Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26" Bad News Update

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
bretonbikes
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Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26" Bad News Update

Postby bretonbikes » 30 Nov 2015, 5:45pm

Hi All

I've just posted a review of the Ridgeback Expedition 2016 touring bike - at last a decent alternative to bikes like the Surly LHT and for a lot less money...

http://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cyc ... 016-review
Last edited by bretonbikes on 2 Aug 2016, 7:47pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RickH
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby RickH » 30 Nov 2015, 7:05pm

bretonbikes wrote:Hi All

I've just posted a review of the Ridgeback Expedition 2016 touring bike - at last a decent alternative to bikes like the Surly LHT and for a lot less money...

http://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cyc ... 016-review

Thanks for the review.

One thing you might want to change
bike review wrote:...the chainset I actually prefer because I find the rings wear less slowly...

I presume you meant to write more slowly or less quickly?

Rick.

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 30 Nov 2015, 7:09pm

RickH wrote:
bretonbikes wrote:Hi All

I've just posted a review of the Ridgeback Expedition 2016 touring bike - at last a decent alternative to bikes like the Surly LHT and for a lot less money...

http://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cyc ... 016-review

Thanks for the review.

One thing you might want to change
bike review wrote:...the chainset I actually prefer because I find the rings wear less slowly...

I presume you meant to write more slowly or less quickly?

Rick.


Sometimes I need a professional proofreader...

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RickH
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby RickH » 30 Nov 2015, 8:48pm

bretonbikes wrote:Sometimes I need a professional proofreader...

It is always harder to see what you actually wrote rather than what you intended to write! :?

Rick.

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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby PH » 30 Nov 2015, 9:13pm

That was good read, I've just pointed someone in the direction of a 26" wheel LHT, I'll get him to give this a read as well particularly as they're more likely to get to see and ride on a Ridgeback first. It's a pity we no longer get such thorough reviews in Cycle.

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 1 Dec 2015, 12:15pm

PH wrote:That was good read, I've just pointed someone in the direction of a 26" wheel LHT, I'll get him to give this a read as well particularly as they're more likely to get to see and ride on a Ridgeback first. It's a pity we no longer get such thorough reviews in Cycle.


Thanks for the kind words. Many years ago I wrote for the first ever cycling e-magazine cybercyclist.com (long defunct) and then did a few tests for a major glossy cycling magazine (also now defunct). After I wrote a bike review and criticised some of the kit choice I was told by the editor that I "couldn't write knocking copy" and he asked me to rewrite. That moment decided me that I'd never write for another magazine, put the review up on my own site and so started my truly independent reviews. I'm afraid I've not done many tests of late but I'm going to get back to the grindstone over the next few months and as long as no-one here objects I'll link them to the forum as all will be touring specific.

iviehoff
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby iviehoff » 1 Dec 2015, 12:26pm

There are two factors about whether this will really work as a cheaper expedition tourer, after you have fixed a few inadequate components. First is the rear frame triangle. It isn't quite clear to me whether it is chunky enough to avoid flexing when heavily loaded on a gravel road.

The other is tyre clearance. I'm not sure what "175 section" tyres means. If it means 1.75", and 1.75" is teh same as 44mm as standard conversion would suggest, then that's OK. But the tyres don't look anything like 44mm to me from the pictures, look nearer 35mm. But photos can be misleading. Perhaps you could clarify. I ride less fat tyres on expedition bikes than most people. But even I think you'd want to be able to get 40mm tyres on a bike called an expedition bike. I agree, heavily treaded tyres are wrong.

As you say the rear rack has a fatal design fault. I once bought a rack with precisely that design fault in an emergency somewhere I couldn't get anything different, and it didn't last even 3 days. Doesn't anyone teach these Chinese fabricators even the most basic structural principles?

But of course that is easily fixed, you just buy a proper steel rack like Tubus. You wouldn't want less on an "expedition" bike. So why didn't they put it on and charge you for that, rather than get you waste money on a useless rack and pay for a proper one? Is it because they think you only buy an expedition bike for the show of it, not doing real expedition cycling? Like all those people driving their SUVs down Acacia Avenue and the A1234?

I wouldn't want to take a chainset like that on a proper expedition either. Small point but you don't really need a triple on such a bike because you don't need the high gears. But what you do need is a steel inner ring, so you need a chainset adequate to fit that. I use something like a 28/40 double chain set on my expedition tourer.

Small point but that pump will fall off in use, gets knocked off by your panniers or your leg. I had an arrangement like that and had to use some straps to avoid losing the pump. You say the pump is good, but I've had problems with all pumps of that general design. Now I have a Topeak Road Morph pump, I would never want anything else.

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 1 Dec 2015, 12:49pm

iviehoff wrote:There are two factors about whether this will really work as a cheaper expedition tourer, after you have fixed a few inadequate components. First is the rear frame triangle. It isn't quite clear to me whether it is chunky enough to avoid flexing when heavily loaded on a gravel road.

The other is tyre clearance. I'm not sure what "175 section" tyres means. If it means 1.75", and 1.75" is teh same as 44mm as standard conversion would suggest, then that's OK. But the tyres don't look anything like 44mm to me from the pictures, look nearer 35mm. But photos can be misleading. Perhaps you could clarify. I ride less fat tyres on expedition bikes than most people. But even I think you'd want to be able to get 40mm tyres on a bike called an expedition bike. I agree, heavily treaded tyres are wrong.

As you say the rear rack has a fatal design fault. I once bought a rack with precisely that design fault in an emergency somewhere I couldn't get anything different, and it didn't last even 3 days. Doesn't anyone teach these Chinese fabricators even the most basic structural principles?

But of course that is easily fixed, you just buy a proper steel rack like Tubus. You wouldn't want less on an "expedition" bike. So why didn't they put it on and charge you for that, rather than get you waste money on a useless rack and pay for a proper one? Is it because they think you only buy an expedition bike for the show of it, not doing real expedition cycling? Like all those people driving their SUVs down Acacia Avenue and the A1234?

I wouldn't want to take a chainset like that on a proper expedition either. Small point but you don't really need a triple on such a bike because you don't need the high gears. But what you do need is a steel inner ring, so you need a chainset adequate to fit that. I use something like a 28/40 double chain set on my expedition tourer.

Small point but that pump will fall off in use, gets knocked off by your panniers or your leg. I had an arrangement like that and had to use some straps to avoid losing the pump. You say the pump is good, but I've had problems with all pumps of that general design. Now I have a Topeak Road Morph pump, I would never want anything else.


You've actually beaten me to a small rewrite I did - the wonders of the internet ;-) The tyre clearances are massive... The rear triangle is as over-engineered as everything else... As for the rack I'm afraid it's Blackburn you should blame for the crazy design - it's them that popularised a fundamentally flawed product and as they became industry standard the copies followed. But to be honest the Expedition will (I hope) be bought by many as a general hack bike/tourer and though the rack is not up to expedition use it is better than many and fit for the use most will put on it. I can see many dealers customising what is essentiually a true expedition frame for expedition customers by adding a decent wheel kit and Tubus racks and then selling it for say £1000 - it'd still be a howling bargain.

I have some sympathy about using a double rather than triple for true expedition work, but as I say I hope the bike will be used far many other purposes than that and the Alivio chainset is all steel and the triple will extend chainset life in the long term over a double. The other thing is that double-specific front derailleurs (and chainsets) are hard to get sometimes. It's a bit of a case of swings and roundabouts even for Expedition use.

I'd totally agree about the pump mount except that the Ridgeback has an unusual peg that goes right into the hole in the pump - you'd have to give it a hell of a whack to dislodge it and the pump is metal so again very solid. Ridgeback do supply a sort of zip-tie (but which can be re-used) to hold the pump so they've even thought of that which shows the thought that's gone into the design.

I like to think that I'm pretty hard nosed when i review stuff, but the Ridgeback is one seriously impressive bit of kit - I'd like to see all the major manufacturers have something similar on their books.
Last edited by bretonbikes on 1 Dec 2015, 12:53pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rich_Clements
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby Rich_Clements » 1 Dec 2015, 12:53pm

My Ridgeback (different model) has the same rack, I'm not likely to go expedition touring so I am not too concerned at the moment, I'll let you know how long it lasts.
Rich

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 1 Dec 2015, 12:56pm

Rich_Clements wrote:My Ridgeback (different model) has the same rack, I'm not likely to go expedition touring so I am not too concerned at the moment, I'll let you know how long it lasts.


My guess from using similar racks here is that carrying a camping load they start to fail after about 10 weeks loaded touring - it's well mounted and triangulated so doesn't flex much which causes the fatigue leading to failure. Keep us posted;-)

Rich_Clements
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby Rich_Clements » 1 Dec 2015, 1:06pm

bretonbikes wrote:
Rich_Clements wrote:My Ridgeback (different model) has the same rack, I'm not likely to go expedition touring so I am not too concerned at the moment, I'll let you know how long it lasts.


My guess from using similar racks here is that carrying a camping load they start to fail after about 10 weeks loaded touring - it's well mounted and triangulated so doesn't flex much which causes the fatigue leading to failure. Keep us posted;-)

Will do.


Something worth mentioning, if the worst does happen with regards the frame Ridgeback are good as gold with warranty claims, just keep the proof of purchase they replaced my old Panorama when the rear drop out broke without issue I was very impressed with their customer service.
Rich

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 1 Dec 2015, 2:22pm

Rich_Clements wrote:
bretonbikes wrote:
Rich_Clements wrote:My Ridgeback (different model) has the same rack, I'm not likely to go expedition touring so I am not too concerned at the moment, I'll let you know how long it lasts.


My guess from using similar racks here is that carrying a camping load they start to fail after about 10 weeks loaded touring - it's well mounted and triangulated so doesn't flex much which causes the fatigue leading to failure. Keep us posted;-)

Will do.


Something worth mentioning, if the worst does happen with regards the frame Ridgeback are good as gold with warranty claims, just keep the proof of purchase they replaced my old Panorama when the rear drop out broke without issue I was very impressed with their customer service.


Nice to know - it should (but not always) be an advantage of buying from a larger manufacturer.

iviehoff
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby iviehoff » 1 Dec 2015, 2:38pm

bretonbikes wrote:As for the rack I'm afraid it's Blackburn you should blame for the crazy design - it's them that popularised a fundamentally flawed product and as they became industry standard the copies followed.

Blackburn rear racks did not have this design fault last time I bought one back in the 1990s, although the Chinese not-quite-copies already had it. I'm astonished to see you are right that the Blackburn racks currently on sale do have this design fault. How ridiculous. Maybe Tubus has so trashed their market share for people wanting serious racks that they needed to cut cost and go down market. I did get an old-style Blackburn rack to survive 6 months of expedition cycling.

To be clear, the main design shortcoming is the extended distance between the frame fixing eye and the weld where the 3 rods come together just above it. The longer that single strut is, the more leverage there is along it between the bottom of the weld and the frame fixing point. So it is inclined to fail just below the weld, due to fatigue amplified by that leverage. On old Blackburn racks, the distance was short enough that there was much less leverage, and this was, in the round, not the weakest point of the rack. Rather it was the welds near the top where they tended to fail eventually. In fact my main problem with them was the panniers rubbing material away and thinning the rods materially. I used to wrap them in old innertube to try and prevent this, while on long tours. But these days with ready availability of Tubus racks, no one should have to suffer this.

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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby greyingbeard » 1 Dec 2015, 2:50pm

people seem more interested in a couple of parts than the bike as a whole

bretonbikes
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Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

Postby bretonbikes » 1 Dec 2015, 3:01pm

greyingbeard wrote:people seem more interested in a couple of parts than the bike as a whole


To be fair I think that might be because the basic bike leaves little to criticise;-)

The main rival at the moment is the vsf TX-400 which uses a generic 4130 Chro-Mo frame and comes with Tubus racks, a dynamo lighting system based on a hub dyno and a mix of Deore and XT. The strength of Sterling at the moment means that in Europe it's available for around £1100 and having bought several vsf bikes from lower in the range (for day-hire) I can vouch for the quality of the build.

I've not had a TX-400 on test but I've had a good look at one and my comments vs the Ridgeback would be that it is a less 'robust' frameset in a no-name generic butted tubing (probably as good?) with a better wheelset and general kit - the front and rear Tubus racks being a big bonus. The dynohub is a complication I could do without, and the Magura hydraulic brakes not my choice in an expedition bike bike but otherwise another serious offering, though the extra 4 lbs in weight is significant.

Personally, if going for a major tour I'd get the bike-shop to upgrade the Ridgeback at point of purchase over the TX-400 and would probably still save a little cash.