The first thing you’ll notice if you’re eagle-eyed is that this bike costs more than £1,000 (taking it ever so slightly out of the price range for our best road bike under £1,000 category in Bike of the Year 2018). Unfortunately, even with the best-laid plans we can’t control inflation or the cycling industry’s pricing policies. More’s the pity.
When I first got the R872 in for testing at the end of 2017 it was £999, or £1,017 with the carbon seatpost I went for in a moment of extravagance. Still, what’s £18 between friends?
- The Ribble R872 105 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The plus side is that the bike is still available with Shimano 105 and Mavic Aksium wheels for £1,099 (or presently a remarkable £1,199, down from £1,649 with Shimano Ultegra), though these prices are subject to change. Given its overall quality, I still believe the R872 deserves its place as one of the best bikes around if you’ve got around £1,000 to spend.
The anodyne R872 name and mute matt black shades-of-grey colour scheme disguises a thoroughbred road bike that offers a great ride and still unbeatable value.
Ribble describes the R872 as both a sportive bike and as race-bred, safely covering all bases. And it really is a thoroughly modern affair, with both the frame and fork having carbon dropouts, very rare at this price, along with Shimano 105 and Fulcrum Racing Sport wheels.
The carbon frame itself is made from Toray T800 and T1000 carbon. The higher the number the stronger the carbon, so less material needs to be used to construct the handmade frame, rather than it being necessarily stiffer.
The head tube is tapered, the bottom bracket shell oversized, the seatpost a slimline 27.2mm affair. It’s worth noting that the seat clamp has twin bolts, the lower one a standard 5Nm, the upper a mere 2Nm; so, put your specs on, if you wear them, get your torque wrench out and take care. That’s not a mistake that you want to make.
We first got our grubby cycling mitts on an R872 back in 2013, and were impressed by its stiff frame and Ribble’s usual top bangs-for-bucks value. This third-generation model looks pretty similar, though the integration of frame and fork now has an aero-influenced look to it.
The geometry is the same as before, but you won’t be surprised to hear that Ribble has increased stiffness everywhere — a claimed 15.4 percent stiffer at the bottom bracket, 14 percent for the chainstays and a serious 26.5 percent stiffer fork. The head tube is a more modest 8 percent stiffer. But seeing as we didn’t find the original R872 overly flexy there was the worry that this might be overkill.
It isn’t. True, this isn’t a super-soft ride, but neither does it leave you feeling beaten up even after a very hard day’s cycling. The geometry certainly leans towards the racier end of the road bike spectrum, with sub-metre wheelbases throughout the five bike range, and a 145mm head tube on my medium-size model. Frame angles never veer very far from 73 degrees either, again on the racier, more aggressive side of things.
This is no mere identikit budget carbon bike, but an evolved design; a poised and polished performer made from quality materials. The handling, aided by that shortish, stiff head tube, is pin sharp and the lightweight carbon frame helps with rapid acceleration, with the R872 climbing as well as anything I’ve tested at the price. It’s also one of the lightest bikes for the money, too, which is rarely a bad thing.
I didn’t regret the small extra expense of the carbon seatpost, as this is still a firm ride and you will notice bumps in the road. But they won’t hamper your performance.
The riding position is quite long and low, which you’ll need to bear in mind if you like a slightly more upright riding position, but Ribble’s R872 is a great fast fitness machine that's ideal for club runs, fast sportives and much, much more.
The quality of the frame is such that you can kit it out with all sorts of kit choices depending on your budget — I’ve tested it with Ultegra Di2 and it didn’t disappoint. A race-bred sportive bike? Yep, and then some.