Ribble Nero CX Dura-Ace £1999.95

Great value all-rounder

BikeRadar score 4/5

UK mail order – and now internet order – retailers Ribble have always been on the money when it comes to value and performance. The price of the new Nero RC, the 2006 version of which was their first carbon bike, seems like a fiddle but it’s perfect for both a quick burn up and a longer ride.

Ride & handling: Combining stability, relaxed handling and explosive power, the Nero CX leaves the competition behind

Not only does it look great value in specification terms, the Nero RC rides extremely well too. As we were able to size the frame, bars, cranks and stem through Ribble's 'BikeBuilder' option, our Nero RC was an instant kid-glove it.

Relatively relaxed handling makes it a very easy and confident companion, whether you’re filtering through trafic or ferreting through your pockets for an energy bar.

It also makes it an ideal candidate for tri bar use, although you’ll have to spec an inline post to get an aggressive forward seat position.

The stable steering, stiff bars and accuracy mean it’s pinpoint accurate through corners and very confident under braking too.

Where the Nero really lights up, though, is when the power goes down. While the rear stays look skinny, appearances can be deceptive. There’s certainly no trace of power lag when you press the pedals and the Ribble launches out of corners and up hills with explosive enthusiasm.

Excellent mainframe stiffness and low weight means that it’s got a real sustain to its speed gain too. In fact, the overall sharpness, enthusiasm and responsiveness of the Nero is what makes it such a compelling ride.

It manages to be permanently enthusiastic and encouraging without being uncomfortably harsh. It’s certainly firm but never really knocks you about, and the semi-carbon rims, quality bar tape and saddle all help reduce the sting that would otherwise become sapping fatigue on a long run.

Chassis: Dedacciai frame made from T700 carbon fibre would be a great buy on its own

While Ribble build the bike, the Nero RC frame is a new offering from Italian frame and tubing specialists Dedacciai using almost obligatory T700 carbon fibre.

There are some really nice detail touches, particularly oversized, diagonally overlaid sections at the rear of the top tube and the front of the down tube, which look like hydroforming profiles from an alloy bike.

The square-sided seat cluster sits above a tapered seat tube with a triple-split, double-clamp top to reduce stress. Dramatically tapered wishbone seatstays then team up with relatively skinny cloverleaf section chainstays with windowed alloy dropouts in the bottom corners.

Good-looking Dedacciai forks curve and taper forward from the bulged barrel headtube, although the alloy crown block adds a lot of extra weight.

However, the frame itself is a decent weight for the money and the four-size spread should fit most people. At £590 bought separately it could be a great parts transfer upgrade for your existing bike.

Equipment: Pick your own parts we went for full Shimano Dura-Ace plus quality wheels, steering gear and saddle

Getting a quality carbon frame is normally all you would expect at £2,000 but Ribble manage to fit an entire Shimano Dura-Ace groupset too. Cue rock solid power transfer underfoot, snap fast shifts and a dramatic drop in weight compared to Ultegra-equipped rivals.

Light and fastest reacting Shimano RS80 wheels with semi-carbon 24mm rims are a nice touch in both cosmetic and comfort terms.

Ribble aren’t resting on their stop-go laurels either. An oversized Deda bar and new Quattro stem lock down the steering while seating doesn’t get any comfier than the Fizik Arione saddle on the carbon shafted post. Ribble have even sneaked top quality Fizik bar tape onto the sub-£2,000 build.

By the time you read this, Ribble’s updated ‘BikeBuilder’ should be up and running, which enables you to spec your frame with a huge number of kit options for the ultimate cost-effective custom ride.

Your start point is a standard spec finishing kit and an entry-level groupset. You can then change any of the preselected components to suit your needs and budget.

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