Ribble CGR is a versatile and robust road bike that'll take on most of your riding needs, though it is a little heavy
Standing for cross, gravel and road, the Ribble CGR is all about offering versatility with one inexpensive ride. Coming only in fluorescent yellow and built up as you choose within the parameters of Ribble’s bike building software, we tried it out as a mile munching machine fully decked out with mudguards and hydraulic disc brakes.
The frame is built from good old solid 7005 aluminium. A chunky headtube that neatly merges onto the fork and an arced top tube give it a distinctive shape, while somewhat out of character chunky girder like sections pull the back end together but help provide all the clearance and mounts that gives the bike its adaptability.
The geometry is relaxed on the Ribble CGR, putting you a long way back over the rear wheel, and the compact design with a relatively long top tube meant this tester sized down from a usual 56cm seat tube to the 52cm on the ‘medium’ model. But the ride is dependable with no quirks in its handling and its stiffness offering efficient transfer in power.
I wouldn’t go so far as saying the Ribble CGR ever felt lively – but then neither did my legs in the early months of the year. Nonetheless it had enough spark in it, despite its full winter livery, to get round a few tastily paced reliability rides without any issues.
Kitted out with mudguards, disc brakes and smooth rolling but weighty Shimano’s RX31 wheels does make the bike heavy. So it’s neither the best climber or the most manoeuvrable when taken onto those eponymous ‘cross and gravel terrains.
Ribble’s BikeBuilder software allows many combinations of how the Ribble CGR can be specced. We went with 11-speed Shimano 105 – a groupset towards the higher end of what most people would want to run on a winter bike. The performance of this group’s transmission is hard to fault.
Same goes for the hydraulic brakes, the advantages of which you notice more than ever riding down mucky lanes in the depths of winter.
They take immediate effect whether wet or dry and there’s none of that gritty rubbing of brake blocks on rims. I’ve previously used cable discs on a winter bike which, although more straightforward in their set-up, are needier in terms of maintenance and adjustment.
Perhaps where the bike builder really comes into its own is in the finishing kit. Ribble offer a good array of options, allowing you the user –rather the bike company – to decide where you’re prepared to play quality off against cost. The Deda bar and stem combo and Fabric Scoop saddle added decent touches to our test machine.
Ribble are renowned for their affordable prices and there can be no quibbles over the cost of this Ribble CGR . At £1,302 it’s not the cheapest winter bike but that price is a reflection of the relatively high specification we went for.
Drop a rung or two with the groupset and go for some cheaper finishing kit and you could knock three or four hundred pounds off. Additional value in this bike can be found in its versatility. Wide clearances and eyelets allow it to be easily fitted with off road-tyres and touring rack, while the mudguards can be readily stripped for something more summery.
Being a jack of all trades denies mastery of any, and the CGR was never going to match the performance of cross, gravel or road thoroughbreds on their chosen terrain. But being adaptable to all does make it a great choice in a limited stable. I specifically tested this one as an alternative to riding my road bike throughout the winter and it certainly met the challenge. While it was a relief to get back on something lighter come spring, it had made riding throughout the off-season far more palatable, with its powerful discs, splatter protecting mudguards, bright colour and robust build all proving virtuous in winter conditions.