Seen on club runs the length of the country, the 7005 Winter (or Audax as it’s also called) is a bike that’s woven into the fabric of UK cycling.
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It’s the default choice for thousands of roadies who want to stow their shiny carbon steeds in the garage for the coldest six months of the year. Why? Because it’s cheap and entirely fit for purpose.
Ribble’s always offered a range of builds (and a good deal of customisation), and with a cheap groupset and full mudguards, there are few more affordable ways to put in big miles on wet and salty roads.
That’s exactly how Ribble specced my test bike — it’s got Shimano’s new 10-speed Tiagra groupset, along with the latest version of Mavic’s entry-level Aksium wheelset, which has gained a little bit of width to get more out of your tyres. (Although they’re still only 17mm internal.)
The 7005’s frame is as uncomplicated as they come, with none of the marketing acronyms and design flourishes found on big brand bikes. It’s also distinctly old school — where a ‘modern’ bike might have skinny, flattened or dropped seatstays (or all three), those of the Ribble are straight and fat.
Where you might now see a broad, flat top-tube for vertical compliance, that of the Ribble is taller than it is wide. The head tube is straight; the bottom bracket is threaded; the cables are external. By current standards the tyre clearances are rather tight — you may just about get 25s under the guards, but it will be a close thing. And the list goes on.
In geometry terms it’s positively prehistoric, with tiny head tubes on the smaller sizes meaning many riders will need to run a decent stack of spacers under the stem. Flexible riders will approve, however, as unlike with your typical endurance/all-roader type thing, you’ll be able to replicate the position from your race bike.
You’ll also be able to fit a rack in addition to the guards should you wish, so the bases are covered for light touring or commuting too.
Shimano is good about trickling its technology down and it shows with Tiagra — although it’s got one fewer cog than the top three groupsets in the range, it now offers identical ergonomics and very similar shifting feel to its big brothers.
Imagine my surprise on opening the box to discover that Ribble had sent me a bike with a triple chainset! It’s a sign of the times that I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike with one, but despite misgivings about the wisdom of such a choice, it proved to be useful.
The problem with modern compacts is that the jump between a 50 and a 34-tooth ring (or a 52 and 36) is huge and the latter is so small that it’s really only useful for climbing. The 50/39/30 triple affords huge range, but also gives you that handy 39-tooth middle ring, which is perfect for steady miles on undulating terrain.
The 7005 is not light at just shy of 10kg and it isn’t particularly refined. The road-feel is quite solid and a certain amount of chatter comes through from both ends. Nevertheless, it’s a perfectly pleasant thing to sit on and eat up the miles, and the reasonably stiff chassis feels direct and precise.
The 7005 is a refreshingly basic bicycle that fulfils its brief to the letter. It’s not clever or innovative, but it is a perfectly functional tool.