Ribble’s carbon R872 made the top 10 last year with Shimano 105, but by the time the test came out it had gone up from £1,000 to £1,100. This year’s R872 is back at a grand but it has had to go to Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra to achieve this – and I think this is a compromise worth making.
Tiagra isn’t that far removed from 105 and while this makes the 2020 R872 a fraction heavier, its 8.9kg weight is competitive for the price and 100g lighter than claimed.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Ribble R872 Tiagra 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.
Ribble has radically reinvented its road bikes over the last few years and they’re now as up-to-date as anything available – while still keeping up on the online retailer’s eye for value.
The frame has all the tube profiles you’d expect: a flattened top-tube narrows along its length for comfort, the down tube is an oversized, angular affair for stiffness, and there’s a large bottom bracket shell for efficiency.
And yes, the R872’s seatstays are slim and quite radically dropped for “vertical compliance and vibration absorption, increasing comfort”.
It has internal cable routing – with the ability to upgrade to Di2 – and the threaded bottom bracket will please the pressfit-phobes among us.
Internal cable routing features, and an upgrade to Di2 is possible. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Ribble R872 Tiagra geometry
Ribble markets the R872 as a ‘sportive’ or ‘endurance bike’, but there was no lack of stiffness from the frame – from the head tube to the down tube and bottom bracket shell – or the full-carbon fork. It’s actually at the racier, pacier, more aggressive end of the endurance spectrum.
You won’t be riding nose to the handlebar but you’re a little more stretched than on the likes of the Specialized Allez Elite and Boardman SLR 8.9c, for example, both of which also have endurance geometry.
The geometry’s actually a little closer to that of the more overtly aggressive Cannondale CAAD Optimo 105, with similar 73/73.5-degree head and seat angles that put you in a slightly forward riding position as well as speed up the handling.
And while the Ribble’s top tube is shorter and the head tube taller, the Ribble’s sub-metre wheelbase and sub-9kg weight make it one you can power into corners on.
I upgraded the wheels to Mavic’s Aksium, which were paired with Continental’s quality 25mm GT Grand Prix tyres. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Ribble R872 Tiagra kit
The bike comes stock with Ribble’s Mach 1 CFX wheels, but for an extra £99 the bike can be upgraded to Mavic Aksium’s, and I found them tough and durable, and at a reasonable weight for the money.
I did have a minor but familiar issue with them, as there was a slight raised area where the rims are joined, causing a tiny but annoying click when you brake. It’s not serious and goes away with use, but I wish it didn’t happen.
Continental’s 25mm GT Grand Prix tyres are top-quality and still handmade in Germany. They contain a PolyX Breaker layer that’s designed to increase resistance to punctures without increasing rolling resistance.
Shimano’s Tiagra caliper rim brakes. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Meanwhile, their natural and synthetic rubber BlackChili Compound is claimed to reduce rolling resistance by 26 per cent, deliver 30 per cent more grip and five per cent more mileage. I did have an ‘off’ on one of winter’s slippery surfaces but still trusted them enough to ride the last 20 miles home and had no further issues.
Ribble R872 Tiagra ride impressions
I’ve left the best till last: the R872’s carbon frame. It’s very different even compared with the model from just a couple of years ago.
The new R872 frame bears a resemblance to the Boardman SLR 8.9c – and the ride isn’t that dissimilar either. It nicely balances impressive frame stiffness and a taut front-end with excellent long-distance comfort, the carbon successfully smoothing road bumps.
That oversized down tube really does feel like it delivers the promised “improved torsional stiffness and power transfer”.
I didn’t miss the extra gear Shimano 105 offers compared to Tiagra. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The Tiagra groupset did its usual sterling work and I never missed the extra gear that 105 would have offered. Numerous build options are available too, including Shimano 105 from £1,299 and a model with mechanical disc brakes and Tiagra for just £1,100.
Ribble also offers loads of options when it comes to wheels, saddle and cockpit components. In our Cycle-to-Work-friendly £1,000 build this means Ribble’s own-brand Level 1 6061 stem, bar and 27.2mm seatpost, all absolutely typical at this price (minus that wheel upgrade).
Ribble’s own-brand Level 1 6061 stem and bar. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Ribble R872 Tiagra overall
Ribble has always produced good-value bikes, but after its new CEO took over in 2017 – Andy Smallwood, formerly managing director at Boardman Bikes – shortly followed by former US Postal rider Jamie Burrow as head of product, Lancashire’s finest upped its game further.
The latest version of the R872 is a bangs-for-bucks treat. I’d even put it a fraction ahead of Boardman’s similarly equipped SLR 8.9c in the £1,000 carbon road bike stakes.
Ribble’s own-brand seatpost is topped with a Prologo Kappa RS saddle. David Caudery / Immediate Media
It has a wider range of gears, loads of build and kit options and it’s a fabulous choice for fast sportive-type rides, training and fast on-road commuting.
Its quality carbon frameset – available in black, red and custom colourways – makes it a very sound investment for the long haul as it’s ripe for later kit upgrades.
Ribble R872 Tiagra geometry
Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M, L*, XL
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 73 degrees
Seat tube: 55cm
Top tube: 56.5cm
Head tube: 18cm
Fork offset: 4.5cm
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.