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The Ribble Endurance AL e Enthusiast offers all the fun, pleasurable handling and ride quality of the acoustic version, but with the addition of a power plant that delivers plenty of smooth assistance for those of us who want or need a bit of help on the hills. It's a decent spec for the money too.
(If you're reading this Ribble, I really want to try the steel Endurance 725 please.)
The good news is that Ribble hasn't changed much at all, when it comes to comparing the AL with the AL e. Even with the addition of the hub motor, internal wiring, battery and charging point, the geometry has stayed exactly the same.
It's way more relaxed than a full-on race machine, but still feels nimble through the bends and when mixing it with traffic, should you be using it as a commuter.
The 72.5-degree head angle keeps the steering on the neutral side of busy, and the wheelbase length brings some stability while allowing for the fitment of mudguards, though at 991mm (medium size) it's still short enough to keep things interesting.
It's no slouch either. Yes, with all the electronic gubbins this AL e tips the scales at 13.35kg (29.43lb), but when that is likely to become an issue, the motor will be taking the strain.
On the flat above the 25kph (15.5mph) cut-off, the AL e belies its weight; I've been hammering along at 25mph on the straights with no feeling of being laden with the extra heft, and it's the same when it comes to bunging it into the corners.
On descents it can actually make it feel a little more planted – the only thing you need to adapt to is that the extra weight is based in the rear hub, and on some tighter bends it can feel like you are being pushed into the bends quicker than you want to be, which requires a bit of extra braking power and an adjustment of your body position. You'll soon adapt, though.
The Endurance is just an all-round balanced bike. It doesn't shine in any one particular area, but it'll never let you down. It lets you get on with your ride; you can push on where you want to, and take it easy when you want, without ever dropping the fun factor.
What helps is the decent amount of comfort afforded by the alloy frame and carbon fork. It's by no means the most supple I've ridden but neither is it harsh. Even with the tyres pumped up firm you don't get rattled around – apart from on those truly atrocious sections of tarmac – which allows the miles to just by without you really noticing.
Although it might sound like I've just been smashing this thing around like a standard road bike with a bit of added assistance when the going gets tough – which is true, I suppose – I've also been exploiting its 'cheat' mode.
I've ridden a few road e-bikes now and I bloody love 'em. I'm not saying I want one just yet as my only machine, but they have certainly opened up some new options.
I'm happy to put this out there... I hate climbing. I'll do it, normally because it's followed by a descent, but I get no satisfaction from tackling a monument climb.
I remember a few years back riding a sportive in Italy. The switchback climbs weren't even that steep, but boy did they go on, and after about half an hour of twiddling my chainset around I was so bored I could have chucked my bike off the side of the mountain.
Now, riding something like the AL e means I'm actively seeking out hillier routes, or getting more enjoyment on those I regularly ride with ascents in them.
The Mahle Ebikemotion X35+ gives you a 40Nm boost from the 250 watt-hour battery/motor combination when using full power, which on any climb where you are going slow enough for it to kick in makes a real difference.
For instance, I normally average around 155 to 165bpm for my road rides on a normal bike, and that didn't change on the e-bike.
The difference, though, is that even on tough climbs my HR would sit at around the 100bpm mark; I'd put in the extra effort on the flats and shallower gradients, the sections I get more enjoyment out of, getting a sustained effort out at a high power.
An e-bike has many more uses than just making life easier, though. The assistance can benefit the injured, ill or those who've found their ability but not their enthusiasm curbed by the subtle onset of age.
I found this out for myself, with a niggling hip injury and a knackered back. For the first time I have actually had to do as my body has dictated and not just push through the pain.
On days when I've felt fresh and not so sore, I've been out on the other test bikes or ragging this one about all over the place having a laugh, but when the pain becomes an issue the X35+ motor has been a bonus. It's allowed me to get out for a two-hour ride and enjoy the scenery without having to bust a gut.
What I like most about the X35+ is the smoothness of its delivery. When you aren't using it there is no noticeable resistance from the motor, and as the speed drops below 25kph it just gives you a gentle nudge as if you've got a rather nice tailwind.
It's not as punchy as some of the crank-based motors, but I think this works better for the road. If you want or need the assistance, but don't want the ride to feel so obviously assisted, this is a very good system.
The only downside is on those false flats when you are just above the cut-off speed; it's a balancing act whether to just plough on or back off and let the motor kick in. If you don't back off, the AL e is noticeably heavy.
Just like the standard Endurance AL frame, the AL e is manufactured from 6061-T6 aluminium alloy tubing, and even with the oversized down tube enclosing the battery it doesn't scream e-bike.
It's surprisingly subtle, with the only real giveaway being the chunky section hidden behind the chainset, between down tube and seat tube, which houses the charging point.
All the welds on this lower section of the frame are also beefier than the rest to cope with the extra forces from the motor.
Away from this, the welds are smooth and it's a good-looking frame. I'm also a fan of the blue paintjob which gives a look of elegance to the frame and fork.
Ribble has tweaked the front end for full cable/hose integration, diverting everything through the tapered head tube. This gives the bike a very clean look. The cables/hoses then pop out of the frame and fork where they are required.
The only exception is the cable for the power to the rear hub, which exits at the bottom bracket shell. This makes it easier to uncouple the junction, should you need to remove the rear wheel, over bikes that run it internally, as most that I've seen do.
As for the design of the frame, there is nothing too out of the ordinary.
It's chunkier on the lower half to deal with the power, while the upper half is more slender to provide some comfort.
The main difference here over the AL is that the AL e uses a press-fit bottom bracket over a threaded version.
There are concerns over water and dirt ingress with press-fit options because of sloppy tolerances between the mating faces, but that has become less and less of a concern over recent years.
My first ride on the Ribble saw two hours of biblical rain and it's been soaked many times since and I've had no issues with any noise from the BB.
So, what else is there to say?
Well, stiffness levels from the frame are impressive should you feel the need to get out of the saddle for a bit of sprinting or attacking a climb, and the full carbon fork copes well with heavy braking and steering inputs when descending through the bends.
The overall finish is to a high standard, and you get plenty of mounts – three sets for water bottle cages and for mudguards front and rear.
Fitting guards will reduce tyre capacity from 32mm down to 25mm, and the physical attachment will require a bit of fender fettling because of the fork crown mount being above the tyre rather than using a hole that doubles up as a rim brake fitment. It's not a huge issue, though, and is easily sorted with a drill – for the guard, not the bike!
The Ribble Endurance is so-called because of its geometry. As I said earlier, it's a bit more relaxed than a full-on race bike.
It's available in five sizes and we have the middle option, the medium. Here you get seat and head angles of 73.6 and 72.5 degrees respectively, with a head tube length of 150mm and a top tube length of 550mm in the horizontal plane.
The wheelbase, as I've mentioned, is 991mm, with chainstays of 410mm.
This gives a reach of 388mm and a stack of 548mm.
Full geometry details are available on Ribble's website.
Ribble's Bikebuilder means you can, within reason, build your AL e up however you like, starting at £2,399, but the company offers this off-the-shelf Enthusiast build for £2,799.
As a quick summary, though, it's not really a groupset that you can fault, balancing the shifting and braking performance of the higher end mechanical groupsets with a very sensible price.
The AL e comes with suitable endurance gears of a 50/34T chainset paired to an 11-32T cassette. It's easy to neglect the gear shifting, just letting the motor do the work, but to get the best efficiency out of the bike you need to use the gears as you would on a normal road bike.
The Mahle Ebikemotion X35+ motor system offers a decent range, mileage-wise, though it'll depend on how you use it.
Using the iWoc One control button integrated into the top tube gives you three power modes which, as standard, are all set at 100%, but you can tweak these via the ebikemotion app. I set them at 33%, 66% and 100%.
The iWoc button also gives you all the information you need to know about battery life and what mode you are in, by way of the LED ring that surrounds it. This changes colour to let you know what's what.
The system is also Bluetooth compatible, which allows it talk to the app. You can see exact battery percentages, record rides and tweak the various settings.
It's hard to quantify exactly what distance you can achieve from the battery power, but I've easily completed rides of 80 to 100 lumpy miles with battery in reserve. There are many forum discussions about what you can get away with, so it's worth doing some research depending on your riding style and assistance levels required.
Our Dave recently rode a similarly specced Cannondale on a 300km epic, which should help give you some idea of what is possible with an e-bike.
Level is Ribble's in-house component brand, and it's used throughout here for the handlebar, stem and seatpost. It's all decent quality stuff and is exactly what I'd expect to see on an e-bike of this price.
I get on well with the Prologo Kappa RS saddle – I've used it many times before – though it is worth noting that on an e-bike you might not get out of the saddle much. What works on your acoustic road bike might not necessarily work when you have a motor. We took a little time to bond.
With the Mahle hub being the power source, wheel choices are limited, but the Mavic Ksyrium S 25 Discs are a decent starting block.
On a bike like this, weight is pretty much a non-issue and I found the Mavics dependable and durable. They offer a decent ride quality and have shown no issues over the last month and a half of testing.
The standard spec tyres are Continental Grand Prix GT in a 28mm width, although our test model has 28mm Schwalbe Ones fitted.
Both are decent options when it comes to ride quality, with the Schwalbes taking the edge on grip and rolling resistance, in my opinion.
At the base price of £2,799 for this 105-equipped Enthusiast model, the AL e looks to be better value than the Merida eScultura 400 at £3,000.
The Merida also has an aluminium frame and 105 groupset, but Merida has slackened off the geometry a fair bit compared with the standard Scultura, which has taken the edge off the fun factor. I like the way Ribble has kept things the same whether you are opting for motor assistance or not.
The Merida does have massive tyre clearances, though, which makes it a more versatile bike.
Canyon's Endurance:ON 7.0 uses a bottom bracket-based motor system and weighs a cool 15.2kg, plus it comes with a 1x chainset. Jack wasn't exactly blown away by it, and the 2021 price has edged up to £2,999.
The similarly specced Cannondale Supersix Evo Neo that Dave used for his epic ride in the video I mentioned is £3,800.
If you are looking for an e-bike that'll give you the feeling of riding a standard road bike with just the subtlest of assistance, then the Ribble is a very good choice. Above the speed limiter it rides just like the standard version everywhere but the shallowest of inclines. It's good value for money, too.
Carrying over all of the fun, versatility and easy-to-live-with attributes of the AL, but with the added va va voom of a motor
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ribble Endurance AL e Enthusiast Shimano 105
Size tested: Medium, 55cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Shimano 105 R7000 2x11 Speed Hydraulic Disc
Shifters - Shimano 105 R7020 11-Speed Hydraulic.
Brakes - Shimano 105 BR-R7070 Flat Mount Hydraulic.
Chainset - Shimano 105 R7000, 2x11 Speed, 50-34T.
Bottom Bracket - Shimano Press Fit BB72-41B, 86.5x41.
Cassette - Shimano 105 R7000 11-Speed 11-32T.
Chain - Shimano 105 HG601 11-Speed.
Front Derailleur - Shimano 105 R7000 Braze-On.
Rear Derailleur - Shimano 105 R7000 Medium Cage .
Disc Rotors - Shimano RT66 6-Bolt 160mm.
Wheels - Mavic Ksyrium S 25 Disc, 12x100F/12x142 Bolt-On Rear.
Tyres - Continental Grand Prix GT, 700x28mm, Black. [Our test bike had 28mm Schwalbe Ones]
Bars - LEVEL 2 6061 Alloy, Black, 31.8mm.
Stem - LEVEL 2 6061 Alloy, Black, 31.8mm.
Bar Tape - LEVEL Embossed, Black.
Seatpost - LEVEL 2 Carbon/Alloy.
Saddle - Prologo Kappa RS, Black/Silver/White.
Headset - LEVEL 56 Semi-Integrated, Black.
Motor - MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ 250W.
Battery - Panasonic 36V/250Wh 18650GA-10S/2P.
Control Button - iWoc One, Top Tube Mounted.
Charger - Supplied with UK or US Power Cable.
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, "Designed for endurance, efficiency and all-day comfort, the road-focused Endurance AL e's range, weight and discreet, yet powerful motor system delivers a ride so smooth that you may just forget it's electric. We have carefully selected components that further enhance the AL e's everyday performance. These include the slick and intuitive shifts of Shimano's proven 105 gear system, lightweight Mavic Ksyrium S 25 wheels fitted with Continental Grand Prix GT tyres and an upgraded finishing kit that includes LEVEL 2 ergonomic handlebars, matching stem and lightweight carbon seat post."
Riding the Ribble feels like you are on a very confident, well-balanced road bike with plenty of versatility which can be exploited by those who want or need a motor system.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the only 'off-the-peg' build offered, but you can build your own using Ribble's Bikebuilder, with prices starting at £2,399.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A good quality finish to the frame and fork with relatively neat welds throughout. The blue paintjob looks good in real life and certainly gives the AL e an expensive look, and I'm a big fan of the AL e's hidden cables at the front end.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame - 6061-T6 Aluminium, Heat-Treated, Seamless Welds.
Forks - Full Carbon Monocoque, Tapered Steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is endurance based with a tallish head tube and shorter top tube, but Ribble has balanced this so you can still achieve quite a sporty position.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
There is nothing out of order here considering the size of the bike and its semi-race aspirations.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes it's comfortable. The aluminium frame isn't the smoothest I've ever ridden, but it does deliver a ride quality that is far from harsh. On both short and longer rides I never felt as though I was suffering from any fatigue due to lack of comfort.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The AL e feels plenty stiff enough to deal with inputs from the rider and the motor system.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is good because of the stiffness of the frame, whether the motor is engaged or not. Power delivery from the motor is very smooth.
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 AL e handles in a way that allows you to ride it quickly regardless of your level of skill or confidence, though Ribble has managed to still keep the steering quick enough to be fun.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
It took me a little while to get used to the saddle, and spending a lot of time in it, but it eventually bedded in enough that it became comfortable. Thicker bar tape would be a nice addition.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Mavic rear wheel showed no issues with dealing from the power of the motor.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The smooth delivery of the motor works very well, and there is also very little in the way of resistance when it is not being used.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano's 105 groupset is near faultless in performance, especially when you consider its cost. I'm also a big fan of the X35+ motor system, with the way it delivers the power smoothly while being capable of some decent length rides.
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 Mavic wheels and Mahle hub didn't let me down at all through testing. A competent set of wheels for this type of bike.
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?
The Schwalbe One tyres fitted are great for grip and rolling resistance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Overall, a decent set of components for the money. The handlebar has a shallow drop which allows less flexible riders to get into a tucked position.
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 Ribble is priced well against much of the opposition, such as the Merida and Canyon mentioned in the review.
Use this box to explain your overall score
A well-thought-out design for those who want an e-road bike that is hugely versatile – it's enjoyable to ride whether on a weekend group ride, an evening blat or the commute. It's a decent spec for the money too.
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!