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Maddy Nutt’s Ribble Gravel SL — a podium-winning gravel race machine

A closer look at last weekend's Battle on the Beach-beating race bike that Maddy Nutt rode to third place at the event in Pembrey

Last weekend, while most of us were likely chilling on the sofa, hundreds of cyclists were battling their bikes through the sandy Welsh beach at Pembrey. One of those riders was Maddy Nutt, a gravel racer based in London. This Ribble Gravel SL is the bike Nutt was riding through the dunes, securing her a third spot on the podium in the women’s race. Let’s take a closer look at the bike. 

battle on the beach podium

Battle on the Beach is one of those UK gravel races where no one bike will rule them all. The course is sandy (that should be no surprise from the name) and hence, very technical in places. Whether you ride a gravel bike, a cross-country MTB, a fat bike or even a tandem (yes!) you’re going to have to compromise either your speed or comfort. And whether you've chosen the right bike or not, you just need to commit to riding it, especially on the unforgiving sand. 

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​To deal with the copious amount of sand, the Battle equipment choices start with tyres. Nutt was running 47mm wide Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres, wrapped on Parcours Ronde ‘all road' wheels. 

That’s maxing out what Ribble’s race-orientated Gravel SL frame is capable of taking - officially in the 650b wheel size, but as we can tell, you can squeeze in a very wide 700c, too.

You might think that the Gravel SL resembles the brand’s all-capable CGR SL model a lot... and that is because it does. In essence, the two are identical in terms of frame geometry but the Gravel SL adds mounts for carrying more cargo, and the stock models come with smaller 650b hoops as standard instead of the 700c on the CGR. 


Nutt told us that the bike is set up with exactly the same geometry as her road bike. The frame size is XS, which on size charts is at the smaller end for the 5'7” tall rider, but Nutt says she prefers to opt for a much smaller bike, for both really good control of the bike, but also a marginal weight save. “I also have a super short torso!” Nutt explained. 


The colourway of the bike is a unique design for Ribble Racing Collective, which is not an official team, but a group of riders - including Nutt - supported by Ribble in their riding and racing endeavours. 

The Ribble Racing Collective bike’s special front fork and bars colourway is called a metallic teal ‘abstract paint flicker’, and it's applied not only to the Gravel SL but also seen on the Ultra SL R, Endurance SL R and Ultra Tri models the multidisciplinary collective rides.

The subtle metallic teal fades to black odyssey across the entire bike, with offset teal Ribble decal, RC monograms and a custom top cap. Although this is a custom paint job, it is available for anyone through Ribble’s Custom Colour tool. 


In terms of gearing, Nutt was running a Shimano GRX 810 Di2 groupset with a 1x setup. With a 38T chainring at the front and an 11-40T cassette at the back there’s just enough range of gears for the sharp climbs. If you fancy an insight into the punchy climbs on the course, you can check out Nutt's video from the event. 

Your complete guide to Shimano’s GRX gravel groupsets

On to the finishing kit - we have 38cm integrated aero bars, which is the same width as Nutt races on the road, and a Selle Italia SLR Boost TM Superflow saddle. The pedals are Garmin Rally to provide power readings. 


25-year-old Nutt is becoming quite an established gravel racer. Last year she was racing for Team Spectra Racing and won the pro women’s category at Grinduro in Wales, as well as represented Great Britain for the first time at the elite gravel world championships in Italy, placing 29th.

Her story of getting to this point is an inspiring tale of determination. She started cycling as an adult (aged 20) - and after university, Nutt worked in the City in finance but resigned after six months to give her full focus to riding and racing bikes. She is now coming up to her fifth year of cycling and first year of privateering (self-funded full-time racing with the help of numerous sponsors).

Let us know what you think of this Ribble and Nutt's choices for the sandy course, and the colourway! This is for sure only one of the many gravel bikes we’ll have a look at this year, especially as we are having our very first UCI gravel race happening in the UK as well. 

And as always, remember to check our other Bike at Bedtime features and give them some love... 

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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