Ribble SL with Shimano Ultegra R8000 – first look

British brand’s lightest frame sports Shimano’s new R8000 Ultegra groupset

In the past couple of years, Ribble has undergone a bit of a rebrand. A quick visit to its website demonstrates this, but it’s not just for show – the bikes have also seen a visible refresh too.

Now, we know something about this already, leading to us to see fit to include the R872 bike in the RCUK100 this year. It impressed in its all-round ability to thrill on the road, but if that’s an indication of what Ribble can do when it’s making a race-bred road bike for the masses, then the SL that recently landed in the RCUK offices is intended to be its flagship lightweight climber.

The stats speak for themselves: a frame that tips the scales at a scant 840g in a medium, married to a high-modulus carbon layup and box-shaped tubing to maximise stiffness and power transfer, along with a shorter-than-most wheelbase for sharp responses.

It’s even gone to the trouble of minimising the paint used on the frame to keep excess fat away. Clearly, rip-roaring speed when the road tips upwards is the name of the game here.

The Ribble SL road bike features the new Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset

Moreover, Ribble claims the angular and relatively slab-sided tubing is efficient at cutting through the air, and the race geometry is designed so you yourself can fold away into an aero tuck position with ease.

At the back you’ll also find seatstays verging on the impossibly thin for added road buzz elimination when you’re not just KOM hunting, but want to spend a good few hours on the SL.

Ribble’s traditional high value is also present with a cheapest build of £1,599, and you can customise it with your ideal level of groupset and finishing kit at a competitive price point, which means not only can you have a featherweight frame, you can build it up with kit consummate with the bike’s (and your) strengths.

Our test machine has come built with a full Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset – our first full-build test bike to feature it – so as an entire bike it sits right on the cusp of that sweet spot of value-for-money race performance from a groupset too.

It’s also fitted with some handy Mavic Ksyrium Elite hoops; a nice addition given these are alloy wheels that we’d happily recommend upgrading to on any bike supplied with heavy rolling stock.

It also features a finishing kit with an alloy Deda Zero 1 bar and stem setup, unbranded carbon seatpost and Selle Italia X1 saddle for an end-price of around £2,500, and a cost on the scales of a svelte 7.32kg in an XL size to suit my 188cm height.

The gruppo, like the bike, sits in the perfect sweetspot between value-for-money and performance

By the time you read this, we’ll have already taken the Ribble SL out for its first real spin (and put it to work as a commuter too), and while it’s too early to make a definitive judgement on its character and rideability, what’s absolutely clear is that this is first and foremost a stiff, stiff, stiff machine.

Look out for our full review in the coming weeks, where time will tell if it can marry this headline quality with ride-balancing compliance and finesse too. And, for now, check out more in the gallery below.

Website: Ribble Cycles

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