Posted Friday, June 27th, 2008
The Ridgeback Panorama, as the picture suggests, is a bicycle. It's one of the 'World' series from the British Ridgeback company, and is a classic steel framed touring bike in the English tradition. After 25 years of riding only a Peugeot Black Mamba mountain bike I now have one of these too. The idea is to go touring on two wheels with no engine, in Belgium and maybe Ireland.
A Ridgeback Panorama is the bike that NickTheTrick is using on his fully-loaded cycling tour from Scotland via Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Denmark, then up through Sweden to Norway. Nick had a nasty crash recently, but he and his bike seem to have survived.
The Panorama's wheelbase and the distance between the seat post and steerer are identical to my 80s Peugeot's but the tubing is Reynolds 725 steel instead of 531, and it has a modern style sloping crossbar and oversize downtube.
Very nice! It's finished in BMW Sparkling Graphite Metallic paint, has mudguards and pannier racks (heavy), and drop handlebars with extra top mount brake levers on the cross section. The Panorama touring bicycle is promoted by Ridgeback for expedition quality and durability, so it's not a lightweight. With mudguards but no racks, its weight is about 28½lbs (just less than 13kg). Fully loaded with a tent and four panniers it will weigh about 75lbs.
Ridgeback Panorama specification
Frame: Reynolds 725 tubes and stays; Fork: triple butted Cro Moly; Headset: sealed Intellaset w/alloy spacer; Shifters: Shimano Tiagra Dual Control STI; Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT; Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra; Chainset: Shimano Deore 48/36/26; Bottom bracket: Shimano external; Freewheel: Shimano Cassette 11-32 9sp; Hubs: Shimano Deore; Rims: Alex DH-19 36h w/CNC sidewall; Spokes: DT Champion stainless; Tyres: Continental Contact 700 x 37c; Brakes: Shimano BR-R550 (non-series); Brake levers: Shimano Tiagra dual control ST-4500 and Tektro RL726 top mount levers; Racks and cages: Blackburn (crap racks); Saddle: gel, leather cover (v/comfy).
Incidentally, Ridgeback have a reputation for listening to customers and building feedback into the development of their products. I sent in some feedback on their website and within half an hour received a reply by email from James Olsen, Product Manager.
Customer feedback is apparently the reason why Ridgeback have given the Panorama two holes in the front of the downtube, one at the top and the other at the bottom, so that dynamo light cables can be fed down inside the tube. To prevent water entering the tube and corroding the inside, these holes should be sealed with tape or small plastic stoppers, but only after WD40 or similar has been squirted in. The position of the bottom hole is perhaps the reason why the front bottle cage mountings on the downtube are slightly higher than ideal, requiring a short bottle to miss the front mudguard.
The 2008 model bike has a very useful adjustable stem (not illustrated on the bike in the catalogue) which can be rotated vertically to lift or lower the handlebars. Overall, after 400 miles in the first three weeks, no complaints whatsoever. An excellent touring bicycle for the money.
Panorama steering geometry
Something I've noticed when riding the Panorama (compared to the Peugeot mountain bike) is that I can ride 'no hands' more easily. You'd expect this on a touring bike but the forks are a bit straighter (less forward curve) and intuitively you might think more curve would make the bike more stable on the steering. Not so. It's the other way round. This is illustrated by the following diagram.
A bike's 'trail' is the distance between the point where the steering axis intersects the ground and the point where the front tyre touches down (about 70mm on the Panorama touring bike and 65mm on the Peugeot mountain bike). As the diagram shows, a less curved fork has less 'offset' but more trail. A bike with straight forks would be even easier to ride 'no hands' as the trail would be even greater. Looking at the geometry, this makes perfect sense, with the wheel acting more like a castor in reverse.
The Ridgeback Panorama's 'head angle' of 71° (the slope of the fork) is quite shallow, and this too has the effect of increasing trail and making the bike more stable. It's perhaps this, rather than the fork offset, that makes 'no hands' riding easier. Also taken into account in the design is the assumed rolling resistance of the front tyre: more resistance, more tendency for the road to keep the wheel in line with the frame.
Large 700 x 37c tyres are supplied with the bike, so fairly high rolling resistance but a very comfy and stable ride, and it can easily be ridden on gravel or muddy tracks and grassy verges, over low kerbs, etc.
The Ridgeback Panorama was purchased from the Green Machine Bike Shop in Horwich, Lancashire (excellent service). Tel: 01204 696831.