The most important component of any bike is the frame, so that’s where I’ll be starting. And the range of possibilities is enormous, and it’s worth spending some time getting familiar with all the options. I shall be “measuring twice, cutting once”, so I need to be sure this is the best I can get Rebecca.
In the end, I’ve gone for a Ribble Sportive Carbon Monocoque frame (a frame consisting of one continuous piece of carbon fibre, or two ‘halves’ sealed together), for the following reasons:
- Carbon Monocoque frames are renowned for their combined ride comfort and efficiency, and lightweight. All of which are essential in a Sportive bike.
- For £500 and around 1.2kg in weight for Ribble’s frame and fork (in Rebecca’s size), the “lightness to pounds spent ratio” is very high. This frame is extremely good value. Getting a Carbon Monocoque below 1kg in combined weight will easily cost 2-3 times this.
- Carbon is one of the best materials to combine good ride comfort, and high performance (stiffness). The Ribble Sportive is well known for it’s combination of both qualities. Long story short – your bum won’t go numb, and you won’t tire as quickly!
- The Sportive has reasonably ‘relaxed’ geometry; this means it’s less “twitchy” than a dedicated race bike. It has an emphasis on the carbon around the head tub to improve stiffness. This keeps the wheels in line, even when under stress in high-speed corners.
This makes it feel “safer”, and easier to ride. This helps confidence, and helps the rider maintain speed through corners.
- Two bottom cages to allow for hydration on long rides.
- And one of the most critical – it’s a good-looking bike, and good-looking bikes are always faster!
What else did I consider?
- Titanium frame
Titanium frames are known to be the best riding of all materials, combining smooth ride, relative lightweight and performance. The only snag being is price = Titanium is very expensive.
- Latest hi-tech lightweight aluminium frame
From our experience we’ve noticed that the ride of these frames can be quite “buzzy”, and the weight is slightly up on carbon. That’s not to say these frames aren’t excellent value, but side-by-side, the “numb bum” arrives much earlier on these frames, compared to a carbon monocoque.
- Carbon Monocoque from a “big brand”
More often than not, these same “big names” source their frames from the same factories as Ribble. Typically a factory in Taiwan. Even the former high price bespoke supremos such as Colnago now buy in frames from the Far East.
Manufacturing Carbon Fibre is a very specialist industry after all, and many big names prefer just to rebadge “midrange” frames from 2 or 3 manufacturers as their own, and assemble bikes to a price point.
Snag is, ‘big names’ also mark the prices up…
Even the latest generation of steel is struggling to offer the ride, flexibility and weight advantage of carbon these days. However, some riders still prefer steel – it’s not gone the way of the Dodo yet!
So there we go – the frame. Next month, we start building!
Spent this month: £500
Running cost: £500