Ribble’s SL is an aggressive endurance machine that certainly packs in a lot for under three grand.
Up front there is Ribble’s new Level 1 one-piece carbon bar/stem. This slinky design is aero-optimised and the bladed bar flows seamlessly into a slender stem, which integrates the cables well and blends into interlocking aero-shaped headset spacers that flow into the head-tube smoothly.
Ribble claims that this set-up has 40 per cent less drag than a standard round-tubed cockpit.
Ribble’s Endurance SL. Courtesy
Our test bike ran Ribble’s new SL50 carbon clinchers. These 50mm deep UD carbon rims (a £450 upgrade option) have a nicely blunted aero shape; the 24mm wide external and 17mm internal rims are a good match for the wonderful Vittoria Corsa Control tyres.
I’ve put thousands of miles into my own Corsas and they’ve proven tough, insanely grippy and fast rolling. The wheels tip the scales at 1,650g a pair. Not bad for a 50mm deep aero wheel.
Interlocking headset spacers flow into the head tube. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The frameset is constructed with T800 and T1000 Toray carbon fibres. The use of quality materials means a frame that tips the scales at an impressive 850g with the fork adding 400g.
It’s not all about lightweight though. The design includes a Kammtail-like truncated airfoil down-tube and seat tube and the fork is aero bladed too.
Ribble has also added practicality with mudguard eyes front and rear, making it a year-round racer.
The eagle-eyed among you would have noticed the SLR here is the rim-brake model (Ribble also offers the SL in a disc model). It’s easy to pass by rim-braked bikes right now, but Ribble has cleverly specced Shimano Ultegra direct-mount brakes, which offer the best of this kind of braking and also allow for more tyre clearance than standard rim brakes (30c tyres will fit here).
Perfectly specced Shimano Ultegra direct-mount brakes. David Caudery / Immediate Media
I had some reservations because rim brakes just aren’t a match for discs when it comes to feel, and past experience has informed me that a carbon braking surface on an unknown wheel can pose a whole series of issues.
Thankfully, the SL impresses. The direct-mount brakes are powerful and have plenty of feel. They work well with the rims, offering a firm feel, but are quite progressive with it.
Only after some prolonged braking on a long descent did I start to get the familiar sound of a carbon squeak/screech of hot pad on hot carbon.
The light, flighty and fighty SL makes for a very fast bike. Robert Smith
The rest of the groupset is Shimano Ultegra in a racy 52/36, 11-28 combo. It’s a great companion to the light, flighty and fighty SL.
The Ribble on the road is exciting. The combination of bigger gearing, low weight and deep aero wheels makes for a very fast bike. It accelerates with ease and holds speed over rolling terrain.
When the road rises, the ride is helped by the bike’s 7.91kg (size large) weight, while on descents the bike’s aggressive geometry, low 562mm stack, long 396mm reach, steep 73-degree head angle and short 999mm wheelbase make a flighty bike that’s easy to flick in any direction at speed with a very positive response to steering input.
The ride is firm, but never harsh and the ride position is unreservedly aggressive. If you want your bike to have bulldog spirit with sprint like a Lancashire whippet, the SL is a great choice.