The Ribble Endurance SL is a classy-looking bike with a performance to match. Disc brakes are fast becoming a must-have, but if you choose them over rim brakes and want to stay within £2K you’re looking at dropping down from Ultegra to 105 and adding about a kilo in weight. Possibly for this reason it doesn’t quite feel like an out and out race bike with this spec, but for club runs, training loops, epic rides or even as a posh winter bike it absolutely nails it.
Not the lightest in its class
By Simon Smythe published
Ribble managed a knock out move when it introduced the brand new Endurance SL range earlier this year. It really was a stunning departure from Ribble’s existing endurance bikes and represented a long awaited revamp of one of the original ‘value’ brands. Because of this, the Endurance SL Disc delivers a ride worthy of a place in Editor’s Choice.
Ribble has been busy democratising aerodynamics by adding wind-cheating features to the Endurance SL range, which is, as the name implies, a bike for all-day riding.
Ribble Endurance SL Disc: frame
Like the Boardman SLR 9.2, the Ribble has kamm-tail tubes and dropped seatstays as well as an aero seatpost. The monocoque frame is constructed from Toray T800 and T1000 high-grade carbon and Ribble says this frameset generates up to 28.5 per cent less drag than the previous version. Frame weight is 1.15kg, which is pretty light for a disc frame.
Via Ribble’s Bikebuilder app you can choose an integrated cockpit with fully internal cable routing for a supplement, but to bring our test build in under £2K we’ve gone with the Level 1-branded standard stem and bar with aero tops.
Ribble Endurance SL Disc: specification
We chose the disc version of Endurance SL with Shimano 105 (£1,799) and upgraded the tyres to 28mm Continental 4 Seasons for a £75 supplement. For £1,899 you could have the rim-brake Endurance SL with Shimano Ultegra and that’s basically the choice you make: if you want disc brakes you drop down a rung with the groupset, but with the excellent performance of the latest iteration of 105 and the superior power of discs an increasing number of bike buyers would say it’s worth it.
The Mavic Aksium Disc wheels are dependable and reliable and preferable to most own-brand options, and the Prologo Kappa RS is a decent saddle that’s comfortable for most derrieres.
Ribble Endurance SL Disc: ride
The other penalty with disc brakes and a lower-spec groupset is the inevitable added weight, and at 8.6kg – a smidge under 19lb – for the size L the Ribble is not particularly light to lift but to pedal, the extra kilo or so doesn’t matter until you’re going up a very steep hill – and at that point the stiffness supplied by the enormous down tube kicks in with a feel of impressive efficiency.
To reduce weight, bolster climbing prowess and increase speed on the flat one simple solution is to choose some carbon wheels. Mavic Aksiums are famously dependable but they're not the lightest or the most aerodynamic. Ribble's Bikebuilder app offers a wide range of wheels, going up to Zipp 302s if you really wanted to blow the budget.
The Ribble smooths out rough surfaces with its nicely designed rear end while the 28mm tyres that the frame easily swallows thanks to the added clearance allowed by disc brakes neutralises potholed lanes as well as rolling fast on smooth tarmac.
Handling isn't nimble by race-bike standards, but for longer rides stability and predictability are the priorities and in these areas the Ribble delivers. Since it has mudguard eyes it would make a great winter bike that would comfortably rack up the miles. At the same time, its sporty geometry allows you to get your head down low and pedal from a position set powerfully over the bottom bracket if you want to.
Ribble Endurance SL Disc: value
With the Endurance SL, Ribble offers good value for money although in the past you might have hoped the Preston brand could perform a spec miracle and turn 105 into Ultegra. However, these days Ribble's superior frames inevitably increase the price, and with the excellent performance of Shimano 105, which is also much closer to the top-end Shimano groupsets than it used to be, you're unlikely to feel like you're missing out.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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