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Ribble CGR AL

It’s been three years since Ribble first introduced a gravel bike to the market to satisfy the ever growing demand for ‘adventure’ bikes. Due to the popularity of the first model, Ribble decided to work on a new range of gravel bikes that were introduced to the market in autumn last year. They can be categorised into four main classes; carbon, aluminium and steel and titanium. I opted for the aluminium as my weapon of choice. The spec that Ribble kindly provided to me shown below:

Spec: 

Frame: AL Version

Groupset: SRAM Apex 1X  (40T / 11-42)

Wheels: Aksium Disc

Tyres: WTB Horizon 47c / Panaracer Gravel King SK

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Now, i’m no natural off-road but riding on the road for three years starts to lose it’s thrill a little later when you’re knocking out 15,00o miles a year. The best way to mix things up s little was therefore to dabble in some more off-road riding but keep one eye on the road as my main discipline. 

I’m not the most skilful of riders so in order to feel a little more confident off-road, I quite like the idea of a wider tyre and a bit more grip. The new CGR from Ribble has stepped up and like most true adventure bikes, can now take a 42c tyre on a 700c wheel but also a 47c tyre on a 650b wheel. That’s like a fat bike for the road. I personally find this opens the door to a wider range of terrains for those of us less confident souls than the old 35c limit would have done.  

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The bike can be specced with the conventional 2x setup, or the more recently adopted 1x groupset. I opted to take my first leap into both Sram and 1x on this biketo force myself to spend more time off-road. I’ll be the first to admit it takes some getting used to, but once you’re firmly acquainted the 1x system runs pretty well. It lacks the significant higher ranges on the road but if you’ve chosen that setup you’re probably not looking to nail it on the local club run anyway.  

The choice of 1x means you can get a bike more clearance under the bottom bracket for the off-road fun but still maintain a reasonable range at the back. I have an 11-42 cassette and a 40T ring. Contextually, I can just about sit around 21mph on the road before spinning out but off-road, the 1:1 ratio makes spinning up some of the technical and muddy climbs far easier.

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My wheels of choice were the Mavic Aksium disc. If normal Aksium are anything to go by, these should be bombproof; despite my worst attempts at off-road riding, they’ve so far remained true. An upgraded option to consider would be the Mavic All-Road, but it just depends on how much time you want to spend off the beaten track. The wheels are provided with tubes but can be setup tubeless; i’d love to see this offered on the bike builder but not sure if it's possible. 

As specced above, the CGR AL weighs in at a respectable 10.2kg; a solid enough build without feeling too hard on the legs. The geometry has been much refined since the first CGR and now feels more adapted to riding off-road. It’s a fairly relaxed setup that’s best suited to longer days in the saddle than racing cross during winter, but that’s why people will be buying these bikes anyway. 

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Overall, the new CGR is a big step forward on what was already a popular bike. The addition of thru axles on the wheels and wider chain stays open this bike up to more time off the best track than on the open road. It’s worth noting as well that Ribble have started using their sister brand, ‘Level Components’ on all their new bikes; it’s hard to comment on this just yet but no issues to note at writing.

I’ve enjoyed riding the bike so far, but let’s see how it handles the Dirty Reiver in just over a months time. Is there any better way to test an adventure bike than actually go on an adventure?  

 Note: Ribble have provided the CGR AL as part of a longer term partnership.