The Ribble Sportive Bianco has a carbon fibre frame, which is a great achievement for less than £1,000. It’s not the lightest bike at this price, but still weighs a good deal less than 9kg, and while the kit is based around Shimano Tiagra rather than 105, that’s the case for several of its competitors, too. A bike is only as good as the ride it offers, and a bargain isn’t a bargain if it doesn’t perform out on the road. Fortunately, in the case of the Sportive Bianco, it does.
The frame is made from high quality T700 and T800 carbon fibre from Toray, one of the biggest names in the business. It has wishbone chainstays and a fairly long head tube that creates an upright riding position. But despite these comfort-adding touches, the bike’s no slouch, and where that carbon comes into its own is in smoothing out poor road surfaces better than aluminium.
Out-of-the-saddle sprints are okay, if not quite up with the best, but for hour after hour riding – like sportives or fast fitness and leisure riding – this bike is ideal, though lighter wheels would improve things further still. The Rodi Airlines it comes with major more on durability than weight and our front wheel had a slightly raised joint on both sides of the rim, so every revolution when braking was accompanied by a corresponding ‘thunk’. It would be easily dealt with but was still a little disappointing
That was the only major letdown on this otherwise impressively specced machine. The non-cartridge Tiagra brakes aren’t as convincing as cartridge brakes but Tiagra’s gearing works well and the accompanying components are better than usual on a bike at this price – Deda supplying the high quality stem, handlebar and seatpost.
One of the big advantages of the Ribble is that you can change the kit spec. Ours was designed to sneak in under the £1,000 mark, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far a Sora-based build is possible at less than £900, while lighter wheels and better brakes are an option if your budget stretches beyond £1,000. But as it stands this is a sensibly specced carbon bike with a comfortable ride, at a bargain price.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.