Bikes: Ribble SL-R Road Bike

Former climber in the pro peloton Jamie Burrow helps Ribble Cycles design their range topping and very lightweight SL-R road bike

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Bikes: Ribble SL-R Road Bike

Former professional Jamie Burrow who rode at US Postal in the biggest races on the pro calendar admits he was designing bikes as a junior and now uses his experience to design Ribble Cycles new platform of bikes launched at the cycle show.

The range topping bike is the SL-R, a very light, aero and stiff race bike suitable also for endurance events like sportives. The bike is a far cry from the Ribble bikes of the 90s which were ridden by the likes of Jamie as well as Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, Chris Boardman and Bradley Wiggins.

Jamie’s first Ribble was steel, during a time when steel bikes were as common as the carbon frames are now. “My first racing bike was a Condor, then my first modern bike was a neon pink Ribble Columbus SL handed down from my dad when I finally started growing! I’ve still got her today!”

Cycling became a career for Jamie in 1996 when aged 19, he went to race full time in France. This was followed up by three years in Italy learning the ropes as a full-time bike rider in the “Dilletante category” (semi-pro). Jamie explains “In 1999, I won the under 23 World Cup and signed my first Pro contract with Lance Armstrong’s USPS Pro cycling team.”

Jamie’s key strength was his climbing and he explained how in winning that World Cup for Under 23’s, he won a race on the Plateau de Beille in the Ronde de L’isard stage race, beating Marco Pantani’s record for the climb set in the previous year’s Tour de France. During his racing days, Jamie was battling with the likes of house hold names such as Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and Frank Schleck.

Jamie’s skills as a bike designer though came well before he was racing in the world’s biggest races such as Route du Sud, Dauphine Libre, Ruta del Sol, Vuelta Murcia, and Leige Bastogne Leige to name but a few. “It was what you dream of racing as a kid” he says of the races, adding “results wise it didn’t go the way I wanted it to but it taught me a lot.”

Jamie explained to VeloUK, “I have always been into bike design since I was a kid. Even before I went abroad as a junior, I used to design my own bike so I always had a thing for bike design.” Jamie retired in 2007 and then did the Grand Fondo circuit for a few years before finding work in the industry in Britain.

Jamie is quite unique in his chosen job of bike design as he explained most former bike riders end up as coaches, a directeur sportif or a rep for a cycling brand. Not many riders end up in bike design and development he added.

“Clothing was where I started and when you have ridden in races in every weather possible, you learn what is good and what isn’t. There were products I had later on that I wished I’d had doing an eight hour ride or race in the freezing rain but didn’t exist then. There were extreme conditions that the top brands hadn’t even thought about because they hadn’t tested in them but when you have ridden in those conditions, afterwards you’re thinking ‘I could have done with this or that’ so when you are given the opportunity to do something like designing new clothing, you produce what is needed”.

in the 90s, Ribble was known for its race bikes and the brand is looking to make its name in there again with Jamie’s help. Their time trial bikes have already shown their pedigree with victory in championships and many a time trial.

The SL series is big step up for the Ribble performance bike says Jamie. “It’s the top end of our Endurance platform and the SL-R model has a super lightweight 800gm frame”. Jamie, as a climber, admits being a weight freak and says the SL-R with the Shimano Dura Ace groupset will build up into a bike that is under the UCI weight limit.

“When we sat down to design this new platform, it wasn’t to design a super light bike but more about getting the perfect combination of weight and aerodynamic so we did a lot of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) testing on the platform and it is a very aero frame. You could go even more aero but then the weight would go up so it is a nice compromise of weight, aerodynamics and stiffness rather than just going only for a super light frame.”

Jamie went on to add that the SL-R (and SL series ) is a bike that is very versatile and with its geometry is suitable for everything from circuit races to long road events (races or sportives). It also comes in disc and rim brake options and with one of the design aims being to make a bike as sleek as possible, the frames allow full cable routing. With aerodynamics having been a major consideration in the development of the new Endurance SL, the new frameset generates up to 28.5% less drag compared to the previous generation.

Aerodynamic drag saving features include:
• Truncated aerofoil down tube
• Aero fork blade profile
• Truncated aerofoil seat tube and seat post
• Internal cable routing
• Optional aero one piece cockpit enabling all cables to be routed internally and away from the airflow generating over 40% less drag compared to a conventional bar and stem set up (disc brake version has all cables completely hidden and caliper brake just the front brake cable).

It isn’t just about being light and aero though and getting the power to the road is also a key attribute so power transfer and torsional stiffness have been taken into account through the tapered downtube, oversize BB area and box section chainstays ensuring that your power wattage is efficiently transferred to forward motion.

The tapered fork steerer, oversize headtube area and fork profile ensure that front end stiffness is taken care for out of the saddle efforts as well. All things that a pro like Jamie would be aware of being required in a performance bike.

Jamie has also had to sit on a bike for very long periods and so comfort on a bike with road surface impact and vibration absorption being another very important attribute built into the SL series with specific shapes and profiles of the seat stays, seat post and carbon cockpit.

With tyres getting ever wider, the SL frameset has discrete mudguard mounts and tyre clearances for up to 30mm tyres ensuring that the Endurance SL can be ridden in all season and weather conditions.

The SL-R Series frameset takes all of this technology and development a step further by using more T1000 and higher grade carbon in the construction and replacing the alloy headtube and BB inserts with carbon parts. The SL R Series also uses a special paint finish further minimising weight and saving a total of approx. 300g vs the standard SL frameset making it ideal for the discerning rider looking for the ultimate in Endurance and versatile race bike performance.

Key Frameset Features
• Optional carbon integrated cockpit with full internal cable routing
• Tyre size compatibility – Up to 30c
• Bolt through front and rear axles on SL Disc for improved stiffness
• Disc brake compatible – Powerful, controlled braking in all conditions
• Internal cable routing and Di2 compatibility
• Mudguard fitments and clearance – For all weather riding
• Seat stay profiles designed for vertical compliance and vibration absorption enhancing comfort
• Oversize tapered down tube and chainstays for torsional stiffness and power transfer

To find out more, click here:

The SL-R Disc version




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