British bike brand Ribble are now 120 years old, and have never been short of fresh ideas. They claim to have been the first bike shop to introduce a mail order system in the late 1980s, and were pioneers of the online build-your-own bike concept. Their latest innovation isn’t entirely unique, but may be in terms of value and mass appeal.
Standing for ‘Cross, Gravel, Road’, the CGR is touted as a true do-it-all for cyclists who demand versatility. Clearance for tyres up to 35mm, mud guards, full hydraulic disc brakes and a lightweight aluminium frame form the base of the CGR. Our version came specced with a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset, Shimano RX010 wheels and a Deda headset, which brought it in under the £1k mark. One thing that can’t be changed is the divisive paint job, but we actually like it.
The frame geometry reinforces the bike’s purpose, with a curve in the top tube and heavy join into the head tube producing a solid and reliable look. The strength is noticeable, feeling completely in control in the wind and on descents. Elsewhere, the geometry, reach and seat angle is akin to a conventional road racing bike.
At 10.2kg this is no bike for weight weenies, but that includes the mudguards and disc brakes. You won’t really feel the extra weight, but just be prepared for your average speed to be affected on training rides if you’re accustomed to carbon.
A full Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset with 50/34 chainset and 12/28 cassette provides a good range. New Tiagra is streaks ahead of the previous version, so there’s no need to upgrade to Shimano 105 (£60+ on Ribble’s Bikebuilder), unless you simply must have 11-speed.
The mudguards sometimes rub the tyres, which could speed up wear and tear. They also required slight adjustment after riding over rough surfaces, and the bolts occasionally needed tightening.
Our test model didn’t come with dedicated Cyclocross tyres, but we rode it on some extremely treacherous Staffordshire roads and were impressed with the stiffness of the frame and control we had on several muddy, slippery descents. Though Continental’s Ultra Sport 2 tyres aren’t recommended for what we subjected them to, they only lost 15psi at the end of this 80km ride, offering decent rolling resistance for a budget tyre.
The Sella Italia X1 Flow saddle is unspectacular at best and unsuitable for 50mile+ rides at worst. On Ribble’s advanced Bikebuilder you can opt for a highly-rated Fabric Scoop Elite for a £20 levy, which we’d recommend if you’re using the CGR primarily for hard winter training.
Overall we think the CGR is a success, and for a do-it-all it really holds its own as a pure roadie, too. Most small issues we had were spec-related and, with Ribble’s service, these parts can be swapped out if required.
So go for the CGR if you want a superior commuting bike at a great price, that’ll also turn heads on a club ride and be at home on towpaths and lighter trails after a change of tyres.
Verdict: A highly affordable and practical all-weather machine with few corners cut 86%