We often joke in the road cycling community that whenever you buy something new for your
hobby you need two receipts. The genuine one, which protects your statutory rights, and
then the 'relationship' one, which protects your marital rights. The latter is what you show your partner and says something like, "brand new bike - £29.99."
When it comes to buying a new bike it is possible to find the one of your dreams without the price-point of causing your nightmares.
This is the third of my blogs on all things cycling, which have covered a range of pressing issues - from lycra tights and clip-in shoes to the complexities of groupsets and frames, all with the good intentions of helping you, the newbie cyclist, get kitted out. This month I focus on the biggest object of them all, the bike itself (da - da - daaaaaa).
I’m focussing on one bike, which I know from both riding it and selling it, is one cracking bargain – one that will give you a high-end ticket experience for a business class price tag. You can thank me later when you’re riding a bike that hasn’t melted 4 credit cards, nor ruined your marriage (or any other relationship you were committed to at the time of purchase).
In 2021 I sold over £300k’s worth of bikes to people of all ages, capabilities and walks of life, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number that I sold to people who could accurately, and deservedly, describe themselves as pro-level. The most expensive bike in my portfolio of sales was to a semi-pro who had once ridden Paris-Roubaix alongside the late Laurent Fignon. We had a cracking two hours going through what he wanted, plus numerous anecdotes of gruelling training rides on bikes in the very worst of weathers, without even a fraction of the technology you’d find on mid-range bikes today.
He chose himself a carbon frame Ribble SL-R with a Dura-Ace groupset, Zipp tubeless wheels, integrated handlebars and a custom colour paint job. It was the bike of his dreams and he deserved every single pro-level piece of kit that he specced. And he still came away with 2 grand change from £10k. At the time of writing, if you want the much-coveted Specialised Tarmac with the same Dura Ace groupset, clear the decks for around £13,200. Like they say, 'you do the math.'
Yet why fork out all that if, like our target audience for these blogs, you’re a MAMIL looking to go from coach potato to Sunday peloton wannabee without falling into the dreaded “all gear /no idea” faction. In my previous blog I talked about earning your stripes on a bike that matches you abilities and not your ambition. And I’m here to unapologetically labour that point.
So, if you want a bike that has the carbon attributes and performance of something that costs the price of a mid range family hatchback, but costs a fraction, then folks – may I present to you the carbon monocoque Ribble Endurance SL.
Made with a mix of Toray 800 and Toray 1000 carbon, this is a less feisty stable mate to the pro-level Ribble SL-R bought by more aforementioned customer, but has the looks and manners that show it has a similar pedigree, plus a range of options that mean you can ‘bling’ it with higher-end kit to take it way beyond its £1,999 entry level price tag.
This is a bike that, for me, gives people of a 'certain age' the carbon frame ride that, for the performance driven amongst us, satisfies the need for speed, agility and endurance with cracking good looks. Cycling should be an attractive past-time too, don’t you think?
Unlike the SL-R, which is made from just Toray 1000, and gives a harsher race-ready ride as a result, the Endurance SL is slightly more forgiving – but still has the urge to set off from the blocks with a real sense of purpose.
For my money, this is a good compromise between an entry level sportive bike (long days in the saddle with a softer, more compliant ride) and something that could be too hot (or hard) to handle. But the spec and attention to detail is anything but a compromise.
With the Shimano 105 groupset, you’ve got yourself a cracking piece of carbon frame technology for c. £2,600. And for this, you get hydraulic disc brakes and Ribble’s DB40 Level carbon wheels plus Continental Grand Prix 28mm tyres. This is stunning value for money, and it comes in even cheaper, at £1,999, if you opt for the S-Ram groupset with Mavic Askium wheels. It’s a slightly heavier bike, but lighter on the wallet. And what’s a few kgs or two between friends at our age, eh?
OK then, just suppose you were curious (asking for a friend) what a lighter groupset and wheel combo might come in at? Well we’re still in relative comfort on the price tag stakes when you opt for the Ribble Endurance Pro. Firstly, let’s remind ourselves we’re not Pros (just need to put that one in there), but on the off chance that you want to blow the bonus or the pension drawdown on the full bling experience, this enticing little number comes in at £3,399 for which you’re getting Shimano’s electronic gear shifting technology on its Di2 Ultegra groupset, integrated handlebars, Ribble’s LEVEL RB56 tubeless ready wheels and a firm but forthright Fizik Antares saddle. Hang on, did you just say £3,399? Isn’t that just a bit more than the £3,200 bit that’s attached to the £10,000 bit that makes up for the full price of a £13,200 Specialised Tarmac? Yes, that is! Even by pretending you’re a pro and buying an, erm, Pro level spec – you’ve not spent £10k you didn’t have.
So, remember when you do the sweaty palms pitch to the other half to present your vision for that dream bike you’ve been dropping hints about, they too will be wanting their spending moment as payback. So, play sharp and fast – talk them through the dream spec Specialised Tarmac, go through the shopping list and then the heart stopping price reveal. “What?! £13,200?!!! That’s the price of my new kitchen /Dubai 5 star break /facelift [tick box as appropriate], then share the cost-saving alternative option that is the Ribble SL Pro
– weighing in at £3,400 (plus £40 delivery), leaving more than enough coffers for that compensatory big ticket treat. Simples.
Apart from saving your relationship, the Ribble Endurance SL is a dream to ride. Responsive, agile, impeccably behaved – and so will you be once you get your way with this little carbon number. Go fetch. www.ribblecycles.co.uk
(Price correct at time of writing. Standard delivery £40. Bikes comes with 3 year warranty on frame, forks and groupset).
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