Long rides, at a reasonable pace, at any time of year? Enter the Ribble Sportive 365. Despite the benefits of a lightweight, non-corroding frame for winter riding, there are very few carbon fibre frames that will accept full mudguards – even fewer that come with deep-drop calliper brakes giving clearance for 25mm tyres and mudguards at the same time. The Sportive 365 is one of a very small breed.
HIGHS: Great value, enormously practical and versatile, mudguards are cool
LOWS: Frame not as sophisticated as the big-name competition
BUY IF… You want a lightweight performance bike for year-round use
There’s no getting away from the fact that Ribble, a bike shop in Preston, doesn’t have the R&D budget of a brand like Giant or Specialized. The 365’s frame lacks such features as a tapered head tube. It’s a straightforward, honest frame – practical rather than showy.
xxx: xxx Robert Smith
Ribble’s online bike builder lets you fiddle around with the specification to fit your needs, wants and budget. The Sora build comes in at under £900, but our test bike had a bunch of upgrades. Most notably, a Shimano 105 transmission is within the scope of a £1,300 budget.
Impressively, the test bike came in at a hair under 9kg – with full mudguards. The Ribble felt at home in the rather wet test conditions. There’s a whole generation of riders who’ve never experienced mudguards; they’ve missed out. Being able to go for a ride on wet roads without drenching yourself is simply a more pleasant experience.
Mudguards and 25mm tyres: you’ll stay dry and comfortable: mudguards and 25mm tyres: you’ll stay dry and comfortable Robert Smith
But don’t think that the Sportive 365 is just a posh winter trainer. Ribble has used carbon’s ability to accommodate all sorts of tube shapes by designing in room for mudguards without having to extend the chainstays or fork length, so the Ribble’s geometry is actually quite racy.
Many bikes pitched at sportives are notably tall at the front, but while the Ribble’s not as slammed as a full-bore race bike, it still has a relatively low-slung front end.
The low weight gives the Ribble a definite spring in its step – unbolt the mudguards and there’s no reason not to race it. The frame’s not as stiff as the more highly developed competition, but if you’ve only got room or budget for one bike you can’t argue with the Sportive 365’s versatility.