If bulky looking downtube motors have put you off buying an e-bike in the past then this is a good alternative, you'd barely know this was an electric bike at first glance. The mudguard/rack mount adorned chassis, with capability for wide tyres, makes for a solid all-round bike with a smooth ride and very capable handling. However, a screen to tell you how long is left on the battery would be hugely beneficial.
Easy to use
Easy to change between modes
No screen to tell you about the battery life
Battery life could be longer
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The Ribble CGR AL e is an electric all-road bike that uses a hub positioned motor to provide three different modes of assistance that can help power your ride.
'CGR' stands for 'cross, road, gravel': the idea is that this is a machine that can border the disciplines and be ridden on the road, in muddy forests and on gravel tracks.
The Shimano Tiagra groupset specced is relatively entry-level but hardwearing, as are the Mavic Ksyrium wheels fitted. The standard Tiagra build comes with Continental Ultra Sport III Rigid 28c tyres. However, Ribble's sales method uses a 'bike builder', which allows you to adjust your components: there's room for up to 47c tyres on a 650b rim. We tested this bike with 45c WTB Riddler tyres on 700c wheels.
The overall package is great for the outlay - however, we'd have liked to see a screen added to provide information on the remaining battery life, without the need for a phone or cycling computer.
Ribble CGR ALe construction
The chassis is constructed from seamless weld 6061-T6 heat treated aluminium, and headed up with a carbon fork. Alongside the weight of the batteries, motor and other components, the CGR ALe (in a sie medium) tips the scales at around 13.8kg.
Whilst far from the lightest e-bike on the market (the top spec Ribble SL e is sub 10.5kg), the CGR AL e is certainly not the heaviest (some are in excess of 20kg). In fact, the Ribble CGR AL e's weight is similar to that of an unassisted steel framed tourer, which may give some riders a good frame of reference. It's light enough that you can ride it unassisted should you wish, but you'd probably want the motor on the hills.
The motor more than balances out the added weight, with 250watts available at the push of a button; it’s not 250watts or nothing, the extra watts come in three different levels of assist.
Many competitors on the market opt for Bosch motor e-bikes, and these typically have a screen display where you can choose your mode. Ribble has instead opted for the Ebikemotion X35. This hub-based system is light and slick looking but uses a push button on the top tube to select one of three modes, indicated by colour: green for the lowest power available from the motor, orange for level two and red for the maximum amount of power available.
There is no display to show you how much battery life you have remaining or an estimated range, which I found a little bit frustrating when out on a ride. Ribble does have a flashing light system on this button which will warn you of your battery status, but to me, that's a little like having no indication of fuel left in my car until receiving a warning light.
A small 250Wh (watt hour) battery is concealed in the downtube, this uses Panasonic batteries which have very good reliability and longevity.
Battery range depends on many factors, such as terrain, rider weight and mode selection. If you’re conservative, you could get up to 80 miles out of the battery. This is an assumed figure though and battery ranges can vary, for instance, if you use maximum assist constantly then the battery can be fully depleted in 20-25 miles. Another reason that an integrated screen would be nice! If you are worried, using your cycling computer or phone in one of the best phone cases will set you at ease.
If you do want some extra juice, you can purchase a range extending battery, which slots in to one of your drinks holders.
The geometry (or, fit) is relatively upright, to provide confidence and comfort whatever the terrain. As a comparison, the size medium has a stack (front end height) or 589mm, vs 541mm on the racier Endurance SL e. This brings the handlebars up by 5cm. The reach is also shorter, bringing the handlebars closer to create a less stretched out ride, in keeping with both the trends of the best gravel bikes and also more comfortable electric bikes for commuting.
The flared handlebars are another nod to stability, creating a broad position when you're riding on the drops, for example, on steep descents.
Ribble has opted for a double chainring setup - in a 50-34 (compact) plus an 11-32 cassette. Many dedicated gravel bikes opt for 1x shifting, but here, you've got a huge amount of range, suiting both road and off-road riding. The disc brakes offer quick stopping but are mechanical as opposed to the faster response of hydraulics.
The cables are semi-integrated - they dive into the top tube and downtube, which nicely balances ease of maintenance and frequency of maintenance - muck is less likely to get into the cable, but when they need changing, it's not too big of a job.
The 'Level' finishing kit is aluminium - which can create a harsher ride than carbon, but is much less expensive and also easier to live with since it's more durable and less sensitive to torque applied.
If you're looking to fit this bike up with a set of the best mudguards or panniers, there are mounts supplied for this purpose.
On the road, the CGR e offers up an exceptionally smooth ride. The 6061 aluminium is strong and sturdy, but the carbon forks offer up some flexibility.
The handling is good. With the motor in the rear hub and batteries in the downtube, the centre of gravity isn’t thrown out of whack as per some other e-bikes. I was able to ride with confidence, even coming down Fleet Moss hill in North Yorkshire at speed.
With the narrow Continental tyres on, as per the original spec, the Ribble CGR e looks like a fast road cruiser, but there's no doubting this bike's capability off-road when the right rubber is fitted.
Out on the trails, I found the Ribble CGR e to be well balanced, and the flared bars offered excellent stability over uneven terrain. With these WTB Riddler tyres, I had more than enough chunky rubber to provide suspension and comfort.
This geometry enables the bike to handle better over rougher terrain, but I did find that with mudguards fitted I experienced toe overlap due to the short front centre. If you are going to be doing more gravel riding or off-road riding then maybe consider the 650b wheelsets too, to bring everything much closer together and a little bit easier to handle on the rough stuff, again this is easy to do due to the 'bike builder' Ribble uses at the checkout.
When riding a bike with an electric motor, quick stopping power is important - both because the overall weight of the bike is generally higher, and because the motor can accelerate more quickly. The disc brakes on this model are mechanical, instead of hydraulic, but still offered plenty of stopping power when descending - or, moving off from the lights only to find the non-e-bike rider in front couldn't move off quite as fast.
Value and conclusions
The model on test comes in at £2,399. For a standard Tiagra equipped aluminium bike (with carbon forks), this would be a lot - but for an e-bike, it's very reasonable. Especially when you take into account the competitive weight and slick motor system.
The CGR AL e is more than capable as a commuter, even more so due to the added mounts for panniers, or even a child seat. Then, if you wanted to ride it on a weekend, on or off-road, it'll tackle that - too.
The all-rounder status makes this bike worth the outlay, as you really can use it every day - whatever the ride plan - as long as you keep the battery topped up.
- Groupset: Shimano Tiagra R4700 2x10 Speed Mechanical Disc.
- Shifters: ShimanoTiagra 4700 11 Speed.
- Brakes: Tektro MD510 Mechanical Disc.
- Chainset: Shimano Tiagra 4700 50-34T .
- Bottom Bracket: Shimano Press Fit BB71-41B, 86.5x41.
- Cassette: Shimano HG500 10-Speed 11-32T
- Chain: Shimano HG54 10-Speed.
- Rotors: Shimano RT66 6-Bolt 160mm.
- Rotors: Shimano Tiagra 4700 Braze-On.
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra 4700 Medium Cage.
- Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium S Disc UST, 12x100F/12x142 Bolt-On Rear.
- Tyres: Continental Ultra Sport III Rigid, 700x28c, Black.
- Motor System: Motor - MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ M1 250W.
- Battery: Panasonic 36V/250Wh, 18650GA-10S/2P.
- Charger: Supplied With UK or US Power Cable.
- Frame: 6061-T6 Aluminium, Heat-Treated, Seamless Weld.
- Forks: CGR AL e Disc, Full Carbon, Tapered Steerer.
- Headset: LEVEL 52, 42-52mm, Black.
- Bars: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, Black.
- Stem: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, Black.
- Bar Tape: LEVEL Cork Ribbon, Black.
- Seatpost: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, 27.2mm, 350mm
- Saddle: Prologo Kappa RS, Black
- Approximate Weight: 13.8kg (Medium).
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Myles Warwood is a cycling journalist, automotive journalist and videographer. He writes for Cycling Weekly, Cyclist and Car magazine.
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