Lotto-Belisol riders Jelle Vanendert and Jurgen Van den Broeck will each have the option of tackling this year’s Tour de France aboard Ridley’s brand new Helium SL, a lighter, sleeker version of their current climbing-oriented Helium model. Unsurprisingly, Ridley claims the new frame is stiffer, lighter, and more comfortable than the current version.
All three attributes are well and good, but we’re just as pleased to see that Ridley has made a few small but important modifications that make the Helium much more user friendly — more on those below.
We spotted the new frame at the Criterium du Dauphiné in early June, where Vanendert had one available for testing, but have only just come by the full details.
The bare frame is a claimed 780 grams for a size medium, setting it among the lightest currently available. Fork weight is a claimed 310g, for a 1,090g package. That’s about 200g lighter than the old Helium.
However, much of that weight loss comes from the switch from an ISP seat mast to a traditional 27.2mm seatpost, which is not included in frame weight. The switch is intended to decrease weight, increase comfort, and increase serviceability, according to Ridley. While seatmasts offer opportunities for ride tuning not found with traditional seatposts, the possible increase in comfort is almost always overcome by issues with resale value (once the post is cut, you can only sell to someone shorter) and packing any ISP frame for travel (try packing your bike with the seatpost on; it doesn’t work so well).
Stainless steel dropout sleeves have been added for easy wheel changes and better dropout durability, despite the resultant modest increase in weight. Ridley went with the BB30 Press Fit bottom bracket standard, which allows for the use of the lighter BB30 versions of most cranks.
In a nod to comfort, Ridley has put the seatstays on a serious diet relative to the old Helium; the tubes are now pencil-thin and designed to provide extra flex and comfort, Ridley says.
Cable routing is all internal, and is designed to be easily swapped between mechanical and electronic drivetrains without the need for extra holes in the frame for electronic routing. The cable stops simply turn into wire holes.
Availability is set for late fall, and price will likely fall just under that of the current Helium model: $2750 for frame and fork.