Ribble Gravel AL Rival XPLR Review

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If you’re looking for value, great spec, and a do-it-all gravel bike built to last, this Ribble Gravel AL ticks a whole load of boxes.

  • Brand: Ribble
  • Product: Gravel AL Rival XPLR
  • From: Ribble Cycles
  • Price: £2,469
  • Tested: by Amanda for 1 month and a bit

Built and tuned in Lancashire, Ribble Cycles have been hand-assembling bikes since 1897, and have a rich road cycling history and good reputation with drop bar bikes. The gravel bike range reflects this.

The entire gravel bike range appears to be bang on trend, tastefully designed and specced up with performance and value in mind. On test here we’ve gone for the budget frameset (£899 for frame and fork) with a build that brings it up to a performance model.

The Ribble Gravel AL is the aluminium model from a huge range of gravel bikes from the brand that includes titanium, carbon fibre and steel models. If you have an idea in mind for a gravel bike, chances are that Ribble has a build spec to suit you, and that’s before the final customisation available.

Pros

  • Smooth and silent ride
  • Handlebars have just the right rise and flare to be mega comfortable
  • Attention to detail on the build, it felt like a pro team mechanic had posted it to us

Cons

  • Wider rims please
  • Shorter stem options in the bike customiser tool – shortest is 80mm across all frame sizes

A sleek modern design with mostly smooth welds (don’t look at the rear triangle) and an excellent paint job that catches the light and looks quite striking when it’s not filthy. The Ribble Gravel AL is only available in green unless you use the option for a custom colour from £350 upwards, but personally I’d be super happy with this frame colour.

It can be quite difficult to review a gravel bike when it doesn’t have a standout design quirk or a glaring error, because ultimately if you get the right size frame a gravel bike is the sum of its components. This bike has no risky quirks, nor does it have any glaring mistakes. There are, however, small details that make it feel like a top quality frame and design.

Bolt to secure cables, nice touch

The wheels are a £150.00 upgrade on the base model (which would be Mavic Allroad DCL 700C XDR). Here we have Hope 20FIVE rims on Pro 5 hubs. The deceiving name 20FIVE could have you hopeful for 25mm rims, but unfortunately not, these have a 20mm internal width which seems narrow for a modern gravel bike. As a result the 45mm Pirelli tyres come up a smidge narrow and rather bulged. 

This build features SRAM Rival XPLR groupset with a 40t chainring and 10-44t cassette. Enough range for most gravel duties and pretty middle of the road. I have been super impressed with the shifting performance. On the power, shifting both up and down the cassette with a mostly neglected and dirty chain, it truly was flawless. The whole drivetrain runs super quiet in every gear and riding condition. 

The Rival brakes with 160mm rotors front and back have been great on and off road. I have had my fair share of vague feeling brakes on gravel bikes, but I am confident with these, they’re consistent and reliable. The hood shape on the latest AXS shifters is also improved over the first gen ones; less bulky and more comfortable.

Now onto the finishing kit, most of which is Ribble’s in-house brand Level. This is about the only cost saving measure on the bike and it’s no downside. The seatpost, bars and stem are all well designed and pretty enough. The bars deserve a special mention as they are what I’d consider a perfect shape. They have a ~12 degree flare (there is no spec on the website so that’s a subjective measurement) and a 20mm rise which helps to bring things up to a comfortable height. The flat area on the hoods doesn’t limit light/computer mounts as it’s only in the areas that you’re rest your hands, and I wish I could say something smarter about it, but the entire bar is just really comfortable.

We did have to swap the stem out on this medium size bike and in reality we probably would have even on the small frame (NB: I fit perfectly into the size chart for a small frame, but they only had a medium available at the short notice we requested). As with so many gravel bikes, they seem to be getting longer in the reach for no particular reason. A gravel bike is designed to be ridden sat down 95% of the time so making something longer or slacker is just not necessary on a drop bar bike.

The Ride

I’ve mentioned several times how comfortable this bike rides. It is effortlessly smooth pretty much everywhere. The (slightly pinched) 45mm Pirelli’s offer a reasonable level of comfort and speed for any surface. The aluminium frame and wheels also offer a level of compliance and composure often missing from some of the stiff carbon aero bikes on offer elsewhere.

Overall

If you’re looking for value, great spec, and a do-it-all gravel bike built to last, this Ribble Gravel AL ticks all your boxes. For the boxes it doesn’t tick, you can go on the customisation section at checkout and make your tweaks. I will be really sad to see this bike go, and for reference, my personal gravel bike is titanium with chunky carbon rims and some handlebars that took me over a year to get right. This Ribble Gravel AL just works brilliantly.

Ribble Gravel AL Rival XPLR Specification

  • Frame // Alloy
  • Fork // Alloy
  • Wheels // Hope 20FIVE Pro 5 XDR
  • Front tyre // Pirelli Cinturato Adventure 700x45c
  • Rear tyre // Pirelli Cinturato Adventure 700x45c
  • Chainset // SRAM RIVAL 1 Chainset D1 DUB WIDE 172.5 40T
  • Drivetrain // SRAM Rival XPLR eTap AXS, 12-speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Rival eTap AXS, 160/160mm
  • Stem // Level Alloy Road, 31.8mm
  • Bars // Level Gravel Riser Bar Flared (top 42cm – bottom 51cm), 31.8mm
  • Bar Tape // Level Embossed
  • Seatpost // Level 1 Alloy, 27.2mm
  • Saddle // Fizik
  • Bottom Bracket // SRAM DUB
  • Size tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 9.9kg
  • Head angle // 71.5°
  • Effective seat angle // 73.5°
  • Seat tube length //500mm
  • Head tube length // 150mm
  • Chainstay // 435mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,052mm
  • Effective top tube // 570mm
  • BB height // 65mm BB drop
  • Reach // 397mm

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