Lancashire-based Ribble Cycles has been going since 1897, and in more recent years the company has carved itself a reputation as sellers of very reasonably priced road bikes with a wide range of models, and that trend continues with the £899.99 Sportive Racing Special Edition. It has just arrived in the road.cc office for testing, but before it hits the road, here’s an overview of the key details.
For the £899.99 price you get a full carbon fibre frame and fork draped in a stealth black paint finish, with Shimano’s excellent 11-speed 105 derailleurs and STI levers. You also get a Shimano RS500 compact 50/34 chainset and 11-28t cassette, marking this out as a suitable bike for hilly sportives and cycling in the hills and mountains.
Our 54cm bike weighs in at 8.68kg (19.13lb) - a very respectable weight for the price especially given that this is the sort of bike with some upgrade potential, meaning there's definitely the opportunity to take things a bit lighter.
To help Ribble hit the £900 price point, Shimano brake calipers are substituted with Ribble’s own brand brake calipers. It’s a common approach used by manufacturers to keep the price down. We’ll see how they fare when it comes to road testing the bike.
Elsewhere, the bike looks really well appointed. The Rodi Airline 5 wheels feature an aero V-section shaped aluminium clincher rim with double butted stainless steel spokes (20 front, 24 rear) and a combined weight of 1,997g. The wheels are fitted with Continental Ultrasport wire bead tyres in a 23m width - the frame can accommodate up to 25mm tyres and you can spec wider tyres at the point of purchase.
Moving onto the rest of the equipment, we find a quality Deda handlebar and stem, Selle Italia X1 saddle, CSN Superleggera seat post and Deda cork handlebar tape. The finishing components are all black to match the frameset. It’s a good looking bike if you’re a fan of the all-black finish. And if you want to customise the width of the bars and the length of the stem to get the right fit, you can change these parts when you buy the bike online.
The price of this bike shows just how affordable carbon frames have become in the last decade. Carbon frames were incredibly expensive when they first arrived in the cycling world, but years of development and manufacturing has dramatically pushed the prices ever lower. You can even buy the frameset on its own for just £430!
To make the frame, Ribble specifies a mix of Toray T700 and T800 carbon fibre which it says offers “the perfect blend of position, comfort and speed, making this frame equally suitable for sportives or amateur road racing.”
The frame features all the modern details you’d expect from a much more expensive frame, including a tapered head tube, internal cable routing and Di2 compatibility, a PF30 bottom bracket and space for 25mm tyres. The frame tube profiles have been squared off to increase stiffness, especially around the bottom bracket and head tube.
Ribble offers the Sportive Racing Special Edition in five sizes (SX to XL) and the M (53 equivalent) pictured here has a reach of 385mm and stack of 585mm, which promotes a slightly upright riding position suitable but it’s not quite as relaxed as an all-out endurance bike. The 176mm head tube and 993mm wheelbase also reveal that it leans a little closer to a race bike than some sportive bikes.
There aren't really many rivals for the Ribble at this price. Most of the larger manufacturers only offer aluminium frames at the same price, such as the Hoy Aomori .002 or Cannondale Synapse with 105 and disc brakes for another £100.
Watch out for the full review soon. More details about Ribble at www.ribblecycles.co.uk
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.