The Ribble R872 in a sentence: an awesomely affordable piece of kit that packs plenty of high end features but is never so pointy that it is off-putting, this is one of the best road bikes you can buy, and sure to put a smile on any road rider’s face.
Ribble’s current road bike line-up is dominated by its Endurance SL frame, which comes in all manner of lightweight combinations and packs the sort of geometry that is designed with serious racing in mind.
But not all of us want that and the R872, on the other hand, has long been an affordable carbon fibre model from the online-only brand that is a little easier on the back and behind. Its latest iteration is arguably the easiest to live with yet.
Because of this, it is often regarded as a stepping stone into the world of lightweight carbon road bikes and sometimes gets tarnished with the “entry level” brush, but this bike shouldn’t be overlooked if you have some experience in the saddle. It manages to defy its price point with an excellent frame that will suit all manner of riders, particularly those looking for a little extra comfort over a long course.
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Ribble R872: price and availability
The Ribble R872 is on sale now. The model we tested is the Ribble R872 Enthusiast Disc at. £1,499 or $2,100 in US dollars – no Australian price is given. It is seen as a men's bike and is therefore better suited to male riders. It's also highly customisable and comes in five frame sizes.
Ribble R872 Enthusiast Disc: the frame
As with many en vogue road bikes these days, the latest R872 is fashioned from carbon fibre, Toray T700 in this case, which isn’t as aggressive (nor as expensive) as some futuristic materials on the market, but it’s still stiff and light.
In fact, a complete R872 weights in at around 8.6kg, which is ridiculous when you think about it and can only really be bettered by super high performance machines that cost four or even five times the price.
This lightweight design doesn’t get in the way of aesthetics, because the tubes are still fat and oversized, the head is tapered and the slender rear seat stays neatly protrude around half way down from the seat tube, giving it a purposeful and sporty side profile.
It’s also practical, with enough tyre clearance for fitting 28-32mm of rubber, if you want a little extra shock absorption from the road, or like to fit a chunkier tyre fro improved grip on slippery surfaces.
Ribble also offers numerous sizing options, as well as the ability to add different stems and handlebars, so with a bit of measuring, maths and knowhow, it’s pretty easy to get a bike that fits like a favoured pair of slippers.
- On a budget? Check out our Ribble Endurance AL Disc review instead
Ribble R872 Enthusiast Disc: the kit
The R872 Disc comes in three different trim levels: Sport, Enthusiast and Pro. Much of the kit remains the same on the various models, bar the drivetrain. The cheapest Sport model comes with Shimano Tiagra, but it is worth shelling out an extra £300 for Shimano’s 105, which comes part of the Enthusiast package. If you can make the budget stretch that little further, £1,999 buys Shimano Ultegra, which is some of the best gearing money can buy.
Stopping power is taken care of by awesome Shimano 105 R7070 Flat Mount Hydraulic disc brakes in this Enthusiast model, although Ribble does offer a version of this with standard rim brakes if you really have an aversion to discs... and it's cheaper.
Alas, Ribble has to save money somewhere and it’s largely in the wheels, which are the most basic Mavic Aksium clincher models. They let the package down a little, but purchasing a decent set of lightweight performance wheels is easy and would transform this middling offering into something quite special.
Overall, it’s a clever collection of components that are bolted on to a good looking aero frame. It’s difficult to spot where savings have been made and that can only be a good thing.
Ribble R872 Enthusiast Disc: the ride
Where some carbon fibre models feel particularly stiff and unforgiving on our typically scarred road surfaces, the R872 feels more at home here. The frame geometry is also forgiving enough to ensure the rider isn’t in a ridiculously tucked position all the time and the whole package feels like a comfortable thing to pilot over longer distances.
More expensive bikes iron out some of those minor vibrations and “buzzing” from poor road surfaces with greater skill, but many won’t notice this and the fact that it’s easy to get comfy on the bike will be the deal breaker here. But despite being designed with longer rides in mind, it’s still a quick bike, both up and down hills. Okay, acceleration isn’t as sharp as those more performance focussed rivals, but it’s plenty stiff enough to transfer power.
There are some downsides, because despite Shimano's ageing 105 now seen as a fairly tried and tested groupset, there are much better systems on the market. Ride out with Ultegra or Di2 and you'll never want to go back.
On top of this, the wheels could be improved upon and Ultegra gearing is by far the smoothest shifting of the bunch, but even this middle level model proves utterly brilliant over most routes.
Ribble R872 Enthusiast Disc: the verdict
Only the most hardcore riders will be able to pick faults in the R872 and these will likely be found in those minuscule elements that make up the marginal gains approach only professional athletes take. As weekend fun rides go, they don’t get much better than this.
The biggest issue Ribble has is that it can’t make these bikes fast enough, and even though the R872 isn’t as popular as it’s racier SL models, there are still some hefty lead times when it comes to ordering.
It’s a problem that is facing all bike manufacturers at the moment but order bespoke paint jobs and/or finishing kit, and riding season could be well and truly over before you managed to throw a lego over your new Ribble.