The CGR in this bike’s name stands for ‘cross, gravel and race, and as the name suggests, this Ribble is very much a do-it-all bike, an all-rounder that will be just as happy on a club run as it would carrying you through the Forest of Bowland out the backdoor of Ribble’s Lancashire home.
While that may also be true of Ribble’s carbon and aluminium CGR bikes, I like to think the more exclusive CGR Ti will bring more refinement beyond being a mere ‘jack-of-all-trades’ bike.
Ribble has clearly put a great deal of attention into creating its titanium CGR, which is also available as a frameset for £1,799.
The CGR Ti comes in a five-bike range that starts at £2,299 with a Shimano 105-equipped model. My Pro-level test bike has Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 and Ribble’s carbon rims and sits one below the range-topping Hero model with SRAM Red AXS and Zipp wheels for £7,999.
Ribble CGR Ti Pro frame
The CGR frame is crafted from seamless, custom-profiled, triple-butted 3Al/2.5V titanium.
The highly polished frame finish is complemented by its clean welds, and its full internal cable routing and comprehensive raft of fittings show off its all-round ambitions.
It not only has rack mounts and proper mudguard fittings, but the right fork leg (looking front on) also has an internal channel for hub dynamo wiring, making it potentially a seriously luxurious commuting machine.
The CGR’s tube profiles are optimised for stiffness where it’s needed, so the dramatically oversized down tube is ovalised vertically, and the machined bottom bracket shell and 44mm diameter machined head tube also provide solidity where you need it.
The frame also features a few touches to keep things comfortable.
The seat tube flattens towards its base, which provides flex when you’re over rougher surfaces, while the CGR’s now-familiar slender, dropped seatstays end in neat, cowled dropouts.
The CGR Ti is built around 700c wheels and it has a generous 45mm of tyre clearance, or 40mm with full-length mudguards.
You can also run it with 650b wheels, where the clearance grows to 47mm, which is pretty much the equal of most dedicated gravel bikes out there.
Ribble CGR Ti Pro kit
For the price, you get not only a pretty extensive package but one that showcases Ribble’s usual impressive value for money. Shimano’s Ultegra Di2, with road-friendly 50/34, 11-32 gearing, is at the heart of things.
It works superbly, with shifting as smooth, quick and accurate as I’ve come to expect. The brakes are supported by Shimano’s premium IceTech cooling fins, for progressive feel and power in all situations.
Most of the CGR’s kit comes from Ribble’s own component line. The Level 40 Carbon wheels have a 40mm-deep aero-optimised carbon rim with a 26.5mm external and a 17.5mm internal width.
This favours a more road-biased tyre and the CGR’s 40mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres shape up well on these narrower rims, measuring bang on 40mm, but push this particular build more towards off-road riding than tarmac.
That said, their tightly patterned knobbly tread cuts a speedy path on the road when pumped up to around 52psi (the max is 60psi) – just remember to stop and drop a little road tyre pressure for better grip before you hit the dirt.
The classy carbon bar is swept back slightly and its mid-compact drop meant I was able to spend time riding comfortably in the drops, rather than in my default position on the hoods.
It’s wrapped in high-quality shock-absorbing bar tape, which isn’t always the case even at this price.
The saddle is Brooks’ innovative Cambium. Riders of a certain age may have either broken in a Brooks leather saddle or have friends who have regaled them with tales of the protracted and potentially painful breaking-in process. There were no such issues here.
Brooks’ Cambium is made from vulcanised natural rubber with an organic cotton surface bonded into the hull, which makes a saddle that should be as hardwearing as its leather forebearers.
It’s a small slice of luxury but, more importantly, it’s also very comfortable.
Ribble CGR Ti Pro geometry
The CGR’s geometry is smartly thought out, sitting between that of an endurance road bike and a gravel bike – all without drifting too far in either direction or becoming too sedate.
My large (58cm) test bike has 606mm of stack and a shortish 384mm reach. In the same size, the Specialized Roubaix endurance bike has a taller 630mm stack and longer 392mm reach figure.
The 72-degree head angle and 72.5-degree seat angle are a little more relaxed than a road bike’s, and with a quite lengthy 1,042.5mm wheelbase you’ve got a bike that majors on stability.
The result is a balanced ride that I revelled in descending on at speed, both on-road and off.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||73.5||73||72.5||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||71.5||72||72||72|
|Top tube (mm)||530||545||555||570||590|
|Head tube (mm)||140||150||170||190||210|
Ribble CGR Ti Pro ride impressions
Not only does Ribble’s CGR Ti score well on its value, but it also wins out for the quality of its ride.
The frame mixes stiffness where you need it, making this a bike that picks up and responds quickly when you want to get a bit lairy, with a smoothness enhanced by well-thought-out contact points.
The geometry delivers handling I’d describe as neutral. It’s swift enough to enable you to hustle along at pace, darting easily through gaps in traffic or swinging through dry singletrack when you hit the dirt, but it never becomes nervy over rougher, more challenging surfaces.
The Schwalbe G-One tyres impress on dry dirt and the genuine gravel roads on my Salisbury Plain testing ground, though if you do venture on to damp surfaces, dirt and mud will easily overwhelm the tyres’ tightly studded treads.
The CGR’s gearing is perfect for tarmac and does the job off-road too.
I only found myself wanting a lower gear on a section of gravel that involves a climb on a loose surface that maxes out at a seriously steep 25 per cent.
On my own gravel bike, I usually tackle this using its 40×42 bottom gear.
The Ribble’s 34×32 bottom gear is only three inches taller, which may not sound a lot, but in practice it’s the difference between being able to stay seated for maximum traction and getting out of the saddle to turn the cranks, where you run the risk of losing grip.
Ribble CGR Ti Pro bottom line
Ribble’s titanium CGR Titanium has a very versatile chassis and it’s a wonderfully balanced bike overall – with a good ride on the road and a great ride off it.
Okay, If you went for a dedicated endurance machine – such as a Specialized Roubaix, Giant Defy or Cannondale Synapse – you’d have something a little sharper and quicker, and off the road a pure gravel bike will stay ahead of the CGR.
But if you’ve only got space for one bike in your life (or limited space in your house, flat, garage or bike shed), the CGR is one of the best one-bike-for-all solutions you can buy.
The version I tested is a great package, with Shimano’s always-impressive Ultegra Di2 and Ribble’s own carbon wheels, but for my money, I’d look seriously at the £2,899 Enthusiast model and supplement the purchase with a set of 650b wheels with gravel tyres and cassette. That way you’d have a very impressive bike that’s sorted for pretty much every eventuality.
But even in this Pro spec, Ribble’s CGR Ti is a great-looking frame that handles superbly and has a very impressive price when you consider the quality of its components.
|Price||AUD $7167.00EUR €4084.00GBP £4199.00USD $4845.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors|
|Frame||Al/2.5V triple-butted titanium|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Handlebar||Level 3 carbon|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Saddle||Brooks Cambium C15|
|Seatpost||Level HM monocoque carbon|
|Shifter||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Stem||Level 3 carbon/alloy stem with titanium hardware|
|Tyres||Schwalbe G-One Allround TLE 40c|
|Wheels||Level 40 Carbon Comp tubeless compatible|