Ribble Aero 883 review£2,214.00

Affordable aero from the Northern powerhouse

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Ribble Cycles is a mainstay of the UK club scene, and the Preston-based shop is best known for the huge value it manages to pack into its range of road bikes. The result of a collaboration with Sheffield-based design specialist Performance Engineered Solutions, Ribble calls the 883 its “most aero road race frame” ever, and while the brand doesn’t make any specific claims about what that entails, it certainly bears all the hallmarks of a modern wind-cheater.

Its stealthy carbon frame sports truncated aerofoil sections, most prominently on the down tube and the seat tube with its matching aero seatpost, while the rear brake is tucked under the chainstays out of the way.

It’s a tight fit between the rear tyre and seat-tube cutaway
It’s a tight fit between the rear tyre and seat-tube cutaway

The fork blends cleanly with the head tube and down tube, and in time-trial bike fashion, the rear wheel nestles in a cutout in the seat-tube, with clearances quite tight even on the stock 23mm tyres. A 25mm tyre may fit, but it’ll have to suck its belly in, and bigger rubber is out of the question.

Builds for the 883 start at around £1,300, while this Ultegra Di2-equipped bike with tidy carbon-laminated-alloy Shimano clinchers comes in at just over £900 more. This is one of Ribble’s special edition builds that allow some spec changes like bar width and chainset type, but there’s slightly less flexibility than a fully custom one.

Big, powerful riders will appreciate its impressive power transfer, and if your riding is go-fast-all-the-time it’s likely to suit you

The Aero 883 is one of those bikes that’s most rewarding when you take the bit between your teeth and really thrash it. The frame is as laterally stiff as its voluminous bottom bracket area and tall, boxy chainstays would suggest, and despite the Aero moniker it’s a spirited climber.

Weight helps here of course — the 883 is hardly porky for a machine with aero features and mid-weight alloy wheels, but it’s the rigidity from both ends of the chassis that lends it real assertiveness when you want to put the power down hard.

The flipside to this unbending nature is that the 883’s ride is uncompromisingly firm, and this will likely be a deciding factor for many. There’s little vertical flex through that substantial aero seatpost and the front of the bike is similarly unyielding, with significant road buzz coming through the bar.

Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 is good to find on an aero road bike at this price
Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 is good to find on an aero road bike at this price

Cruising at speed, we were aware of every minor undulation in the road surface, and with limited clearances on offer, there isn’t great scope to tune the ride quality by adding tyre volume. While we’re being critical, our test bike was set up in such a way that the rear brake outer and Di2 cables were rattling against the head-tube — not a difficult issue to address, but annoying all the same.

Does it sound like we don’t like the 883? Bear with us. Big, powerful riders will appreciate its impressive power transfer, and if your riding is go-fast-all-the-time it’s likely to suit you.

It’s got the sharp handling and aggressive fit of a proper race bike, and the spec is generous for the price: Shimano’s Di2 components and quality clinchers are proven performers. Furthermore, while the rear brake placement isn’t exactly mechanic-friendly, the direct-mount callipers are fantastic, among the best rim brakes money can buy.

The 883 isn’t for everyone and in ride quality terms it’s closer to being a first generation aero road bike than a competitor for some of the latest machines that do more to incorporate comfort-oriented features. Nevertheless, it’s a solid package that’s well priced and capable in the right hands.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK
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