We get lots of press releases at VeloVeritas but one which particularly caught our eye came from the nice folks at Ribble, purveyors of a wide range of cool but affordable machines, concerning their new SRAM eTap AXS x Ribble Gravel Ti machine. Sasha Castling, Ribble’s Head of Public Relations put us in touch with Jamie Burrow, Ribble’s Head of Product to talk gravel, cool but affordable machines, and their new SRAM eTap AXS x Ribble Gravel Ti machine in particular.
But titanium for a gravel bike?
It’s tricky stuff to work with, very hard and requires a lot of skill on the part of the welder, it’s not nearly as straightforward to work with as steel or aluminium.
But devotees enthuse about the ‘zingy’ ride characteristics and it is light and strong.
This one also has one damn cool paint job, I needed to know more.
Jamie Burrow has featured in our pages in the past, he was UCI number one rated u23 rider in the world in 1999 and was signed by the US Postal Service professional team.
As an amateur he set the record for the French climb of Plateau de Beille during the Ronde de L’isard stage race, beating Marco Pantani’s record for the climb set the previous year in the Tour de France.
He’s a man that knows a little about bicycles then…
We kicked off by asking Jamie if Gravel is just a fad or something that’s going to go the way it has in the USA where it’s the fastest growing aspect of the sport due to the fact that motor vehicles don’t get in on the act at all and the ‘rules about rules’ brigade haven’t got their hooks into it – yet…
Gravel is here to stay then, Jamie?
“Gravel is a very exciting and dynamic discipline and it will come as no surprise that it will get even bigger as it evolves as a race category and gets the spotlight as a sport.
“With more races, more riders, more uptake, more technological bike design advancements, more financial support and more global coverage – as a genre it’s certainly capturing the imagination and will continue to grow and develop rapidly as a discipline.”
Why titanium, you already have an aluminium gravel bike?
“As a concept bike and collaboration, Ti not only fits well with gravel due to its strength and reliability but is also easier to customise.
“As a material it exquisitely showcases this premium product with high-end parts and concepts.”
The colour scheme is cool – who came up with that look?
“We wanted to create a very distinctive and uniquely stunning product.
“The part painted Ti with high gloss paint enhances the brushed titanium qualities.
“It embodies our collaboration and cleverly colour matches the fork and handlebar with a dramatic design that sweeps across the frame and RockShox Ultimate fork, yet still encapsulates the timeless nature of raw titanium.”
What are the differences between road and gravel bike geometry?
“Gravel is much more relaxed and our gravel platform utilises a gravel optimised geometry which offers a longer and lower frame for a more ‘planted’ feel over technical terrain.”
Who did the test riding – and where?
“The current version comes under the Ribble in-house R&D & test team who collaborated on and brought the concept together.
“We’ve got some great gravel riding here in the Ribble Valley and surrounding areas.”
Do you ever envisage a Ribble pro rider(s) ‘doing a Lachlan Morton or Alex Howes’ and riding an ‘alternative’ gravel/enduro programme?
“Some of our Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling riders are interested in this genre and have already participated in some events including the ‘Dirty Reiver.’
“Jake Tipper, who you’ll recall who was a very successful Team Pursuit rider and has won stages in UCI international stage races like Qinghai Lakes and the Tour du Maroc has already been competing on gravel – he won the 130 kilometre ‘Dirty Reiver’ event in Northumberland this year.
“Last year, when not at full fitness he was 10th in the 200 kilometre version of the event which involves 3,700 metres of climbing.”
[If you’re a VeloVeritas regular then you’ll remember that Jake was our chauffeur as we followed Ribble Weldtite rider, Zeb Kyffin in the British Time Trial Championships back in June. ed.]
“As it opens up as a race category I hope we will be looking at a Ribble Pro Gravel team.
“It’s an attractive and exciting path for road riders too as it offers an alternative environment with different and new exciting challenges.”
Front shock absorbers – can they be ‘dialled out’ for smooth pavement – and what about the weight penalty?
“In short, ‘yes’ and with regards to the weight the full bike comes in at an impressive 10kg.”
Why 1x transmission – don’t you need a wider spread of ratios?
“With 1x you do get a wider range of ratios, and as used in MTB so it is perfect for gravel.”
Are you happy wireless shifting is up to the rigors of gravel?
“Fewer cables is better all round!”
Why a ‘dropper’ seatpost?
“As a collaboration with SRAM we needed to incorporate all of the AXS XPLR components and showcase the wireless technology to its full capacity.”
The machine has plenty of attachment points – ultra distance and enduro are within it’s scope too?
Has the bike been raced yet – and how was the feedback?
“Not yet; but watch this space…”
Despite Jamie’s coyness on that last question we have a feeling that aforementioned Jake Tipper may be putting a SRAM eTap AXS x Ribble Gravel Ti through it’s paces in anger before too long.
Find out more about Ribble’s Gravel bikes here.