Released in the latter half of 2020, the Kanzo range of gravel bikes represent Belgian outfit Ridley’s take on the white-hot Gravel scene. With two models in the local line-up to suit both racers and adventurers, we managed to get our hands on the Kanzo Adventure C and set about putting it through its paces to see how it stacks up as a go (almost) anywhere, do-it-all steed.
What’s it Cost?: AU$4999
Who’s it For?: Riders in the market for a versatile, carbon framed gravel bike with generous tyre clearance and a sensible geometry.
What We Liked: Excellent geometry and build kit, well suited to most terrain.
What We Didn’t: The inhouse handlebars aren’t sufficiently flared or suited to technical terrain, overly thick bar tape, and the saddle is more road focussed than we’d like.
A Capable Chassis
At the heart of the Kanzo adventure is a carbon fibre frame that uses Ridley’s high-modulus blend that boasts a reinforced head tube and bottom bracket area to add increased strength and rigidity. A smattering of lugs and bosses for mounting bottles, bags and fenders also feature. Looking at the geometry and with somewhat longer 435mm chainstays and a generous wheelbase across the size range, the Kanzo has stability for days. Add in the taller headtube, somewhat slacker headtube angle and shorter reach, and it’s clear that all-day comfort and adventure riding is a priority here.
Aside from the generous amount of mounts on offer across the frame and fork, the other highlight of the frame itself is the generous amount of tyre clearance on offer. With up to 47mm (700C) or 50mm if you prefer to run 650b wheels. Most of this generous clearance is thanks to a revised chainstay area. The front derailleur mount, while not in use here, has been shifted slightly whilst the drive side chainstay dips down immediately after the bottom bracket to provide the room necessary to facilitate the larger rubber.
The Kanzo Adventure C retails for AU$4,999, is available in Small - tested (53.5cm) Medium (55cm) and Large (56.5cm) sizes and is claimed to weigh in at 9kg for a Size Medium.
Considered Build Kit
Moving to the specification from the factory and the Kanzo Adventure C that has landed on Australian shores boasts an impressive componentry list that represents excellent value for money. Shimano provides its 1x 11-speed mechanical GRX groupset, which is mated to a mountain bike spec Deore XT 11-42T cassette out back and is driven by a ROTOR Vegast crankset with a direct-mount 42T chainring. The flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes again come from Shimano and are paired with 160mm rotors.
In-house component brand 4ZA provides the alloy stem, handlebar, and seatpost, while Selle Italia provides its X-LR AIR-cross light saddle. Moving to rolling stock and Fulcrum provides its Rapid Red 500DB tubeless-ready gravel wheelset. It boasts a 23mm internal rim width and can take tyres ranging from 30mm through to 47mm. Finishing off the specification are 45mm wide WTB Riddler tyres.
Quiver killer bikes aren’t a new thing; the cycling industry is filled with them. From the aero come endurance Cervelo Caledonia to the gravel friendly Paralane from German outfit Focus, there’s no shortage of options on offer. Hell, even the new Diverge gravel bike from Specialized has surprisingly civilised road manners, so when Ridley announced the Kanzo into a stacked adventure bike market, it had some mountains to climb. Rather than shout about its youngest sibling with flashy marketing like its stablemate, the Kanzo FAST, the Belgian outfit has let its product in the talking and in the case of the Kanzo Adventure, it’s saying plenty.
In essence, what Ridley has done is release a bike that’s more or less ideal for the majority of riders. Want to dip your toes in the gravel world with some fire road jaunts? It’ll do that all day, thrive on tackling more technical terrain? It’ll swallow that up. Want to use that same bike on your weekend tarmac bunchie? You guessed it, competent here too, and something we frequently did during our time with the Kanzo.
Best described as a jack of all trades and a master of none, the secret to the Kanzo’s chameleon-like ability to adapt to the terrain it’s being ridden on lays in its geometry. It’s relaxed and stable enough to live up to its adventure moniker, yet lively enough in the handling department to pull double duties on the road. On the sizing, and much like its road offerings, the sizes are best described as generous. So while our main tester would typically sit right on the fence of a Small and a Medium, our suggestion would be to err on the side of the smaller size to give yourself a little less wheelbase and a slightly faster handling steed.
There is no such thing as a perfect bike for all occasions. In the case of the Ridley, it does offer up some compromises across the board. It’s 9kg heft, while in the ballpark of normality, a gravel bike is still around 1kg heavier than similarly priced road bikes, which may limit its appeal for those looking to dabble in gravel, but spend the majority of their time on tarmac. On the Gravel end of the spectrum, the increased range on offer from the 1x drive train is enough to tackle most terrain; however, there are some gaps at the top end of the cassette that may make finding your climbing rhythm on longer ascents a little more difficult.
The component list that Kanzo ships with from the factory is nothing short of impressive and offers a surprising amount of value for the bike’s price. The GRX groupset is excellent as expected, and the quality ROTOR crankset is a nice touch that adds a premium feel to the build. The wheel and tyre package adds to the vikes versatile nature. The fact that the hoops can accept everything from 30mm road tyre through to 47mm gravel rubber means that the Kanzo is a tyre change away from being a somewhat efficient endurance road bike.
While COVID restrictions all but negated our ability to take the bike on a multiday adventure, with bosses on the underside of the downtube, on the top tube behind the stem and the front forks, the Kanzo is more than capable of serving its duties as a bikepacking steed.
We found the Kanzo was most at home however was on flowing single track with some technical features, something we have in abundance in our local test area. The stability on offer never made the bike feel twitchy or on edge, however it still felt lively and quick enough in the handling department to deal with tracks and trails designed for something like a hardtail mountain bike. While the bike thrives on, this terrain, the handlebar fitted to the Kanzo feels somewhat lacking compared to the rest of the package. Most of the issue is that the flare on the handlebar is less than we’re used to on bikes of this nature, and we would’ve liked to seen the Kanzo fitted with something a little wider. As a result, riding in the flared drops didn’t inspire as much confidence on technical terrain as the frame itself is capable of, leaving us dialling it back a little when attacking sections of trail. Additionally, the bar tape fitted to the Kanzo, while excellent as minimising trail and road buzz, was far too thick in our opinion and left the bars feeling overly girthy. Thankfully handlebars or bar tape are amongst the most affordable tweaks a rider can make to their bike.
While the Kanzo represents the first foray into the gravel market for Ridley, it’s clear that the Belgian outfit has done their research on what riders want and how a bike such as this should ride in the real world. If this seems like a glowing review, it’s because there’s very little to fault with the bike itself, which is the biggest compliment any ride can get. The less you’re thinking about what you’re riding, and the more you can focus on the ride speaks to the very spirit of gravel riding in general, so it’s incredibly fitting that the Kanzo offers just that. So if you’re in the market for a gravel bike with an excellent specification and needs very little else spent on it, the Kanzo deserves a spot on your consideration list. It’s certainly high on ours.
Thanks to FE Sports for providing the product for this review. Our tester stands at 170cm tall and rode a size Small.
Looking to hop on board your own Kanzo? With free shipping Australia-Wide and decent stock levels on offer, check out the range of Ridley Gravel Bikes to stop dreaming and start riding today.