Ridgeback Panorama

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.

My Ridgeback Panorama (enlarge)

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.

Bicycle fork offset and trail

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.

Ridgeback dealer

The Ridgeback Panorama was purchased from the Green Machine Bike Shop in Horwich, Lancashire (excellent service). Tel: 01204 696831.

A Ridgeback Panorama exhibited in a gallery

Page last modified: October 03, 2018


Posted by Patrick

November 2nd, 2008 at 22:46

I notice the new 2009 model retails at £1,099.99, a big increase on the 2008 price of £899.99. It's 'British Racing Blue' instead of the 2008 gunmetal, and the tyres are 700 x 32C instead of 700 x 37C. Otherwise the specification looks pretty much the same.

Posted by Tim

November 10th, 2008 at 16:52

Is there any sort of adjustment on the front brake with that hanger? Normal hangers usually have a threaded adjuster, I don't see one here. I want to fit one of these to my front canti setup which judders like mad. Yes Ridgeback prices have gone up a lot – some chatter elsewhere indicates that its partly rising material costs, which have affected all manufacturer's, and partly Ridgeback lifting their price because they have a better product than Dawes, and certainly a better reputation.

Posted by Patrick

November 10th, 2008 at 17:24

The hanger fitted to the front of the fork? No there isn't. The main adjustment is the usual clamping nut on the left cantilever, and there's also a threaded adjuster at the top-mounted brake lever. The hanger on the 2009 model is different and fitted above the head tube.
According to my local bike shop the price rise reflects the fact that Ridgeback, along with many other bicycle companies in the UK, pay for their imports in US Dollars against which the Pound is dropping fast. There may be more price rises on the way.

Posted by Patrick

December 11th, 2008 at 22:58

2000 miles now ridden on my Ridgeback Panorama. It will soon be time to replace the brake pads, and I'll probably fit Continental Travel Contact touring tyres to replace the original Continental Contact touring tyres when they're worn out. Plus a Brooks B17 saddle. Otherwise nothing to report. Excellent bicycle.

Posted by Patrick

June 9th, 2009 at 11:45

We toured Denmark on the Ridgeback Panoramas in May, 2009.

Read the article | See the photos

Posted by Max Carter

June 10th, 2009 at 11:23

Actually, your explanation of steering geometry and front loads is incorrect, back to front in fact.
A front load will be more neutral handling and allow hands free riding more easily if it has LOW trail. Most old French bikes were designed this way because after much experimentation the French touring guys worked out that a) a touring bike handles better with a front rather than rear load and b) a front load is more predictable and easier to manage with low trail. The high trail design has a lot of wheel flop which makes it a handful at lower speeds.

Posted by Patrick

June 10th, 2009 at 11:41

Surely, hands-free cycling must be easier if the front wheel is more reluctant to turn, ie: when there is MORE trail – a greater distance between the steering axis and the contact point on the ground. The bike will want to go straight. If there was NO trail, the steering would feel completely floppy and offer no resistance at all, and it would become almost impossible to ride hands-free.
But on a heavily front-loaded touring bike, I'm not so sure. I can certainly see how the load might want to turn steering with more trail, at lower speeds especially.

Posted by Ted Edwards

October 8th, 2009 at 10:51

Patrick, just found your site and I am enjoying reading it good stuff. Next year I will, because the wife is retiring and she gets a lump sum, looking to buy another bike so I am trawling the Net now. In the process of doing that I have discovered the Rid Pan as I never knew of its existence before. I currently ride a Roberts Audux bike, which sadly was not tailor made for me but its still a good bike and my first thought on getting another bike was to go for a version of the Dawes Galaxy range. Is this a bike you considered and if you did what made you buy the RP instead.
As for riding "no hands" whatever the fork rate is to do it to me is immaterial I just love doing it because when I do I am transformed back to when I first did it at the age of 10 more than 45 years ago. Your never too old you know.

Posted by Patrick

October 8th, 2009 at 22:46

I never considered Dawes. I just went to my local bike shop and asked them how much to build a quality touring bike. They said buy "one of these" (in the Ridgeback catalogue). So I did – two actually. It was a good choice.

Posted by Truing a bicycle front wheel without using a jig

November 25th, 2009 at 11:33

[...] Rim: DRC ST-19 touring rim; spokes: DT Swiss double-butted stainless; hub: Shimano Deore; tyre: Continental Contact 700 x 37c; bike: Ridgeback Panorama. [...]

Posted by A Ridgeback Panorama Exhibited in a Gallery « Puglia2010

February 1st, 2010 at 22:25

[...] A photographer, Patrick Taylor, appears to be a fan of the Ridgeback Panorama. Have a look on his website. Here is one of his [...]

Posted by John Russell

February 28th, 2013 at 20:41

I have been thinking about which touring bike to buy for my 60th birthday this year and finally after reading widely decided on the Panorama. I have been riding a Claud Butler 1996 hybrid for the past 16 years and hadn't ridden a bike with drop handlebars since I left school so I did wonder how the back would cope. It was an excellent choice and I am very pleased with it. I managed to get the 2012 version which still comes with the Tiagra STI's and the front and rear racks and at a bargain price! The way it just motors along and especially the way it eats up hills is really amazing. The handlebars did feel a bit strange at first as did my first experience of STI's but you soon get used to them. Although comfortable enough I did raise the handlebars by 2" as a small concession to my aging back and it was a good decision. I really love this bike and look forward to many happy years and miles on it…………

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The art of Françoise Taylor:
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