The basic spec Ribble Sportive costs £581.95 with full Shimano Sora groupset complete with chainset and brakes, but we made a few minor changes, going for a Deda stem and bar which fitted the look perfectly, a Selle Italia saddle and Continental Ultra Sport tyres.
So, just how does a ‘sportive’ bike vary from a more traditional road bike? In some cases manufacturers tweak the geometry and add height to the head tube. There’s little of this going on with the Ribble Sportive.
The geometry is pretty standard and apart from the seatstays having a keyhole profile for a bit more rear end ‘give’, there are few obvious concessions. There’s minimal clearance for wider tyres and little hydroforming evident in the frame, though the ride seems none the worse for it. In fact, it’s an excellent machine.
Our build weighs a very impressive 9.4kg (20.7lb) and this is reflected in its performance. It’s fast, has great acceleration, and the Deda bar and stem contribute to first-rate handling, but this all balances well with very good comfort, so maybe there is something in the name after all. The carbon fork takes the sting out of the road, the Selle Italia saddle is excellent, and the Conti tyres coped well with a variety of ropy winter surfaces.
The Rodi Airline wheels, too, performed decently, though we’d question the need for semi-deep aero rims with paired spokes on a budget bike. If the rims are knocked out of true in the gaps between the spokes they’re going to be harder to put right, while the aerodynamic benefits aren’t likely to be that great. They’re slightly lighter than, say, Fulcrum Racing 7s, but the Fulcrums would be easier to look after and very durable.
When you’re out on the road, though, the Sportive balances the needs of comfort and performance well, the quite modest frame is decked with some very good kit, and it’s good to see a carbon fork. It would make an ideal first road bike, and, given how comfortable it is, a fine sportive machine. More clearance would have improved its all-round credentials, but it’s hard to see how it could offer much better value.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.