Ah, Ribble. One of the oldest bike retailers in the world, with a history dating back to Victoria. And if, like me, you’re north of 50 you’ll remember Ribble as a mail-order company. Now the company sells online, though it also has a couple of shops where you can see bikes in the flesh. It has supplied Chris Boardman and Bradley Wiggins, and has delivered a dark-matt all-carbon machine at a fantastic price.
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I broke a grand on this bike by sneaking in a carbon seatpost (it’s £999 with an aluminium one). Either way, this shows the advantage of going down the internet route and having your bike delivered in a large cardboard box — you get a lot of bike for your money.
Ribble R872 Black 105 Fulcrum SE gear and kit
The bike offers both carbon fibre and 105, along with Fulcrum wheels and an updated modern-looking frame. There's a tapered head tube, ultra-chunky bottom bracket shell, super-swooshy keyhole seatstays, slimline 27.2mm seatpost, with twin clamp bolts (the lower one 5Nm, the upper 2Nm — get your torque wrench out!), while carbon dropouts are unusual to see at this price.
Shimano 105, all present, means slick shifts and quality braking. And though the Racing Sports are Fulcrum’s entry-level wheel, my experience of Fulcrums suggests they’ll be tough and durable.
Meanwhile, the rest of the kit isn’t exactly what I’d call shabby. Deda Zero aluminium stem and bar, plush ITM cork-embossed bar tape and that carbon seatpost from Ribble’s own CSN brand.
It’s the least expensive carbon post I’ve seen, but it did the job well and is topped by a Selle Italia saddle. The tyres are also budget affairs, but the Continental Ultra Sports are among my favourites, and another good choice.
Ribble R872 Black 105 Fulcrum SE ride impressions
The fashionable stealth finish is matched by a smooth, near-silent drivetrain, even under effort, and it was hard to fault any aspect of the ride.
Ribble has kept the earlier models’ racy geometry, shortish head tube, near 73-degree angles, sub-metre wheelbase, but for the third generation R872 Ribble has increased stiffness everywhere — a claimed 15.4 percent stiffer at the bottom bracket, 14 percent for the chainstays and even more for the fork. No surprises there.
But it’s the poise and polish of the performance that grabs you. Pin-sharp handling and rapid acceleration — this climbs as well as anything at the price — is matched by impressive levels of comfort. Yes, it’s racy, yes, it’s aggressive, but even after a day you’re not feeling beaten up, which makes it ideal as a fast fitness machine, a bike for club runs, sportives and much more.
You have to give credit to Ribble. As bike prices are rising, or spec lists losing bling, I can see Preston’s finest succeeding against the more ‘glamorous’ brands it’s up against, and European internet interlopers such as Rose and Canyon.
The hitch is you have to set it up yourself. But get a torque wrench, read a Haynes manual, Zinn or similar and you’ll have it sorted in a few minutes. All the bolts were pre-greased, which helps things go smoothly, and shows care was taken up in Lancashire.