It’s always surprised me that a storied cycling brand like Ribble hasn’t gained more of a foothold in the US market. I’m more surprised after having tested the Ribble Endurance SL Disc for this review.
The brand designs a range of bikes for seemingly every rider and riding style at a wide range of price points — think of them as the British answer to Specialized, Cannondale, or Giant. Ribble has more than 120 years of heritage, dating all the way back to 1897, so they’ve had some time to perfect their craft. The brand has a long legacy in British racing, including supplying Team Great Britain with their Olympic bike needs on more than one occasion.
Whether you’re a commuter who bikes to work, a casual rider, or a serious enthusiast, there’s a Ribble bike in the lineup for you, including the newest iteration of their Endurance SL Disc — a model amongst the best road bikes built with almost any road need in mind, teetering towards the cyclist ready to take a significant step up in their two-wheeled hobby.
I happen to fall right into that category as a road cyclist — ready for a more meaningful and purposeful road bike, but not ready to drop $6,000 on a superbike. Thankfully, I was able to test out the Ribble Endurance SL Disc on the backroads outside Portland, Oregon through the business end of a damp Pacific Northwest fall and straight into winter. Let’s examine how this bike rides in my Ribble bike review.
- Lots of features for the price
- Speedy through the straightaways
- Duly capable on the hills
- A really nice and functional wheel/tire combo out of the box
- One of the few brands offering small sizing down to XS and XXS (depending on the exact model)
- Some squeaks and tweaks out of the box
- Be prepared to source any extra components from Ribble directly
- Potentially long waits for delivery
- There is almost no good online information to learn how to properly use Di2
What is the Ribble Endurance SL Disc?
Ribble describes the Endurance SL Disc (noting the disc brakes) as a “do-it-all” road bike, which is probably how I’d describe it too. It’s built with a less aggressive saddle and handlebar lineup, which will satisfy the majority of hobbyist riders who aren’t regularly competing. This also means a more comfortable ride should you start moving past mile 50 and towards that century.
It comes in three standard color choices — teal, black, and a very handsome red/white livery with almost all components off the shelf made under Ribble’s house brand, Level. It’s a road bike that draws technology and innovation from Ribble’s more expensive models, but puts it in a general price point between $3,500-$4,500, depending on how you spec it out.
There are multiple options in the Endurance line below and above the SL, so there really is something for every rider.
What Comes With the Ribble Endurance SL Disc?
All Endurance SLs come with a carbon fiber-monocoque frame and in one of three trims — Sport, Pro, and Enthusiast, which is the top range, followed by a fully custom option. The model tested for this Ribble bike was an Enthusiast build with Shimano’s new 105 di2 system, which takes older, higher-grade components and incorporates them into a wireless setup meaning more efficient and dialed shifting compared to most of the mechanical groupsets Shimano makes.
Mine also arrived with the standard Level DB40 Sport, tubeless-ready wheelset wrapped in Schwalbe One road rubber (yours could also arrive with Continental’s Grand Prix tire). In simple terms, either is a solid and dependable wheel/tire combo perfect for this caliber Ribble bike.
You also get a fully integrated handlebar/stem set regardless of trim, most likely Ribble’s Level 5 carbon option. It comes in several sizes and is fairly manageable. You can upgrade, but probably don’t need to unless you need minor weight savings or more aggressive positioning, in which case it may be worth looking at one of Ribble’s racer options like an Ultra.
As for frame color, you can go for one of the stock choices, or use the Ribble Custom Color tool, which isn’t cheap but lets your imagination run free and can customize your frame to just about any look and feel. I’ve previously tried it out and can say it’s a fun process if looks matter to you enough to eat the extra cost.
Lastly, now on my second Ribble bike, it is my experience that the stock bike seats they send with these bikes are really poor, so be prepared to find one that you like. The Selle Italia X3 Boost that arrived with mine gave me lower back pain just looking at it, so I immediately switched it out for my currently-beloved Ergon SMC Core saddle. Ribble does have options to upgrade when you order the bike, but you’re probably better off finding one elsewhere.
Highlights of the Ribble Endurance SL Disc
Before I could even ride the bike, I had to get the seatpost cut, which I wasn’t prepared for. Ribble seems to only make one seatpost length, even for its shortest frame sizes, so if you’re a size Small or under, be ready to have a shop cut the post. It is crucial you have this done by someone who knows what they’re doing because the main battery for the di2 system lives in the seatpost.
Once up and running, it’s clear this bike is more than ready for long-distance riding. I opted for an easy ten miles just to break things in, and the Ribble Endurance SL Disc was ready to easily rip another 15 or 20. It’s spritely, cruise-worthy, and comfortable enough for enduring over 50-mile days with the local cycling club.
The Schwalbe’s were plenty grippy through the first two initial rides, even on wet roads, and the wheelset felt more than capable through all of the bumps and nooks, dodging down trees and debris following a recent wind storm.
I’ve had a bit of experience with a (top-line) di2 system on a previous test bike, but at the time, I simply wasn’t experienced enough of a rider to fully understand the value and potential of going that route. My Ribble CGR SL gravel bike has Shimano’s mechanical 105 groupset, so shifting (every pun intended) to di2 was a logical next step. So far, I’m impressed. Every shift has been smooth and clean, and I really feel I’m shifting more efficiently and with more purpose. I get the most feel from this coming down inclines of any kind as I move through gears. The switch is responsive and I have more control during my descents. However, getting to this point was a bit of a headache (more below).
Criticisms of the Ribble Endurance SL Disc
The number one criticism I have about this bike isn’t even directly related to Ribble. Shimano has almost no consumer-focused directions on how to use and maintain a di2 system. For someone like me who wants to take the next step into more serious road biking (including learning more complex maintenance), Shimano doesn’t have much more than a dealer manual available. If you’re considering di2, please follow and read Better Shifting. He’s the undeniable source for all things di2, keeps up with the changes in technology, and has an excellent introductory guide to the 105 system.
As for this Ribble bike, I don’t have too many complaints beyond that there are unique eccentricities of buying from a DTC brand that also makes many of their own parts. For example, the lack of third-party bike accessories. I’ve been looking for a new GPS mount for my bike computer, and it turns out that because of the spacing on the handlebars on the S and below sizes, only the one from Ribble will work. They’ve just redesigned it and I have one on order, so I have yet to report on installation.
Ribble continues to suffer from supply chain delays like the rest of the bike industry, so be prepared to wait multiple months (if not longer) for a bike. It’s wise to peruse their Available Now page to see if an Endurance SL Disc is available.
The Verdict: Should You Buy a Ribble Endurance SL Disc?
At the price point and feature list of this Ribble bike, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value for this caliber of road bike. Ribble has done a really nice job making a bike that definitely feels like the right step up for someone who is getting more serious about road biking. It’s a logical move into something more capable and a bike you can grow with as a rider. That “feel” is in how the frame, cockpit, wheels, and group all work together to create a compelling package. Even if di2 isn’t in the cards, there are still great mechanical choices to match up with this particular frame.
How We Tested the Ribble Endurance SL Disc
This Ribble bike review is meant to be a holistic look at the Endurance SL Disc. I chose not to get into the minutiae of gear ratios, weight savings, or other very cycling-specific points here, because, frankly, I don’t have the bike knowledge yet to judge those very specific details.
What I prioritized instead was this Ribble bike as one of the first offerings with Shimano’s new wireless 105 di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence) shifting, a significant entry point and a more budget-conscious choice to get into wireless control. Above all, I considered the bike as a whole and landed on this being a great day-to-day road ride compared to looking at every small detail for a more bike-savvy audience.