You may have heard of a company making motorcycles without a clutch. Its Ridley Motorcycles. Its no secret that the Oklahoma-based manufacturer has been producing clutch-free motorcycles for more than 10 years, but for those who ride a Ridley well, they know the secret. Theyre riding a motorcycle that looks, sounds and feels just like cruiser, but theres no clutch to master. Just twist the throttle and go.
I test rode Ridleys most aggressively styled motorcycle to date, the Auto-Glide Chopper, to get a taste of what its like to ride a motorcycle without a clutch. The throttle action is just like a scooter, but any other similarities to a scooter end there. I point this out because some people think riding a motorcycle without a clutch is somehow riding less of a motorcycle, that you might as well be riding a scooter. Untrue. Erase that notion from your brain. Ridleys Auto-Glide Chopper and its four other cruiser models the Auto-Glide Sport, Auto-Glide Classic, Auto-Glide TT, and the Auto-Glide Old School are pure cruiser. No one will know youre riding a clutch-less bike, except you. Thats the beauty of a Ridley. The styling, fit and finish on all of Ridleys bikes are top-notch with custom paint, plenty of chrome, LED turn signals, a custom seat, spoke wheels, and big, beefy tires.
Aside from their good looks, the main appeal is that clutch-free action. Some people want that feeling of the wind in their face but are skittish about mastering the clutch/throttle action. People with joint issues are also interested in a Ridley because theres no clutch lever to squeeze. Ridley executives say, surprisingly, many of their customers are riders who want a fun, easy-to-ride and maintain motorcycle.
Nice and Low
Ever ride a bike with a 24.5-inch seat height? Even the most diminutive-framed folks can reach the ground on a Ridley. You sit very low in the saddle with your knees almost at a 90-degree angle (see Genevieve in above photo). Theres plenty of extra length in your legs for maneuvering the motorcycle in parking lots. All the bikes boast this low seat, but before you think this rules you out because youre tall, dont. Seat height and fit are relative to where you place your hands and feet.
On the longest of them all, the 77-inch wheelbase Chopper, my long legs met the forward controls and footpegs just perfectly, and my arms extended to the handlebar grips comfortably and Im 5 feet 6.5 inches. Everything felt just right on this bike. Not too big, not too small. The other three Auto-Glide models have a 66-inch wheelbase with floorboards mounted forward just slightly, handlebars angled back towards the rider.
The bikes are extremely light with none weighing more than 460 pounds. The saddle on the Chopper was quite comfortable and positioned just right for me. Specs say its made from memory foam, the same material those expensive mattresses are made of.
The controls on the Ridleys are standard Harley-style with the turn signals, horn, lights and engine switches all in familiar places. The bikes are powered by a 750cc V-twin engine with a proprietary Ridley CVT transmission (Constant Velocity Transmission) pushing it forward. There is no gearbox. CVTs use a pulley system allowing for infinite variability between highest and lowest gears.
No shifting means you just twist the throttle and go. To get into neutral, simply take your hand off the throttle. When you start the engine you dont want your hand on the throttle “giving it gas” because youll be propelled forward.
How a Ridley Rides
When you crank the throttle from a stop, the bike propels forward smoothly and evenly. It takes some time to orient yourself to this clutch-free way of riding, but I soon got my hands in sync with my brain and was rolling along just fine. Dont expect a jolt when you crank the throttle hard expecting more speed. CVT doesnt work that way. Twisting the throttle more, simply moves you forward faster. Youll most likely get passed while getting up to speed as other riders snick through their gears. But once youre at speed, youll keep up just fine.
When you let off the throttle, the motorcycles otherwise throaty exhaust gets stone quiet. The bike is now coasting along. I noticed this when I was going downhill on a twisty road. Normally, youd downshift to slow down and then brake. On the Ridley, you brake to slow down and thats done the normal way by pulling in the right hand lever to actuate the front brake, and the right foot pedal for the rear brake. Theres no downshifting because there are no gears. Its kind of weird at first to hear a running motorcycle sound so quiet upon letting up on the throttle, but I got used to it. Just another quality that makes the Ridley a unique motorcycle.
As I rode the Chopper through some twisties, I found it carves like a charm going exactly where I point it. Even with the fat 240mm rear tire (the only model with that big of a rear tire), I managed to lean the bike into the turns without the bike pulling me upwards. Ive found tire size becomes an issue when its larger than 250mm.
When up to speed this bike feels like a 750cc motorcycle, not overly powerful, but not a dog either. The suspension is your standard Softail style setup, but with two rear shocks. It glides over imperfections in the pavement, despite being so low to the ground. I was never once jolted out of the saddle.
Braking is superb thanks to the 4 piston high performance Ferodo brakes in the front and in the rear. I only needed the front brake most the time to slow me down, until I came to a complete stop and used both brakes.
The Chopper is Ridleys priciest model starting at $18,775. Ridley didnt skimp on anything with this bike though: chrome LED turn signals, spoke wheels, custom handgrips and footpegs, chrome belt cover, headlight housing and forks, LED speedometer, and custom paint job É and thats just the stock version. My test bike had the optional metallic paint and powder-coated frame, about a $500 upgrade. This is a custom motorcycle through and through.
In terms of maintenance, the only major item to be aware of is the belt will need to be changed every 10,000 to 15,000 miles; every 5,000 miles if all you do is in-town riding. With a CVT transmission, wear and tear on the belt drive happens on take-off. The narrower the belt the less gear range it has. Riders will notice the bike wont go as fast as it used it to, so Ridley recommends replacing the belt, an $80 part, at certain intervals depending on your style of riding. Jay Ridley says it beats having to replace clutch plates and fluids.
With nearly 50 dealers nationwide, five in Canada, expansion into Japan and Puerto Rico, and a NASCAR sponsorship in the works, Ridley is a force to be reckoned with. If you have a chance to ride an Auto-Glide Chopper or any of the Auto-Glide models, youll be pleasantly surprised to feel how the bikes compete in the big leagues, but in such a user-friendly package. No one needs to know the clutch-free secret but you.
Specs at a Glance: 2006 Ridley Auto-Glide Chopper
Seat Height: 24.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3 gallons
Dry Weight: 460 pounds
Ridley is no newcomer to the market and it shows in the fit and ride of its motorcycles. These are well-made, solid bikes that deserve a second look if youve been considering a clutch-free motorcycle, or looking for an easy-to-ride bike. Ridley offers demo rides at all the major rallies. Go ahead and test ride one. Then you’ll know what the secret is all about.
61 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Ridley Clutch-Free Motorcycles
I have some Ridley Speedster used parts for sale if any one is interested — engine covers, pipes, clutch, carb, and intake. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have an ’07 Auto-Gide TT and a Yamaha Star 1100. I love it for around town, especially when stuck in traffic. I take the Yamaha for longer rides, for the reasons Genevieve mentioned, the power fades at high speed. Though, I do know folks who do ride their Ridleys on road trips. She’s gorgeous and I’ve emptied dealerships, even H-D, because everyone wants to take a look at her.There were a number of factors leading to Clay (father) and Jay (son) filing for bankruptcy in 2009. But Jay formed a new company, Ridley Genuine Parts. He supports the motorcycles, offering parts and technical advice. In fact, he bought all the stock at the bankruptcy auction.Ridleys can be found on eBay for incredibly reasonable prices, as well as the dealership in Joplin, MO. Since Jay continues to support the bikes, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one.
You can still purchase new and used bikes from the only shop left at this time in Carthage, Mo. I purchased a 2008 Chopper last year that was brand new.
Does anyone know where in Canada I would be able to find a Ridley. We are not able to import these into Canada for whatever reason. So I need to find one on this side of the border.
Ridley is no longer in business. The only available motorcycles are on the used market.
I loved this article and I want a Ridley… is there an outlet in Malaysia?
Ridley has stopped manufacturing motorcycles. You’ll have to find a used one and best way to do that would be to do an Internet search.
I loved this article. It was very informative and made me want to go out and buy one now. I was wondering which one to test drive. I’m only 5 feet so not sure which one would be best. I love the look of the chopper for the low seat but I’m really leaning toward the Auto-Glide Classic because I can really personalize it. Any input would be great. Looking forward to my first test drive.
I have a 08 Auto-Glide Classic. It’s my second Ridley and I just love it.
I noticed most of these comments are old. Wondering if there is any new info — if Ridley has reorganized yet and where I can purchase one at. Especially interested in the Auto-Glide Old School model. I live in Wisconsin and all efforts have not produced even one used Ridley in the state. Please help! Spring is coming upon us and I would love to ride out the fever. I did look on Ridley Motorcycle company Web site but they had none available. Where else can I look and where can I get a brochure or book?
Ridley has reorganized and is sending out regular newsletters to keep people up to date, and the company has an active Facebook page. It looks like they are selling pre-owned Ridleys only on their Web site. You can also call them at their factory for more information on buying. The number is on their Web site, RidleyMotorcycle.com.
I am looking for to buy a pre-own Auto Glide TT orCclassic or Auto=Glide standard. Please contact me at 905-510-6488.
Great article. Is Ridley re-organizing under the bankruptcy and still in business and in production? Am seriously interested, but am in Michigan, not many used ones available.
Yes, the company is currently in the middle of a reorganization bankruptcy.
I am posting this for Linda, who is interested in owning a Ridley. I have a Ridley trike. It is a great bike, especially for a women. My trike is black with chrome. This is not a conversion trike. 2008 with 4148 miles. Just the most comfortable ride. If interested please email me. I am currently asking $24K, however, provide me with a price range for me to consider. Email: email@example.com.
Looking for a Ridley. Anybody know of a dealer in Ontario?
Most interesting article. I would love my wife to ride with me, but she has nerve damage in her left hand that precludes her from normal motorcyle driving. She can close her left hand, but can't open it up without using her right hand. Other then that she is in good health.
Is there a Ridley dealer in Ontario?
Best thing I ever did was trade my Kawasaki 800 Drifter for my 2007 Auto-Glide Classic last August. While my Drifter was a beauty, it just wasn't my “size.” My Classic keeps up with hubby's H-D Road Glide quite well (I lead the pack most often). Be prepared to “show and tell” at virtually every stop. Even had die hard Harley riders want to listen to her motor run!
I'm looking for a Ridley Auto-Glide. Does anyone know of a dealer that offers in-house financing?
So glad to hear about the positive side of Ridley. Most of what I've read on the Web has been about fixing them and buying parts. This lead me to believe they weren't well built. After all, we buy bikes to ride – not repair.
I currently have a H-D Sporty, but would much rather be riding a Ridley. How long have they been making these automatics and where can I find older used models? Are they as pricey as the new ones? Most of the ones I've seen are way out of my price range.
The company has been around for more than 10 years. Be sure to visit their Web site to learn more.
Hey “Alison” in Orlando, FLoirida: I have a 2006 Ridley with low miles waiting on an enthusiastic owner. Was previously my ex wifes, and barely been ridden. Make me an offer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am interested in Ridley bikes. Any dealers in New Mexico?
Check their Web site.
I just saw one of these beauties in Daytona. I want one so much! I'm just worried about two things:
1) Cost: I would definitely need financing and I think even with that it may be out of my range.
2) MSF Classes: The MSF class uses a clutch and I am scared to death of using one. I wish I didn't have to suffer to get my dream automatic bike. Plus, I hope they have a bike I can drive for the classes. I'm barely 4 feet 11 inches with a 26-inch inseam, so a lot of bikes are too tall for me as it is.
This is definitely the bike I'm considering above any other if I can make it happen. Thanks for the review!
I own a Ridley, and I am in love with this motorcycle. I have riden Hondas, and I use to own a FLX Low Rider Harley. What I love about this bike is how it handles. It handles and performs better than any motorcycle I have ever owned (sorry Harley). It is well balanced. I live in the mountains and the way it performs in the curves is unbelievable.
I own a 2006 Auto-Glide Classic. I will never get rid of this motorcycle. If I have had any questions I can call Ridley and everybody has always been very helpful. Did I say that I was 61 years old and still riding.
I am looking for an Auto Glide. My only requirement is that it is silver with purple trival flames. No location too far to get the bike of my dreams. Alas my name (Purpleryder). Email me at email@example.com.
I saw the chopper at Daytona this month and fell in love with it. Now I am taking the motorcycle course so I can buy one. I was talking with a dealer who said once girls purchase the Classic, they trade their bike for a Chopper within a few months. My husband said the Classic is the bike I should get as it will be safer and easier to ride. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
For anyone looking for a used Ridley, I have a 2003 Auto-Glide for sale.
Pearl white, Excellent condition, 3,600 miles. Garage kept. This like-new bike is just a fraction of the cost of a new Ridley. Only $11,000.
Joan left her email out of the posting but I assume she wants it included since she's seeking a response to her ad — so here it is: Horsepilot@aol.com.
I'm getting ready to take the motorcycle safety course in Iowa City. I'm really intrigued by this bike. With a limited number of dealers, where would you go for routine maintenance? Can you take the bike to local shops? The article and comments are really helpful.
When you buy a Ridley, you can check with the dealer you buy it from for a list of approved dealers in your area who could work on it. Ridley won't leave you high and dry. It's a very reputable company that stands by its product.
The Ridley is an awesome bike! I bought an 0eight Auto-Glide Classic on 6/5/08 and have ridden almost 1500 miles on the beautiful backroads of Pennsylvania. I took the motorcycle safety program sponsored by the PA DOT (excellent class by the way) and got my license last summer. Problem was I was scared to death to move from a little 250cc bike onto a big cruiser and have to shift in traffic — or worse I pictured myself stalling at lights or rolling backwards on inclines!
It was by sheer luck I found out about Ridleys. A friend of mine stopped into a local motorcycle shop that happened to be a dealer and saw them. When he explained how they looked and that they were automatic — my eyes lit up! I did my research, read reviews, went to the dealer and literally bought the bike about two weeks after hearing about them. Now I am addicted!
And so true – it is a definite showstopper! I have the Classic in black with rose flames. It is beautiful and sounds like the big bad boys. My friend and I ride together – he has a Springer Softail with lots of chrome and yet everyone is always staring at my bike! People have stopped me at lights, at the gas station, at motorcycle shows and are always intrigued and ask me tons of questions. I can never say enough good things about these bikes. They are well made, sound deep and throaty, handle extremely well and are sooooo easy for a newbie to ride. My sister has joked I need to be a Ridley spokeperson since I become so animated when I talk about my bike.
Pricey? Yes, but the classic design, the eye-catching custom look, the safety (it has a parking brake!) and the unintimidating ride are well worth the money.
I have the Ridley Speedster and love it, but am ready to move up to the Ridley Auto-Glide Classic. If anyone is interested in buying my Speedster please email me for pictures and details: Shorelinerach@yahoo.com.
The Ridley Company is first class with customer service!
I'm 6 feet tall and have been looking at the bikes and reading reviews on them for the past week or so. My inseam is 33 inches. Anyone out there think I might be to tall for the Ridleys? I am going to call the dealership tomorrow and see if I can come out and test drive one.
Wife is only 5 feet tall, hates shifting. We called the factory and asked about the Ridleys. We were invited to visit. We couldn't get there until nearly an hour after closing time, but were told to come on in. We were met at the factory by Clay Ridley, who introduced us to a couple of his very friendly staff. They all showed us around, talked to us for nearly two hours — and with a bad storm on the way!
I was sincerely impressed with them. Brenda ordered a Cruiser the following day. With a little luck, she will be riding it in about two weeks!
Glad you got to experience the kindness, friendliness and genuine-ness of owner Clay Ridley. We think he and his team are a pretty special group of people.
I have been “bike dreamin” for years. I am in my 50s and want one bad. I have looked at numerous bikes but did not find one I was satisfied with until Ridley. I have not found one I could afford yet, but as soon as I find one I will have one.
If anyone out there has one they want to sell, and would be willing to owner finance, I am interested. I search the Internet every day for a used one. New would be good, but I am realistic. I won't settle for anything less than a Ridley. It will be my first bike since I was a teenager. I am anxiously awaiting one. Within a year I hope. Love the review. Thanks for reaffirming my choice.
If anyone has a used Ridley to sell, post it here and we'll put you in touch with Linda.
I believe that a dealer in Bacliff, Texas, (Xtreme Motorcycles) sells Ridley motorcycles, but can you tell me where I can take lessons on a Ridley to safely ride? I signed up for the H-D Rider's Edge saftey class but found that I was not physically strong enough to manage the clutch as much as needed (I have several bruises to show for my efforts!). However, I would still like to learn to ride a motorcycle–without the bruises–and the Ridley sounds like the answer to my prayers. Please advise. Thank you.
You need a motorcycle license to ride a Ridley, so you'll have to pass your state's DMV motorcycle test, or pass the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class to receive your endorsement.
There are no special classes that teach how to ride a Ridley, however the MSF offers a scooter class (msf-usa.org) which is basically the same as a Ridley in that you're learning how to ride a two-wheeled vehicle with an automatic transmission. That would be your best bet.
Your Ridley dealer, however, should give you a parking lot lesson how to ride the Ridley after you purchase one.
Annette Nicolson is the owner of Xtreme Motorcycles and a friend of WRN. She rides a Ridley herself. We highly recommend her dealership.
I took delivery of a 2008 Ridley Chopper in Nov. 07 and I love it! I have 2,900 miles on her and there is not a thing I would change. This is my first bike and it's worth every penny. Clay & Jay Ridley and company are also great to work with.
I was thinking about the Ridley, but not sure. Took the bike road test and passed, only problem was that the test was on a 250 dirt bike that they let us use for the class. I did a wheelie after the figure eight and it scared the heck out of me. I get nervous when I think about the clutch. Wondering if the Ridley is right for me.
Bottom line with a Ridley is this: if you don't want to ever deal with a clutch but want the freedom and feeling of riding a motorcycle, then a Ridley or any other automatic motorcycle is worth looking into.
I have a 2007 Ridley Auto-Glide with two-tone paint. It is my pride and joy. My husband rides a Harley and both our friends ride Harleys. We just returned from riding the Blue Ridge Pkwy. and I keep up fine with them. When we stop for a rest and snack, most of the time someone comments on my bike, not theirs. I love it. I have found that some Harley Fat Boy parts fit my Ridley. After riding Hondas with a clutch, I now prefer my automatic.
Where is the closet place to Massachusetts that sells these automatic bikes?
Visit RidleyMotorcycles.com to find your nearest dealer.
I have been drooling over these bikes for years but have never been next to one. They do not have them in Oregon where I used to live and I haven't gotten to a dealership here in Florida yet.
I want to thank you for your review as it is the first I have seen on this bike from a woman's point of view other than what is on the Ridley site. To see a woman on the chopper just tickles me to no end because I want one!
I've had my Ridley Classic for 2 1/2 years and have put 7,000 enjoyable miles on it. Having this bike has set me free! It's light weight and the low seat allowed me to get off the back seat of my hubby's H-D. Now I turn heads everywhere with this awesome looking bike. They Ridley's may be a little pricey, but you can't put a price on the happiness this bike has given me.
Good point about the price. The Ridley's are very well made and the company has a stellar reputation. It's hard to put a price on that.
I have a Classic and just traded it in for the new 08 Classic. I just love these bikes. Would love to see more of them in this state. I know more women here would ride if they knew about them.
I am interested in a clutchless motorcycle. Do you have any dealers in or around Chicago? Are you going to be at the motorcycle show at the Rosemont Horizon this weekend? Could you send me the prices of your various models?
I purchased an '06 Auto Glide Sport in July 07. I leaned towards the Ridley due to slight paralysis on my left side. I rode off road for years due to trouble managing the clutch. The weight is just right for me.
It has been a true pleasure to get out on the open road. I intend on riding for years to come. My brother-in-law has a Harley-Davidson and everywhere we ride the bike [the Ridley] is a conversation piece.
I have the Ridley Auto-Glide and just love this bike. My issue with other bikes is with the seat height. I have really short legs and can put both feet flat on the ground with my Ridley. As for speed and riding, I have had no problem keeping up with H-D and Honda riders and we ride a lot of distence rides with no problems. I love my Ridley.
I have to agree, it is a real show stopper. People who ride all makes come up to me asking about the bike. If I buy another bike, it will be a Ridley
Carol-You got it right! I don't own one yet, but you can bet your @ss. I will be riding one before the years over. Price is high, but from what I am reading on the Ridley Owners message board (ridleyowners.com), your comments about well made and geniune people are echoed throughout.
I have ridden the Ridley Classic. Originally leaning towards a lowered Harley Deluxe, I have found the Ridley fits me right from the factory. It sure is nice to see a company going after our business, not just the overpriced custom bikes. One ride and you'll know exactly why this bike is on my Christmas list!
I have an '05 Victory Vegas 8-Ball and a '99 Yamaha V Star 1100 Custom, and an '07 Ridley Auto-Glde TT. Last June I was at Green Country Honda in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a dealership that had just added the Ridley line. Clay and Jay Ridley were there giving demo rides. One of the techs said to me, “You ride one, you'll want one.” I rode home on the TT that day.
For me, it's not about being “shiftless.” It's is about an incredibly well made motorcycle. An amazing amount of thought went in to the design and manufacture of this bike. Not to mention that Clay and Jay are really genuine people.
Everywhere I go, I get mobbed by riders of all makes and models of bikes. It's quite a show-stopper. It's worth every penny.