The Ribble Gran Fondo works well at ironing out the worst of the road buzz but the carbon frame is very stiff and can't deal with the jarring impacts in the same way some other endurance offerings can. Happily, speccing some wider tyres should add a bit of extra cushioning.
Shimano 105 performs well
Would benefit from 28mm tyres
Ribble's expansive bike collection has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and the newly added the Ribble Gran Fondo Disc sees the more powerful stoppers added to the company's long-distance frame.
Ribble Gran Fondo Disc frame
The Ribble Gran Fondo frame has received a pretty hefty overhaul since the 2016 model. Gone are the rounded down tube and shouldered forks. In their place is a far sleeker squared-off down tube and straight forks for a modern look. Disc brakes are also introduced for 2017, and we're sure the additional control will be welcomed by those who like to go far, whatever the weather.
The Gran Fondo frame's is designed for long-distance riding, in comfort. A relaxed head angle and a tall head tube puts the rider in a comfortable, more upright position and helps create a more stable frame.
Of course, not all riders, regardless of the length of their ride, want to be in a sit-up-and-beg position. For racier types, 30mm of spacers below the stem can be removed – although the tall 173.9mm head tube means you cannot go truly low at the front.
However, this bike is about comfort, not racing, and the rest of the frame demonstrates that. The rear end gets curvy S-shaped seatstays help to take the worst out of the road surface, introducing a bit of extra flex through the back end. Meanwhile, up front, a tapered head tube bolsters stiffness and helps counter some of the extra forces generated by the flat-mount disc brakes.
Ribble Gran Fondo Disc specification
The Ribble's specification is something of a mixed bag, but thanks to the Ribble BikeBuilder, or more specifically the advanced version, you can swap and change parts as you please.
Our test bike came set up with Shimano 105 with hydraulic brakes, Mavic Aksium Disc wheels, Deda finishing kit and Continental Ultra Sport tyres.
As expected the Shimano 105's performance posed no problems whatsoever, with the shifting being spot on every time. The hydraulic hoods and levers however, were less comfortable, they're simply too huge to be ergonomic.
The release of the super-slimline Shimano Ultegra R8000 series compared with the bulk of the current Shimano 105 series has us very excited about potential future trickle-down updates.
Either way, the assured power, bite and feel of the brakes will always be welcome, regardless of the shape of the hoods. Plenty of descending in poor autumnal weather had me thanking the linear feel of the brakes.
As a partner to the disc brakes, the Mavic Aksium wheels were also excellent. They may be aluminium, but they added a sense of urgency that an endurance bike can lack. If you've got the cash to splash then you can even upgrade these to a pair of Mavic Cosmics.
Unfortunately, the Continental Ultra Sport tyres did their best to minimise this. Sluggish and slow rolling, we would definitely replace them at the first opportunity.
Up front the Deda finishing kit was a lot stiffer than what we'd ridden before on the Ribble SL, with very little flex when riding hard on the drops.
For a bike that's designed to be ridden far, and a lot, we'd also swap out the Selle Italia saddle.
First look: Garmin Edge 1030
How did the Ribble Gran Fondo Disc ride?
Fortunately, the frame will do a good job of keeping riders in the saddle for long periods of time. Ample time on the rubbish roads around London had us impressed with how well the frame handles the buzz of the road.
The bike certainly manages to erase the constant chatter of an uneven road surface, but it still jarred on the big hits.
With clearance for tyres up to 30mm, we'd recommend speccing the Ribble Gran Fondo Disc with 28mm rubber that'll happily absorb the bigger shocks.
The nice and long 1,005mm wheelbase adds stability and comfort in a straight line, while paired with the disc brakes the bike is comfortable on the downs.
The ups prove to be a bit more difficult: weighing in at a whopping 8.97kg the bike has quite a heft to it. Of course, some well placed cash in Ribble's BikeBuilder could drop that figure a little.
Is the Ribble Gran Fondo Disc good value?
We opted for the recommended build on the Ribble BikeBuilder, and £1,361 isn't a bad price to pay for a carbon frame, Shimano 105 and the excellent Mavic Aksium wheels.
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