There seems to be so many of these ‘Best bikes for under £1,000’ about – reason being is that £1,000 is the Cycle To Work Scheme limit – everyone likes getting the biggest bang for their buck, so why not see what you can get which really pushes the envelope? Which led me to the Ribble Ultralite 7005 Racing.
I was having a look at past bike reviews and there always seems to be a brand missing from the list of candidates. The brand I’m talking about is Ribble. One of the biggest online bike dealers in the UK, Ribble specialises in using quality, thoroughly road-tested frames from the far east as the basis of their customer-specced bike packages. They offer exceptional value, with fully built carbon bikes available for under £800.
So I got the guys at Ribble to send me over a bike, which would be less than £1,000. I wanted something towards their cheaper end, I didn’t want to go any higher than £700 ideally and I wanted to be able to be competitive on it. Both Ribble and I wanted to make small changes to make the bike a little more suited for me; we upgraded to a Shimano Tiagra 4700 10 Speed Groupset, put Shimano R501 wheels on, whacked on some Continental Ultra Sport rubber and a Selle Italia SL Flow Saddle. The grand fee for all of this? £717.91 – pretty close to the £700 originally stated!
With the marker laid down, Ribble went away scratched their heads and came back with this, the 7005 Ultralite Racing. Geared slightly more towards the amateur road racer, this model is perfect for those wanting a slightly more ‘racey’ feel; with a lower front end compared to a sportive bike and a little more stretched out. This improved the aerodynamics slightly, but was still great for longer rides.
The frameset is manufactured from a 7005 aluminium alloy, with carbon bladed forks to help reduce road buzz. When I got the bike I have to say first impressions were good, though it was not as light as I thought an UltraLite frame might be. The paintwork was good and it looked smart. The top tube is pan flat to help with aerodynamics and the whole frame looks solid and strong; just what you want from a race frame. It’s strong and stiff enough so as not to lose any power when it comes to a climb or a bunch sprint. I could not wait to get it out on to the road and see what it was like.
First off, the bike is easy to ride, on a commute or a low speed run it’s so comfortable. Gliding along the roads it’s smooth and calm, then when you decide “I’ve had enough of this!” and start turning the pedals in anger, boy does the bike respond well. With the stiff frame and Tiagra Groupset on, it really is a great ride. The power is there instantly with very little in the way of drop out and for an amateur racer or even a sportive rider, Ribble have got the balance right.
Talking of balance, that’s pretty damn good to. The front forks aren’t too angled, so you don’t go haring across the road with the slightest twitch of the handle bars. You can sit up, reach down for your bottle, take out a gel or remove your jacket quite easily on the move without a wobble.
Ribble have a good reputation for their geometry and this bike is a fine example. If you have ever seen the pro’s riding along in the peloton and thought how they look perfectly balanced; well the Ultralite isn’t going to turn you into Peter Sagan, but it will certainly boost your confidence in being able to take a hand or two off. As will the hours you’ll put in while riding. It doesn’t feel like too much hard work to keep the pedals turning on this bike, it’s such a nice ride.
Now, let’s say what this bike is not. It’s not a climbing machine, even though the aluminium frame tries so desperately hard to be, it still weighs in at 1.3kg (on an average sized frame) and by no means is it an out and out racer. It’s not a time trial bike and it’s not at all a grand tour bike. However, what it certainly is, is bloody good value for money.
Yes I know that Shimano R501 wheels might not be the best wheels for this bike, they were used in this review for a purpose. If ever anything went wrong on the very durable rims, a spoke drop out or whatever, parts would be easy to come by. They are exceedingly durable and they help keep the bikes overall price low. If I were to suggest an area where you push it closer to the £1000 mark, then I would suggest lighter wheels. This will really help bring the over all weight down and make it just that bit more nippier up the hills!
I rode this bike for training and all around the Prudential RideLondon 100 course, I think for the money, it’s a great bike and it really helped me out. Sure you can spend a bit more here and there but if you’ve been inspired by the Prudential RideLondon and you’re looking for an entry level bike, do consider the Ribble 7005 Ultralite Racing bike, it really is a fantastic purchase for someone who may only have the money for one bike that has to do it all.
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