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With the Endurance AL Disc, Ribble has created a bike for the masses. It's ideal for winter training, commuting, club runs, short blasts or long rides – it's even quick enough for entry-level racing. The balanced, neutral handling works for the beginner, without feeling overly relaxed for the seasoned roadie. It's a lot of bike for the money.
For seven years I commuted 35 miles a day, five days a week in every season, and it was Ribble's Audax that came out of the shed for winter and wet days. It wasn't perfect – tyre clearances were tight with mudguards fitted, for example, and it was a bit 'buzzy' – but it was a great, cheap frame with decent stiffness and racy geometry.
This Endurance AL embodies all of the good bits of that Audax, but in a much more refined and up-to-date package.
For starters, the alloy frame is much more comfortable. It's not the smoothest ride out there, but at this price, I'm certainly not complaining.
With the tyres pumped up hard (the way I like them) I can feel what's going on with the road below, but the frame and fork dampen much of the harsh vibration. The contact points don't tire you out on long rides. And that's ideal because long rides are something the Endurance AL does very well.
The geometry is more relaxed than the majority of race machines, with a slightly shorter top tube and taller head tube for a slightly more upright position. The head angle is a touch slacker too, which takes the edge off of the steering speed, while the longer wheelbase (there to allow the frameset to accept mudguards) adds to the stability.
It still focuses on performance though, and by slamming the stem (removing the spacers) I could get a good saddle-to-bar drop when I wanted to get a shift on.
Overall, the Endurance feels nicely balanced. The steering is quick enough to be fun in the twisty bits without stepping over the line and becoming a handful, which is perfect if you're new to road riding or when heading into bad weather.
I love descending at speed, and the more technical the downhill, the better. Pushing a bike hard into and through the bends (especially off-camber ones) highlights any understeer or delay, and the Ribble copes well, showing no real issues.
In fact, while its 10.03kg weight can hamper things under acceleration, it also gives a real feeling of confidence when gravity is giving you a nudge. The decent spread of gears helps you up the steeper slopes, and to be fair, the Ribble is plenty stiff enough for out of the saddle shenanigans when the going gets tough.
Summing the ride up, it's a good all-rounder; a capable road bike that puts a smile on your face whether you're just popping out for a few miles or heading further afield.
The frame uses 6061-T6 aluminium alloy tubing which is double-butted (two different wall thicknesses) to reduce weight and increase comfort by balancing stiffness levels.
The welding is pretty neat and tidy in most places, with the main junctions looking smooth and clean, though some spots, such as the seatstay bridge and the rear dropouts, are a little more agricultural.
The whole frameset is covered in a thick paint job which even has a bit of a metallic flick to it. It looks cool in the sunlight and belies its entry-level price point.
To get the appropriate stiffness levels, aluminium tubing needs to be larger in section than steel or titanium, so it's no surprise to see some chunky aspects to the Ribble frame.
The head tube is tapered, growing as it meets the large D-section down tube. This tube hides the cables and hoses inside until they exit at the bottom bracket (BB).
Speaking of the BB, Ribble has gone for an externally threaded option as opposed to press fit. That's a sensible choice on a bike that can take mudguards, and is likely to see plenty of wet weather. While tolerances between frames and press-fit BBs have improved, there's still a chance of water/dirt ingress leading to creaking.
Even though the Endurance AL is disc-equipped, Ribble has kept the chainstay and seatstay bridges there to make fitting mudguards easier. Unlike on a rim braked bike, though, the bolt for the guard is on the underside of the bridge rather than facing backward, so some guards may require drilling to fit.
It's not a big issue, though, to be honest, I've done it on my own bikes in the past. The same is true for the underside of the fork.
The Ribble is available in five sizes from x-small through to x-large. Our medium has a 550mm top tube and a 150mm head tube with stack and reach numbers of 551mm and 388mm respectively. The head angle is 72.5° and the seat angle is 73.6°.
Ribble has managed to keep the wheelbase under a metre (by 5mm), so you get that stability while staying short enough to be fun in the corners. Claimed weight for a medium frame is 1,680g and 470g for the fork.
The fork is full carbon fibre and, like the frame, comes with flat mounts for the calipers and a 12mm thru-axle. It offers plenty of stiffness and I never found any flex when cornering or braking hard.
The test bike we have comes with the majority of a Tiagra 4700 groupset. If you haven't swotted up on your Shimano component hierarchy, then I'll tell you that Tiagra sits above Claris and Sora, with 105 above it. It's the only 10-speed groupset in the road line-up, and offers a very good balance of shifting performance versus cost. You can read a full review of Tiagra here.
This standard build pairs a 50/34t chainset to an 11-32t cassette, although you can spec an 11-34t if you want a little extra help in the hills. Overall, it's a good spread of gears that get the majority of riders up and down their local climbs.
Throughout testing the shifting remained spot on – after a little tweak to combat cable stretch – and, as long as you are happy to sacrifice that extra sprocket at the rear, it's a groupset that won't need updating or replacing for many thousands of miles.
To keep costs down, Ribble uses the standard mechanical-braking Tiagra STIs, rather than the more expensive hydraulic version with matching calipers.
Taking care of the actual stopping are Tektro MD510 mechanical calipers and 160mm Tektro rotors, which on the whole aren't too bad. I had a few sketchy moments before the mating faces had bedded in, but after a couple of wet rides things did improve.
They don't offer anything like as much stopping power or modulation as hydraulics, but do match the Tiagra dual-pivot rim caliper they're technically replacing, with the added bonus that they work straight away in the wet.
Level is Ribble's in-house component brand, so it's no surprise to see the Endurance AL coming with plenty of it fitted.
The standard build comes with an alloy Level 1 seatpost, but ours has an upgrade to a Level 2 carbon option, which nudges the price up by £20. You can play about with different options using Ribble's Bikebuilder.
The Level 1 stem and handlebar are entry-level stuff but do the job. The bar has quite a shallow drop, which means even those new to road riding will be able to exploit all positions.
The cork ribbon bar tape is a little on the thin side though, so treating yourself to something a little thicker will increase comfort.
I like the shape of Prologo's saddles, so I was pleased to find the Kappa RS here. Its supportive padding takes the bumps out without you bouncing around on it, and its long, slender shape works well when you are in the drops.
Ribble specs the Endurance AL with a pair of Mavic Aksium wheels, which are heavy – nearly 2kg a set. I've ridden various pairs on road and gravel bikes though, and if you want something strong and robust look no further. Durability is good.
They come with 24 spokes connecting the alloy hubs to the 21mm deep rims, front and rear.
Rim width is a bit 'old school' at just 17mm so they won't work too well if you want to exploit the Ribble's 32mm max tyre clearance, although they're fine with the 25mm maximum when mudguards are fitted. If you're after a performance boost further down the line, treat yourself to some lighter wheels, even if it is just for summer use.
The Endurance AL uses the ever-dependable Continental Ultra Sport III. It's a training tyre, but one that offers decent levels of grip and rolling resistance. It's quite a common tyre and I've ridden thousands of miles on them – they offer a good bang for your buck. They seem pretty robust, too.
This Tiagra build is £999 with the standard alloy seatpost, while the frameset is available for £599. The sub-grand price point is highly competitive, so it's no surprise to see pretty much every brand trying to get a foothold.
Merida's offering, the Scultura Disc 200 has (like many bikes) increased in price since I tested it, with the latest model costing £1,000. It's a bit more race orientated than the Ribble, so only has clearance for 25mm tyres and there's no option to fit mudguards. It also comes with Sora/FSA components. It's nearly a kilo lighter, though.
Also a fair bit lighter is the Canyon Endurace AL Disc 6.0. Its frame is about 300g lighter than the Ribble's, but you could redress the balance by ditching the Aksiums on the latter. The Canyon comes with a Tiagra groupset, DT Swiss wheels, and Conti Grand Prix tyres so it's a decent build for £1,199. Like the Merida it also doesn't take mudguards, so you lose some of that versatility.
The Ribble is a loveable bike. You only notice the weight a small amount of the time, such as on steep climbs or in stop/start urban situations. Everywhere else it's just fun and quick to ride, plus it's just so easy to live with – and all at an impressively competitive price too.
Very capable and versatile road bike that doesn't break the bank
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ribble Endurance AL Disc 2021
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Shimano Tiagra 4700 2x10-Speed Mechanical Disc.
Shifters - Shimano Tiagra 4700 10-Speed.
Brakes - Tektro MD510 Mechanical disc.
Chainset - Shimano Tiagra 4700 50-34T.
Bottom Bracket - Shimano RS500 BSA 68mm.
Cassette - Shimano HG500 10-Speed 11-32T.
Chain - Shimano HG54 10-Speed.
Rotors - Tektro Centrelock 160mm.
Front Derailleur - Shimano Tiagra 4700 Braze On..
Rear Derailleur - Shimano Tiagra 4700 Medium Cage
Wheels - Mavic Aksium Disc Clincher, 12x100mm/12x142mm.
Tyres - Continental Ultra Sport III, 700x28c, Black.
Bars - LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, Black.
Stem - LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, Black.
Bar Tape - LEVEL Cork Ribbon, Black.
Seatpost - LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy 27.2mm, 350mm, Black.
Saddle - Prologo Kappa RS, Black.
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Ribble says, "The Endurance AL Disc is a highly capable endurance road bike with the look and feel of a performance race bike. Shimano's tried and tested Tiagra 10-speed groupset is renowned for its slick, reliable shifting and with disc brakes inspire more braking confidence in variable conditions. Mavic Aksium wheels fitted with Continental Ultra Sport tyres are a great combination for comfort, reliability and grip in all conditions."
It's a good quality road bike that's fairly versatility thanks to its ability to take mudguards.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
A frameset is available for £599, or you can make the jump to a 105 groupset with hydraulic gears for £1,299.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Overall the quality is good. Some of the welding isn't the neatest I've seen at this price, but it's barely noticeable unless you really scrutinise the frame. The paint job gives the bike a much more expensive look though.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame - 6061-T6 Aluminium, Heat-Treated, Seamless Welds.
Forks - Full Carbon Fibre Monocoque, Tapered Steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
As you'd expect the geometry is endurance focused, which means a shorter top tube and taller head tube than a pure race bike – although it isn't as relaxed as some.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The reach and stack figures are very typical.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
On the whole, yes. The aluminium frame offers decent levels of comfort with no issues of harshness.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are pretty good. I could get a small amount of flex when sprinting absolutely flat out, but it's barely noticeable.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is fine thanks to the large-diameter tubing in the lower half.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is perfectly suited to this style of bike. It's fun in the bends without any twitchiness, so will suit those new to road bikes as well as riders with more experience.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'm a big fan of Prologo saddles, so I got on with the Kappa very well.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The handlebar and stem are stiff enough for out of the saddle efforts.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I'd definitely upgrade the Aksium wheels for something lighter, as they do hamper performance and efficiency, especially when accelerating and climbing.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Tiagra works well, so the shifting performance is absolutely fine. The Tektro brakes lack the bite of hydraulic systems, but they work pretty well compared to other cable discs.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The Aksiums offer good levels of durability but are heavy, which affects climbing and acceleration. I would definitely be looking at an upgrade, especially for summer.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Good all-rounders offering reasonable grip, rolling resistance and durability.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Level finishing kit works well, and I especially like the shallow drop of the handlebar for its easy access to all hand positions. The Prologo saddle suits me well too.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Endurance AL Disc is well specced for the money. I've mentioned Merida's similar offering in the report – which gets a lower spec build for the same price – while Canyon's Endurace, often touted as good value for money, costs a couple of hundred quid more for the same spec.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Ribble Endurance AL is a lot of fun to ride thanks to a quality frame and fork with well thought-out geometry. The spec is also good quality for the money. It all adds up to be a very good package.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!