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Ridley has gone lightweight and aero with its new Falcn RS to create a high-performance bike that isn't pigeon-holed to a specific road genre. With clearance for 34mm tyres, that term 'road' can be used loosely too. It's a lovely machine to ride thanks to plenty of feedback and a comfortable all-round feel, although it's up against some tough competition price-wise.
For more options, check out our guide to the best road bikes from £300 to over £13,000.
Ridley describes the Falcn RS as being optimised for maximum performance and it has been tested by the Lotto Dstny pro team, so that means an aggressive riding position, with speed being the main focus, along with stability and reactivity, according to the marketing blurb that arrived with the bike.
I found the most noticeable thing to be the reach, which is longer than most bikes of this size thanks to the lengthy top tube, but not by so much that I found it too much of a stretch to the handlebar.
The head tube is 150mm on this medium, which means the front end isn't as slammed as some similar bikes, so the overall position isn't too extreme. And with the spacers added here, the position is still comfortable for longer rides.
You can get long and low on the Falcn RS, so the speeds achievable in regards to your effort feel impressive, and thanks to a relatively low weight of 7.42kg it's responsive away from the flat sections and downhills too.
It doesn't ride like a full-on aero bike in terms of flat-out speed, but the aero tweaks to the frame and the deep-section wheels do mean it feels efficient and quick in real world terms.
The steepness of the seat tube puts you in a forward position to allow you to get the power down, but the head angle isn't overly steep, so the steering is well balanced, meaning that the Ridley isn't a twitchy handful to ride.
I could knock out rides at some impressive averages, speed-wise, without everything feeling frantic in twisty or technical sections, so the Ridley is actually quite a relaxing bike to ride. You can just focus on getting the power down and having fun.
It reminds me of Specialized's Tarmac SL7 (I haven't ridden the SL8 yet) from that point of view.
The stiffness on offer is impressive, but one look at the size of the bottom bracket junction and chunky chainstays means that it is no surprise really. Hard efforts in or out of the saddle see the power from your legs transferred through the rear wheel and out onto the road, giving a great feel of efficiency.
The fork is impressively stiff too. Chucking the Ridley downhill through some twisty sections found the front end to be very tight, whether under high steering loads or when hauling heavily on the front brake. There were no signs of any understeer or chatter from the legs no matter how hard I pushed the Falcn RS into the bends.
Comfort hasn't been overlooked either. The Falcn RS has a firm ride, but it is no boneshaker, and the carbon layup does a great job of just taking the edge off high-frequency road buzz, plus the chance to use up to 34mm tyres means you can soften the ride a bit more for longer distances.
Overall, I think Ridley has done a great job of balancing performance with rideability. The Falcn RS might be designed for the top-level racer, but you don't need to be elite to ride this bike fast, and the payback from your input is very impressive indeed.
For the fully detailed lowdown on the Falcn RS's frame and fork you can head over to Mat's launch piece, but I'll give you a quick rundown.
First up, the weight. For this medium sized frame and fork Ridley claims 825g and 380g respectively. A bit heavier (110g) than its Helium SLX Disc climbing bike, but it says the Falcn RS is more aerodynamic, which makes up for the extra weight.
Ridley has created a very clean-looking machine here, following the current trend of running any wires and hoses through the handlebar and stem into the frame and fork via the headset and head tube.
The fact that the SRAM Force groupset is fully wireless also helps; in fact, the Falcn RS is designed to accept electronic groupsets only.
The seatpost is an aero design and comes with an internal expanding wedge style clamping system, which extends the 'aeroness' to that part of the frame too.
Ridley has included two bottle cage mounts, with the set on the down tube having three bolts, to give two different position options for your cage.
In terms of the bottom bracket, Ridley has gone for the BB86 press-fit standard, which is what allows the Falcn RS to have such a large junction where the down tube, chainstays and seat tube all meet.
Other neat touches include a universal derailleur hanger, which means you don't have to buy a model-specific hanger if it is damaged in a crash. It's not something that has been adopted that widely in the road market, but fingers crossed that'll change at some point. How much better would it be to walk into your local bike shop and just buy a hanger of the shelf without having to order directly from the bike manufacturer?
If you want to run a 1x system, the front mech hanger is also removable.
As for the geometry, the Falcn RS is available in six sizes, ranging from XXS to XL. We have the medium, which has a top tube length of 565mm, head tube height of 150mm, and a seat tube length of 499mm. Stack and reach figures are 551mm and 397mm respectively.
The head angle is 73 degrees and the seat angle is 73.5 degrees. The wheelbase is just 987mm, which is what gives the Ridley its nimbleness and flickability.
The Falcn RS is available in three builds, starting with Shimano 105 Di2 for £6,399, plus Ultegra Di2 and this SRAM Force eTap AXS option both coming in at £8,199.
If you want something a little different, Ridley has a configurator on its website which allows you to swap in and out various components.
The SRAM Force eTap AXS on our test bike is a groupset I enjoy using, mainly down to the gear ratios and the design of the shift levers.
For the three builds that Ridley offers, you get a 52/36-tooth chainset with the Ultegra, and a 50/34T with the 105, but with the SRAM option it's 48/35T.
I find the smaller 48-tooth chainring suits my high-cadence riding style, feeling much more efficient, and I barely use the inner ring unless the climbs become really steep. To offset the loss of high gears from the chainset Ridley specs a 10-33T 12-speed cassette, which offers a great range overall, with the only trade-off being that there are some slightly larger gaps between the sprockets compared with the 11-30T of the Ultegra or the 11-34T of the 105.
The shifting from the AXS groupset is very quick, and there is a noticeable click at the lever to let you know you have shifted across a sprocket.
To change gear on SRAM's wireless groupsets you use the right lever to drop to a smaller sprocket, and the left lever to skip up to a bigger one. Press both levers together and you move the front mech to the opposite position of where it is sat. Once you get used to it, it is very intuitive and simple to use.
As for the brakes, the Falcn RS uses a 160mm rotor on the front and a 140mm on the rear, which provides all of the stopping power you're likely to need. SRAM's callipers work well in terms of control, with a good feeling of bite that allows you to modulate the amount of pressure on the lever to reduce the chance of locking up your tyres.
Up front, the Forza Cirrus Pro Integrated Road cockpit is an aero-shaped handlebar and stem combination. The drop of the handlebar is relatively shallow, which means it's not restricted to those with great flexibility, and one thing I do like is the subtle five-degree flare at each side. Since I've been riding a lot of gravel bikes, I quite like the feeling of a flared handlebar for extra stability when descending, but you still keep a narrow position with quick steering when on the hoods.
The only downside of an integrated cockpit is that you don't get the adjustment offered by a traditional setup. There are four different stem/width options, but obviously you can't rotate the bar at all if you like a setup a little different to the norm.
The seatpost is a carbon fibre Forza Aero with 6mm of offset and a two-bolt seat clamp. It is easy to set up for saddle angle, and once done it all stays put.
Saddle-wise Ridley has specced Selle Italia's SLR Boost. It has a minimal amount of padding, which I like, and its overall shape suits powerful riding positions, allowing you to turn the pedals even when you're crouched and aero.
A huge cutout in the middle section should reduce any numbness, but it's not something I really suffer from so I can't really tell you how good it is in that respect.
Ridley has gone with DT Swiss ARC1400s in a 50mm depth, a cracking set of wheels (not literally, thankfully!) in terms of aerodynamics, and with a claimed weight of around 1,550g and great stiffness they accelerate and climb well too.
The rear uses DT Swiss's Ratchet EXP 36 freewheel, which engages impressively quickly, especially from a standing start.
While the Ridley can take 34mm tyres, it comes specced with 28mm Vittoria Corsa Pros with a rather eye-catching tan wall to set the aesthetics off.
The Graphene and Silica compound is very tacky and therefore grippy in all conditions and when paired to the 320 threads per inch Corespun casing they are very supple indeed. Basically, they are an excellent tyre for this kind of bike and it's great to see that Ridley haven't scrimped here.
Opposition in this category is strong, as many brands have bikes of this type in their range. And although the Falcn RS isn't the most expensive, others do offer slightly better value for money.
Trek's 'do-a-bit-of-everything' road bike is the Émonda, with the SLR 7 (we tested the SL 6 Pro in 2020) coming with the same Force eTap AXS groupset, but you only get 37mm-deep carbon wheels and clearance for 28mm tyres. A claimed weight of just 7.25kg puts it in the same ballpark as the Ridley, but it costs more at £9,200, though it does come with a power meter.
Specialized's new Tarmac SL8 is a blend of aero and low weight and is available in a large range of builds, with the closest being the SL8 Pro. With that you get a traditionally styled handlebar and stem, and deep-section wheels, plus the same SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset, but it is also fitted with a power meter, for £8,000. Our review of the SL8 is on its way very soon.
Canyon's Ultimate CF SLX 8 again uses the Force eTap AXS groupset and also comes with a power meter, Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels and Schwalbe Pro One tyres. It costs £6,699.
Another cheaper option, a little more aero than most but still capable of taking 32mm tyres, is the Handsling A1R0evo, a bike I found very pleasing to ride, with impressive performance. In a similar Force build (and without a power meter), Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels and the same Vittoria tyres found on the Ridley, it will cost you £6,139.99.
The Falcn RS is a great bike to ride, being fast, fun, nimble and above all else very easy to ride at speed. It might be designed for the racers, but as long as you get on comfortably with the geometry, you don't need to have the handling skills of a seasoned pro to exploit the handling benefits. For the money, though, I'd like to see a power meter included in the package, as some of its competitors do.
A cracking all-round road bike that is both fast and light – a power meter would be nice for this money, though
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ridley Falcn RS
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
SHIFTERS: SRAM FORCE AXS
FRONT/REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM FORCE AXS
BRAKES: SRAM FORCE 160mm F/140mm R
CRANKSET: SRAM FORCE 48/35T
CASSETTE: SRAM XG-1270 10-33T
CHAIN: SRAM FORCE 12SP
WHEELS: DT SWISS ARC1400 50MM
TYRES: VITTORIA CORSA PRO 28MM
STEM/HANDLEBAR: FORZA CIRRUS PRO INTEGRATED ROAD
SEATPOST: FORZA AERO, 6MM OFFSET
SADDLE: SELLE ITALIA SLR BOOST
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Ridley says, "Ridley presents the Falcn RS, their newest road bike. The Falcn RS ensures high aerodynamic efficiency in a lightweight package. It's a versatile and fast performance bike that can handle any kind of road racing. Soar to victory with the new Ridley Falcn RS."
It's a high-performance all round road bike that works whether it is being ridden flat out, or on longer more endurance-based rides.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Of the three builds on offer this is the top level, alongside the Shimano Ultegra Di2 version which is the same price. The entry-level build is Shimano 105 Di2. Other builds are available using Ridley's website.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A great looking frameset which has a hardwearing paint finish applied to it.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are made from carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is race inspired, with a long top tube for the size, but a standard height head tube means the position isn't as extreme as it could be.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack figure is pretty much on point for this kind of bike, although the reach is slightly longer than most.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For a firm frame and fork the Ridley does well in terms of comfort, with decent levels of damping from the carbon fibre layup.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are high throughout the frameset, which makes hard efforts enjoyable and rewarding.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Overall efficiency is impressive, with a good balance of stiffness and aerodynamics from the design.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Quick, without being overly so or twitchy.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
For a bike with this sort of geometry, and the ride style intended, Ridley has done a good job of keeping the handling quick without entering the realms of twitchy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Selle Italia saddle is a great shape for me and I liked the overall shape of the handlebar/stem cockpit. The supple tyres also boost the ride quality.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The DT Swiss wheels are very stiff, ideal for hard efforts out of the saddle or when really driving the power through the pedals on the flat.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I love the ratios of the Force AXS groupset; it suits my riding style and I find it very efficient.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
I enjoy the shifting style of the Force groupset, and for an electronic groupset it still has a slightly mechanical feel to the gear changes which is a plus for me.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A good weight for a set of deep-section wheels, and they have a decent aero advantage over shallower wheels.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
They're supple-feeling tyres that offer great levels of grip. Pricey to replace, but worth it for the performance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A good spec of finishing kit which I found to be comfortable. I like the slight flare to the handlebar, and its shallow drop meant that I could still use the drops even with the stretched-out position.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's cheaper than the equivalently specced Trek Emonda SLR 7, but others, such as the Specialized Tarmac SL8, Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 and Handsling A1R0evo, do offer slightly better value for money.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a stunning bike to ride, with real world aero benefits and geometry that make for a high-performance machine you can really enjoy without needing to be a racer. Looking at it as a whole package, though, its score is slightly tempered by a higher price than some of the opposition, and the lack of a power meter for the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!