This guest review has been written by Tim & Laura Moss, who at the time of writing are cycling to Australia, having departed the UK in the summer of 2013. They’re both riding Ridgeback Panoramas and, after 6,000+ miles, have got to know their bikes rather well. Take it away…
The Panorama is British bicycle manufacturer Ridgeback’s top-of-the-range tourer from their World line of touring bikes. Ideally designed for short tours in developed countries, ours have performed well over a longer period (eight months and counting), carrying heavier loads (up to 45kg in winter) and over rough terrain (from dirt tracks in Albania to pot holed messes in India).
This review is based on our experiences from cycling 6,000 miles from England to India as well as shorter training tours in the UK. We are using the 2013 model but, besides the colour, it’s no different from the current model.
The wheels are 700c (28″). More long distance cycle tourists use 26″ wheels than 700c (it’s about 3‑to‑1; we’ve checked), especially if travelling to far flung places where the smaller versions are more common.
Saying that, many cycle tourists do still use 700c wheels, especially those who are trying to break speed records. These days, you can order parts over the internet and have them delivered almost anywhere in the world so this isn’t as much of a problem as it perhaps was in the past.
Tim’s back wheel rim cracked in Turkey and had to be replaced. This may have been the result of any combination of a heavy winter load (his bike weighed around 60kg at the time), bad roads with lots of potholes and a couple of crashes. Its cheap replacement has had similar punishment with no adverse effects after 3,000 miles.
As you would expect with a touring bike, the wheels on the Ridgeback Panorama have 36 spokes, but we do wonder if a stronger rim and spokes could have been used. A professional bike mechanic had checked the spoke tension by hand on the original wheels not long before Tim’s cracked, so we don’t think spoke tension was the problem.
The bike originally came with Continental Contact tyres. These lasted about 3,000 miles before needing replacing. We now have wider Schwalbe Marathon Plus* tyres which feel better for the heavier weight and we are very happy with them.
Handlebars, Brakes & Shifters
The Panorama has large drop handlebars with two sets of brakes: one on top, one on the drops. We’re big fans of these brakes. They allow a lot of different riding positions whilst still having your hands on the brake levers. I couldn’t imagine doing a long tour relying on just the drop brakes — leaning down to grip them properly is uncomfortable and unstable but reaching over the hood never gives enough strength to stop a fully-laden tourer (not the case with disc brakes, such as those on the Kona Sutra).
The gear shifters are integrated into the drop brake levers which makes changing gears blissfully easy. This means they’re more complicated to get at if something goes wrong, but we’ve had no problems so far.
Brakes are rim and an unusual combination of a cantilever mechanism with a particular type of road shoe, a configuration usually used for cyclo-cross bikes. The system allows the use of both the drop brakes as well as bar-top brakes, but it can be a little confusing if you don’t look closely before buying replacement pads (despite internet research and the advice of a bike shop, Tim ordered the wrong type and Laura carried them for 3,000 miles before we realised).
In addition, whilst easily obtained from a well-stocked shop or the internet, the pads are much harder to find on the road. We had to order ours for international delivery. (To save you the trouble, the pads you need are Shimano BR-4600 R50T2.)
Frame & Geometry
The frame on the Panoramas is Reynolds 725 steel; relatively lightweight and weldable should it snap in a far flung land. From the little we understand about tubing used for bike frames, this is top of the range.
We tried a lot of different sizes before committing but both of us still found the reach a bit too much, so we both replaced our stems with shorter ones.
The only quirk with the frame is that on the non-drive-side seat stay is a brazed-on pump peg onto which the pump attaches. Unfortunately, this is the part of the frame you grip when you need to lift a heavy touring bike and the tiny hook digging into your hand is unbearably painful. This effectively means that you can only lift the bike, when laden, with your right arm.
The 3x9-speed drivetrain gives a good range and, although we routinely begged for them to go even lower as we slogged 60kg of bike up yet another Turkish mountain pass in the winter, they’re probably about right.
The rear derailleur is Shimano Deore XT, the front derailleur Shimano Sora, and neither have given us any problems so far.
Tim’s chain snapped going over the Swiss Alps but this may have been an accident waiting to happen after we had played around with our first chain tool back home and installed a ‘magic link’. It only took a couple of minutes to repair and offered no complaints until retirement.
Although giving no other discernable problems, the chain and rear cassette showed signs of wear after 3,000 miles across Europe and were changed. Another 3,000 miles of snow, mud and sand later, Tim’s chain is starting to skip again.
The Shimano PD-M324* pedals are two-sided: flat on the one side and with the option for SPD shoes on the other. This was perfect for us. We used the SPDs across Europe then ditched our cycling shoes in favour of winter boots when the weather turned and are now just using hybrid sandals.
It’s perfectly possible to use normal shoes on the SPD side of the pedal but generally preferable to flick it round to the flat side.
We never used the pump which came with the bikes. It’s probably a matter of personal preference: some will like the convenience of a large pump attached to the frame; others, like us, preferred to leave them off and carry small, high-pressure, metal pumps that we knew wouldn’t break.
Thin, fitted mud guards give excellent coverage on both the front and back wheels, and served us well until we changed to slightly fatter tyres. The increase from 28mm Continental to 35mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus meant there was no longer enough clearance between tyre and frame for the mudguards meaning three out of the four were unceremoniously stripped off in a Turkish car park. Tim managed to keep his front mudguard in place by snapping off the front portion to avoid rubbing against the tyre.
The supplied Avenir gel saddle is fine but we switched them to Brooks B17* leather touring saddles and would recommend doing the same to anyone. It would be a nice feature as standard, although we appreciate that would push the price up a bit.
Perhaps we’re fickle, but we love the classic look of the bikes, particularly with the leather saddles and handlebar tape.
Overall, we have been really pleased with our Ridgeback World Panoramas. They have taken a lot of abuse with the minimum of fuss (Tim’s cracked wheel being the one exception) and performed well from ‑20°C to +40°C, from the Swiss Alps to the Arabian desert.
We reckon the Panorama is an ideal high-end touring bike for short-ish trips around Europe, the US and other developed countries. You don’t need masses of heavy kit so the thin tyres can take the burden and keep you moving fast; and bike shops are frequent and well stocked so you can easily replace those brake pads and get 700c spares.
If we were designing the perfect bike for a more expedition-like tour such as ours, we would probably make the following changes:
- 26-inch wheels rather than 700c.
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres as standard (easily added, of course, as we’ve done).
- Ditch the pump and certainly the annoying brazed-on pump peg.
- Use a more common brake pad that is more easily available.
- Consider butterfly or straight bars with bar ends instead of drops (this is really a matter of personal preference but a choice would be fantastic).
As it happens, Ridgeback’s new ‘Expedition’ touring bike appears to meet many of our requests, including 26-inch wheels and Schwalbe Marathon tyres. So if you want to take a Ridgeback outside of “the West” for several months then the Expedition may be a better (and cheaper) choice than the Panorama.
Thanks guys! Keep up with Laura & Tim’s excellent adventures at TheNextChallenge.org — much more interesting than reading touring bike reviews on the internet…
Evans Cycles* stock the Panorama both online and in-store.
As always, I don’t recommend buying a touring bike online unless you absolutely know what you’re doing. You might not find the same discounts, but you’re almost always better off in the long run getting the size, fit and specification of your touring bike nailed by supporting your local Ridgeback dealer. (Find yours here.)
32 replies on “Ridgeback Panorama Touring Bike Review & Detailed Photos”
Great write-up, thanks
I’ve had my Ridgeback Panorama for over 10 years now and have used it for commuting and cycle touring in Europe. No problems to date. Have made the following changes to the stock set up:
‑Brooks B17 saddle
‑Sputnik 36h rear wheel
‑Marathon Plus tyres (32mm and now 35mm) plus wider SKS mudgaurds
‑shorter/steeper OnOne handlebar stem
‑dual flat/SPD Shimano pedals
It’s a fine tourer, and I’d probably buy again if I were in the market for a new bike, although I’d look hard at what Thorn Cycles has to offer as well. The latest Panorama model has disc brakes, which is a pity as the cantilever brakes are easier to maintain in my experience, especially if you end up with a bent rotor in a far flung place.
Thanks, Jeremy – good to hear positive things from a long-term owner!
I agree with Pete. I’ve toured in western Europe and extensively in the Scottish Highlands. Many branded ‘touring’ bikes don’t appear to be designed by experienced touring cyclists. Things like replacement spoke hangers and bike pump hooks are gimmicks dreamt up by marketing departments.
For me the single biggest requirement on a long tour, besides confidence in the wheels and frame, is the flexibility to get off the tarmac to avoid busy roads. To that end a simple hardtail mountain bike with a longer wheelbase is a perfect touring machine. If you can also fit some full length mudguards you have the perfect bike, not only for touring, but commuting in all weather and riding some trails for leisure.
Cracking wheel rims is a known fault on the Alexrims wheels on the Panorama, my rear rim cracked in exactly the same manner as shown in the photo above after about a year (5000 miles). Replaced with a Mavic A319. The front one is still going strong after about 9 years. I’m pleased with my 2008 Panorama but it’s starting to suffer terminal rust (caused by bring used for winter commutes on gritted roads), so will soon be replaced.
I rode 4,500 miles around GB Coast in 2015 fully loaded (4 panniers & tent etc) on my World Panorama & like others had issues with split rim on the rear wheel… Ended up getting a bomb proof replacement posted to me in the wilds of Scotland from Spar Cycles that worked a dream???????? I’ve still got this bike, but have just bought a VSF Fahrradmanufaktur TX-1000 Expedition Touring Bike for future tours. Top end kit, can’t wait to tour on it????????????
I’ve been on a couple of further tours within the UK since my last post. Fully laden, the Panorama has served me very well, even over quite rough terrain I experienced no mechanical problems whatsoever, apart from the rider that is! Certain parts have been replaced which is solely down to wear and tear and to be expected after every 2.5k miles or so. Yes, the hills/mountains were challenging, yet that’s to be expected when touring on a self-sufficient basis when all of the weight of food, water, cooker, tent, tools, spares and clothing etc. are taken into account. A cracking tourer nontheless.
[…] finally a nice blog post / slash review of the Ridgeback Panorama touring bike similar to the one Mike […]
Again toured the Scottish borders fully loaded a fab touring bike
Hi Guys! It´s a good job.
I have a question, Could you set up tyres of 26 inches in ridgeback panorama?
Not really, because the hubs that hold the brakes are designed for a 28 wheel, so they are 28 ‑26 / 2 is 1 inch too far away from a 26 inch rim.
I heard there are adapters , but that is usually not a great idea.
My suggestion is get a mountainbike that has 26 inch wheels.
The computation above is incorrect.
700c rims have a diameter of 622 mm
26″ rims have a diameter of 559 mm
(622–559)/2 = 31.5 mm
Of course though this doesn’t matter unless you are planning on making an adaptor or brazing on some bosses yourself.
There’s another problem in that unless you put huge tyres on (which wouldn’t fit in this frame), changing to 26″ wheels will lower the bottom bracket so that ground clearance may become a real issue when cornering. Surly make some interesting frames and I’m considering building a bike a around a World Troller frame to do some rough-stuff touring when it comes available.
However, as the Panorama is a good quality steel frame, it is perfectly feasible to have the frame modified at a frame-builder — such as Bob Jackson in Leeds — who would remove the existing brake bosses and place new ones where they need to be for 26″ wheels.
You could get other work done at the same time such as
— removing the offending pump peg
— adding a spoke holder to the rear non-drive-side seatstay.
— adding braze-ons and additional entry points for through-the-frame dynamo lighting wiring. These have evolved recently as electronic shifting has become popular
— switch the side of the front cable stop on the top tube for the rear brake so that the cable crosses under the top tube. This means that the piece of brake cable outer between the handlebar and the first cable stop doesn’t have to make such a tight turn, so the rear brake works better. Mine was done without me asking when I had S&S couplings fitted.
— braze-ons for any other nic-nacs you might be carrying such as frontal defence pod, rear rocket launcher, stinger, fishing rod etc.
You would need a respray after any framework though, which means completely stripping the bike back including headset and crown race.
With all these modifications you might as well get another bike or build one from scratch..
Exactly. I think putting 26″ wheels on this frame is a bad idea because of ground and tyre clearance, and there are several frames out there to choose from that take 26″ wheels, but all the things above are possibilities (that are not necessarily good value or good sense in all circumstances). Fortunately for me I was able to buy the a Ridgeback Panorama frame and fork only and build the bike up from there (with 700 wheels!).
It would be good if there was a 26″ version of this frame. The Expedition uses Reynolds 520 rather than 725.
Has no one thought of the obvious and bought a 29er?
Big rolling diameter, tough of road wheels and tough frame
Interesting.…When I bought my first mountainbike it was not for mountainbiking but for traveling. I thought mountainbikes ( with 26 wheels) were designed to be abused, so I thought they would be very strong.
Indeed, I had No problem with my very ordinary mountainbike. No spokes that broker or anything. And I was fully equiped and not on smooth asphalt.
I thought they put 26 wheels on moutaibikes because 26 is supposed to be small and stronger than 28…
So 29 ? imHo they sound …faster yes…weaker yes…
Here an article http://www.bikemag.com/news/exclusive-war-of-the-wheel-sizes/
that discusses the pros and cons of the 26 / 29
All else being equal, a smaller wheel is stronger.
Bear in mind, however, that all else is rarely equal…
The Ridgeback Expolorer has 26″ wheels and is very similar to the Panorama.
Sorry, Ridgeback Expedition !
Looks like at retrobike from the 19th century
I can tell you don’t tour much or haven’t ridden on long rides for extended times. These kinds of touring frames are designed for reliable, comfortable, year after year of riding, and much more suited to their purpose than using an ultralight, race-based frame, with a geometry and components that work not for racing but touring.
Hi I bought my Panorama about 7 years ago because I liked the look of it in a magazine. Ok, maybe not the best way to pick a bike but I’ve never been disapointed. Im from N Ireland and the bikes first serious run was the C2C run across England which went without a hitch. a couple of weeks in Scotland and many runs at home have convinced me that more by good luck than good guidance, I got the right bike for my job, Maybe a cheaper bike would have done me fine but you know what? I love it!
I considered buying a Ridgeback Panorama for European tours in 2007 but decided not to buy as I thought I would have to swap out too many components.
Later my LBS offered me the frame from that bike at a very good price so I purchased it.
It is currently built up with:
9sp XT groupset except for chainset (Deore), Tiagra FD and shifters with 11/34 22/32/48 gearing
Chris King headset
Cantilever brakes with 70mm cartridge inserts
Exal LX17 rims (previously Mavic A719)
Schwalbe Marathon 32mm tyres
Tubus Duo and Fly racks
Brooks Imperial saddle
SON deluxe dynamo
This has proved to be a phenomenal touring bike, and impresses me more every tour. As part of a road tour I recently rode up several off-road mountain passes in the Alps, and despite the very rough surfaces on these roads, the bike handled everything easily, better than I did!
I’ve read several reports of the original equipment rims for this bike cracking. I think the frame geometry, and the choice of tubing is excellent, in particular the large diameter downtube, and it can handle most things including very high speeds, but I think few of the components that form the standard specification are good choices for rough-stuff loaded touring. In particular, the gear ratios, the aluminium racks (need to be steel or stainless steel), and the hubs and rims, but all this can be easily changed.
I cycled a few months in Europe.
I had a decent, nothing fancy, but nothing too cheap either,2nd hand mountain bike with 26 inch wheels . I avoided the streets with cars as much as possible, ( St james way amongst others.) I had luggage and myself on my poor bike, but I had no problems with the wheels. I did meet lots of people who had , often rather expensive so called ’ touring bikes’, with 28 inch ( 700) wheels, designed for long distance travelling, but often they told me they were afraid to leave the asphalt, because of their wheels.…. I can definitely recommand any decent old school mountain bike with 26 inch wheels. After all they are built to be abused.
The Panorama is a great tourer been on 500 mile run to Scottish Highlands at Easter without any problems. Tip.……take spare break blocks which you are sure will fit. Couldn’t find any to fit in Inverness.….….…..
I bought one of these in Edinburgh late 2012 to ride the North Sea Cycle Route. I had the same problem with the rear wheel rim splitting after about 2500km and had to get a new one made in Sweden. The brakes pads were also hard to replace as they are a very unique style even for Europe. They also didn’t provide a sufficient stopping capability with a reasonable load of approximately 25kg. The gears also played up after the small lug that holds the rear derailier was “bumped” my a closing door as I walked my bike out of a backpackers in Scotland. It did’t perform well on the non-road surfaces one is likely to encounter on the NSCR, and I was fortunate enough to have the bike stolen when I reached Amsterdam. I don’t consider the Ridgeback Panorama a serious touring bike.
Thanks for your comment. I might add that bending the gear hanger would affect the rear derailleur of any bike, not just this one. I also suspect that when it comes to off-road performance it may have been a case of the wrong tool for the job; it’s no secret that the Panorama is designed for road touring.
It certainly sounds like the choice of rims and brakes could do with looking at, and I’m sure Ridgeback would be glad of the feedback.
“From the little we understand about tubing used for bike frames, this is top of the range.”
Not correct. It’s three down in the pecking order.
“Ideally designed for short tours in developed countries”, ours have performed well over a longer period … carrying heavier loads.. and over rough terrain … 6,000 miles… as well as shorter training tours in the UK. ….we reckon the Panorama is an ideal high-end touring bike for short-ish trips around Europe, the US and other developed countries.”
Sorry — can you qualify what this bike is for then? Is it being marked down as a short tourer in the Developed World because of the wheel size (see internet comment above)?
According to the link provided to the Reynold’s site, sits sixth in their ten frame material range.
Tim and Laura are currently using the bike for a world tour, and, having done so for more than half a year, have concluded that the bike seems better suited to short tours in the developed world. Sorry if that wasn’t clear enough.
One thing to note for someone buying online is that the handlebars are “old fashioned” drop bars making the hoods further away from the rider. I had to change my handlebars to “modern” compact drops to make it fit me correctly, which was a bit of a pain as the handlebar stem doesn’t accept “modern” drop bars. If I remember correctly, it is 26mm unlike most handlebars being 31. something.
Apart from that(except putting a Brooks saddle on it) it is an excellent bike.