£1017 › Full car­bon and Shi­mano 105 for a grand. What’s the hitch?

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

Ah, Rib­ble. One of the old­est bike re­tail­ers in the world, with a his­tory dat­ing back to Vic­to­ria. And if, like our tester, you’re north of 50 you’ll re­mem­ber Rib­ble as a mailorder com­pany. Now the com­pany sells on­line, though it also has a cou­ple of shops where you can see bikes in the flesh. It has supplied Chris Board­man and Bradley Wig­gins, and has de­liv­ered a dark­matt all-car­bon ma­chine at a fan­tas­tic price.

The top price for this test should have been a grand, but the tester broke the bud­get by sneak­ing in a car­bon seat­post (it’s £999 with an alu­minium one). Ei­ther way, this shows the ad­van­tage of go­ing down the in­ter­net route and hav­ing your bike de­liv­ered in a large card­board box: you get a lot of bike for your money. Scrap that, you get one hell of a lot of bike for your bucks. Board­man man­aged car­bon fi­bre, Spe­cial­ized specced 105, Rib­ble has pro­vided both, along with Ful­crum wheels and an up­dated mod­ern­look­ing frame. Ta­pered head-tube, ul­tra-chunky bot­tom bracket shell, su­per-swooshy key­hole seat­stays, slim­line 27.2mm seat­post, with twin clamp bolts (the lower one 5Nm, the up­per 2Nm – get your torque wrench out!), while car­bon dropouts are un­usual to see at this price.

Shi­mano 105, all present, means slick shifts and qual­ity brak­ing. And though the Rac­ing Sports are Ful­crum’s en­try-level wheel, our ex­pe­ri­ence of Ful­crums sug­gests they’ll be tough and durable. The rest of the kit isn’t ex­actly what we’d call shabby. Deda Zero alu­minium stem and bar, plush ITM cork-em­bossed bar tape and that car­bon seat­post from Rib­ble’s own CSN brand. It’s the least ex­pen­sive car­bon post we’ve come across but it did the job well and is topped by a Selle Italia sad­dle. The tyres are also bud­get af­fairs, but the Con­ti­nen­tal Ul­tra

Sports are among our favourites, and an­other good choice.

But what of the ride? The fash­ion­able stealth fin­ish is matched by a smooth, near-silent driv­e­train, even un­der ef­fort, and it was hard to fault any as­pect of the ride. Rib­ble has kept the ear­lier mod­els’ racy ge­om­e­try, short­ish head-tube, near 73-de­gree an­gles, sub-me­tre wheel­base, but for the third gen­er­a­tion R872 Rib­ble has in­creased stiff­ness ev­ery­where – a claimed 15.4 per cent stiffer at the bot­tom bracket, 14 per cent for the chain­stays and even more than that for the fork. No sur­prises there. But it’s the poise and pol­ish of the per­for­mance that grabs you. Pin­sharp han­dling and rapid ac­cel­er­a­tion – this climbs as well as any­thing at the price – is matched by im­pres­sive lev­els of com­fort. Yes, it’s racy, yes, it’s ag­gres­sive, but even af­ter a day you’re not feel­ing beaten up, which makes it ideal as a fast fit­ness ma­chine, a bike for club runs, sportives and much more.

You have to give credit to Rib­ble. As bike prices are ris­ing, or spec lists los­ing a lit­tle bling, we can see Pre­ston’s finest suc­ceed­ing against the more ‘glam­orous’ brands it’s up against here, and Euro­pean in­ter­net in­ter­lop­ers such as Rose and Canyon. The hitch? Well, you do have to set it up your­self. But get a torque wrench, read a Haynes man­ual, Zinn or sim­i­lar, take care and you’ll have it sorted in a few min­utes. All the bolts were pre-greased, which helps things go smoothly, and shows care was taken up in Lan­cashire.

Hav­ing your bike de­liv­ered in a box gets a lot of bike for your money

Bot­tom Chain­stay stiff­ness has been in­creased over pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions

Be­low The ta­pered head-tube adds to the Rib­ble’s mod­ern look

It’s the poise and pol­ish of the per­for­mance that grabs you

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