Ribble’s 2019 CGR ‘adventure bike’ range has had a comprehensive makeover for 2019 and is available in aluminium, steel, carbon and titanium — and even as an amped-up alloy e-bike version.
The range is designed to offer ‘the ultimate in versatility and performance to handle the toughest roads, terrain and weather conditions’.
You can get an aluminium CGR for £999, but I’ve gone for the classy-looking Reynolds 725 steel number at £1,199.
When it comes to stating versatility, Ribble isn’t pulling a fast one. The frame can accommodate 700c, 29er and 650b wheels and tyres up to a porky 47mm.
Commuting, bike-packing and touring are catered for by rear rack mounts, a third set of bosses atop the top tube, and mudguard fittings with acres of clearance.
I specced slick 28mm Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyres, but for the same price you could get Schwalbe’s gravel-friendly G-Ones or choose from six other tyres for extra cash. It’s not just tyres, either. Ribble lets you choose from numerous groupsets, cockpit components, wheels… just about everything.
Back in the day the CGR might have been called a ‘light tourer’ or ‘randonneur’ but its versatility makes it more than that. I used it for long, fastish commutes — it romps along deliciously, swallowing miles with ease — and on my local hard-packed canal towpath, where it performed without issue.
Want to tackle tougher gravel, rough stuff and off-road riding? Then Mavic’s tough Aksium Discs will take much wider gravel tyres.
The geometry befits its all-rounder status. The top tube is quite short, the rear stays lengthy and the wheelbase measures well over a metre on my medium size test bike.
Your riding position is made slightly more upright by the gently swept back bar, and though the drops aren’t flared, a flared gravel bar is an option.
The Deda bar tape is excellent and the bar tops are slightly flattened for comfortable riding when you’re on them, which is the position on the long days in the saddle you’ll find this bike is enticing you to take.
The CGR 725 is built more for comfort than personal best-breaking rides and it makes a superb rouleur, the plump tyres and steel frame throwing off the effects of rough roads with a dismissive shrug.
The 11kg weight will take the edge off climbing speed, but the Tiagra’s 34×32 bottom gear should keep you in the saddle for all but the most extreme ascents. Descending is confident if not super-swift, handling from the slack head-angle and long wheelbase extremely surefooted and stable.
This Ribble is a lovely marriage of old and new. Skinny steel top and seat tubes are mated to a larger diameter down tube and a tapered, oversized head tube, which houses the all-carbon fork’s steerer.
Further modern features include thru-axles for the frame and fork, which help with very good braking from the mechanical TRP Spyre discs. While it would undoubtedly be good to have a hydraulic setup, these are still powerful, controlled and consistent, albeit requiring more effort than hydraulics.
There’s no single bike that will cope with everything, compromises are inevitable. But if you rack up loads of miles on road, commute, cycle for fitness or just for the sheer joy of it and want to be able to tackle more adventurous riding, this hits the sweet spot 90 percent of the time. Drop the stem down and it would make a great training bike too.
Ribble CGR 725 steel specification
- Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M*, L, XL
- Weight: 11.02kg
- Frame: Reynolds 725 steel
- Fork: Full carbon, tapered
- Cassette: Shimano, 11-32
- Chainset: Shimano Tiagra 50/34
- Shifters: Shimano Tiagra
- Derailleurs (F): Shimano Tiagra Braze On
- Derailleurs (R): Shimano Tiagra Med Cage
- Wheels: Mavic Aksium Disc
- Tyres: 28mm Continental Ultra Sport 2
- Bar: Level 1
- Stem: Level 1
- Seatpost: Level 1
- Saddle: Prologo Kappa RS
- Brakes: Tektro Spyre hydraulic discs
Ribble CGR 725 steel geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72 degrees
- Chainstay: 43.5cm
- Seat tube: 53cm
- Top tube: 55.5cm
- Head tube: 16cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 6.9cm
- Wheelbase: 1,026.8mm
- Stack: 57.3cm
- Reach: 38.5cm