Ridley X-Trail Carbon SRAM Force1 HDB

We put the versatile Ridley X-Trail to the test

Score

8/10

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Versatile
  • Good handling

Cons

  • Pricy
  • On the heavy side

Price as reviewed:

£4,000

  • I first rode the Ridley X-Trail Carbon SRAM Force1 HDB on the parcours of the Superprestige Zonhoven cyclo-cross course, with its famous ‘de kuil’ sandpit.

    From the off, the handling felt natural and it was equally at home on the sand, on trails in nearby woodland and on the concrete finishing funnel.

    Frame

    There are four build options for the bike — three carbon and one alloy. The one on test is the range-topping X-Trail Carbon SRAM Force1 HDB.

    The bike is not designed to be an out-and-out cyclo-cross race machine, so isn’t as light as Ridley’s carbon CX bikes. Not that it’s particularly heavy – tipping the scales at around 8kg, the extra weight is barely noticeable from the saddle.

    The X-Trail’s frame looks great; a stylish paint job and clean lines afforded by the disc brakes and 1x chainset add to the sleek look.

    The frame is made from X-Trail C, HM/HR unidirectional carbon that is responsive and handles excellently on a range of surfaces from tarmac roads to tree root-riddled trails.

    The fork includes hidden mudguard mounts, which adds to the versatility of the bike without detracting from its good looks.

    Specification

    As its name suggests, this bike comes with a SRAM Force 1x drivetrain, and includes a long-cage rear mech and 10-42t cassette. The range of gears was wide enough to cope with my training routes, which include some 20 per cent ramps, but riding a 1x might not be the best option for a day in the hills.

    The frame can also accommodate a conventional double chainset, an option for those looking for a bit more versatility.

    Stopping power comes courtesy of SRAM hydraulic disc brakes. These give fantastic braking in the wet or dry, and are mounted over thru-axle wheels.

    The bike has clearance for 36mm tyres, and that’s what it is supplied with in the shape of Clement X’Plor MSO 700x36c; it is also tubeless-ready. The wide tyres shook off some cobble riding, bounced off tree roots in the woods and didn’t feel sluggish when used on tarmac roads at a high psi.

    Ergonomy is a SRAM strength

    Ride

    Having already ridden the bike on a testing and technical cross course in Belgium, it will be interesting to see how the bike handles on British roads for the next few weeks.


    Watch: Cyclocross Buyer’s Guide


    Having done several short commutes in a range of weather conditions I’ve been very impressed with the Ridley X-Trail Carbon SRAM Force1 HDB’s handling and how well it rides on tarmac.

    What’s more, despite the geometry being a halfway house between a road bike and a CX bike, together with the inclusion of wide 36mm tyres, the bike still feels brisk, with little sense of wasted energy through those voluminous touring hoops.

    The bike’s responsiveness and eager acceleration is a credit to the frame, which is clearly designed with speed and fun in mind.
    The bike can be supplied with mudguards to create a versatile winter machine.

    SRAM disc brakes offer superb feel

    Value

    At £4,000 this bike would be a big investment for most riders, especially as an additional ride. However, if you believe Ridley’s claim that it could replace three other bikes in your garage, then it starts to look like pretty good value for money — but that might not be a realistic scenario for a lot of cyclists.

    Fun to ride and undoubtedly versatile, you get a lot for your money, so anyone buying the X-Trail won’t be disappointed, but it could be a bit too much for many people to spend.

    Verdict

    One of the best framesets I’ve ridden brings this bike a high mark, but in a twist of irony its claimed versatility could be its undoing, as those in the market for a new bike may want to go for something more specific rather than a bike that straddles several camps. With narrower tyres and a double chainset this would be a formidable road machine, but then the majority of the fun comes from using the bike on gravel tracks and woodland trails. Without doubt a great bike, but one with niche appeal.

    Details

    Size tested: L
    Sizes avaiable: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
    Frame: X-Trail C, HM/HR Unidirectional carbon, 142x12 TA
    Fork: Oryx Disc TA, Carbon steerer, Hidden mudguard mounts
    Groupset: SRAM Force 1x, long cage rear mech
    Gear ratios: 42t chainset, 10-42t casette
    Chain: SRAM PC-1170, Powerlock
    Brakes: SRAM Force1 Hydraulic disc, Flatmount
    Wheels: DT Swiss RR21 DiCut DB
    Tyres: Clement X'Plor MSO 700x36c, Tubuless Ready
    Bar: 4ZA Cirrus Pro Carbon
    Stem: 4ZA Cirrus Pro
    Seatpost: 4ZA Cirrus Pro Carbon, 27,2x350mm
    Saddle: 4ZA Cirrus Pro Dynamic Comfort
    Weight: 8kg/17.8lb
    Distributor: www.ridley-bikes.com