Florian Vermeersch’s Ridley Kanzo Fast: Gravel World Championships Pro Bike

Vermeersch powered to second atop the race-orientated Kanzo Fast gravel bike paired with Shimano’s 11-speed GRX groupset

Clock12:30, Tuesday 10th October 2023

© GCN

Florian Vermeersch’s Ridley Kanzo Fast

The Vermeersch name appears to be a lucky omen at the UCI Gravel World Championships. Last year, Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) placed his name in the history books by winning the inaugural edition of the race. Florian Vermeersch, a compatriot but no relation, came close to making it two in a row for the Vermeerschs of the world on Sunday, infiltrating the day’s race-winning move before eventually having to settle for second behind winner Matej Mohorič (Slovenia).

It was an impressive result for the Lotto Dstny man who teamed up with the Ridley Kanzo Fast gravel bike for what may be the last time. We caught a glimpse of the bike ahead of the race.

Read more: Wout van Aert's Cervélo Aspero for Gravel World Championships

One purpose: win gravel races

With the growth in popularity of the discipline, the term ‘gravel’ has grown to encompass multiple types of terrain. As anyone who rode Unbound earlier this year can attest to, that can be anything from soft-pack gravel all the way through to peanut butter mud. In correlation with this growth of the discipline, the range of gravel bikes has also become broader, with pure adventure bikes at one end and race machines that wouldn’t be out of place in a WorldTour race on the other.

The Ridley Kanzo Fast falls firmly on the latter end of the scale, with an aerodynamic design that is inspired by the Ridley Noah Fast, a bike tried and tested at WorldTour races at the hands of Lotto Dstny. That racing pedigree is plain to see through the dropped seatstays, aggressive geometry and aero handlebars.

Ridleys says that it “spent hours in the wind tunnel” honing the design, something that is virtually a given for road bikes at this point, but is a rarer occurrence for gravel bikes. That is, of course, because a focus on aerodynamics tends to be detrimental to the adventure side of the bike. Not that it matters here. The Kanzo Fast’s sole purpose is to win bike races, not for fun gravel adventures, so Ridley has placed aerodynamics at the forefront of the design. Judging by Vermeersch’s performance, Ridley has done a good job.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see Vermeersch team up with the bike again, though, unless he takes on another gravel race by the end of the year. His trade team Lotto Dstny announced that it was ending its partnership with Ridley back in August, bringing an end to their 12-year partnership at the end of the season.

Read more: Lotto Dstny set to part ways with Ridley and swap to Orbea

Traditional 1x gravel set-up…or not

Unlike other road riders who took to the start line, Vermeersch followed the more traditional gravel route by using a 1x set-up. For it, he used a 50t Rotor Aldhu chainring, although unusually, he didn’t add a chain catcher to the system. These are often used by racers looking for a 'belt and braces' way to prevent dropping a chain. In this case, Vermeersch had no issues riding without one.

The rest of the system was Shimano’s GRX groupset, but not the new 12-speed version released earlier this year. Instead, Vermeersch opted for the older 11-speed version. The older GRX has its limitations – the biggest sprocket it can fit on the back is 42t, which can be limiting in some situations. In the new 12-speed GRX, that capability has been increased to 51t. Vermeersch maxed out the capability of his groupset, using what we believe is a 11-42t Shimano XT mountain bike cassette.

Read more: Shimano releases new 12-speed GRX groupset

That combo provides an easiest 50/42t gear, one of the least climbing-friendly gearing choices we encountered. For comparison, Keegan Swenson’s bike had a 48t chainring but a 52t largest cog, providing a much easier climbing gear. Vermeersch's choice is a surprising one given the punchy parcours, and one that may have made the difference on the day, with Mohorič dropping Vermeersch on the final climbs.

To complete his gravel build, Vermeersch used Vittoria’s Terreno Dry tyres in what appears to be a 38mm width, a common size with most riders sticking to the 38-40mm range. These were paired with DT Swiss ERC 1100 wheels which have 45mm rim depths.

Read more: Keegan Swenson's Santa Cruz Stigmata - UCI Gravel World Championships bike

Bike Specification
Bike
  • year

    2021

  • model

    Kanzo Fast

  • Manufacturer

    Ridley

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