UK low-price direct-selling legends Ribble are renowned for value, but not at the expense of quality. Their latest all-rounder frame is outstanding even by their standards and would shame a lot of bikes twice the price or more. Sprinting, climbing or tapping away training hours in easy comfort, the Sportive Racing Veloce is an enjoyable and enthusiastic ride.
Ride & handling: Light, lively and basically lovely all-round bargain
Tyre slip was about the only thing we’d complain about on the whole ride of the Ribble. Whatever riding we were doing, it was always the bike taking everything in its stride and coasting, while others were still locked into a high-cadence clamour.
While you can get lighter bikes for less money, the difference in transmission of power is very clear. While its price rivals may level peg when you’re spinning smoothly, the Sportive races away as soon as you go for the grunt.
When it comes to climbs, the Ribble surges from lumpy pedal mash to smooth creamy cadence with a buttery ease. Spin tempo in the saddle or stand up and go for glory – either way it’s equally enthusiastic and inspiringly responsive.
It’s a really well-balanced feel right through from bar to back end too, rather than being stiff at the expensive of cruising comfort. The subtle tube proﬁles and leaf-spring top tube take the sting out of most venomous surfaces, and the tall head tube makes the Ribble a relaxed and comfortable place to spend a long day.
Proving you can have your cake and eat it, the handling is as friendly, yet keen, as the rest of the ride. We never felt any laziness from what looks like a slack steering set on paper and there’s plenty of placement accuracy and precise traction feedback through your feet and hands. The Campagnolo Veloce brakes are powerful yet precise too, which is a good job given the treacherous nature of the Michelin tyres.
Upgrade those, however, and this bike is a benchmark ride, regardless of budget. Weight and fit are great, and comfort and handling feedback is balanced. All this in a 'build your ideal ride' package that sets new performance-for-price benchmarks.
Frame: Smooth yet speedy state-of-the-art chassis
The original Sportive Racing was already a big hit, but Ribble have tweaked the ﬁt and build to create a more evolved and enthusiastic ride. The conventional top tube might seem skinny compared to tapered setups, but the back is scooped into a web effect with the triangular top and down tubes to increase stiffness.
The top tube then ﬂattens out to create a leaf-spring effect, before fattening up again just in front of the seat tube. The down tube stays are triangular, but swell for full-width bottom bracket coverage. Big rectangular-to-round chainstays meet conventional dropouts, while the seat stays ﬂatten at the brake mount for authoritative anchoring.
The seat clamp looks basic, and rivetted cable stops and front mech plate betray the Ribble's budget pricepoint. However, with a frame weight just over a kilo for our medium sample it certainly doesn’t weigh in like a wallet-friendly bike.
Equipment: Campagnolo shifting seemed clunky to some, but others loved it
Ribble always like to do something different when speccing our test bikes, to illustrate the 'pick and mix' customisation potential of their online bike builder. This time we got a full 20-speed Veloce groupset from Campagnolo, with compact chainset for conquering steeper hills.
Shifting is more clunky than SRAM or Shimano, but it’s very positive and the thumb and foreﬁnger shift paddle conﬁguration is comfortable and intuitive. The powerful brakes also come from the Veloce group, while Campagnolo also supply the Khamsin wheels with their distinctive tripled-sheaf spoke pattern. Cockpit and seating are suitably Italian in origin and do the job well too.