Indian giant Hero Cycles makes its move on the UK market
Riddick RD800’s alloy frame and Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain is part of the new range of hardtails from Indian bike Giant, Hero Cycles
What’s the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world? Up until recently it was the aptly named Giant. But earlier this year India’s Hero Cycles overtook the Taiwanese behemoth, producing a claimed 5.2 million bikes a year. That’s a staggering 19,000 per day.
Currently it boasts a global market share in excess of five per cent, but that’s expanding thanks to ambitious growth plans in areas such as Europe. To fertilise this growth, Hero Cycles has invested heavily in a global design office in Manchester, brought on board stars such as Olympics BMX champion Shanaze Read, and launched a suite of new brands to appeal to European consumers. One of these is Riddick, offering a range of road bikes and hardtail mtbs.
The RD800 sits at the upper end of the range, bettered only by the £1,700 RD900, and gets a 6061 alloy frame, coil-sprung RockShox Recon fork and 2×11 Shimano drivetrain with Deore disc brakes.
It would be unexpected, but not impossible (see the likes of Calibre and Sonder), to even get a relatively simple hardtail right first time. Hey, even some household names with long histories in mountain biking still get it wrong. So, like any completely new brand, we’re willing to cut Riddick some slack. But the RD800 leaves room for improvement in almost every department.
The geometry is outdated and conservative, quickly feeling nervous and out of its depth on anything much more technical than a canal towpath. With a steep head angle, long stem and narrow bars, taking it on anything fast or rough ensures wide eyes and white knuckles.
And to make matters worse, the skinny 2.25in WTB tyres on 27.5in wheels mean that the ride is unforgiving compared to the latest crop of hardtails equipped with big volume rubber.
Riddick has been sensible with the specification of the RD800 though, equipping it with a mix of excellent Shimano XT, SLX and Deore parts, so the brakes are powerful and reliable, all 22 gears shift sweetly and the double chainset gives a low enough ratio for sustained climbing.
Riddick still has a long way to go then, before it’s challenging the established players in the competitive mountain bike market, but with the weight of a goliath like Hero Cycles behind it, we’re sure it’s just a matter of time.