Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast review: take on tough trails with this high-end workhorse

Lots of the usual Ribble quality combined with a versatile cocktail of components makes the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast a wise choice

T3 Platinum Award
Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast
(Image credit: Ribble)
T3 Verdict

The Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast is a brilliant out-of-the-box solution if you’re mad keen on the thought of getting into the gravel bike scene. Being a Ribble, the design and build is everything you’d expect from this premium brand. Cleverly though, the company has managed to produce a dependable gravel bike while keeping the price competitive. Sure, it’s not bargain-basement, but if you’re serious about gravel biking, this is as good a place to start as any.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Ribble quality

  • +

    Custom options

  • +

    Great performance

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Pedals an added extra

  • -

    Almost too many custom options

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I was so glad when the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast arrived on my doorstep in the usual large cardboard box. Why? Mysteriously, this gravel machine hasn’t appeared in our best gravel bike guide up to now, for logistical reasons more than anything. That’s all set to change now though as, having lived with it for just a short while, the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast really is a bike for all seasons.

Being a gravel bike also means it’s brilliant for all sorts of terrain too. Combined with using it in already changeable weather conditions I’m therefore finding it hugely practical. The Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast is an awful lot of fun too, which is pretty much the reason most of us hobby cyclists get out there in the first place.

If you’re after an everyday machine, check out the best road bikes under £1,000. You might also find something in our best cheap road bikes guide. However, I’m keen to do more gravel-based biking, which means the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast is proving to fit the bill perfectly. So, onwards and upwards if you want to hear about just how good the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast really is.

If you want to know more about T3's product reviews, take a read of our how we test page. Otherwise, read on for my thoughts about the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast. 

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast: price and availability

The Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast is available direct (opens in new tab) from the brand’s headquarters, which means it’ll be assembled by craftsfolk who make every bike pretty much by hand. The great thing about that is you can get the exact bike you want, adding in preferred pedals and other components or match it to any given budget. My bike, in a delicious Satin Copper finish has a current price tag of £2,699.

You can get the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast in a range of sizes, from X-Small (5’3” – 5’6”/160 – 168cm) through to X-Large (6’ 0” – 6’ 3”/183 – 191cm) with small, medium and large options sandwiched inbetween. I’ve been trying a medium example and it arrived with everything in the box, plus little in the way of setup needing to be done, save for attaching the handlebars, saddle and my own pedals.

 

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast: design and build

The Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast gravel bike comes complete with a lean but no less mean specification that makes it a great all-rounder. The frame, a Toray T1000/T800 Carbon Monocoque looks great in the Satin Copper finish of my example. Meanwhile, there’s a SRAM Rival HRD 1x11 speed groupset, Mavic Allroad Disc 650b alloy wheels shod with Halo GXC Gravel 650bx47mm tyres.

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

The riding position feels great thanks to the LEVEL Gravel Riser flared alloy handlebars combined with SL Carbon seat post and Selle Italia X3 Boost saddle. It’s a great default, out-of-the-box route to take if you just want a bike that you can get on and go. However, this being Ribble you can also specify other options when you order using the customise button on the website.

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast: the ride

Although it seemed like a shame to get this wonderful shiny-looking bike out in the dust and dirt, the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast feels very comfortable, initially on minor roads and shortly after, some rough stuff. The first thing you notice is the agile feel of the overall bike setup: it’s light and fun to ride. The convenience of the SRAM groupset is everything I’d hoped for and then there’s the reassuring grip from those tyres.

In fact, the beefy but not too over-the-top Halo GXC Gravel 650bx47mm rubber works to great effect, particular on the chunky gravel tracks I visit regularly. I also got lucky with the bike right out of the box too, with very little in the way of fettling needed to make it feel like I’d had it for months, rather than days.

Taking some longer routes to bed the bike in, I’ve found the saddle to be extremely comfortable while the riding position is ideal for me. Choosing this model means the weight is less too, which is a distinct advantage over lower specification, slightly cheaper model variants. If you’re serious about getting a decent gravel bike, without breaking the bank, I think the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast makes an ideal entry point.

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast: verdict

It’s been so far, so good with the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast. I’m loving its go just about anywhere design, the lightweight construction and those looks are fab too. In practical terms, this is a very easy bike to ride, and things like the great tyres and those powerful hydraulic brakes offer reassurance if you’re just starting out on the gravel, er, track. 

Overall, the Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast seems like excellent value with the added benefit of custom options if you’ve got more specific requirements in mind.

Ribble Gravel SL Enthusiast

(Image credit: Future)

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.