.

    For starters, the SLX is ridiculously light. Quoted manufacturer weights, it's actually lighter than the F10, Bianchi's Specialissima, Wilier's Zero.7, and it comes within a few grams of the new S-Works Tarmac, and even the Factor O2. Build up with mechanic Red, Reynolds Attacks, and a stock alloy cockpit, a small came in at 13.7 lbs (and at an asking price of $5500 no less.) The handling is well-balanced, the ride quality is right on par with other bikes in it's class, and the stiffness is remarkable for a bike that's so feathery.

    Even if it was the same bike as all of the other superbikes mentioned above, the Helium would make my short list, and considering that you can pick up a brand new 2017 frame for $1400, it definitely earns the status of 'the bike I'd actually buy.'

    Feel free to shoot me an email at jdraper@backcountry.com if you want to speak about the SLX, or any of the other bikes we sell in more detail!