At one point, not long ago, gravel bikes were all about utility. They were go anywhere, do anything, have an adventure type machines. Gravel races existed but they had as much to do with survival as anything else and gravel bikes were wildly experimental. These days, every time a new gravel bike hits the market, it seems to be inching closer to a road bike and gravel bike convergence. The utility is disappearing in favour of aggressive geometry and brands often sacrifice mounting points to the aero gods.
Specifications: Ribble Gravel SL
Price: $4,005.28 / €3,732.47 / £3,299 standard
$5,182.95 / €4,829.92 / £4,269 as tested
Frame: Gravel SL Frameset
Weight: 9.44kg (ready to ride with 45mm tyres and tubes)
Groupset: SRAM Rival XPLR
Wheels: Zipp 303 S
Brakes: SRAM Rival eTap AXS Direct Mount Hydraulic
Bar/stem: Level 5 Carbon Integrated Flared Gravel Bar & Stem
Seatpost: Ribble Gravel SL
Saddle: Fizik Taiga
If it sounds like I’m complaining, I am only doing it half-heartedly. I love fast gravel machines and I’m far from a retro grouch. In fact, it’s the bikes that make up our list of the best gravel race bikes that I’m drawn to. I like to ride hard, go fast, and sleep in a comfy bed and my preference is for gravel roads instead of singletrack. Still, I want more utility and that’s why I love the idea of a bike like the Ribble Gravel SL.
The Ribble Gravel SL is a fast bike that can be almost anything to anyone. In many ways, it sounds too good to be true and it comes from a brand that many Americans aren’t familiar with. With all this in mind, I’ve taken the bike on as a long-term review. If you are curious to know what a racy, do-it-all bike is like and if this is the right choice for your riding, keep reading to see my initial thoughts.
Design and aesthetics
The Ribble Gravel SL claims a position in the Ribble model lineup as the gravel race bike. More and more though, a bike like the Gravel SL doesn’t fit that description. When bikes like the Factor Ostro Gravel, Pinarello Grevil, and BMC Kaius 01 exist, can you really call the Gravel SL a race bike? Especially over the last few years, gravel race bike has started to mean aggressive geometry, a complete lack of mounting points, 700c, and a 2x groupset.
If you jump to the main Gravel SL ordering page, you will see right away that the Ribble…
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