Home
Verdict: 
Great value cyclo-cross racer that's capable of doubling up as a commuter, but it's an aggressive ride
Weight: 
8,760g
Contact: 
www.ribblecycles.co.uk
Ribble CX5
7 10

Ribble's CX5 offers very good value for a full-carbon bike with a quality mid-range specification. We were left a little confused by Ribble's claims that it's "comfort orientated", because of the quite aggressive geometry, but for those who want a cyclo-cross racer they can also use for commuting or mixed-terrain riding, it's a sound choice.

  • Pros: Value, tyre clearance, plenty of options to customise
  • Cons: Geometry far racier than suggested

This is version two of the CX5, and it now comes with the latest flat mount disc callipers, 12mm thru-axles on the front and rear, and 35mm tyre clearance. It also comes with mudguard mounts for the commute so you can really make the most of this bike.

Ribble CX5.jpg

Ribble CX5.jpg

Using Ribble's Bikebuilder you have a variety of components to choose for your build – ours came with a full Shimano 105 groupset with 50/34t compact chainrings and 11-32t cassette, 33mm Challenge Grifo clincher tyres, Mavic Aksium disc wheels and Deda finishing kit. It's an acceptable build for the money, and although an overall weight of 8.76kg certainly isn't the lightest, it's within the realms of what you'd expect for a cyclo-cross bike.

Ribble CX5 - drivetrain.jpg

Ribble CX5 - drivetrain.jpg

The CX5 looks like a pretty standard mid-level cyclo-cross build and geometry on first inspection, with a slightly higher bottom bracket than an adventure bike and plenty of clearance for 35mm tyres – until you get to the head tube and stack/reach. Both are pretty aggressive, which suggests a bike more suitable for a racer who wants a do-it-all bike, rather than a commuter who wants something more relaxed than a race bike.

> Cyclo-cross vs adventure/gravel bikes – what's the difference?

Heading towards the back and the bottom bracket area, on this size medium test bike the seat tube is the same length as the top tube for a traditional, quite square appearance, which helps to add some comfort by putting you a little more upright.

Ribble CX5 - rear.jpg

Ribble CX5 - rear.jpg

The bottom bracket is press fit and oversized – easy to maintain and change, and very stable to help when you're really putting some power down on hills. 

Ribble CX5 - bottom bracket.jpg

Ribble CX5 - bottom bracket.jpg

Usefully, the top tube of the frame is nice and flat to help with carrying in race situations, and cables are internally routed to keep things clean.

Ribble CX5 - top tube.jpg

Ribble CX5 - top tube.jpg

The ride

Stu Kerton mentioned the firm ride and lack of compliance in the Ribble Sportive Racing disc road bike frame, but I found the comfort offered here acceptable on long mixed-terrain rides. That geometry will potentially be a backache for those who want a more relaxed ride, but you do get a generous number of spacers at the front to give you a more upright position if you so desire. For commuting I kept all the spacers underneath the stem, and then moved two up for a cyclo-cross event to get down into a racier position.

Ribble CX5 - stem.jpg

Ribble CX5 - stem.jpg

As such, the bike does offer versatility, but Ribble's marketing of the CX5 as a "comfort orientated, all-round bike" seems a little off the mark. I'd say it's definitely best for racers, and if you're expecting a plusher ride than an endurance road bike with wide tyres, this isn't it.

Ribble CX5 - riding 2.jpg

Ribble CX5 - riding 2.jpg

The 33mm Challenge Grifo tyres are designed specifically for cyclo-cross and they eat up the mud, rocks and stones well when you're riding off-road, offering very decent grip. I was happy with their performance, and they're probably the best pure 'cross option available on Ribble's Bikebuilder. Not surprisingly, they're not great on the road, where cornering is compromised, and I would opt for a tyre with a shallower tread such as the Michelin CX Jet if I wanted one set for both commuting and cross.

Ribble CX5 - tyre.jpg

Ribble CX5 - tyre.jpg

Mavic's Aksium wheels are solid and light enough for racing and I was happy with this upgrade from the default Fulcrum Racing Sport wheels on the Bikebuilder.

Ribble CX5 - rim.jpg

Ribble CX5 - rim.jpg

What I would change is the Deda Zero 1 bar, which transmits a lot of road buzz; I felt it especially at higher tyre pressures on my commute. I'd be inclined to swap it for Deda's Zero 100 instead, costing you £67 more but saving you 55g in weight.

Ribble CX5 - bars.jpg

Ribble CX5 - bars.jpg

Although my rear isn't particularly fussy, it didn't get on too well with the budget Selle Italia X1 Flow saddle. It has what looks like a pressure relief channel, but it's so shallow and a bit harsh so you don't really get any of the benefits. You can get a Fabric Scoop for £30 more, which is what I'd go for.

Ribble CX5 - saddle.jpg

Ribble CX5 - saddle.jpg

Shimano's 105 groupset is plenty reliable and, for me, is the lowest spec I'd choose for cyclo-cross racing when you're banking on being able to change gears rapidly and the mud is clogging up underneath you.

Ribble CX5 - rear mech.jpg

Ribble CX5 - rear mech.jpg

If you prefer 1x and want more stopping power than the 105 140mm rotors, you can upgrade to SRAM Rival for another £130.

Value for money?

With all my recommendations you'd be looking at £1,849 for a full build, which still represents very good value for money. In fact there aren't many full-carbon cyclo-cross bikes close to the £1.5k price point, but one that does challenge the CX5 on value is Planet X's full-carbon XLS. These start from £1,299 with SRAM Rival and comparable components elsewhere, though I can't vouch for the performance of the frame or fork. Boardman's CXR 9.4 is £2,299, but this comes with SRAM's highly-rated Force 1x groupset.

Conclusion

Ribble's CX5 is an ideal bike for a road racer who might dabble in cyclo-cross over winter, and who wants to use the same bike for commuting or mixed terrain riding. Likewise, for a dedicated cyclo-cross racer this will do the job and then some: it's possible to get into a very aggressive position, and can be specced highly enough to satisfy serious cyclo-crossers – upgrades to SRAM 1x or a Shimano Ultegra groupset are both options available on Ribble's Bikebuilder, and might be more suitable for racing.

Ribble CX5 - riding 3.jpg

Ribble CX5 - riding 3.jpg

Verdict

Great value cyclo-cross racer that's capable of doubling up as a commuter, but it's an aggressive ride

road.cc test report

Make and model: Ribble CX5

Size tested: Medium

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

FRAME Ribble CX5 toray carbon

FORK Ribble CX5 carbon

DERAILLEUR Shimano 105

SHIFTERS Shimano 105

BRAKE LEVER Shimano 105

BRAKES Shimano 105

CHAINSET Shimano 105 50/34

BB Shimano BB71 pressfit

CHAIN Shimano 105 5800

WHEELS Mavic Aksium disc

CASSETTE Shimano 105, 11-32t

TYRES Challenge Grifo 33 Pro Cross Folding Tyre

STEM Deda Zero 1

HANDLEBAR Deda Zero 1

HEADSET Ribble

SEATPOST Deda Superleggero

SADDLE Selle Italia X1 Flow

*Note: all components and finishing kit customisable on Ribble's online Advanced Bikebuilder

Tell us what the bike is for

Ribble says: "The CX5 is for fast off-road riding or cyclocross racing, with a full carbon frame. The CX5 is our new, top of the range, race ready, off-road adventure package. We've used all our 'cross experience to tick all the boxes with the CX5 including the very latest flat mount disc calipers - the new standard for consistent braking."

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The carbon frame and fork are glossy and easy to clean, and the frame has proven to be strong and capable after I gave it quite a battering over the test period.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Full carbon frame and fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Raised bottom bracket, clearance for 35mm tyres, flattened top tube for easy carrying, and a short head tube. The latter suggests this is more suitable for a cross racer who wants a do-it-all bike rather than a commuter who wants something more relaxed than a road race bike.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

The stack and reach could put you into quite an aggressive position, although you get enough spacers to bring the front end up.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

It's a fairly comfortable frame; the only slight issues I had were with the tyres and handlebar.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Plenty stiff enough and no noticeable flex in the frame.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes, although it's a bit heavy. Acceleration felt good.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so

No, none.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively Precise and not overly lively.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

I found it a little difficult to steer into very tight corners, but for all but the most extreme off-road cornering it did the job.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I'd change the tyres and handlebar to improve comfort.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The handlebar doesn't match up to the rest of the spec and doesn't soak up all the buzz from rough off-road surfaces or gravel.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

As above, I'd change the handlebar – and possibly the tyres if I was using the bike more for commuting.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10

Let down a bit by the tyres, but the bike can shift.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10

Quite impressive for a heavier bike.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10

No problems on descents, very sturdy.

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
7/10

Not so good on the road because of the tyres.

Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10

A bit difficult to steer into extreme angles.

Rate the bike for climbing:
 
6/10

Weight makes climbing a bit of extra work.

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10

Shimano 105 is tried and tested, with crisp shifting from the comfortable shifters and levers. The compact double setup did the job very well in most cases, though I'd prefer 1x on very steep and changeable courses.

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

On the road no problems, but I'd prefer 1x for cyclo-cross racing on most courses. Shimano 105 is the lowest priced double chainring option I'd consider for cyclo-cross.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10

Thru-axles increase stiffness, and the flat-mount discs bring the obvious benefits of better braking.

Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10

I put them through a lot but they're still solid and true.

Rate the wheels for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so

Strong and sturdy wheels that are light enough for racing; no complaints.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
6/10

The tread is quite prominent and affected cornering – they're best for very muddy cyclo-cross courses.

Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10

The tread is yet to wear at all after hundreds of miles.

Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so

I would opt for a tyre with a shallower tread such as the Michelin CX Jet on Ribble's Advanced Bike Builder if I wanted one set for both commuting and cyclo-cross.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
6/10

Quite a bit of buzz through the Deda Zero 1 bar (especially at higher pressures for commuting mostly on tarmac).

Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
5/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
5/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

If I was to make one upgrade on Ribble's BikeBuilder it would be to pick Deda's Zero 100 instead: £67 more and a 55g weight saving.

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

The brakes give enough stopping power, but some might want rotors bigger than the supplied 140mm.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

A thoroughly enjoyable ride. I was impressed with how the CX5 performed on my commute and in a cyclo-cross race situation, although I'd like to see better 1x options on Ribble's BikeBuilder – and better clarification over what/who the bike is exactly for.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 27  Height: 179cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac)  My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races

After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since.  He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake. 

1 comments

Avatar
bike.owner [207 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

The bike will easily take tyres larger than 35mm. Also,  the frame is electronic capable.