Ribble’s Hybrid AL Leisure is designed to be a “versatile all-rounder”. Its 650b wheels, 47mm-wide gravel tyres and a range of commuter-friendly accessories should make it an ideal partner for the rigours of metropolitan life as well as forays into gravel riding and bikepacking.
The 1×11 SRAM NX gearing and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes provide reliable shifting and stopping power, while the Hybrid AL Leisure’s design and geometry combine aspects of the best gravel bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes.
The timeless sophistication of its British Racing Green finish, faux leather saddle and handlebar grips suggest this is an elegant horse for many disparate courses.
Accordingly, over a year and a half, I’ve been using the Ribble as my daily commuter bike, navigating Bristol’s traffic-choked streets and ready supply of steep hills.
I’ve also been investigating how far I can push it into the realms of longer tarmac excursions and more challenging off-road fun and games – with the help of a few carefully chosen upgrades.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure long-term review conclusions
Like all the best cliches, this one’s true: you never forget your first bike. For me, that was a beloved and battered Raleigh Burner BMX some time in the mid-80s. But I’ll also never forget my latest bike.
The Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure was the one that made me fall in love with cycling again, after a lengthy estrangement.
I won’t forget the first glimpse of its stylish British Racing Green paintjob, the feel of its urbane faux leather grips in my palms, the plaintive ping of its little bell, or the reassuring sonorous clunk of its SRAM NX groupset when I made my first gear shift.
I’ll cherish memories of pulling up at Bristol’s Wiper and True taproom and turning half a dozen heads, or of approaching a packed cycle rack certain I was unlocking the coolest-looking bike of the bunch.
I’ll certainly never forget hammering wantonly down a rugged stony path as I got my first taste of gravel riding, or conquering Dorset’s punishing hills on my first 100km ride.
And that’s what this brilliant, adaptable Ribble hybrid is – a bike to ignite passions and tick off firsts.
Nearly 18 months ago, I went in search of a bike that could help me become a full-time commuter, dip my toe into both gravel riding and big-mile road adventures, and maybe even take a crack at touring or bikepacking. The most important thing to me was to find one bike that could do everything I needed.
The Ribble responded with a big tick to all of the above. Its upright yet engaging ride position, the ability to fit 650b or 700c wheels to suit, solid brakes and gearing, practical accessories, and its knock-out aesthetic have made it a near-perfect choice for me.
I started out with 650b wheels and 47mm gravel-ready tyres and ended up in a more road-friendly 700c and 35mm incarnation, along the way discovering what I enjoy about cycling and what I don’t as I fine-tuned the Ribble’s setup.
Yet the biggest compliment I can give this bike is, in the privileged position of having access to nigh-on limitless upgrades and spec changes, I finish this test with almost exactly the same bike as I started it on.
Bar the wheel and tyre tweaks and a brief, disastrous experiment with tubeless, the Ribble is unchanged from the day it arrived at BikeRadar.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure highs
Two rides summed up the Ribble’s impact on my life as a cyclist. The first was on a broiling summer day, as I struggled my way 100km south through Somerset and Dorset, over tarmac, gravel and baked earth to the Jurassic Coast.
I was still on 650b wheels, totally out of my depth and doubted my ability to make it up the relentless succession of brutal climbs. However, with the support of the ever-reliable Ribble, I made it, feeling I’d completed a cycling rite of passage along the way.
The second, a year later after the switch to 700c, underlined the bike’s versatility and the distance I’d travelled, as I cruised with ease down National Cycle Route 33 and Somerset’s Strawberry Line on a 40-mile mixed-terrain loop.
Some light flirtations with gravel riding were another cycling level unlocked. Perhaps most significant of all, though, was how readily the Ribble in its Fully Loaded variant facilitated my conversion to the role of every-day commuter, brushing off the worst a British winter could throw at it with admirable poise.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure lows
There was only one low moment during my year and a half with this suave green machine, and that was my momentary, traumatic conversion to tubeless.
Trying to address a spate of punctures, I ignored the portentous advice of wisened colleagues that “when tubeless goes wrong, it really goes wrong” and got myself into a whole world of pain.
The answer, instead, was 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres paired with Pirelli Cinturato SmarTubes. I haven’t had a puncture since.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure verdict
I sold my car 18 months ago and wanted to replace it with a bike to entice me into the two-wheeled world my workmates are so passionate about.
Now, when people ask, “How do you travel around Bristol?”, “How do you get to work?” or “How do you visit your friends?”, I answer “On my bike. I’m a cyclist”. And I have the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure to thank for that.
It’s a superb, stylish, versatile workhorse of a bike that packages up everything a beginner or urban commuter could wish for, while offering tantalising glimpses of greater cycling possibilities. I’ll never forget it.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure long-term review update four
Somewhere out on the Somerset levels, under a cerulean sky, appeared a mirage-like realisation more seasoned cyclists will know can never truly be reached. I thought I’d found the perfect, unimprovable version of my bike.
A full year into my time with the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure, I’ve already exchanged voluminous 47mm gravel tyres for lighter, more tarmac-friendly 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround rubber. But I wanted to take it further, so now the stock 650b Mavic Allroad Disc wheels have been swapped for the same wheelset in 700c guise.
Pleasingly, the Ribble can accommodate either wheel size, another factor that makes it an attractive commuter/hybrid/light gravel all-rounder. Installation was trouble-free, requiring only a new set of tyres and two 700c Pirelli Cinturato SmarTubes – once again chosen for their claims of puncture resistance.
The question of whether 650b or 700c wheels are faster is a complex one and well above my pay grade. However, a couple of weeks of daily commuting with the 700c Mavics suggested a modest improvement in rolling resistance and very slightly more lithe handling.
Rumbles down cobbled streets, over tree roots and along bumpy towpaths weren’t noticeably less comfortable, so the switch immediately seemed justified.
Restoring tan-wall tyres to the Ribble has done nothing to harm my hipster credibility as I roll up outside my Bristol craft beer taproom of choice, either.
Strawberry fields forever
Further testing was needed, so on a glorious May morning, I set off on a 50-mile loop, following National Cycle Route 33 out of Bristol.
My ride took in a section of the Strawberry Line cycle path that follows the old Cheddar Valley Railway, before arcing west to the seaside town of Clevedon, then home.
This gave me a decent mix of flat tarmac, bridleways, stony gravel paths and the odd farmer’s field in which to test my new setup. Yet again, the Ribble exceeded my expectations.
A couple of hours in, zipping along a gravel path between parallel avenues of cider apple trees with magnolia dust whipping up from my tyres, the wheel change seemed revelatory. The Ribble felt better than at any time since I first rode it 12 months ago.
While I was the beneficiary of a gently benevolent tailwind and there are numerous external factors to be taken into account, anecdotally it seemed easier to gather and maintain momentum, while climbs were marginally less excruciating.
An occasional look down at my Garmin smartwatch suggested I was happily rolling around two miles per hour faster than on similar rides with 650b wheels in situ, but again, I’m not claiming this was a scientific test.
Rough with the smooth
As I’m quickly becoming aware, advantages in cycling are rarely gained without an accompanying sacrifice – and my wrists are still smarting after hitting a couple of bumps I saw too late.
The 700c wheels and 35mm tyres, inflated to 60psi, diverted the shock waves straight through the bike’s faux leather grips and gave my hands a seismic jolt.
Some experimentation with tyre pressures, and a certain amount of acceptance of what this bike is designed for, is needed here, I suspect.
Secondly, although Ribble supplied a fresh set of SKS mudguards to fit the new wheels, our workshop manager, Will, was convinced the existing set would be fine. It soon became clear this wasn’t quite true, as they began to flirt noisily with my tyres.
I spent the next four hours being driven to the brink of insanity by a sound emanating from my front wheel I eventually decided was akin to a basket of amorous guinea pigs.
One last ride
Sub-optimal tyre pressures and mudguard friction are of course surmountable issues. For now, at least, I’ve found my ideal version of the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure – 700c wheels, 35mm tyres, puncture-resistant inner tubes. Perfect.
With the 650b wheels and higher-volume gravel tyres hanging in my shed, an already versatile bike now has an even broader spectrum of use for all four seasons.
My only remaining ambition before I bring this year-long review to a close is to take the Ribble on a mini bikepacking adventure. I’d need to source a lightweight tent, and I have a busy summer ahead away from BikeRadar, so time may not allow.
However, I’m curious to see whether this superb all-rounder can pass one more test before I deliver my final verdict.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure long-term review update three
Adventures on two feet rather than two wheels occupied most of my spare moments in the early part of 2023 as I trained for the Lisbon Half Marathon in Portugal. However, I’ve always got time for my delectable British Racing Green Ribble.
Regular readers will be pleased to learn that, for now at least, my near-farcical tyre troubles are behind me. After abandoning my brief disastrous tubeless experiment, I decided to stick with the 35mm Schwalbe One Allrounds – not least to avoid the envrionmental crime of casting aside perfectly good tyres.
However, at a cost of £28 each, I’ve added an extra layer of protection against Bristol’s injurious carpet of broken glass and other lurking hazards in the form of Pirelli’s Cinturato SmarTubes.
These banana yellow Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) inner tubes are claimed to offer “unparalleled puncture protection when compared to standard butyl inner tubes”.
The SmarTubes weighed in at a mere 48g each on the office scales, slightly above the claimed 45g, but imperceptible to me on the bike.
While I can’t verify the bold claim about their puncture resistance, I can report that throughout two months of daily commuting and a couple of longer rides on a variety of light gravel surfaces, my tyres have remained blissfully full of air.
With a mercilessly wet winter finally beginning to relinquish its grip on the UK, it’s time to subject the SmarTubes to more lengthy and exacting examinations of their qualities. But, so far, so good.
The final straight
Entering the final stretch of my year-long test of the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure, I’ve begun to face up to two unavoidable questions: “Is it the right bike for me?” and “Would I be able to justify the £1,199 outlay?”.
The answer to the first of those is almost certainly going to be yes. The fact that after 10 months with the bike, the only meaningful change I’ve made is to the tyres and tubes suggests Ribble has built and specced the Hybrid AL Leisure ideally for cyclists like me.
For daily commuting, weekend meandering, the odd gravel caper and a couple of summer all-day epics a year, it’s just about my ideal bike.
Furthermore, the availability of 650b and 700c wheel versions, generous tyre clearance and a range of customisation options through Ribble’s BikeBuilder service enables additional personal honing.
However, could I, a humble sub-editor certainly in no danger of ever troubling the Sunday Times rich list, sanction dropping more than £1,000 on a bike to ride primarily to work and the pub?
Value is a very subjective concept, but again I think the answer is going to be a tentative yes.
Just before I took delivery of the Ribble, I made a commitment to an active, sustainable lifestyle and sold my battered old Ford Focus – for about the same price as the bike. I’ve ridden it pretty much every day since then and rarely felt the need for a car.
I have some lingering curiosity over whether an electric bike could open the door to longer adventures, and recently enjoyed some time on the Trek FX+2 electric hybrid. However, the asking price is nearly double that of the non-assisted Ribble, and unlike my musical idol Bob Dylan 60 years ago, I have reservations about going electric.
Alternatively, I could save some money and achieve most of the versatility the Ribble offers by buying one of the best budget hybrids. However, I’d be unlikely to get a spec list to match my long-termer’s SRAM NX gears, Mavic wheelset, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and urbane commuter accoutrements at that price.
Now free from the fiscal shackles of car ownership, the £1,199 price tag begins to look remarkably reasonable. No longer do I have to foot the cost of tax, insurance, breakdown cover, fuel, parking and the £9 daily Clean Air Zone charge Bristol introduced in November.
And that’s before you take into account the environmental and health benefits of cycling, and the intangible sense of freedom and wanderlust that heading out on two wheels evokes.
I suspect I may be better suited to the 700c-wheel version of the Ribble, given the vast majority of my miles are on tarmac. With the slightly lower-specced Hybrid AL Commuter 2.0 incarnation currently available at a heavily discounted £599, the value proposition really does begin to stack up.
I’m not quite ready to get the wallet out just yet, but the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure has made a pretty compelling case so far.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure long-term review update two
After nearly 1,000 puncture-free miles onboard the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure, my luck finally ran out just as winter began to bite. Luckily, I was only 50 metres from my front door.
Having navigated a richly varied tapestry of bumpy gravel paths, rutted fields, pothole-scarred roads and malevolent patches of broken glass over the past seven months, my hitherto charmed life came to an end as I bumped up an innocuous-looking kerb on my own street.
Still, as is often the case, necessity proved the mother of invention and my rookie cyclist error prompted my next modification to the Ribble’s stock spec.
Bereft of bike and reduced to the stultifying woe of a twice-daily 30-minute bus commute, I had plenty of time to ponder my next move.
I’ve been running 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres since July and found them to be versatile performers better suited to my largely metropolitan riding than the voluptuous 47mm WTB Horizons the Ribble arrived with.
Rather than return to the formidable Horizons as my inaugural commuting winter beckoned, I decided to switch to tubeless tyres, hoping for a quiet, puncture-free life with my one do-it-all bike.
Fortunately, the Ribble’s 650b Mavic Allroad Disc wheels come tubeless-ready, with rim tape already in situ.
With more than a little help from seasoned mechanic and BikeRadar technical writer Oscar Huckle, I managed to get the Schwalbes off, pour in a pouch of sealant, re-seat the tyres and inflate them to 50psi. Job done.
Sadly, that wasn’t the end of my tyre-related tribulations.
Having naively brushed off Simon von Bromley’s portentous warning that “tubeless is fine until it goes wrong – then it can really go wrong”, barely a month later things really did go wrong when I was struck down with another puncture to my front tyre.
This time, I wasn’t so close to home, didn’t have a spare inner tube and the sealant stubbornly refused to do its job. After pushing the Ribble up the hill to my house in a typically British downpour, my next move was a tubeless repair kit. However, that too failed to plug the hole.
With Christmas now 48 hours away and the Ribble my sole method of transport for the festive shopping I hadn’t yet done, my options were running out. So it was that I presented myself at my local bike shop, tail between legs, and asked them to fit an inner tube.
“Tubeless is fine until it goes wrong…” the shop owner began. I cursed silently, pictured Simon von Bromley, and added enrolling on a basic bike maintenance course to my mental list of new year’s resolutions.
Whether this is a premature end to my tubeless adventures remains to be seen.
Do I try again with a new G-One Allround and more sealant? Do I admit defeat and return to tubes? Or do I seek shelter in the puncture-resistant embrace of a robust alternative such as Schwalbe’s Marathon Plus? Answers on a postcard, please…
Aside from the ill-fortuned tubeless experiment, the Ribble has excelled as an autumn and winter commuter and I’d have no hesitation in recommending it as a hybrid workhorse for a beginner or intermediate cyclist.
Throughout a Baltic mid December, the upright riding position and well-considered geometry kept me feeling stable and confident on icy roads, while maintaining a sense of sprightly playfulness.
Meanwhile, the Tektro disc brakes continue to provide ample stopping power in the wet – all be it a little more noisily than when new. Seven months on, the sonorous thunk of the SRAM NX shifting still warms my cockles, too.
The stock mudguards have proved invaluable throughout a winter of seemingly infinite deluges and the Ribble light set was more than adequate for my needs. However, I’ve subsequently upgraded to the Bluetooth-enabled See.Sense Icon2, with its smart modes, crash detection and theft alert system.
I’ve also acquired an Abus Pedelec 2.0 helmet with integrated light to provide a second line of defence if the power-hungry Icons run out of juice on the way home from BikeRadar HQ.
No such thing as bad weather…
Every day is a school day in your first winter as a daily cyclist, and I’ve certainly learned a few things the hard way. A pair of Rapha Pro Team gloves were rapidly added to my meagre winter cycling wardrobe after my first biting sub-zero commute.
Meanwhile, the frequent pungent odour of soggy denim emanating from beneath my desk means I can resist the fashion felony that is a pair of waterproof trousers no longer – for my colleagues’ sake and my own.
Having tired of arriving at the office with a sodden backpack, an Ortlieb Waterproof Classic pannier bag is now sitting pretty on the Ribble’s cultured British Racing Green rack. It’s earning its money keeping my laptop and lunchbox dry, and it’ll be a useful ally next spring when I hope to finally fulfil my bikepacking ambitions.
For now, though, hazy images of cerulean skies and broiling tarmac remain distant memories as winter ploughs on relentlessly and the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure continues to conquer every challenge I throw at it with consummate poise.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure long-term review update one
This month, the question I’d posed myself was ‘can a novice cyclist ride a flat-bar commuter bike over 60 murderously undulant miles from Bristol to Dorset?’ The answer, to my enormous surprise, was yes.
My first three months aboard the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure had already confirmed its status as a stylish, sensibly priced ‘do-it-all’ hybrid bike. However, I wanted to nudge it slightly further along the spectrum from commuting duties and light gravel escapades towards big days out on the road.
The most obvious swap in search of more pace up hills and a lighter bike overall was finding some slimmer tyres with lower rolling resistance.
After a fair amount of research, I waved a hesitant farewell to the 47mm tan-wall WTB Horizon and its ability to mollify the most hostile terrain. Incoming was a pair of 35mm-wide Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres, weighing 400g apiece on my scales (115g less than the Horizon).
Coaxing the slimmer Schwalbes, promising “unique versatility and balanced riding characteristics”, onto 650b Mavic Allroad Disc wheels wasn’t easy. In fact, workshop manager Will described it as one of the most difficult combinations he’s encountered.
Once installed and inflated to 65psi, however, first impressions were promising. The new tyres rolled smoothly and the bike felt instinctively quicker, more lithe and reactive to handlebar movements. The speed on my Garmin cycling watch seemed to confirm this entirely unscientific opinion.
On the flipside, the Schwalbes are less supportive over potholes and cobbles, transferring more vibrations through my wrists. Yet it felt a worthwhile sacrifice for increased speed and less weight.
Leave the city behind
In order to test these anecdotal findings, though, I needed to get out of the city. So, on a sweltering July afternoon, my news feed ablaze with stories of heat domes and wildfires, I embarked on the longest ride of my life to date.
I planned to carve nearly 100km south through England’s scorched cider belt to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – an unrelentingly hilly route mixing tarmac and a handful of gravel. Lacking any cycling-specific fitness, I fully expected to bow out around the halfway mark. Therefore, my partner Becky had agreed to set off a few hours behind me in our van in case I needed rescuing.
Along for the ride were a Tailfin V-Mount frame pack filled with energy gels, a Crankbrothers F15 multi-tool and Lezyne Grip Drive HV mini pump, plus the biggest bottle I could squeeze into a new Elite Ciussi Gel bottle cage. I’d also fitted the supplied Ribble bell (which pings cheerfully in the key of A, musical readers).
With potentially six hours of hard graft ahead of me, I had some misgivings about the long-distance comfort of my urban commuter’s upright position and faux leather saddle. However, those doubts were silenced as the Ribble coolly added endurance road rides to gravel and commuting on its impressively flexible CV.
The shifting from SRAM NX was immediate and smooth as I endured 4,000 feet of precipitous torture. The Tektro disc brakes provided reassurance as I hurtled down hills, while the Schwalbe tyres zipped silently across the asphalt, never succumbing to a puncture and justifying the switch.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the new tyres are better than the supplied WTBs, merely better suited to the riding I want to do right now.
A dependable companion
By the time I rolled into Castle Cary, adrift between the Mendip Hills and Somerset Levels, I was in a deep well of discomfort.
Inhumane climbs queued up to punish me like waves crashing against one of Dorset’s crumbling chalk cliffs. Yet with the dependable Ribble eating up the miles, I began to believe I could complete a route Komoot describes as ‘difficult’ for expert cyclists. I am not an expert; two years ago, I wasn’t even a cyclist.
On we pushed through an inviting babbling ford and a procession of bucolic villages, fields of sheep our only spectators as Somerset became Dorset.
After refuelling in the picturesque market town of Sherborne, we emerged onto the sizzling tarmac of the A352, the final, torturous straight. Out of the saddle for one last push, Dorchester appeared mirage-like on the horizon.
As parched fields in hues of mustard and umber plunged away beneath the infinite azure, an intoxicating cocktail of emotions overcame me. I’d hurdled innumerable psychological and physical barriers, conquered seemingly unassailable hills and completed a cycling rite of passage.
The Ribble hadn’t missed a beat, at some indeterminate point ceasing to be a mere amalgam of tubes, cranks and spokes. It was now my companion, our bond unshakable. Propped against the wall of the pub as I inhaled a crisp, frosty lager, my British Racing Green friend looked the picture of composed urbanity.
It may have been the calorie deficit or beer talking, but as I watched the sun set in Dorset there wasn’t a bike on Earth I’d have swapped it for.
Why did I choose the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure?
Let’s rip the plaster off: I’m a novice cyclist. Like many people, my long-dormant passion for life on two wheels was rekindled during lockdown when my soon-to-be brother in law, Dan, kindly gifted me a humble 15-year-old Viking Giro D’Italia road bike.
It was a transformative moment. However, while this veteran entry-level bike enabled me to happily buzz about my home city of Bristol in the south west of England, and was the catalyst for nascent excursions into the idyllic surrounding countryside, before lockdown was over I’d outgrown it.
The Viking’s lack of versatility was holding me back and the drop bars and paper-thin wheels left me feeling unstable on busy roads or anything but the most forgiving terrain.
Hire-bike adventures across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and through Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge left me yearning for the adaptability of a do-it-all hybrid. I also had a growing curiosity over whether an electric bike might be the answer to Bristol’s seemingly endless supply of punishing hills.
Planning to use the Cycle to Work scheme to fund my first ‘proper’ bike purchase, I’d set a budget of £1,000. In order to narrow down the myriad options, I called upon the expertise of BikeRadar sages Jack Luke, Tom Marvin and Alex Evans, and we recorded a podcast on how to choose a commuting bike.
My new bike would need to be a sleek and stylish super-commuter with flat bars, and as light in weight as possible – yet with wheels and tyres robust enough to handle occasional diversions onto gravel and maybe even the odd touring or bikepacking trip. Yes – I do want to have my cake and eat it.
After establishing my budget was unlikely to stretch to one of the best electric hybrid bikes and that I was put off by the added weight and utilitarian appearance that accompanies many ebikes, I settled on a non-assisted hybrid.
Following some further deliberation and no small amount of merciless flaming of my maligned Viking, the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure Fully Loaded Edition was the unanimous choice.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure specification and details
Leaping out from the Hybrid AL Leisure’s impressively versatile spec list is the pairing of 650b Mavic Allroad Disc multi-terrain wheels and high-volume 47mm tan-wall WTB Horizon Road Plus gravel tyres.
The latter sport an all-weather herringbone pattern with parallel grooves that WTB claims should “improve cornering traction on crumbling tarmac and increase comfort on hardpack”.
It certainly appears a formidable combination designed to make the Ribble a bulletproof commuter bike that’s ready and able to take you beyond the city limits.
The bike’s frame is manufactured from 6061-T6 alloy, with a D-shaped top tube and a huge hydroformed down tube that’s shared with the brand’s electric Hybrid AL e bike.
The integrated, colour-matched Ribble Urban flat handlebar and stem are coupled with light brown faux leather grips, matched seamlessly to the vintage-style Ribble Classic saddle and similarly hued tyre walls. All in, there’s more tan than a month-long SAGA cruise around the Mediterranean.
Gearing is delivered by SRAM’s NX 1×11 system with a single shifter, while Tektro Flat Mount hydraulic disc brakes are provided, with Tektro HD280 R levers.
Boosting the bike’s practicality, the Fully Loaded version I have on test comes with 46mm reinforced plastic mudguards, a colour-matched alloy pannier rack, a pair of bottle cage mounts, a discreet Ribble bell and a set of lights.
There is also a Commuter version of the Hybrid AL, which features larger 700c wheels and Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres.
While the default British Racing Green finish is delectable, other colourways can be chosen via Ribble’s Custom Colour service. Ribble also offers a 48-hour dispatch on the Hybrid AL and says the bike is available on most Cycle To Work schemes. The brand’s bikes all come with 30 days’ free cycling insurance.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure full specification
- Sizes (*tested): S, M, L*, XL
- Weight: 11.4kg (M, claimed approximate)
- Frame: 6061-T6 alloy, heat-treated, seamless welds
- Fork: Hybrid AL Disc, full-carbon, tapered steerer
- Headset: Level 52, 42-52mm, tapered
- Shifter: SRAM NX 11-speed trigger shifter
- Rear derailleur: SRAM NX 11-speed long cage
- Chainset: SRAM S350 GXP 42t
- Cassette: SRAM PC1130 with Powerlock
- Wheelset: Mavic Allroad Disc 650b, 12×100 (f) / 12×142 (r) thru-axles
- Tyres: WTB Horizon Road Plus TCS, 650b x 47mm, tan wall
- Brakes: Tektro HD-R280 Hydraulic Disc
- Bar/stem: Ribble Urban integrated alloy
- Seatpost: Level 1 6061 alloy 27.2mm, 350mm
- Saddle: Ribble Classic, brown
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure geometry
Ribble offers the Hybrid AL Leisure in four sizes, from small to extra-large. It suggests a size large bike for riders between 5ft 8in and 6ft. As I sit squarely in the middle of that range at around 5ft 10in (177cm), I found the fit ideal.
According to Ribble: “The bike utilises an urban geometry – quite upright but similar wheelbase and angles to a CGR (Cross Gravel Road), as we know this works well as an all-rounder. This makes it ideal for both inner-city, towpaths and light off-road.”
The Hybrid AL Leisure’s geometry figures are almost identical to those on the AL e electric bike we reviewed back in November 2020. The reach comes in at 415mm and the seat angle 72.5 degrees.
Seat tube length on the size large is 490mm. The 610mm one-piece bar and 65mm stem should make the Hybrid AL Leisure nimble and responsive when navigating gridlocked urban roads.
Our senior technical editor Warren Rossiter described the electric Ribble’s ride position as “undeniably sporty”, and the 71-degree head angle “nice and relaxed”, contributing to a stable ride feel and handling, especially over more bumpy terrain.
My initial experience of the Ribble’s confidence-inspiring, yet not conservative seated position and reliably smooth ride suggest I’m unlikely to contradict Warren’s verdict. However, I’ll report back after more miles in the saddle.
|Rider height (cm)||163-170||170-178||178-185||185-193|
|Seat tube (mm)||410||450||490||540|
|Top tube (mm)||552||585||600||634|
|Head tube (mm)||122||165||190||230|
|Seat angle (degrees)||73||72.5||72.5||720|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||71||71||71|
|Rear centre (mm)||436||436||436||436|
|Front centre (mm)||608||637||654||682|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||50||50||50||50|
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure initial setup
Sound the cliché klaxon: although it doesn’t have a name to quicken the pulse, from first glance I was hopelessly smitten with the Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure.
The British Racing Green colourway with coruscating sparkle finish is an absolute knockout, offset by the faux leather grips and saddle, and those formidable tan-wall tyres.
It was all I could do to stop myself carrying my new companion up the stairs of my house and resting it safely at the end of the bed while I slept.
BikeRadar’s workshop manager, Will, set up the bike for me and the size large Hybrid AL Leisure proved the perfect fit with no adjustments. The saddle height was set at 71cm (measured from the centre of the bottom bracket), contributing to a comfortable, upright riding position that I haven’t yet felt the need to alter.
Because my review bike arrived without the advertised Avenir pedals, Will fitted a set of flat pedals. I’m resisting the call of clipless pedals and cleats, for now at least.
I have fairly small hands, and the diminutive Tektro brake levers felt comfortable nestled in my grip, my little fingers resting over their tips. Riders with particularly large paws may find them on the small side, though.
The WTB tyres were inflated to 45psi, at the upper limit of WTB’s recommended range of 25-45psi. This is something I plan to experiment with as I seek the optimum balance between comfort over more lumpy terrain and minimised rolling resistance.
Some initial noise from the disc brakes on my first ride was rectified by tightening the rotors a smidgeon. This was a good reminder to always carry out a basic bike safety check before riding a new bike. Otherwise, I’ve made no changes to setup.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure ride impressions
The morning of my first ride arrived, and I set out on my three-mile commute – a mix of a dusty river towpath, congested inner-city roads and shared pavements.
The Ribble’s upright position and flat bars immediately seemed more natural than my frail old drop-bar Viking, enabling me to thread my way through traffic without becoming unstable.
Once the Ribble gets into its stride, it’s no slouch and I was soon scattering bleary eyed pedestrians out of the cycle lane like a juvenile Spaniel hurtling into a field of startled lambs.
The huge tyres took cobbles, potholes and a hazardous carpet of urban detritus in their stride, while dropping off a particularly high kerb at speed elicited a gleeful whoop.
Suddenly, bumps in my path were no longer obstacles to be feared, but adventures to be relished. Was it normal to be having this much fun on the way to work? I cared not a jot.
Here comes the rain again
On the way home after a day at the content coalface, the rain arrived, and the Tektro disc brakes performed impeccably in the wet, confining my rim-brake nightmares to history.
My first experience of a bike with mudguards also proved revelatory. However, their black plastic finish doesn’t quite live up to the Ribble’s otherwise premium aesthetic.
The final nagging ascent to my house in south-east Bristol used to have me out of the saddle pedalling furiously, but the SRAM NX drivetrain provides an ample gearing range to tackle it seated, spinning away in relative comfort. Shifting has been flawless, even under duress or when rapidly skipping through two or three gears.
Those fetching faux leather grips soak up vibrations adequately, although after longer off-road sections I’ve felt some wrist fatigue. They’re certainly easy on the eye, but as the downpour intensified I got up out of the saddle to put in some extra effort and my hand slipped off their smooth surface.
I’d be loathe to swap the grips for something more utilitarian, so perhaps I need some cycling gloves for wet-weather riding.
Down to the woods
The fun really escalated on day two, as I extended my ride home via a sun-dappled woodland trail.
Within seconds, the traffic fumes and rush-hour rage were distant memories. I was transported back to teenage mountain-biking expeditions as the Ribble and I joyously ramped over rocks and roots, bludgeoned our way down an undulating rocky path and indulged in a smattering of back-brake related frivolity.
Barely 20 minutes later, I was back in suburbia, the smile still etched on my face and the intoxicating aroma of wild garlic fresh in my nostrils as bemused motorists wondered what I was so happy about.
Jagged little Pill
My first big ride on the Ribble was a trip out to the village of Pill on a gravel path parallel to the River Avon. This feels like the bike’s natural habitat, and the WTBs gobbled up every lump and bump with aplomb.
Where the Ribble felt less comfortable was hauling up steep tarmac climbs. It took a substantial effort to reach the top, Lycra-clad speedsters on lightweight road bikes leaving me trailing in their wake as an inferno raged in my quads. This was due partly to my lack of fitness, but those hulking tyres, weighing a claimed 515g each, must share some responsibility.
The slick WTBs are also not cut out for mountain biking, and an over-confident diversion into wet mud at Leigh Woods highlighted their, and my own, limitations.
However, it would be churlish to criticise this super-commuter with gravel leanings for not excelling at disciplines it’s not designed to tackle.
It’s easy to forget, if you’re a seasoned cyclist, the vast spectrum that exists between mountain bikes and road bikes, and how bewildering the decision of where to pitch your tent can feel.
The Ribble occupies a compelling position, with the right tools to handle commuting in all weathers, as well as some moderate gravel.
Early impressions suggest this urbane green machine and I are going to have a lot of fun together.
Ribble Hybrid AL Leisure upgrades
My mind is already buzzing as I ponder potential upgrades to improve my life with the Hybrid AL Leisure.
The most immediate priority is a tyre change. Over their first 250 miles, the WTB Horizons have cleared every on- and off-road hurdle they’ve faced. However, I’ve found myself struggling to keep up with road-bike equipped friends over longer distances.
The question is, can I find a faster-rolling, lighter-weight alternative to close the gap without sacrificing too much of the confidence-inspiring stability the high-volume Horizons provide?
A brief trip down the rubber rabbit hole suggested that suitable options to fit my 650b wheels are thin on the ground, and I might be better served by bigger 700c wheels, as specced with the Commuter version of the bike. More research is required here.
While 11-speed SRAM NX has served me more than adequately when it comes to shifting, if I’m being ambitious an upgrade to 12-speed SRAM Eagle AXS with its accompanying wider range of gears and electronic shifting is not out of the question.
Next on my list are some panniers or bikepacking bags and a tool keg to carry a puncture repair kit, mini pump, inner tube and multi-tool as my horizons expand away from the comforting embrace of the city.
I’ve also quickly tired of having to stop and fish my phone out of my pocket to check Google Maps on longer rides. Either a mount for my smartphone or a dedicated bike computer may well be added to my wishlist.
Finally, the Ribble is unquestionably a looker, and I’m unwilling to let it out of my watchful gaze while I quaff a hazy pale ale at my favourite taproom for fear it will be stolen. The best bike lock my budget can stretch to is going to be essential.
BikeRadar‘s long-term test bikes
BikeRadar’s long-term test bikes give our team the opportunity to truly get to grips with these machines, so we can tell you how they perform through different seasons and on ever-changing terrain, through a year of riding.
Some choose a bike from their favoured discipline and ride it hard for a year, others opt for a bike that takes them outside of their comfort zone.
We also use our long-term bikes as test beds for the latest kit, chopping and changing parts to see what really makes the difference – and help you decide which upgrades are worth spending your money on.
These bikes also provide an insight into the team’s riding through the year – how they like to ride and where life on two wheels takes them, from group rides on local lanes and trails, to adventures further afield.
To see all of the BikeRadar team’s long-term test bikes – and to stay up-to-date with the latest updates – visit our long-term review hub.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $1948.42EUR €1278.47GBP £1199.00USD $1351.66|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 11.4kg (Large) – Medium (claimed), Array, kg|
|Year||br_year, 5, 9, Year, 2022|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Ribble|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Tektro HD-R280 Hydraulic Disc|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SRAM PC1130 with Powerlock|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, SRAM S350 GXP 42t|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Hybrid AL Disc, full-carbon, tapered steerer|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, 6061-T6 alloy, heat-treated, seamless welds|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Ribble Urban faux leather|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Ribble Urban integrated alloy|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, SRAM NX 11-speed long cage|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Ribble Classic, brown|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Level 1 6061 alloy 27.2mm, 350mm|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, WTB Horizon Road Plus TCS, 650b x 47mm, tan wall|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Mavic Allroad Disc 650b, 12x100 (f) / 12x142 (r) thru-axles|