A Belgian brand known more for its road acumen attempts to get back into the tri market not with a weak effort, nor an unattainable one. This time, Ridley targets the true triathlon consumer with the practical, but quick new Dean Tri.
Last week at PressCamp’s winter edition, held in Westlake Village, Calif. Ridley debuted the new Dean Tri, and had a few of the bike available for media to test….an opportunity we took advantage of.
In 2009, Ridley debuted its first version of the Dean FAST, a replacement for the token effort Phaeton T tri bike of years prior, a bike resembled a tri bike in few ways; it was a glorified road bike with clip-ons. Currently, it has the entry-level Chronus, which really is a beginner’s offering with a slack 73.5-degree seat angle. It’d look (and probably handle) better as an aero road bike than a tri bike.
For a while, it looked like Ridley was serious about triathlon; it sponsored the then neophyte Uplace Triathlon Team and had a bike that had a smart geometry that worked well not only for triathletes but also served its ProTour teams. But being a European team that didn’t really have any existence in the United States, the Dean FAST never took off in America.
Fast forward to 2016 and we have a new version of the Dean: The Dean Tri. No Di2 here. Nor special hidden brakes. Ridley did take a few queues from what it learned from its predecessor and baked it into a more attainable, entry-level bike with standard parts and ease of service.
The reason for the omission of the high-tech features like the fork-integrated F-Brake we saw in the Noah FAST, or the F-Split fork? Keeping the costs down. “It worked great, but it was exceedingly expensive to manufacture, said Ridley’s International Director of Sales, Richard Wittenberg. “We had to really say, ‘was the juice worth the squeeze?’â€
For this bike, a bike aimed not at the big spender but rather the value-seeking triathlete? No. Instead, Ridley focused on a basic 3:1 tenet throughout the frame, on a mainframe that ticks the basic requirements; a truncated, Kamm-esque trailing edge. A faired headtube with a long trailing edge onto the frame. Low, shouldered seatsstays.
And the Dean’s signature aero feature is the F-Surface Plus treatment; employing a groove that runs the length of the downtube and seatpost’s leading edge, a boundary layer tripwire to reduce the tubeset’s aero footprint by laying the wind down. Ridley claims a 7 percent drag reduction, combined with the tubeset’s shape change.
“We wanted a fast bike for consumers, but we also want it to have easy usability for the end user,â€ Wittenberg said. To that end: standard stem, aerobars, 1 1/8â€ fork and brakes are all standard. Break a fork in transit to a race? Hit the local shop and pop in a new one. Can’t get the brake adjusted? No front end brain surgery-level mechanical skill required, just standard tools.
The rest? Housing can run fully through a frame ready for mechanical and all electronic drivetrain setups, and of interesting note, Ridley will provide two replaceable vertical dropout sets: one optimized for 23m tires, and one for 25mm tires. It’s all in the details. Sizing? XXS, XS, S, M, L, with a full fit chart based on stack and reach.
For its lack of pizzaz in the superbike-ish integration department, it’s a straight shooter tri bike that does the job. While Ridley will spec it with a Bento box that allows cables to run into the frame in front of it, it’s also considering a version that will allow cable run through the bento box for straighter cable run. I’m not sure how good an idea that is; impossible remove to remove and clean without removing all cables and housing, and it will take up precious real estate within the box.
On our PressCamp test ride, I really enjoyed the new Dean Tri. The effective seat angle ranges from 70 to 80 degrees, on my size large test bike, so I was able to move the saddle where I liked and with a standard stem and the Profile Design Svet R/T4+ cockpit, was quickly where I wanted to be. (Ridley was wise to partner with Profile Design on this bike as well, as it really is the one brand with the greatest fit adjust range in the market. ) While the mechanical Shimano Ultegra/FSA Gossamer drivetrain was adequate, I’d really be happier in my value spend with Ultegra’s Di2 version on this one.
On the road, it was solid. We did a loop around Westlake Village, including a substantial climb up Rock Store, with a descent of Decker Canyon. While I’ve done the climb several times on road bikes, this was a first time doing it on a tri bike. Oddly, I PR’d my Strava segment on the climb. The Decker descent was a bit slower but with my weight out front on a tri bike, I wasn’t out to break any land speed records. Or bones. That descent is way more suited to road bike descending than any tri bike, to be honest. But through the twisty S’s, the Dean Tri moved well; I didn’t attack, it, but I didn’t get dropped, either.
On the flats, it was as good as one could expect; that happy space between being sloppy and being overly-twitchy. It was snappy enough to take those turns, and sharp enough to steer around potholes and pine cones. A+ for the bike’s steering geometry.
Price? The new Dean (with Fulcrum Racing 7 LC training wheels) ought to find a lot more shelf space with this version than it ever has in America (and it deserves that space); the Shimano 105-equipped version will retail at $3000. Not bad. The Ultegra mechanical I tested? $3,750. And the Ultegra Di2 version will kick up to $4,600. Were it me, I’d make the small up-invest, throw on some race wheels and could park this bike for years in a race rack, happily. Further, a consumer can thrown on a new TriRig Alpha or Zipp VukaAero aerobar and really make this a poorman’s superbike pretty easily.
Look for the Dean Tri to be available in select retailers stateside in March. And you’ll soon be able to find more info on this new model at ridley-bikes.com