Ribble’s comprehensive online Bike Builder option means you can build the CGR SL frameset into your riding genre of choice. We opted for a gravel-superbike makeover that’s honed for British conditions, which are more mud and puddles than grit and dust.
The CGR chassis takes standard 700c road, 29in mountain bike and smaller 650b wheels, but even with the generous MTB-like clearances, Ribble’s stayed true to the CGR’s road-bike roots.
The 72-degree head and steep 73-degree seat angles, not to mention a low 592mm stack, mean you can speed along on the road – as much as you can on knobbly 45c WTB Riddler tyres – yet it’s agile enough to traverse everything from rocky gravel roads to proper British woodland singletrack.
The CGR’s geometry means you can handle smooth roads and rocky tracks with confidence. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Bike of the Year 2020
The Ribble CGR SL SRAM eTap HRD is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
As we’ve come to expect from Ribble, the CGR SL’s loaded with quality kit at a great price.
There’s little to fault when the specification sheet features Zipp’s legendary 303 disc wheels – which retail at £2,110 on their own – sitting alongside SRAM’s Force eTap AXS.
There are kinked dropped stays and the bike will take 700c, 29in and 650b wheels. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Force AXS in its 1x configuration is a great gravel choice because the simple single-trigger shifting’s easy to operate even when you’re bouncing around off-road. The combination of the narrow-wide tooth chainring and clutch-equipped rear mech keeps the chain in place.
The 1x drivetrain’s 12-speed gearing offers a good range for both on and off road. The 40/10 is a 112-inch gear, which is like a 52/13 on a standard 11-speed bike.
SRAM’s Force eTap AXS in its 1x 12-speed configuration. David Caudery / Immediate Media
At the other end, 40/33 gives a low 33.9 similar to a 36/30. The cassette steps up in one-tooth increments for the first five gears, switching to two-tooth jumps for the next three, then three-tooth with the remainder.
If you prefer the idea of a more traditional 2x setup, Ribble has that as an option. The CGR SL frame is designed to work with either 1 or 2x setups.
Zipp’s tubeless-compatible 303 Firecrest discs were fitted with WTB Riddler 45c tyres. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Ribble CGR SL SRAM eTap HRD ride impressions
Zipp’s latest tubeless-compatible 303s are light at just over 1,600g a pair, and the WTB Riddler tyres seat and seal superbly well. It allowed me to run the tyres as low as 40psi when faced with Flanders-like muddy conditions.
However, as proficient as the Riddlers are on dirt, they drain speed on the road, so if your idea of gravel involves plenty of mixed-surface riding that includes stretches of tarmac, you may want to opt for something a little slimmer.
Level’s one-piece carbon bar and stem with its flat-bladed top and compact drops. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Upfront, the one-piece carbon cockpit from Level is nicely shaped with the flat-bladed top section and compact drops. It’s stiff which, when combined with the full-carbon fork, keeps the CGR SL’s steering response swift and direct feeling.
The bar comes directly from Ribble’s road stable, though, so the bar’s drop has no flare at all. That’s not an issue on the road, but my personal preference is for a degree of drop flare when riding off-road to instil confidence.
The bar’s drop has no flare and I’d prefer a little for riding off-road. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The CGR SL chassis rides with a real solidity. The pedal response is race-bike instant and the handling confidence inspiringly direct. I switched in some wheels with road tyres in place and came away impressed with how good the CGR feels wearing a set of slick boots.
It’s a firmer ride, as you’d expect when running 28c tyres rather than monster-sized 45s, but it’s firm rather than coarse, with the back end feeling surprisingly smooth with the kinked dropped stays and long D-shaped seatpost.
Level’s long, carbon D-shaped seatpost topped with a Fizik Aliante R5 saddle. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Just like Rondo’s brilliant 2019 Bike of the Yeat-winning HVRT CF0, the CGR is a bike that deserves a second set of wheels, which would arguably make it pretty much all the bike you’ll ever need.
The superb ride quality on and off road, low weight, great components and fine handling forge a bike that’s very capable and a lot of fun to ride.
Ribble CGR SL SRAM eTap HRD geometry
Seat angle: 73 degrees
Head angle: 72 degrees
Seat tube: 52cm
Top tube: 57cm
Head tube: 18cm
Fork offset: 5cm
Bottom bracket drop: 6.9cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.