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Ribble Endurance SLR Disc review

17 Feb 2020
Verdict:

The Ribble Endurance SLR can stand shoulder to shoulder with bikes ridden in the World Tour

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£6,519 (£1,799 frameset only)
For 
Fast • Comfortable and rigid • 30mm tyre clearance offers great versatility • Fantastic value across the range
Against 
Some seatpost slipping issues

Ribble has a long history in bikes. While the brand has technically existed since 1897, its business really began to flourish in 2001.

At a time when the internet was still young and largely confined to dial-up, Ribble had the foresight to create a website and fulfil mail orders. It may seem trivial today, but this focus on e-commerce cemented the company’s position as a very high-value bike retailer early in the game.

One result was that Ribble acquired a reputation for delivering first and foremost value for money. In the last few years, however, it has been edging towards the premium end of the market, with bikes of increasing quality and higher pricetags.

That has reached its apogee with the Endurance SLR Disc, which in this guise breaks the £6.5k mark.

Ride

The Endurance SLR Disc is touted as the all-round endurance race offering in Ribble’s fleet, akin to the Specialized Tarmac or Cannondale SuperSix. It’s not a full-on aero race bike – that accolade goes to the Ribble Aero 883 – but it does have aero touches, including truncated aerofoil tube profiles and completely concealed front cabling.

‘The frame generates 28% less drag across a wide yaw sweep at real-world speeds versus our previous equivalent model,’ says Jamie Burrow, head of product at Ribble, although he doesn’t let on as to whether a wind-tunnel was actually used in the design process. The neatness of the front end, theory suggests, should do a huge amount for the overall aerodynamics, being the first point of contact with the wind.

‘Our in-house-designed integrated bar and stem gives a 44% aero improvement compared to a conventional setup,’ says Burrow.

Buy the Ribble Endurance SLR disc from Ribble from £4,999.99

In terms of construction, Ribble boasts the use of some high-quality fibres throughout the frame. ‘We used Toray T1000 in key structural areas of stress and flex,’ says Burrow. ‘That means areas such as the transition between bottom bracket and chainstays and around the head tube.’

The Endurance’s claimed stiffness and aero credentials come alongside an overall weight of 7.6kg, which for a disc bike is on par with many of the biggest brands that grace the WorldTour. It’s certainly good enough for the riders at UCI Continental team Ribble Weldtite, most of whom have the Endurance as their go-to race bike.

Components and spec

My first impression of the Endurance SLR Disc was that it was very similar to some other bikes I’ve been testing over the past few months. Considering my last two test bikes were a £10k Colnago and Parlee’s top aero race frame, that was a positive.

It reminded me that where there was once a wide gap between the best bikes from the handful of ‘royal’ brands and the rest of the market, today bikes offer quality across the board and the gap between brands has never been smaller.

From the outset, the Endurance SLR Disc had a sense of lightweight performance and rigidity. I tackled a 1,000m ascent in Greece on my first ride aboard the bike and the climb drifted by happily.

I had a sense of free speed that meant I could just tap away at the pedals and climb at a snappy cadence rather than fight with the cranks. The bike spurred me on, and when I was back home I found myself making serious efforts on local ascents in Surrey purely for the joy of the exertion.

On the descents, the front end provided a solid platform for confident, predictable cornering. That was partly down to frame stiffness but also the rigid bar-stem combo.

So often I find integrated bar-stems can be far too flexible, or alternatively can conduct far too much of any jolt from the road. Ribble’s own Level 5 bar-stem setup struck a really good balance of comfort and performance. The same can be said of the entire bike. It had a mature ride quality that made it fun to ride casually before adopting a fast and aggressive character as soon as the watts crept up.

The move to disc brakes has allowed brands to widen the tyre clearance on endurance road bikes and the Ribble has space for up to 30mm tyres. That meant I was able to experiment with the pressures on wider tyres to hone comfort. It also opened up a few tracks and gravel paths that I might not have attempted on skinnier rubber.

That said, the frame seemed to do a good job of softening the road – specifically the super-skinny seatpost, which happily flexed beneath me to deliver a smooth ride over rough terrain. The post did have a slight issue with slipping, but this was resolved using some grip paste and by edging precariously above the recommended torque.

Beyond the frame, the spec also played its part in the overall quality of the bike. I’m certainly finding myself increasingly impressed by Sram’s AXS 12-speed. Refreshingly, though, Ribble allows consumers to customise almost any permutation of groupset, wheels and finishing kit.

Even better, Ribble’s Bike Builder online program also manages to maintain the overall cost savings regardless of how you switch and change components, which is no easy feat when most bike brands look to save money on bulk OEM purchases. 

Price comparison

My lingering memories of the Endurance SLR Disc are of how fast the bike was and how well it held speed on long flat stretches of road that had me standing on the pedals in search of more speed. I really struggle to split the Ribble from bikes with significantly higher pricetags.

Before riding it I spent a month on the Colnago V3RS. I really loved it and believed it offered a unique ride quality, but was it £3,000 better than the Ribble Endurance SLR Disc? Probably not. You’d have to want the romance and history that comes with the Colnago name to justify the price.

To make a different comparison, a Canyon Aeroad SLX 9.0 SL has a very similar spec to the Endurance SLR Disc, but is actually slightly cheaper at £6,350 compared to the Ribble’s £6,519.

Now, some people would immediately plump for the Canyon – after all, it’s a Grand Tour-winning brand – but I would argue the Aeroad is also a little long in the tooth, and the Endurance SLR Disc offers more integration alongside wider tyre clearances. Is the Aeroad actually a better bike? I’d say it isn’t.

The Endurance SLR Disc has convinced me that Ribble deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Cannondale, Specialized and Trek. It really is nudging superbike territory.

Buy the Ribble Endurance SLR disc from Ribble from £4,999.99

Spec

Frame Ribble Endurance SLR Disc
Groupset Sram Red eTap AXS
Brakes Sram Red eTap AXS
Chainset Sram Red eTap AXS
Cassette Sram Red eTap AXS
Bars Ribble Level 5 Carbon integrated road bar and stem  
Stem Ribble Level 5 Carbon integrated road bar and stem
Seatpost Ribble SL Carbon
Saddle Fizik Arione R5 Kium
Wheels Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon SL UST Disc, Continental GP5000 TL 28mm tyres
Weight 7.6kg (size 54)
Contact ribblecycles.co.uk

• Want to ride the Ribble Endurance SLR disc? Come to one of the Cyclist Track Days, your chance to ride the world's best bikes around purpose-built, closed-road tracks. Tickets available here.

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