What is it?
A customizable endurance machine, with a little extra assistance thanks to a hidden battery and hub-motor system. Produced to designs created by Ribble, the Endurance SLe is part of its recently revised and revitalized range. Endorsed by the mighty Sean Yates, whether you fancy a bit of help up the hills, or just want to keep something in reserve on longer rides, it’s happy to chip in as needed. With a single button integrated into the top tube, and the battery neatly enclosed in the regular diameter downtube, only the chunky rear hub may give the game away that this is an e-bike.
Tell me more about Ribble. It’s a British brand, isn’t it?
Sure is. Based in Lancashire, Ribble is one of the UK’s larger cycle retailers. With its own range of bikes, its blue liveried machines have long been beloved of practical club cyclists. Good value and readily adaptable, what they haven’t previously been, though, is particularly saucy.
But that’s all changed now. Ribble’s new range spans everything from swish titanium adventure bikes, through speedy carbon racers, via cyclocross bikes to commuter-ready hybrids. With road bikes starting from £700, the value remains, while the slightly geeky image has been left behind.
It doesn’t look like an e-bike…
That depends on the angle you view it from but you’re right. The eBikemotion X35 system which powers the Endurance SLe is one of the most neatly integrated we’ve ever seen. Hiding its diminutive battery in the downtube, about the only giveaways on the frame are the on-button and the charging point. Driving a rear hub motor, this is obviously a little larger in size than normal, but it’s still unlikely to elicit any extra attention.
Also, able to pair via Bluetooth, its happy to talk with your phone. With three-assist levels available, selecting between these doesn’t require any additional controls to be attached to the handlebars, leaving them free and clean looking. A particular boon on this model, which benefits from a very cool looking one-piece carbon cockpit.
Isn’t it a bit of a lump?
Nope. With weights for the top-end models hitting a feathery 11 kg, Ribble claim this is the lightest production e-bike available. And certainly, the first time you pick it up, it’s a bit of a surprise. Compared to some other systems it’s far more subtle, both in terms of how it changes the look of the bike, but also how it adds in the power. With 250 watts on offer, even when supplying maximum help, the motor is more of an assistant than a porter. It won’t carry you uphill by itself, but it will significantly improve the time it takes you to reach the top. Like Lance Armstrong at his, erm, peak, it almost looks as if it’s being done with legs alone.
How far will it take me?
Once fully charged, the average rider can expect between 60 and 80 miles of assistance when used with the power level set to its maximum.
Of course, if you use it only on the hills this could easily be further. With assistance cutting out at 15 miles per hour, the frictionless motor makes it easy to stay above this limit if you’re so inclined.
In fact, on the flat, the slightly increased weight is hardly noticeable, while even if your name is Nairo Quintana the motor will likely be picking up any slack on all but the shortest and shallowest of hills.
So, what makes it an ‘endurance’ bike?
First of all, there’s the geometry. A little higher at the front, a little longer between the wheels. This keeps the pressure off of your neck and shoulders, without ever making it look like you’re riding a Dutch bike. After all, we’re only talking about a centimeter or two.
Then there’s the lay-up of the frame itself. Using posh, high-modulus Toray carbon in some areas, in others more flexible material is employed to take the edge off impacts picked up from the road. And if you’re still not finding the ride smooth or grippy enough, there’s also the option to fit tires up to 32c.
Wide enough to smooth out even the UK’s austerity- era roads. It manages some hidden adaptability, too, in the form of the frame’s ability to accommodate mudguards. Doing nothing to spoil its looks, the mounts remain invisible until you actually go looking for them.
You say noted Hardman Sean Yates rides one?
Yep. Nicknamed ‘The Animal’, in his 8Os/9Os heyday, Yates would terrify the peloton into submission with his long-range breaks and mean time-trial.
Only the third British rider to ever wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, since retiring Yates has suffered from heart problems which he puts down to years of high-intensity training and racing. With a ticker restricted to 90 beats per minute, adding in some electric assistance has allowed him to get out on longer rides, and recover quicker from them, too. ‘I’ll always have the passion to ride’,‘and the head and heart still want to experience that feeling of freedom. Without this bike, I might be stuck indoors watching daytime TV.’
Rather cleverly, the motor system’s app is even able to pair with a heart rate monitor, allowing the motor to kick in at a specific number of beats-per- minute. Perfect for sticking to your zones, then. So, if you’re an ex-pro needing a little help, an every-day rider who fancies climbing at peloton-esque speeds, or just someone looking to increase the range of their rides, the Endurance SLe may well be the answer.
Weight: 11 kg
Frame: Toray Carbon fiber
Motor: Ebikemotion X35 hub
Groupset: Shimano Ultergra Di2 11-speed
Brakes: Shimano Ultergra disc
Chainset: Shimano Ultegra50/34t
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-32t
Bars: Ribble Carbon one-piece
Stem: Ribble Carbon one-piece
Saddle: Prologo Kappa RS
Seatpost: Ribble Carbon
Wheels: Vision Trimax
Tyres: Continental UltraSport