- Easy and comfortable to ride
- Looks like a standard bike
- Low torque power output feels natural
- Charging point in vulnerable position
- Power button in awkward position
Price as reviewed:
The Ribble Endurance SL e Enthusiast was selected for an Editor’s Choice award in 2020. This year’s list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team – this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval.
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The chassis is constructed from top-end T800/T1000 carbon, with Ribble getting the weight right down to 12kg in a size XL.
The MAHLE Ebikemotion X35 M5 250W motor is nestled in the rear hub, and it’s powered by an internal Panasonic 36V/250Wh battery. A button on the top tube lets you choose between three power settings.
The battery life is said to last for three and a half hours if on none stop, we used it on and off, only turning it on for the climbs, so the battery had plenty of charges left after a solid testing period.
The set-up can be linked to the Ebikemotion app, effectively transforming the machine into a ‘smart bike’. You can see how much charge the bike has, your heart rate (as long as you’re using a monitor), bike diagnostics and maps all on your phone.
You can even use the settings to have the power automatically kick in once your heart rate gets to a specific level. Former pro, Sean Yates rides the Endurance SL e, using this feature since he developed heart problems meaning he has to keep tabs on his heart rate.
There’s no chunky battery on the downtube, and this means that the bike doesn’t look like an e-bike at all without close inspection.
There’s also a reduction in aerodynamic drag when compared with traditional e-bikes, so you’re not fighting extra resistance when up to speed, as a result of a bulky battery.
Like all electric bikes in the UK, assistance will cut out when you reach 15mph/24kph – which means that for most riders the real power of the motor comes into play on the climbs.
On flatter sections, being lighter than most e-bikes and more aerodynamically efficient, it’s easier to maintain speed thus overcoming the common complaint of maxing out the assisted speed and being left with a heavy bike. However, the weight is still there – mostly concentrated in the rear hub – and it was something our tester noticed on shallower climbs when the motor was not assisting. And of course it’s heavier to move around, a notable factor if for example you live up a flight of steps.
Comfortable but agile
Ribble has chosen to maintain the geometry of its Endurance SL R road bike on the Endurance SL e model – the former is the machine raced by the Ribble Weldtite team it sponsors, so it’s no slouch.
The stack/reach on a size Extra Large comes in at 582/400mm – so those after an aggressive position will still be able to find that, here. The reach is just 2mm shorter than the race ready SL R.
The head angle is maintained, too at 73º so the ride is an agile one and the Endurance SL E corners well, despite the added weight at the rear well. The location of the assistance means there’s no need to widen the q-factor, and in every way the Endurance SL e handled like a quick and efficient road bike.
However, there’s plenty of compliance built-in so comfort is still ample. Our test bike came with 28mm Mavic Yksion Pro tyres which soaked up the bumps and smoothed out rough roads.
A predominantly desk-based job followed by bike riding in the evening means that our tester often struggles with back pain, however, this didn’t rear its head whilst aboard the Ribble SL e – a big tick in its favour.
Using the motor
Out on the climbs in Hampshire, our tester found the assistance provided by the rear wheel motor to be extremely helpful in most cases.
High torque e-bikes can give a real ‘jerk’ when the motor comes into play; the SL E instead delivered a more gentle push – a bit like having someone place a hand on your lower back. It meant that there was little need to change pace as the road went upwards.
Riders seeking a high torque jolt, which can help you get off the lights quickly, might be a little underwhelmed by the power on offer here, but it does feel very natural so will suit most road cyclists.
The motor doesn’t do it all for you, at all, you’ll still need to put some effort in – ideal for those seeking fitness but with a little help.
On shallower climbs, when maintaining over 15mph, we did find that the motor became a hindrance, with the weight at the rear hub seemingly pulling us back downhill. Of course, one option would simply be to slow down and let the motor help out – but more aggressive riders may not be keen to do this.
We did pick up on one issue, however. To turn the motor on, there’s a button on the toptube – and locating this meant taking our eyes off the road. Granted, this is a ‘one press wonder’, once on you won’t need to press it again, but we’d rather this was more accessible and riders less confident on the road may find this disconcerting.
The charging port is located on a flattened section on top of the bottom bracket shell. We did feel this made it quite vulnerable to water ingress, though we didn’t see any evidence of this during testing.
The Endurance SL e we had on test was the ‘Enthusiast’ model. This is fully specced out in Shimano 105, with a compact 50/34 chainset and a wide ratio 11-32 cassette. This combo, with the additional motor, provides plenty of options on the hills. Shifting was quick and crisp, as you’d expect from Shimano’s entry level race groupset.
The Endurnace SL E is a disc brake only model, and the hydraulic discs worked excellently and provided plenty of confidence thanks to their quick stopping, which we found to be equally effective both in the wet and dry.
Finishing kit comes in the form of a Ribble SL carbon seatpost with 5mm offset, Fizik Antares R5 saddle, Mavic Aksium elite disc wheelset and Mavic Yksion Pro UST tyres. The Antares is a fairly racey saddle, in keeping with the geometry, though some riders aiming to relax and sit back a bit more on the ride may wish to swap this out for something a little more cushioned.
When we received the test bike, it came with Level 1 6061 alloy bars and stem. However, Ribble has since updated this – and customers at this level will now get a smart looking Level 5 carbon integrated handlebar and stem – a real boost in spec. The colour scheme has also changed, with a fetching grey and white option now available.
As per all of Ribble’s bikes, you can adjust the spec as you see fit – but this model comes in at £3,299.
The Sport with Shimano Tiagra 4700 2×10 Speed and 50-34T x 11-32T Gearing with alloy Level 1 bars and a Prologo Kappa RS saddle, this comes to £2,799. Or you can go with the top spec ‘Pro’ version at £4,999 with Shimano Ultegra Di2.
The Ribble Endurance SL e carries a geometry that matches the top end race SL R model - but comes with the assistance of a rear wheel motor. The relatively low weight means you're not paying a great penalty for the assistance when on the flat and exceeding the 15mph limit, though we did still feel this dragged us back on shallow climbs. On longer, steeper climbs, the added power made riding uphill a breeze - we'd recommend this bike for a rider who still wants the fast responsive ride of a race bike, but with that little bit of extra help.
Frame: Endurance SL R-Series
Handlebars: Level 5 Carbon
Seatpost: Ribble SL Carbon
Groupset: Shimano 105
Wheels: Mavic Aksium Elite Evo UST Disc
Tyres: Mavic Yksion Pro, 700c
Saddle: Fizik Antares R5, Kium rail
Weight : 12km (size XL)