Ribble’s CGR is the Lancashire firm’s one bike to rule them all. At least if the ‘all’ doesn’t stray beyond cyclocross, gravel and road.
The frame’s paintwork may shout, but the tidily welded 7005 aluminium structure features some interesting subtleties. Behind its tapered head tube are round down- and seat-tubes, plus seatstays, ovalised chainstays that are heavily crimped to allow the 35mm maximum tyre clearance, and angular rear dropouts that are among the widest we’ve seen. The flattened top tube adds style with its arcing shape and buttressed junction with the head tube.
All of the cables and brake hoses are routed externally, which helps maintenance, as do the mudguards and hydraulic disc brakes, keeping much of the muck from the drivetrain. I had to straighten the rear mech hanger, likely due to a knock in transit, and found it to be quite soft and easily bent.
I easily found a good road position on the CGR, with plenty of reach, and the option of a 100mm setback on my large size. It’s not super-low at the front, but that’s not the market Ribble is catering for.
Its 28mm tyres are ideal for training, commuting and going a little off-piste. Fitted to the 23mm-wide asymmetric Fulcrum Racing Sport DB rims, Continental’s Gatorskins work well, with plush air volume that breeds tarmac cornering confidence.
Keen to test its gravel credentials, I included miles of Salisbury Plain’s finest unmade roads. Despite maintaining my road tyre pressures of 80psi, which meant a few slips on loose stones and cambers, the Ribble’s 1,021mm wheelbase helped it feel stable, while easily holding a line and avoiding potholes with assurance.
Even at 25mph my fillings weren’t rattled, and I'm sure that with wider, more suitable tyres instead of mudguards, the CGR would really excel on this terrain.
Shimano’s hydraulic 105-level shifters feel far better than they look, with plenty of grip options. My 50/34 chainset and 11-28 cassette are a perfect road choice, and translate well to gravel too, but if ’cross is going to be a consideration, you won’t worry the big ring much.
The CGR spins along efficiently, but on rolling roads the need to change down and stand up on rises that usually require neither became more noticeable. Carrying speed in to climbs is difficult, as it ebbs away in a direct correlation with the gradient. The CGR manages climbs, but attacking them is futile.
Descending is composed, confident and fun, and where the hydraulic discs show their worth, with ample easy power on tap from the merest squeeze of the lever. Deda’s cockpit looks classy and feels good.
Despite the saddle’s cutout and generous padding, I found its shape wasn’t really to our taste, and the padding’s edges didn’t conform very well, giving the feel of perching on it rather than settling in.
The mudguards are great for the 28mm tyres fitted, they don’t rattle, I didn’t find any toe overlap, and there’s room for slightly wider ones.
If you need to carry luggage for your commute or a weekend exploring, the CGR has front and rear rack mounts. Even though it takes more hustling than average to crest climbs, the CGR is a versatile, tough machine and a bargain at this price.