Let's start at the very beginning of the story. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Stop, stop! Not that much from the start. So, our "old" gravel bikes have been accompanying us since mid-2020 on various surfaces and some short and some longer trips.

The reason for choosing our bikes back "then" was, as I'm sure it was for many of you: availability. More precisely: the availability of the right frame size and the proper budget. Getting a suitable bike was really a challenge in the summer of 2020 (not that it isn't just as difficult now). Björn was able to secure his Canyon Grail CF SL as a job bike while I rattled off various stores in Hamburg and webshops for the right bike for me. In the end, it became a Specialized Diverge Base Carbon, which was slightly above my budget and actually could have been about one frame size larger. Except for a few criteria, we had little idea of what we really needed when it came to bikes. We just wanted to have a good time outdoors on the bike.

Something we didn't know at the time? How our ideas about cycling would change in two years.

 

 

Bikepacking was not a topic at all for us that year, and therefore we ignored whether this would be possible with the bikes at all. Following our first bikepacking experience, in which we were on the road without a tent, sleeping bags, and co, only with clothes for a few days, it was apparent. These bikes are not ideal for trips where we want to be completely independent. Well, especially Björn's is not. The Diverge already fits there quite well, but that's another topic.

In our search for suitable bikes and / or possible bike partners, we finally came across Ribble Cycles from England or instead were made attentive. So one thing led to another, and we could acquire Ribble as a partner. We are very excited about this.

After a few impatient weeks of waiting, our new bikes finally arrived.

Since we will never be super sporty cyclists and don't intend to be, we chose the bikes according to our needs and purpose. Fortunately, Ribble offers a massive selection of bikes that can be built according to your wishes. The Bike Builder on Ribble's website makes it easy, and in the end, you don't get a bike off the rack as everyone else might have.

The bike of our choice: The Ribble CGR SL

Due to difficult availability, the Ribble CGR (Cross. Gravel. Road) SL is currently the best alternative to the Ribble Gravel (Explore. Race. Escape.) SL, which would be the dream bike for us to bike pack. The frame of the Gravel SL offers more possible bolt-on locations than that of the CGR.

We opted for 650B tires in a 47 width. The wide tires are suitable for various surfaces and give us a safe feeling even with a lot of luggage.

Of course, the WTB tires are tubeless-ready, and one of our next steps will be to put this to use. There is still plenty of clearance in the frame of the CGR SL - which means we could even fit wider tires if we wanted to. The carbon frame of the CGR SL has a sporty geometry, so 28-inch wheels and narrower tires could be installed as well. This definitely makes this bike a perfect "all-rounder" for us.

 

The sturdy aluminum LEVEL handlebar with plenty of room for bags thanks to its' flare, a Shimano GRX Di2 groupset 1×11 speed, and Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes finish it all off.

Especially the electronic groupset impressed us directly on the first ride. We no longer want to do without it. The difference to mechanical shifting (especially the Sram Apex 1 on my Diverge) is gigantic.

Visually, the Ribble CGR SL is also very nice to look at. As soon as we are back home after a ride, we can hardly wait to go again with the new Ribble bikes.

The bike and its components are great fun. Up next, we will be testing the bikes for their bikepacking capabilities. We guess that this experience will also be outstanding!

Technical facts

MATERIAL

Toray T1000/T800 full carbon monocoque

GROUPSET

Shimano GRX Di2 RX815 1×11 speed

BRAKES

Shimano GRX Hydraulic Disc

 

HANDLEBAR & STEM

Level Gravel light alloy 6061 31.8 Flared handlebar // Level 1 light alloy stem

WHEELSET

Mavic ALLROAD SL DISC CL Road+ wheelset

TIRES

WTB Byway Road Plus TCS Tires Tan 650 x 47c