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Ribble Sportive Racing review

5 Oct 2018

Page 1 of 2Ribble Sportive Racing review

Verdict:

When we say the Ribble Sportive Racing is a superbike-baiter, we're not exaggerating

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£999

This review first appeared in Issue 44 of BikesEtc magazine

We tested Ribble’s Sportive Racing in Di2 guise last year (see page 2), and were blown away by the way it provided a stiff, responsive ride combined with a fair amount of long-distance ability.

It was more ‘Racing’ than ‘Sportive’ in our book, which added to the excitement of the ride immensely.

Here, for less than £1,000, Ribble has concocted a mechanical 105-equipped version that seems perfectly equipped for anything the road throws at you.

Frameset

The frame is made from a mix of T700 and T800 carbon-fibre, from carbon giant Toray. Put simply, T800 is a lighter yet stronger lay-up, so this is used in areas such as the head tube and bottom bracket.

To bring a build of this calibre in under £1,000 dictates that you’d struggle to use T800 for the whole frameset.

The sloping top tube of the Ribble’s frameset has two purposes: it supplies a low standover height, but also reduces the size of the Sportive Racing’s rear triangle.

What you’re getting is a rear end that’s responsive to input, and a fairly long length of exposed seatpost to assist with soaking up the vibrations from the road.

The 31.8mm alloy seatpost isn’t the most forgiving, though.

The frame tubes are predominantly square in profile, which again aids rigidity in the design, especially at the bottom bracket and head tube (which is the most expansive area of carbon-fibre we’ve ridden with for quite some time).

The cabling is internally routed, and the frame is also ready for electronic groupset wiring, so it’s a future-proof arrangement.

Groupset

The Sportive Racing is equipped mainly with the ubiquitous 11-speed Shimano 105. A compact 50/34 chainset is linked to 105 front and rear derailleurs, as well as a 105 cassette (in nigh-on-perfect wide-ratio 11-28 format).

Mechanical brake/shift levers are also from Shimano’s mid-range catalogue, while brake callipers are FSA K-Force items.

Finishing kit

In this 53cm frame set-up, Ribble has opted for a sensibly spanned 420mm alloy compact-drop handlebar set-up from ITM, matched to a 100mm ITM alloy stem.

The bars do a grand job of dialling out harshness from the fairly rigid fork, yet are stiff enough to aid uphill smash-fests on the drops.

The CSN 31.6mm seatpost is a sizeable chunk of alloy – given that it extends through the seat tube almost to the bottom bracket at its full insertion, we reckon you could get this build down to under 8kg just by shaving off any unwanted length.

Selle Italia’s X1 Flow is a common addition to budget builds, and we’ve little to grumble about in the area of rump-related comfort.

Wheels

Mavic’s Aksium alloy clinchers are workaday hoops that fit the bill of durability and comfort demanded of this sub-£1,000 build.

They’re hefty, so do slightly hamper hard acceleration and climbing, but they’re virtually indestructible.

They wear Continental’s excellent GP4000S rubber, in 25c size – the widest you can fit to the Sportive Racing without interfering with frame clearance.

Conti’s flagship rubber is grippy, resilient and (in our experience) puncture-resistant.

On the road

The tall front end puts us in a decidedly upright position at first, but by taking one of the 10mm spacers from under the stem and putting it on top, the riding stance adopts a really decent combination of purposeful and practical.

For better or worse, the stiffness of the previous Sportive Racing we tested is still evident, but with a little air taken out of the 25c Contis, again we manage to achieve a decent compromise set-up.

An overriding sense of purposeful performance and super-stiff ride permeate the time spent on the Ribble. The front end is more buzzy than the smaller sized Sportive Racing we previously tested, owing to the much longer head tube and associated steerer.

Also, owing to the shorter length of exposed seatpost due to the larger sized frame, there are more vibrations intruding at the rear.

That said, Selle Italia’s Z1 Flow saddle, plus a set of extremely competent 25c tyres deflated to 85psi, do their part in mitigating the road buzz.

The bike’s eagerness to get up and go is there in spades, though. When we say the Sportive Racing is a superbike-baiter, we’re not exaggerating: if you were to replace the budget wheelset with something more keen to spin up with immediacy, you’d embarrass a lot of people on the Sunday club run who are riding bikes costing three times the amount.

In practical terms, the compact chainset allied to the 105-series 11-28 cassette provides an ample spread of available ratios – not the biggest gears for optimum power production, but plenty of scope for excelling on all terrain, whether flat, rolling or hilly.

The fact that this build weighs in just north of the 8kg mark is impressive, given it’s a size M frameset, too.

The Ribble handles as well as many carbon bikes we’ve ridden that would put a much more sizeable dent in your savings.

A larger size frame does temper the lightning-quick response we’ve experienced with this model before, but the rangier head tube and more upright riding position allows you to pile on the miles – and smiles – much more effectively.

That said, this machine is more than capable of giving you a shot of adrenaline. Egging you on to brake hard and late before slamming it into a downhill corner, the only two limiting factors we found were the FSA callipers’ willingness to grip the Mavics’ alloy braking surface, and potentially the UK road surface.

Take this bike on a cycling holiday to Mallorca, however, and you’ll have a near-perfect companion for the testing climbs and rocketing descents of Europe’s paradise cycling island.

The frameset is restricted to running nothing wider than 25mm rubber, but we reckon Conti’s GP4000S tyres are some of the best performing we’ve ever tested – grippy, durable, low rolling resistance…

Unlike some that we’ve tested in the same £50 price range, which frankly have about as much grip as an ungritted country lane in winter. 

RATINGS

Frame: A great mix of carbon for superb stiffness. 9/10 
Components: Mostly 105 kit – superb value at this price. 8/10 
Wheels: Decent Mavic wheels with excellent Conti tyres. 8/10 
The ride: Responsive and fast enough to give a real thrill. 9/10 

Verdict: When we say the Ribble Sportive Racing is a superbike-baiter, we're not exaggerating.  

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 558mm 556mm
Seat Tube (ST) 530mm 530mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 381mm
Head Tube (HT) 176mm 180mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.9
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.4
Wheelbase (WB) 993mm 993mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 76mm

Spec

Ribble Sportive Racing
Frame Ribble Sportive Racing carbon frame and fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes FSA K-Force
Chainset Shimano 105, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars ITM Alcor 80, alloy
Stem ITM Alcor 80, alloy
Seatpost CSN Superleggera, alloy, 31.6mm
Wheels Mavic Aksium, Continental GP 4000 S 25c tyres
Saddle Selle Italia X1 Flow
Weight 8.12kg (M)
Contact ribblecycles.co.uk

Page 1 of 2Ribble Sportive Racing review

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