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Ribble Endurance AL Disc 105 review

5 Feb 2020
Verdict:

The Ribble Endurance AL Disc 105 is a disc-braked road bike done properly: well specced, surefooted, and its price very hard to argue with

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1274
For 
Hugely capable and versatile all-rounder • Decent tyres • Excellent value
Against 
Wheels rein in its performance • Still a bit buzzy

Alloy bikes with mid-range groupsets often run the risk of being dismissed as Jacks of all trades, but the Ribble Endurance AL Disc is worth your consideration. Especially when the complete build of a bike that could very easily do almost everything you ask of it comes in under £1300.

Modelled on the tried and tested, all-day-ride-ready Audax model from the Lancashire firm’s stable, the Endurance AL has been on the receiving end of a comprehensive upgrade for 2020.

'The number one upgrade has been to switch from caliper to disc brakes,' says Ribble’s head of product, Jamie Burrow. 'Beyond this, compared to the old Audax it has 28mm tyre clearance (compared to 23), a carbon fork, internal cable routing and a lighter frame.'

So, not so much a light tickle as a comprehensive revamp. I’m in. The biggest test of the Ribble Endurance AL Disc is whether it lives up to Burrow’s claim that, 'it could easily be used as an entry-level race or sportive bike, as well as a winter tourer.'

Spec-ulate to accumulate

The AL Disc is available in two standard builds: a Shimano Tiagra model and the one I’ve been pushing around grimy back lanes, a 105 version.

'Shimano 105 is the most popular build,' says Burrow. 'Most people tend to keep to the standard spec, but the addition of mudguards and a carbon seatpost is very popular.' And here’s the major attraction of buying from a company like Ribble; their online ‘bike builder’ allows you to spec the bike to come in at your budget.

Personally, the pre-emptive speccing of a carbon seatpost would have been wise, but the faint buzz through the 27.2mm alloy component fitted to this bike doesn’t become unbearably intrusive.

Buy the Ribble Endurance AL 105 disc from £1,119 here.

Other options available before you click that ominous ‘buy now’ button include a 52/36 chainset and 11-28 cassette. Some might feel the need for bigger rings and a closer-ratio block than the standard 50/34 and 11-32 set-up, but for top versatility points, the standard set-up suits the bike well.

The only deviation from the stock build on the bike I’ve been riding is the swapping out of Vittoria’s graphene-enhanced Corsa G2.0 tyres for Continental Grand Prix 4-Season rubber. I’d gladly sacrifice a little all-out grip for assured puncture-resistance, especially in late winter and early spring.

Buy the Ribble Endurance AL 105 disc from £1,119 here.

Geared up for victory

Having ridden the Tiagra version last year, and suffered on the hills, hitting a short sharp gradient comes as an almost pleasant surprise. My main gripe with the Tiagra spec was that a 10-speed 11-32 cassette was leaving too big a leap between ratios, with ominous clunks as the chain attempted to seat on the next biggest cog when changing down under load.

The 11-speed Shimano 105 groupset has mitigated this, while retaining the same 11-32 spread of gears. It’s also shaved a little bulk off the build; my Tiagra steed of 2019 was just shy of 10kg (9.96kg to be precise), while the 105 bike tips the scales at 9.19kg.

All that’s holding it back now is the Mavic Aksium Disc wheelset. Its 24-spoke rims have an internal diameter of 17mm, which Mavic says will accommodate tyres of up to 32c, but the pair are knocking on the 2kg mark before you’ve even added tyres and tubes.

Flexible friend

Where the Ribble Endurance AL Disc excels is in its ability to convey me in long-distance comfort while still hiding a few tricks up its sleeve. Its ‘capable all-rounder’ credentials are obvious the moment I’ve cleared town and hit the B-roads, with a Prologo Kappa RS saddle offering flex and support in almost equal measure, and the double-butted aluminium alloy frame soaking up much of the vibration (although some high-frequency vibes are noticeable if you’re riding without gloves).

Elongated Shimano 105 hydraulic hoods add a little extra reach, too. As comfort triangles go, this is one of the most friendly. But it also has some vim. On rolling roads and smoother tarmac, the Ribble Endurance AL Disc can punch up shallower inclines, its 105 shifters firing home positive gear changes for maximum momentum. And once the going gets flat, you’ve half a chance of winning a signpost sprint.

Buy the Ribble Endurance AL 105 disc from £1,119 here.

Compared to a bike like the Specialized Allez Sport – a competitor in the ‘sporty alloy’ category, the Ribble's 410mm chainstays are 10mm shorter, contributing to comparatively rapid transfer of power along the drivetrain.

While the wheelbase of the Ribble is approaching a metre, at 990mm, this does lend the package an assured feeling when you get your lean on. The hydraulic braking set-up hauls the whole thing up with assured power, while if it’s just a breath of brake you’re after, can also bite the 160mm rotors with easily metered force.

Go the whole hog?

What would make the Ribble Endurance AL Disc 105 even more fun to live with, even quicker up the hills, an even more refined experience? Arguably, the fitment of an Ultegra groupset. But, as Jamie Burrow points out, that’s missing the point.

'Ultegra is available as an upgrade to the standard bike in our bike builder,' he explains. 'But as far as the basic specs are concerned, we prefer to keep this at Tiagra or 105 level. The Ribble R872 is the next step up in the range, our entry point to a full carbon-fibre frame, and the first level we’d recommend to be assembled with an Ultegra groupset.'

Given the consistent level of performance you get from the 105 model, I’m with Burrow on this one. Where we differ is that I can’t say hand on heart that it would acquit itself well in any race I’ve been unfortunate enough to be a part of. But it will ably provide sky-high confidence and the odd thrill to commuters, sportivists, fitness riders and long-distance weekend warriors.

Buy the Ribble Endurance AL 105 disc from £1,119 here.

Spec

Frame Ribble Endurance AL aluminium frame, carbon fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic shifters/flat-mount calipers, 160mm Tektro CL rotors
Chainset Shimano 105, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-32
Bars Level 1, alloy
Stem Level 1, alloy
Seatpost Level 1, alloy, 27.2mm
Saddle Prologo Kappa RS
Wheels Mavic Aksium Disc, Continental GP 4 Season tyres, 700 x 25
Weight 9.19kg (size S)
Contact ribblecycles.co.uk

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