Review: Ribble Gran Fondo Disc
August 17th, 2017
August 17th, 2017
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With this brand recently being associated with direct sales online, and affordable carbon road bikes, it is easy to forget the history that Ribble has in the sport. Ribble started trading in 1897 with a shop in Preston, and they were possibly one of the first to offer mail-order bicycle parts, and worked closely with a custom steel frame builder nearby. Chris Boardman was once racing on Ribble bikes, and even Bradley Wiggins owned one before his sponsored career kicked off. Today, they’re still rolling with the tide, and the Gran Fondo is the newest in their line-up, keeping bang up to date with disc brakes and plenty of wide tyre clearance.
The reasonably slack head angle (70 - 72 degrees, depending on your size choice) gives a confident handling quality, and the long wheelbase makes for a stable feeling bike. All in all, these numbers add up to a bike that won’t offer up any surprises when you’re getting tired or lazy, so it clearly lends itself towards long-distance rides, hence the name 'Gran Fondo’; a UCI term for sportives.
Though the bike is clearly geared towards endurance riding, it has an oversized bottom bracket to stand up to even the most aggressive of sprinting and out-of-the-saddle climbing. The frame is made from High Modulus carbon fibre, which is usually reserved for expensive bikes needing a stiff and responsive ride, however, Ribble have used it to keep weight down, but continued the ‘comfort’ theme by adding S-shaped seat stays in order to add flex in the rear and through the saddle. The bike is also Di2 ready and can take up to 30mm tyres.
The Ribble Gran Fondo, like its non-disc predecessor, is very definitely an endurance road bike. It has a casual attitude to riding, but is by no means lazy, and I was pleasantly surprised to find very little over-steer around corners. It may be calm and composed, but it’s no slouch either. What it does do very well is smooth out a ride with more of an emphasis on ‘confidence’ than ‘responsiveness’; now that’s not to say that it doesn’t respond well, it does, but ‘responsiveness’ can feel more like ‘twitchiness’ over long distances, and I personally prefer something a little less 'exciting’ when I’m tired or exploring long unfamiliar routes. The bike is poised and calm and made me feel very in control and relaxed about the impending adventures ahead.
The weight and handling is never going to make it feel like the race bike, but it’s not meant for that. It is an inspiring ride that promotes good cycling practice; think considered sweeping corners, not aggressive last-minute flicks. It is a lovely ride and I really have nothing bad to say about it.
The Gran Fondo Disc is no race bike, of course, as the name suggests, it is designed to shrug off vast distances with minimal fuss or dent to your wallet, of which it does both exceptionally well. I can see this being a safe and comfortable go-to bike for long commutes, regular non-fruity club rides and weekend sportives, and all around the £1,500 mark is pretty darn good.
It is a confident and balanced ride that may favour comfort over speed, but for that reason it does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it well. Plus, I really can’t argue with the spec and price. It’s bang up to date with more bang for your buck. Nice one, Ribble.