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Ribble SL e Pro e-road bike review

6 Nov 2020
Verdict:

For a subtle helping hand, the Ribble Endurance SL e is hard to beat

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Easy-to-use stealth motor system • Great spec • Low weight
Against 
Non-tubeless tyres • Non-adjustable one-piece bar-stem

The Ribble Endurance SL e takes the familiar profile of the brand’s SL endurance bike and adds an ebikemotion X35 motor from Mahle in its rear hub.

It’s subtly integrated, the motor being no larger in diameter than the largest sprocket on the cassette and weighing just 2.1kg. It’s a lot less beefy than systems designed for electric mountain bikes and pushes out a lot less torque: 40Nm as opposed to 60 to 80Nm for many e-MTB systems.

 

In theory, a mid-mounted motor should give you a more balanced ride than the hub-located motor in the ebikemotion system. But the 1.8kg battery housed in the down tube balances out the weight in the hub and, with the rider’s weight mainly over the rear wheel, the Ribble Endurance SL e’s centre of mass isn’t a lot further back than on a conventional bike. At 11.8kg, it’s not a lot heavier either.

Buy now from Ribble from £2,799

The battery, like the motor, is very low profile and at first glance it’s hard to tell the difference from a non-assisted bike with a slightly chunky down tube.

The charging port is under a cover on the top of the bottom bracket shell. Again, it’s pretty stealth.

 

So too is the controller, in the form of a single button on the front of the top tube. A long press switches the motor on, with an LED ring around it showing the battery charge level.

Press the button and it will start to flash and you can then press it again to scroll through the three assistance levels, colour-coded green, amber and red on the LEDs, and a non-assisted mode.

It’s easy to use, with an accompanying phone app giving you more info and more parameterisation options.

 

Clever assistance

Ribble has a large range of e-bikes and all are equipped with the Mahle ebikemotion system, unlike many brands which divide their e-bike ranges between the Mahle system and Fazua motors, or use Bosch or other units.

The Mahle system is impressive. I’ve ridden e-bikes where the motor takes over when you hit a hill or accelerate, which for a more serious cyclist feels rather unsatisfying. Indeed, I’ve still got personal best times on some hills from a test ride of an over-eager 18kg flat bar bike.

 

Happily, assistance on the Ribble Endurance SL e is very progressive and subtle. Set on its lowest green assistance level, I actually wasn’t sure if I was getting a push or not. I would often check my GPS to find that I was riding well over the 25kmh at which assistance has by law to cut out, without noticing that this had occurred.

Put the motor at its highest red level and the support is more obvious, particularly on hills, where the Ribble will effectively pull you up most gradients. On the flat the cut-out once you reach 25kmh is more obvious too, although the transition still doesn’t feel awkward.

For more info on the Ribble Endurance SL e, visit Ribble's website here.

Similarly, pulling away sometimes produced pronounced jerks of power which would then cut out when I eased off to clip in. It wasn’t anything perturbing, however, and only occurred on the highest assist level.

 

When I tested the battery’s longevity I was able to eke out around 115km, with 1,500m of elevation gain on a charge, although for the last 12km or so the control switch was flashing red, indicating that I had less than 15% battery remaining.

Once you hit that level, assistance steps down too and you can’t use the highest level, so you won't be able to cruise up the hills so easily.

That's a decent range given my liberal use of the max assist level, and should get most riders round most rides. If you do want more range, however, Mahle makes a range extender battery that fits into a bottle cage and adds another 250Wh of charge.

 

Flashy spec

This top spec of the Ribble Endurance SL e comes with suitably top drawer finishing kit. That includes the 45mm deep Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon wheelset, which costs £1,190 on its own. It’s deep enough to garner aero benefits without feeling uncomfortably twitchy in gusty crosswinds and matches well to the SL e’s aero profile.

Although, like the majority of Mavic’s wheelsets, it is tubeless-ready, the Continental GP5000 tyres (an upgrade from the Grand Prix GT tyres in the online spec) are not.

That’s not a big deal, but it would be worthwhile swapping to a set of tubeless tyres once the Contis wear out. There’s plenty of clearance for wider tyres too.

 

You also get Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting, with a 50/34 compact chainset and 11-32 cassette. That wide range feels a little overkill with the power of the electric motor on tap to tackle ascents, although with the bike weighing nearly 12kg you'll probably need it if you're looking to ride under your own steam.

However, I hardly used the lower end of the available ratios. On the steepest hills, with red level assistance, I was mid-cassette on the small ring, while many less severe ascents were taken in the large ring.

Keep to the lowest green assist level and you get more of a workout on hills though and my heart rate typically rose into zone 4, although still around 10bpm less than under my own pedal power.

 

The Ribble own-brand Level 5 integrated carbon bar-stem on the Pro spec is a classy touch. It fully encloses the cables and hoses and the flat tops are a comfortable perch, although I found it difficult to find a comfortable hold on the curvy drops. If you’re fussy about your hand-holds, you might not like the lack of adjustability.

If the £5,000 price of the Pro spec build is beyond what your budget can afford, Ribble starts the Endurance SL e range with a Tiagra build for £2,799. As with other Ribble bikes, you can use the bike builder to choose your own spec and select custom colour options too.

 

It’s not just about the motor

The Ribble Endurance SL e in its Pro spec isn’t a bike that you’d be unhappy to ride unassisted either. On a couple of rides, I started with the motor switched off and kept it off until I’d fully warmed up, and then only switched to green level, saving the top level of assistance for the climbs into the Chilterns on the way home.

On the flat I was usually riding at over 25kmh, so with no assistance, and the Ribble didn’t feel appreciably heavier or harder to ride than a normal pedal-powered bike.

Handling is confident and planted even on fast descents and I wasn’t able to induce wheel slip with full assistance on wet climbs.

The only time I was tripped up by the system was on a false flat when I decided to up the assistance to burn off a wheelsucker. Despite this, I seemed stuck at around 22kmh – not enough to shake off the wheelsucker – and it was only once he had turned off that I realised I had pressed the selector button once too many times earlier, so had actually been riding unassisted the whole time.

I guess he got bragging rights for keeping up with a guy on an e-bike.

An impressive ride

So in summary, I’ve been impressed with my time on the Ribble Endurance SL e. It’s an enjoyable bike in its own right, with a comfortable, fast ride and quality spec.

The motor just adds to its allure, offering a helping hand that can go from gentle to forceful depending on your need and making hillier trips just that bit less punishing.

Spec

Frame and fork Ribble Endurance SL e Carbon Disc 
Motor Mahle ebikemotion X35
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra 50/34
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 11-32t
Bar-stem Level 5 carbon
Seatpost Ribble carbon
Saddle Fizik Antares R5 Kium rail
Wheels Mavic Cosmic Pro UST Carbon Disc 
Tyres Continental GP 5000 28mm
Weight 11.8kg
Contact ribblecycles.co.uk

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£4,999

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