The Ridley Helium X shares the frame geometry of Lotto-Soudal's Helium SLX, but is made of lower-modulus carbon-fibre for a lower price tag but still remains at a premium price point
When Thomas de Gendt heads off on yet another doomed breakaway, he’s riding the Ridley Helium SLX. As a pro-level bike, the Helium SLX attracts a premium price tag.
But Ridley also sells the Helium X. It comes out of the same mould as the Helium SLX, but it’s made of a mix to 30T (30 tonne) and 24T high modulus carbon rather than the Helium SLX’s 60T-40T-30T higher-modulus mix. This makes the frame a bit heavier but is less expensive, bringing down the Helium X’s overall price tag. The test bike still weighs a competitive 7.5kg.
The Ridley Helium X is a lightweight frame with a robust head tube/down tube junction and chunky chainstays for power delivery. The comparatively skinny seatstays are designed to add some cushioning for extra ride comfort. Ridley uses threaded external bottom bracket bearings for more efficient running and ease of maintenance.
The head tube is a bit taller than on some race machines, although the stack means that the ride position remains low, again reflecting the Helium X’s big brother’s pro race credentials.
The 73° head tube angle and 97.7cm wheelbase on the size 54 tested are quite aggressive, leading to handling that is more edgy than relaxed.
Like the frame, the Helium X’s fork is all carbon and made of the same high-modulus 30T-24T mix.
The test Ridley Helium X is a 2017 model and comes with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, including chainset and brakes. With its semi-compact 52/36 rings and 11-28 cassette, there’s plenty of range for faster riding as well as uphills. As you’d expect from Ultegra, the shifting is faultless and braking effective.
Although they’re not a premium wheelset, the Fulcrum Racing 5 LG CX wheels have a quality build and are deep enough to give a sporty look to the bike. Their wide, asymmetric 17mm rim coupled with the 25mm Continental Ultrasport tyres give plenty of air volume, a wide stance to the sidewalls and a comfortable ride. With the extra volume, you can also lower the tyre pressure to add comfort.
Ridley’s in-house component brand, Forza, sells a comprehensive range of finishing kit and the Helium X makes use of this, with a Forza alloy cockpit, carbon seatpost and saddle.
For 2018, the Ridley Helium X will come with a Rotor 3D30 chainset in place of Ultegra and Forza alloy wheels with Vittoria Zaffiro tyres in place of the Fulcrums.
The Ridley Helium X shows its racing credentials in a lively ride, which makes you want to ride faster and put its handling to use. With the stem slammed, the ride position is racy enough to put you quite long and low, although there are spacers to get the bars 4.5cm higher if you prefer.
Although it feels fast, the Helium X isn’t a handful to pilot and is quite happy ridden rapidly on faster flats and descents. There’s plenty of rigidity to the bottom bracket and chainstays too, so you can put the power down and climb effectively.
Although billed as a lightweight machine, that rigidity does mean that the Helium X is a bit less plush than some alternatives – not uncomfortably so, it’s just that you can feel the miles on typical UK tarmac a bit more than on some other machines.
At close to £3,000 in Ultegra spec, the Ridley Helium X is a bit more expensive than some alternatives, although it’s on a par with other premium offerings so isn’t way over budget. But for your money you are getting a WorldTour-level frame tested by Thomas de Gendt and others on the Lotto-Soudal team, albeit made out of slightly lower-spec carbon.
And Ridley has built the Helium X with a range of quality components. Not just the full Shimano groupset, but the wheels and own-brand finishing kit befit a premium machine too.
As a premium Belgian bike brand, Ridley bikes come in a bit more expensive than some of the competition. The Helium X is no exception. But it comes with a quality spec and the geometry and handling which befits the little brother of a multiple-stage-winning WorldTour machine.