When a friend called me up to say he’d just taken delivery of his new electric bike, I was curious to have a go. When he told me it was a Ribble, I was taken aback! I was aware of the latest offerings from Cannondale, Bianchi, Cube and Trek etc. But I had no idea the Preston-based company had joined the e-bike revolution! In this Ribble Endurance SLe review, I will give you my honest opinion on this fantastic electric road bike.
I am no stranger to electric road bikes, as I custom-built one for myself back in 2016 to help me get back into cycling. A Ridgeback Flight hybrid bike, which I transformed into an electric adventure / road bike, complete with Shimano MTB rims, Avid disc brakes and Shwalbe CX tyres. It was a great all-rounder and helped me make the transition from being incredibly unfit to the road cycling addict I am today!
Every big name in the road bike industry is jumping on the bandwagon. And it is with good reason, the growth in the e-bike market has been on an upward trend for a good few years now, and the stigma associated with them has all but disappeared as more and more people of all ages and fitness levels are buying them in their droves.
The main benefit of electric road bikes is that they enable road cycling enthusiasts to continue cycling at a time when illness, injury or just old age is making it more difficult to stay with your friends on a group ride
I believe one of the main reasons, is that the e-bikes of a few years ago were heavy, ugly and unfashionable. As technology has progressed, we are now seeing factory built electric bikes that are practically indistinguishable from their conventional counterparts. Read on for my full Ribble electric road bike review…
The Ribble Endurance SLe
In my previous post, I did a brief electric road bike review of Bianchi’s Aria e-road, Cube Agree Hybrid C:62 and Cannondale Synapse NEO SE. The Cannondale was my pick of the bunch, simply because of its versatile, adventure bike design.
If, on the other hand, I was going for an out and out road bike, then the Ribble is just the ticket. And with the entry-level Tiagra equipped model coming in at just £2499, it is a whole two grand cheaper than the Bianchi. Even the Di2 version of the SLe comes in at £3999.
Intrestingly the Ribble uses the same X35 ebikemotion system as the Bianchi. The main benefit of this system is its weight. The total system including Lithium battery, motor and other ancillary components comes in at just 3.5kg.
The X35 motor has been around for over a year now, and was first seen on the Orbea Gain. The great thing about this system apart from the light weight, is that it has been designed specifically for road bikes.
Hub Motor vs Bosch motor
Unlike the mid-mounted Bosch unit that powers the Cannodale Synapse and Trek Domane+ , this motor is located in the rear wheel, so the bike can use a standard BB72 bottom bracket (or BB86 on the SRAM version). It could be argued that the sophisticated torque, and cadence pedal assist on the Bosch powered bikes gives a more natural and intuitive feel, but in all honesty I think ebikemotion have nailed it with their excellent pedal assist sensor which measures 40 pulses and uses a special algorithm to detect pedalling. It is definitely a far-cry from the cadence-based pedal assist systems found on DIY e-bike kits.
The 36v 250w X35 electric hub motor is a geared hub motor. Geared hub motors have their cases connected to the stator through a planetary gear reduction system. For every rotation of the case, the motor inside actually turns many times faster. This allows the motor to work at higher and more efficient speeds, while still allowing the wheel to spin at a comparatively slower driving speed. All this makes for an incredibly compact and efficient drive system.
- The X35 includes its own pedalling sensor that enables the manufacturer to install the desired bottom bracket system. This significantly reduces friction, and helps achieve an incredibly smooth power delivery, offering the user a conventional bike when the electrical system is not switched on. This is not possible on a mid-drive motor like the Bosch system.
- The 250Wh (watt hours) Lithium battery pack has everything in a single unit – motor controller, cabling, battery management system, and it remains fixed on the inside of the downtube. If more battery range is required, up to two external batteries can be connected to the system to reach 750Wh (watt hours), giving a potential range of up to 225km (or 75 km with just the internal battery). Please read my post on electric bike batteries for more information.
- The cells used in the battery pack are the Premium Panasonic NCR18650GA cells – incidently, this was the battery of choice for Tesla cars, before they started manufacturing their own cells. Here is a test of different lithium cells and the Panasonic comes out as the clear winner!
- The X35 motor offers excellent torque thanks to its internal planetary gear system (up to 40 Nm).
- ON, OFF & LIGHT Control
- Battery & Assist Level
- Information by RGB LED
- Smart and Compact for e-Road bikes
- 6V, CAN BUS Compatible
Motor HUB Drive M1
- 36V 250w – Max. Torque: 40N.m – Ratio: 14:1
- Maximum Speed: 26km/h
- 11v & Brake Disk compatible
- Diameter 100 mm – Weight 2.1 Kg – Black
- Spokes: 32/14G
- 36V, 250W Panasonic NCR18650GA – 10 Series / 2 Parallel
- CAN BUS Compatible (Smart)
- Head light and USB output.
Based on the latest lightweight Ribble Endurance SL frame platform, the SLe has been designed around a carefully considered geometry resulting in a frameset that offers stability, comfort and great handling with enough adjustability to suit both endurance riders and those looking for a more performance optimised riding position.
The frameset is manufactured from a selected blend of Toray’s T1000 and T800 carbon layered to an exacting specification using an advanced monocoque mould technology incorporating an EPS inner core system which ensures complete consistency of the structural integrity of the fibres and resin throughout the frame. This system also eliminates excess material on the inside of the frame.
The profiles and shapes designed into the frame are all there for a specific performance reason, from the box section down tube and chain-stays enhancing torsional stiffness to the seat post and seat stays designed for vertical compliance and vibration absorption, this frame is the epitome of design and attention to detail.
Unfortunately, my friend is considerably shorter than me, so the medium sized frame felt a bit cramped for my 6’1 large build. I am fortunate enough to live in rural Cornwall, not far from the Lynher valley, which is steeped by some brutal climbs. My nearest of which is less than a couple of miles from where I live.
As you can see, this is quite a climb, the first half a mile is a constant 12-15%. The Ribble has three power settings, with level 3 being the full 250w of power. It was the first time I had ridden up this hill on an e-bike in nearly two years, and have to say it definitly took the sting out of it! Usually I am down to the granny gear on my regular bike, and average around 6.5mph over the whole climb. On the Ribble, I shot up there like a pro!
I still sweated heavily and had that familiar burn, but my average speed was 11mph. I managed to knock a good 4 minutes off my time, and made the top 10 on the Strava segment (my genuine placing is around 216 out of 428) – I took the courtesy of removing the segment from my Strava after I had analysed the data.
When the team at Ribble designed this bike, it is obvious that they wanted an end product that would enhance the experience and essence of road riding
Once I had negotiated the climb, I had a nice long steady descent for a couple of miles, and must say, this bike is an absolute joy to ride. With the power switched off, it felt just like a normal bike. There was no noticeable pedalling resistance whatsoever, and on the way back to mine, I didn’t even bother to switch the assist on as I wanted to see how it climbed without power. It felt like a normal bike, it was no harder than if I had been using my regular bike.
The handling is what you would expect from an endurance bike, very stable at speed, and confidence inspiring in the bends. The optional Vittoria Corsa rubber was grippy through the tighter corners and the hydraulic brakes performed excellently.
So who is this bike aimed at?
As I have stated in my previous article, I believe that the main benefit of electric road bikes is that they enable road cycling enthusiasts to continue cycling at a time when illness, injury or just old age is making it more difficult to stay with your friends on a group ride, or maybe the Leisure rider looking to enjoy the road cycling experience whilst staying within their physical comfort zone.
My friend is not a young man anymore and has some issues with his knees, so this bike is amazing for him.It has enabled him to spend longer days in the saddle and tackle some of the steeper climbs in our area (and there are many!).
Whatever your level of riding the Ribble Endurance SLe will give you a significant performance boost to help get you over those long and steep climbs, and enable you to ride further without experiencing the fatigue.
I absolutely love this bike! And at £2499 for the entry level Tiagra equipped model it offers excellent value for money, especially when compared to its competitors. When the team at Ribble designed this bike, it is obvious that they wanted an end product that would enhance the experience and essence of road riding by providing smooth and controlled power assistance when the rider needs it, whilst crucially ensuring that when power assistance is not required the bike looks and feels like a normal high-end road bike. I firmly believe they have succeeded in every aspect.
The other great thing about the Ribble Endurance SLe is they have managed to get the weight down to as little as 11kg – the SLe is indeed, the lightest e-road bike in the world. It wasn’t that long ago, that the average weight of an e-bike was in the region of 25kg! Ribble have managed to perfectly integrated a usable, high quality electric assist system into a super-light chassis that has all the attributes of a cutting edge high-end road bike.
Would I buy one?
As much as I enjoyed riding my friend’s new pride and joy, and as much as I love e-bikes. I would not purchase an electric road bike until my body starts to fail me! I spent most of my thirties and early forties leading a sedentary lifestyle and my health suffered as a result. My new found love of road cycling was facilitated by using an e-bike. But now I have been riding a conventional bike for nearly two years and I feel fitter than when I was in my teens (I am fifty this year!).
When I go cycling, I am constantly looking for challenging routes, and we have to endure discomfort, even pain in order to make progress in our cycling fitness. True, there are times that I feel totally exhausted after a 60 miles ride, but that is all part of the journey.
I enjoyed writing this Ribble Endurance SLe review, and I believe electric road bikes will (hopefully) encourage more and more people back into cycling and that is good, not only for personal health, but also the environment. In my next electric road bike review, I will be focusing on the latest incarnation of the Giant Road E+2….Watch this space!
UPDATE: Ribble cycles have just released a brand-new range of electric gravel bikes and hybrid bikes.
1. Optional carbon integrated cockpit with full internal cable routing
2. Tyre size compatibility – Up to 28mm (25mm with guards)
3. Bolt through front axle for improved stiffness
4. Disc brake compatible – Powerful, controlled braking in all conditions
5. Internal cable routing and Di2 compatibility
6. Mudguard fitments and clearance – For all weather riding
7. Seat stay profiles designed for vertical compliance and vibration absorption enhancing comfort
8. Oversize box section down tube and chainstays for torsional stiffness and power transfer
- Shimano Tiagra
- Shifters – Shimano Tiagra
- Chainset – Shimano 4700 34/50
- Cassette – Shimano 4700 11/32
- Rotors – 160mm
- Shimano 105 Hydraulic
- Shifters/Brakes – Shimano R7020
- Chainset – Shimano R7000 34/50
- Cassette – Shimano R7000 11/32
- Rotors – 160mm
- Shimano Ultegra
- Chainset – Shimano Ultegra 34/50
- Shifters/Brakes – Shimano Ultegra
- Cassette – Shimano Ultegra 11-32
- Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Shifters – Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Chainset – Shimano Ultegra 34/50
- Cassette – Shimano Ultegra 11-32
- Rear Derailleur – Shimano Ultegra Di2
- Front Derailleur – Shimano Ultegra Di2
- SRAM eTap HRD
- Front Derailleur – SRAM eTap
- Rear Derailleur – SRAM eTap
- Cassette – SRAM eTap RED
- Chainset – SRAM eTap RED
- Shifters/Brakes – SRAM eTap HRD
- Vision Trimax X35
- Continental UltraSport
- Bars – Level 1 Alloy
- Stem – Level 1 Alloy
- Seatpost – Carbon
- Saddle – Prologo Kappa RS
Ribble Endurance SLe Review£2499 - £5199
Value for Money9.0/10
- Very lightweight at 11kg
- One of the best value e-road bikes of 2019
- Handling, brakes - every inch a top quality road bike
- Excellent motor and battery
- Rides like a normal bike with the pedal assist off
- I really can't find any negatives. This truly is an excellent bike!