Were we able to score a bike 11 out of 10 for value, this would be it. For £2,000 you get SRAM’s highly impressive Red groupset, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels (£499.99), a pair of Michelin Pro 3 tyres, Fizik’s Arione saddle and a carbon seatpost. You’d be hard pressed to buy these separately for much less than two grand.
Oh, we nearly forgot, there’s a carbon frameset thrown in too. Impressive? You bet, especially when you consider that the Stealth tips the scales at just 7.3kg (16.09lb). The first two things you notice about the Ribble are the startlingly light weight – get your non-cycling friends to pick it up and watch their jaws drop – and the absence of the usual bold Ribble logo.
In fact, look closer and you’ll see that the name is there and as large as ever on the down tube, but in super-subtle black on black. Hence the ‘Stealth’ name. It’s a genuine race-ready machine, and has all the features you’d expect of a bike with performance in mind. The BB30 bottom bracket shell is made with extra layers of carbon for increased stiffness, and there’s a tapered head tube and 40mm deep chainstays, all for stiffness.
Some of our heavier testers weren’t entirely convinced by the ride, but our lighter riders were extremely appreciative, with even the non-racers being wowed by its lightness and speed. Acceleration is virtually instant, it’s extremely fast, climbs superbly, and while the frame is pretty stiff, our testers found it surprisingly forgiving over rough surfaces, the carbon seatpost damping the worst knocks.
The handling is also extremely sharp, and it corners confidently and quickly, again the wheel and tyre combo playing a crucial part. SRAM’s Red groupset was also a major hit with the testing team. Shifting is quick and positive, and if you come from either Shimano or Campagnolo you get used to it surprisingly quickly. Braking is excellent – powerful and well controlled but requiring less effort than Shimano.
This all contributed to the bike scoring well in our Bike Of The Year shootout, with some testers having it close to the top of their lists. But while it’s extremely light, fast and racy – and unbeatable value – ultimately it was felt to lack the poise, polish and feel of the leading bikes. However, if you’re looking for the lightest bike possible for around £2,000 this is one for aspiring racers and fast sportive riders to consider.
Update, April 6: price increase
This review was written on the basis that, as we were told by Ribble at the time, "Ribble Stealth R838 bike is a special edition bike (that I have not yet set up) and the RRP is £1999.95." However, according to Ribble general manager James Dove, "I did say this but decided to set it up as a bike builder bike instead and give more options. Since the bike was sent we have increased our price due to VAT increase and we have had a price increase from Sram and Mavic this is the reason for the price increase."
We have calculated the approximate price of the bike we tested. For the most up to date price for this bike see Ribble's bike builder.
Another update, April 7
To get the quoted price for this bike of £2042.95, please contact Ribble direct on (0)1772 336800 and mention this review.