The Ribble Ribble Endurance SL R Disc is worthy of the attention of any serious or semi-serious cyclist, as it offers proper professional specification with the sort of multi-talented nature that allows it to go places that other performance-focussed road bikes simply can't.
Prices start at £2,999 for the most 'basic' Shimano Ultegra models, which receive fairly ubiquitous Mavic Aksium Disc rims, whereas the range topping beasts boast SRAM Red eTAP electronic gearing and the slickest ZIPP 303 Firecrest Carbon tubeless rims around.
But the tantalising thread that runs throughout the range is the excellent carbon fibre frame. It packs enough aero touches to ensure it slices through the air like a greased eel, yet the geometry (layout of the tubes) isn't so unforgiving that your lower back and buttocks start complaining after a few miles.
On top of this, Ribble's move to disc brakes means stopping power is nothing short of immense but it also allows for fatter tyres to be added. There's not quite enough clearance between the seat stays and front fork for nobbled gravel tyres, but there's certainly enough room to drop air pressure and attempt a bit of Paris Roubaix action without constantly getting punctures. For the money this is one of the best road bikes out there. Read on to find out why…
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Ribble Endurance SL R Disc: price and release date
• The Ribble Endurance SL R Disc is on sale now.
• The model we tested costs £7,999. It is seen as a hybrid frame that is suitable for both men and women. It's also highly customisable and comes in five frame sizes.
Ribble Endurance SL R Disc: the set up
Like so many other carbon fibre missiles on the market, the Ribble Endurance SL R has spent many hours in the wind tunnel, but this isn't some sinewy speed demon that requires strong bones and buns of steel to ride.
The basic geometry has been set up for endurance schleps, as the name would suggest, while the frame itself tips the scales at just under 900g. Load it up with a cutting-edge groupset and other cycling gubbins and it still only weights 7.6kg, making it much easier to shift on the climbs.
As previously mentioned, the model itself is heavily customisable (something Ribble prides itself upon), so as a buyer, you can head to the configurator and choose wheels, gearing, bars and even specify a completely bespoke paint job. This will add a hefty amount to the lead time though.
But the bike tested here is the top spec SRAM Red eTap model, fitted with simply sensational ZIPP 303 Firecrest Carbon rims, a super aero LEVEL 5 carbon integrated cockpit system and SRAM hydraulic disc brakes.
However, you can save youself some dosh and opt for the £2,999 Shimano Ultegra version, which is still a phenomenal groupset, but money is saved on the basic Mavic Aksium wheelset and LEVEL 1 alloy handlebar system. The beauty of this set-up is that it's extremely easy to upgrade as and when you feel.... or when you come into some money.
- On a budget? Check out the Ribble Endurance AL Disc instead
Ribble Endurance SL R Disc: the kit
As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough to test the top spec bike, which is essentially treated to everything you'd expect to see on the Pro Tour. In fact, a specification list this strong is more often linked to bikes with a £10-12k price tag, so it feels like exceptional value for money.
But Ribble knows its place and understands that it doesn't quite have the history and racing pedigree that Colnago, Specialized and Pinarello boasts. It has also been selling 100 per cent online before any of the aforementioned brands had even heard of a website, so it can pass many of those savings on to the customer.
As a result, we have the very best SRAM gearing and brakes all-round, a beautiful LEVEL 5 cockpit (that's also surprisingly comfortable) and a Fizik Arione R5 saddle for full comfort and performance under the cheeks.
Most things you see and touch on this bike are fashioned from Toray T1000 carbon fibre, which is both strong and flexible, allowing Ribble to crank up the comfort factor while keeping weight to a minimum.
The only major gripe is with Ribble's own carbon seat post, which we had a little difficult with. But more on that later.
Ribble Endurance SL R Disc: the ride
Ribble offers five frame sizes, spanning extra small to extra large and covering folk of around 5"3' to 6"3'. Although the choice of frame size ins't quite as extensive as, say, Canyon, it should be enough to ensure a decent fit. Otherwise, Ribble offers a 30-Day Test Ride, so if you're unhappy, you can always go up or down a size.
Like any bike bought online, there is a small amount of set-up required before hitting the open road, but this allows you to adjust things like the saddle, stem and cockpit to get a perfect fit.
As you'd imagine from just looking at the thing, the Ribble Endurance SL R Disc is fast and cruises like a dream on those beautiful ZIPP rims. There's plenty of carbon on the walls here, so you get the lovely "whooshing" sound as the pace starts to build.
Everything on the bike feels solid, too, and the frame doesn't seem to jar and skitter over rough surfaces like some rival race-honed carbon road bikes. This is helped by the fact you can fit chunkier tyres, meaning a little more bounce under the bot, while SRAM's electronic gearing system is essentially faultless. The speed and accuracy at which it changes cogs is highly addictive.
Most road bikes are heading towards hydraulic carbon disc brakes but I feel the execution can often be poor. Cheaper models sometimes lack feel and can often rub, while set-up and maintenance is a pain.
The brakes here are fantastic though, proving nice and progressive, allowing for micro-adjustments to speed when out on the open road. They also perform brilliantly in the wet and coupled with wider tyres, make for much safer winter rides.
After several hours in the saddle, the only real criticism I could find was with the, erm, saddle. Flick through the owners manuals and there's usually a list of torque settings for most components on a bike. Torque above these figures on a carbon road bike and it can spell disaster.
So, like a good boy, I followed these settings for the slender carbon seat post, only to have it suddenly drop when rounding a tricky corner. It's not fun and the testicles certainly didn't thank me for it.
Armed with just a pocket multi-tool, I re-set the seat post and carried on, only to have it happen again. The only real option is to torque the bolt higher than manuals suggest, which leaves me thinking Ribble could come up with a better solution, even if that means supplying some carbon-friendly goo in the box.
Ribble Endurance SL R Disc: the verdict
After riding the Ribble Endurance SL R Disc back-to-back with Canyon's Aeroad CF SL Disc 8.0, I found myself leaning towards the Ribble for the remainder of my weekly rides. There's no doubt that there are faster, more aero-orientated bikes out there (and the Canyon is mightily fast), but most of us want something that we can enjoy.
Ribble has done a great job of producing something tough, light, fast but above all else, comfortable. This bike can keep up with the pack without destroying lower backs in the process.
When specified in the most lavish specification, it gets rather expensive, but even the more 'entry level' bikes come fitted with excellent components and these represent excellent value for money.
If you can get past brand snobbery, the Ribble Endurance SL R Disc is a genuine contender that can hold its head high in a room full of big names.