The Ribble Endurance SL Ultegra Disc’s new chassis design has been more than two years in the making, and it’s the first step towards revitalising the Ribble brand as a cost-conscious premium provider of bikes built for British conditions.
- The Ribble Endurance SL Ultegra disc is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019 has been crowned our best value road Bike of the Year. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The frame is constructed with T800 and T1000 Toray carbon fibres, the same brand used by Pinarello, and the new design shares elements of the Italian firm’s bikes.
The new fork has fully integrated hydraulic cable routing and the flat-mount disc is neat enough but the bow-legged and stepped forward shaping of the fork crown wouldn’t look out of place on a Team Sky Dogma.
The frame itself has something of the BMC vibe about it, the angular yet aero-shaped tubing is reminiscent of the Swiss brand’s designs, and the slender D-shaped carbon seatpost comes straight from Giant’s (and BMC’s) book of tricks, as does the super low-slung and horizontally jointed seatstays.
This isn’t to the bike’s detriment. It’s more likely that Ribble has cleverly assessed what the major brands (with the biggest R&D budgets) are doing and used that as its jump-off point — and I think that’s a rather clever start.
The SL is well equipped for the price, but that didn’t stop me upgrading the wheels via Ribble’s online bike builder. So, I ended up with a bike at £2,709 that included the full swathe of Shimano’s Ultegra hydraulic disc group, ever rarer at this price, and Mavic’s excellent new low-weight Kysrium Elite wheels (1,670g), which, when combined with Mavic’s latest 28c tubeless Yksion Pro tyres, makes for a ride that is best described as luxurious.
You can make it even more so, as the bike has clearance for 30c tyres — and I reckon it could handle even bigger.
The SL’s excellent chassis, that superb drivetrain and those brilliant wheels mean you’ve got a seriously compelling machine that can stand shoulder to shoulder with bikes from the biggest brands.
The frame’s geometry is smart: a 73.3-degree seat angle that is steeper than the head (73 degrees), a low (for an endurance bike) stack (582mm), and a 401mm reach. That could be a bit racy for endurance riders, but a sensible wheelbase and fork offset actually makes for a bike that combines a sporty feel with seriously stable handling.
This Endurance SL covers ground beautifully. The generous tyres absorb road noise with ease, and the flexible D-shaped carbon post takes care of bigger hits at the back end.
The Level bar and stem are quality alloy, and I particularly liked the shape of the tops — a sort of ovalised triangle — on the Level compact drop bar. These don’t do quite as good a job of banishing road buzz as the bike’s back end, but I’d be interested to find out if Ribble’s new aero-optimised one-piece cockpit makes a significant difference (maybe next time I’ll pick that option instead of better wheels).
The SL isn’t the lightest bike in its class, but thanks to the wheels it rides light when you’re climbing. The gear range is racier than I’d have expected from an endurance bike: its 52/36, 11-28 combination meant I never really found myself wanting for a wider range but riders looking to push themselves might like a 50/34 option or a wider (11-30) cassette.
Power transmission on the SL is all you could ask for: the frame responds positively, with no flex or flop, so you feel that every inch of effort you put in arrives at the back wheel to drive you forward. Heading back downhill, the SL is a joy.
Steering is solid, you could almost say slow, but definitely stable. You simply point the SL downhill, hunker down and use your body and weight shifts to pilot it. If anything, it has a tendency to under steer, so small steering inputs mean you slip through corners with ease, and the big-volume supple and grippy tyres give you absolute confidence in the bike’s capabilities.
Braking is superb: controlled, powerful and quiet — Ribble hasn’t skimped on rotors, fitting IceTech front and rear.
The Endurance SL excels at its intended purpose: a bike you can ride all day, covering ground at a decent pace, without getting a kicking. It’s up there with Synapse, Defy, Roubaix et al and should go some way to establishing Ribble as a brand to aspire to, rather than the brand you buy because it’s the best equipped for the cash.
Ribble Endurance SL Ultegra Disc specifications
- Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M, L, XL*
- Weight: 8.69kg
- Frame: Carbon
- Fork: Carbon
- Chainset: Shimano
- Mech: Shimano Ultegra
- Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
- Wheelset: Mavic Kysrium Elite UST
- Tyres: Mavic Yksion Pro UST 28c
- Stem: Level alloy
- Bar: Level alloy
- Saddle: Fizik Arione R5
- Seatpost: D-shaped carbon
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Ribble Endurance SL Ultegra Disc geometry
- Seat angle: 73 degrees
- Head angle: 73.3 degrees
- Chainstay: 41.5cm
- Seat tube: 55cm
- Top tube: 58.5cm
- Head tube: 19cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 6.8cm
- Wheelbase: 1,012mm
- Stack: 58.2cm
- Reach: 40.1cm
|Name||Endurance SL Ultegra disc|
|Available Sizes||XS S M L XL|
|All measurements for frame size tested||XL|
|Head Tube (cm)||19|
|Frame size tested||XL|
|Top Tube (cm)||58.5|
|Seat Tube (cm)||55|
|Wheelset||Mavic Kysrium Elite UST|
|Saddle||Fizik Arione R5|
|Rear Tyre||Mavic Yksion Pro UST 28c|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra|
|Front Tyre||Mavic Yksion Pro UST 28c|
|Bottom-bracket drop (cm)||6.8|