Shimano’s electric Di2 transmission is effortless, super accurate yet impressively reliable and Ribble’s Aero 883 maximises aero gain by putting the battery inside the seat post.
Ribble Aero 883, £2129.99
Lancashire price crusaders Ribble have a long established reputation for delivering a range of top value bikes from training machines to triathlon rigs. The 833 Aero is a searingly fast, innovation loaded, aero road weapon complete with electric shifting and big brand aero wheels for a price that’s as aggressive as its’ ride character.
If the all black ‘murdered out’ aesthetics don’t immediately communicate the combative nature of the 883 then closer inspection of the frame will leave no doubt. The short head tube lends itself to an aggressively low and aerodynamic ride position. The angular frame tubes are the only ones on test to use the latest ‘Kammtail’ chopped teardrop style aerodynamic concept, which is designed to produce lower overall drag in variable wind situations. The 883 is also the only bike here to use lighter, more powerful direct mount Shimano brakes with the rear calliper hidden under the chain stays to reduce aerodynamic drag further. The internal down tube cable routing can be configured for either conventional cable routing or the Shimano Di2 electric shifting set up here, which cunningly hides the battery cell up inside the seat post out of the way of weather and wind. Despite the extra cost of the digitally triggered transmission, Ribble still rolls out this special edition bike on £850’s worth of stiff Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLS wheels with matching Mavic Yksion Griplink and Prolink tyres. You also get a top quality carbon detailed Selle Italia saddle and even the aerodynamically profiled Deda RHM 02 bar and Zero 2 stem are slightly lighter and more expensive than the 01 spec models on the Sensa and Dolan.
How it rides
High value spec isn’t worth much without ride quality to back it up, but that’s no problem with the Ribble. Immediately you clip in and press the pedals, you can feel the purposeful power delivery of the oversized rear stays and Toray T1000/800 carbon fibre mix surging through to the road and firing you forward. While the added motors and battery of Di2 mean it’s slightly heavier than the other bikes here, it attacks climbs with aggressive ‘stand up’ rather than ‘gear down’ tenacity. Thanks to the aero features the speed carries on building with impressive ease as you whirr up through the gears on the flat. It stays there without too much topping up too and there’s enough accuracy and authority in the quick steering handling to keep the Mavic wheels that have sometimes seemed gusty on other bikes behaving fine on the Ribble. The second generation Mavic Yksion tyres with softer compound ‘Griplink’ front are reassuringly surefooted when you’re exploring the 883’s natural urge to charge into corners hard and hug the tightest line too. They also let you make the most of the outstandingly positive and feedback rich power of the direct mount brakes. While firm wheel and frame feel means you have to be a bit more wary of potholes or pock marked surfaces than a smoothie like the Sensa, the Aero 883 always stayed on the acceptably purposeful rather than punishing side of the comfort coin. It’s certainly forgiving enough to take day rides or even multi day charity epics in it’s stride without leaving you walking like John Wayne and given the top value price you’ll have change spare to sponsor yourself too.
Ribble’s Aero 883 is naturally rapid and aggressive when it comes to accelerating, climbing and cornering without being uncomfortable on multi-day missions. It’s outstanding value for a Di2 equipped bike too.
Words: Guy Kesteven
Pictures: Russell Burton