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Ribble launch innovative new aero road bike

British brand Ribble announce innovative new Ultra Road platform with handlebar unlike anything you've ever seen before

Ribble Ultra road bike platform

British brand Ribble Cycles have today revealed the all-new Ultra Road platform, which has been developed to be “the world’s most aerodynamically advanced road platform”.

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The new platform brings two models to market: the Ultra SL R (builds starting from £3,899) and the Ultra SL (builds starting from £2,799). Both models are available in multiple pre-spec options with further customisation possible through the brand’s Bike Builder.

Ribble have also added a tri-specific option called the Ultra SL R Tri Edition (from £7,599), but we’ll get to that a bit later. All models come with a carbon monocoque frame and disc brakes, while the Ultra SL R comes equipped with an innovative style of handlebar we’ve never seen before.

Speaking about the launch of the new platform, Ribble Cycles CEO Andy Smallwood said: “The Ultra Road project is the result of three years of development by the Ribble R&D team and is a clear statement of our position as a world-class, innovative and exciting British cycling brand.

“Core to our culture is challenging convention and not being afraid to explore new ground in our pursuit of developing a better performing product. The Ultra Road is perfectly aligned to this with its Ribble-derived technology giving pro riders and our customers a proven and meaningful performance advantage, meaning this bike is as much for me as it is our pro teams.”

Ribble’s aero journey

Ribble says the Ultra Road has gone through extensive CFD (computational fluid dynamics), wind tunnel and real-world testing to refine and prove its performance capabilities. As part of this, the brand says they’ve paid particular attention to how the airflow interacts with both bike and rider, which is crucial to developing a machine that’s been optimised to give maximum aero advantage in real world conditions.

Ultra SL and the Ultra SL R models all come with a carbon monocoque frame, and every element of it ­– including the frame, fork, seat post and handlebar – has been designed to achieve the brief of being the fastest road bike in the world.

Crucially, Ribble have designed this bike to deliver for both pro-level and everyday cyclists. As such, testing has been performed at both 22mph (10m/s) and 29mph (13m/s), and with between 0° and 20° of yaw (the angle at which the wind hits the bike and rider).

As a result, the Ultra frame features truncated aerofoil tubes that have been tweaked and refined to ensure maximum gains in real world conditions while still retaining high levels of stiffness and handling.

The downtube flares out in the lower section and has been designed to allow use with a standard water bottle. In fact, Ribble claim the bike is actually faster with a standard water bottle than without. Meanwhile, they’ve extended the head tube and worked on a design that integrates it into the top tube, which is again said to offer improved aero performance.

So what does this all mean? Well Ribble claim the Ultra SL is 54.9 seconds quicker over 40km at 22mph and 50.2 seconds quicker over 40km at 29mph (at between 5° and 10° of yaw) when compared to the aero-optimised Endurance SL R (which served as the benchmark throughout testing).

Introducing the patent pending Ultra Bar

Ribble Ultra Bar
Credit: Ribble

Available on the Ultra SL R, the patent pending Ultra Bar is one of the headline innovations that comes with the new platform. It’s designed to manipulate the airflow around the rider and reduce drag, rather than simply cutting the drag caused by the component itself.

Ribble say this is achieved through “wake generators” (bulges on the underside of the bar), which direct airflow and vortexes around the rider to create a drag reduction zone. Impressively, Ribble claim there’s no significant penalty when riding on the hoods as opposed to the drops, either.

Speaking of the latter, another innovation Ribble has introduced is a change to how break levers can be fitted to the handlebar. Conventionally, bars use a 23.5mm round clamp to affix the levers, which need to be slid up the drops into position.

This has always limited development of handlebars, but Ribble have introduced a new patent pending design that allows the brake lever to be bolted directly onto the handlebar. The result is that the Ribble were able to develop the handlebar as they saw fit, which they’ve done both from an aerodynamic and ergonomic perspective.

The Ultra Bar has lost the bar tape and instead uses a textured finish on the drops, which is claimed to offer a small aero gain. The drops have also been designed with a flat section angled inward, which Ribble say should help riders adopt a better position aerodynamically, with the arms and shoulders coming inward.

Size-wise, the Ultra Bar is available in 33cm, 36cm and 38cm widths (measured from centre to centre on the hoods).

Impressively, Ribble claim the Ultra SL R, complete with Ultra Bar, offers a 75.1-second saving over 40km at 22mph across the average of 5 and 10 of yaw when compared to the Endurance SL R. At 29mph, that time saving comes in at 61.4seconds.

The Ultra SL R Tri Edition

Now, what about the tri-specific version? The Ultra SL R Tri Edition has been developed for Olympic distance triathlons or events with technical courses and is entirely draft legal. It comes with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 groupset and the same aero frame and innovative new Ultra Bar that you’ll see in the standard Ultra SL R. But it also comes with a few additions.

Chief among them is the Level DB Pro Carbon Tri-Spoke wheels, specially developed carbon clip-on extensions and an adjustable saddle cradle that allows for fore and aft adjustment. This version also comes with a time-trial-specific Selle Italia Watt saddle, but this can be swapped out for something else in the brand’s BikeBuilder if desired.

The Ultra SL R Tri Edition complements Ribble’s existing tri offering, which includes the Ribble Ultra Tri.

Ribble Ultra Road builds, prices and availability

The Ultra Road platform comes in a series of different options. The Ultra SL, which does not feature the new Ultra Bar, is available in:

The Ultra SL R, which does include the new Ultra Bar, is available in:

The Ultra SL R will also be available as a frameset for £2,999.

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Ribble say the new Ultra Road platform is available to order now, with deliveries likely to start in October depending on component availability.