Everyone is talking about all-road bikes at the moment, but to me, they are not a “current trend”. Many of us cyclists have been adapting our bikes to our own needs for a long time. The off-the-peg bike was not always the right one for these needs. The best examples of this are cross bikes that were simply used with road tyres as winter road bikes in winter so that the material of the “fine summer bike” would not be attacked by dirt, salt and moisture. Since I ride a bit more than a third of my yearly circumference in winter, I have never really seen why one should cut back on comfort or gearing for one’s bike for winter riding. After all, bikes are meant to be ridden! This is also the case with my latest bike: the Ridley Grifn.
Fotos by Daniel Willinger
I chose a custom colour version of the Ridley Grifn, which I put together myself in the Ridley configurator – for this, 100 euros are added to the purchase price, which I think is more than fair because of the large choice of colours and designs. Here you can also choose your groupset, handlebar width and so on – but more on that later. The frame colours I chose are Burgundy Red Metallic and Beige for the logos. I ride an S-frame & 100mm stem with a height of 178cm and an inner leg length of 88.5cm.
The frame scores with its classic look and screams long adventures! The geometry is much more relaxed than on my Kanzo Fast race-gravel bike, for example. The call for long adventures is not only satisfied by the geometry, the frame also offers numerous mounting options for mud guards and bottle cages. I also find the threads for a top tube bag under a cover on the top tube very practical. In the past, I have often felt annoyed by bags that are attached here with Velcro fasteners because I have scrubbed at them with my knees from time to time. My bikepacking setup, by the way, consists of an saddle bag as well as a handlebar bag & snack bag, so further threads for the fixed mounting of bags don’t bother me at all.
You should really pay special attention to the group you order for your all-road bike. Because while the frame & tyre clearance can really cope with a wide variety of surfaces, the chosen groupset is the limiting factor. The Ridley Grifn can be used with 1-speed or 2-speed groupsets. Especially as a beginner in cycling, I would recommend an extensive discussion with your trusted bike shop, because often you can’t really assess the advantages and disadvantages of different groupsets and gear ratios. For my road grifn, I chose a Di2 Ultegra with a semi-compact crank and an 11-34 cassette. From my years on the road bike, I know that I can really get up any mountain with it. For extended bikepacking with a lot of luggage, however, I will mount smaller chainrings to achieve a 1:1 ratio in the lightest gear.
By choosing my groupset, I have turned the all-road bike into a more classic endurance road bike – which is optimal for my intended use. However, if you also want to ride on gravel frequently or want to ride extensive routes through steep terrain, I would rather advise a GRX group to also be able to “reduce”. If you feel overwhelmed by all these terms, that’s not a bad thing at all – but a sign to get advice from your Ridley dealer regarding the choice of groupset. I felt the same way 3-4 years ago, and as you get deeper and deeper into road cycling, you gradually learn the terms.
Tyre clearance is 38mm without the bike looking disproportionate at the fork or seatstays. That was my tummy ache with many other all-road bikes I’ve seen so far. With a single group, the Grifn also allows you to ride tyre widths of up to 40mm. That’s still too little for technical mountain bike trails, but for everything else, from gravel highways to well-trodden forest trails, I think this is the optimal tyre.
On my Ridley Grifn I added my own Bikebeat low-flying wheels, Conti GP5000 in 28mm and my daytime running light setup from Garmin. Here we also come to my little “pain point”: while the mount for the bike computer that goes with the handlebars comes with the frame, the GoPro mount underneath (which I use to attach my light) requires an extra order. I would order this directly when ordering the Ridley Grifn, because the small part can only be obtained from a specialist dealer – and otherwise you have to drive there again to pick it up. However, thanks to 4 threads on the underside of the mount, GoPro recordings from other manufacturers can also be screwed on.
However, a big advantage in an area where I have no experience so far are the openings in the fork & frame, which allow you to easily and cleanly ride a light setup with dynamo. Definitely one of the topics I will be dealing with in the coming years, because then the annoying charging and swapping of battery lights will finally be a thing of the past!
The driving experience
Before the long cycling adventures begin, I still have to get through the winter in Vienna. At the moment, I tend to go on shorter rides, but the details of the Ridley Grifn’s ride feel whet my appetite for more. It runs very smoothly and does not steer too hectically, while still remaining agile.
There are simply better experts for assessing driving characteristics in such technical terms. Therefore, I will rather concentrate on those things that strike me personally. I’m simply not a particularly nimble downhill skier and often struggle with my fears when going downhill. In order for me to be in good shape mentally on the descents and also to “let it go”, I need a few basic requirements on the bike: it has to run smoothly (i.e. not feel nervous on the road), the bike has to fit me perfectly and I need good brakes. The Grifn delivers on all three counts and the descents so far have been totally relaxed for me! Uphill, the bike feels like a thoroughbred road bike. Although it is not the lightest climbing bike on the market (with my aero rim preference), it offers the necessary comfort for loooong climbs. On the flat, you notice that Ridley has not skimped on aerodynamic refinements on the Grifn either, and the bike doesn’t need to hide on long grades either.
The price of the Ridley Grifn starts at just under 3,200 euros and my setup weighs 8.7 kg with aero rims.
All photos in this article come from Daniel Willinger. Thank you, Daniel!