What I want in a bike, I’ve always thought, is quite simple. I want the bike to feel alive. I want the bike to feel like it punches through the air with the dexterity of a boxer at the height of competition. And if I’m totally honest? I really want my bike to feel a little bit angry.
Those aren’t unique requests, nor are they so hard to answer – but I find a lot of women’s bikes are lacking. They’re light and fast up the hills but that snap I’m looking for often isn’t there. Not so with the Ridley Jane SL – despite her demure name, she’s got smashy ride quality (not sure that’s the technical term) in abundance.
With a frame that’s identical to the unisex Ridley Noah SL, the Jane SL is the aero road bike that’s ridden by Lotto Soudal, Lotto Soudal ladies – and I imagine will be the machine of choice for WM3 Pro Cycling and indeed Marianne Vos.
For a bike I can’t help but regard as ‘a little bit Colgate’ in colour scheme, with a name that kind of reminds me of a long lost aunt, I’ve fallen in love with the Ridley Jane SL rather a lot. That’s not to say it’s the perfect bike for everybody, but man is it a stunning ride for me. If you like a bike that punches as hard as you tell it to, and won’t dampen out the feel of the road one little bit for your derriere, then the Jane might be for you.
Ride Quality of the Ridley Jane SL
If, judging by my introduction, you’re anticipating paragraphs of praise here you’d be right. The Jane SL felt fast from the moment I got on it. And just to sweep aside any confusion: you don’t have to be fast to want to feel fast. Fast is relative; you don’t need to be achieving Gold Standard average speeds to justify wanting a bike like this.
Aero bikes sometimes have a bad rep for being heavy, but with a claimed frame weight under a kilo (made from a of 60T-40T-30T unidirectional carbon blend) the Jane SL is hardly burly and she felt great on the climbs to me. Accelerations were exactly how I want them to be, and the bike responded instantly when I jumped out the saddle. The only thing ever holding me back was my legs.
I’ve started riding with a new cycling club recently, and quite frankly they’re a lot faster than me. I’m just about clinging on. As a result, I spent a lot of time riding this bike in a bunch at a speed that was slightly over my comfort level for the distances in mind. However, corners were smooth and fast and I was never worried that I’d pushed too hard into a bend. In fact, I felt extremely in control and aware of the positive effect tiny shifts in body weight had upon the handling.
If you’re after a comfortable ride, the Ridley Jane SL is probably not for you. You’ll feel the road, the lumps and the bumps and the gravely sections. Ridges in the surface of the tarmac were jarring – there’s no doubt about it. However, for me this is all part of the joy of the ride and I could easily rack up over 80 miles without feeling that dampening the fatigue created by bumpy UK rides was worth sacrificing stiffness over.