Ribble Cycles' first mountain bike in 20 years blends the old and the new with classic titanium tubes and modern geometry.
The Ribble HT Ti is Ribble Cycles’ first mountain bike in 20 years and it blends the old and the new with classic titanium tubes and modern geometry.
Ribble HT Ti need to know
- High end modern hardtail from one of the UK’s best known road brands.
- 150mm travel suspension fork paired with 27.5in wheels and slack geometry.
- Build your own custom bike with multiple component options.
- Range starts at £2,699.
When you’ve built your reputation selling road bikes at competitive prices, the predictable way to start a new mountain bike line-up would be to sneak through the door, tip-toe over to the corner and quietly start selling a safe product ripe for incremental improvements. Not so with Ribble Cycles, though. For its first mountain bike in 20 years, the brand has metaphorically blown the doors off and swaggered into the room bristling with confidence.
What it has pitched up with as the pre-cursor to a comprehensive range of models – that is said to include full suspension bikes and e-bikes in the future – is about as punk as you can get and still expect to sell more than a handful. By blending the traditional (welded titanium tubes) with the modern (aggressive geometry and a purposeful spec) Ribble has created something that should appeal strongly to riders who always lusted after a titanium bike when they first started out, and can now actually afford to own one.
Striking though it is, Ribble’s HT Ti is not a unique proposition. Cotic, Stanton and Genesis also offer Ti hardtail frames boasting modern geometry to varying degrees. But perhaps Ribble’s strongest competition comes from outdoor retailer Alpkit, with its Sonder Signal; a thoroughly modern 29er hardtail that’s actually a bit cheaper than the Ribble for a similar spec.
You can buy the HT Ti in several stock builds, of which this is the mid-priced option, or you can start from scratch and build your dream bike, picking and choosing from Ribble’s component options along the way. It’s a smart alternative that gives customers some flexibility without turning the process into a daunting minefield.
At £3,199, this GX model comes with a RockShox Pike Select+ fork, SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, SRAM Guide R disc brakes, Hope Fortus wheels and a Race Face cockpit. The 27.5in wheels are shod with Schwalbe’s Nobby Nic 2.6in tyres, but the narrow 26mm rims on our test bike created an overly rounded profile that didn’t help the Nic’s lack of an aggressive cornering edge. That’s not a deal breaker though, because the Build Your Own feature lets you upgrade to Maxxis Minion DHR IIs for an extra £90 and Ribble has now changed the spec of the bike to come with wider, 30mm rims that will let you fully exploit bigger volume tyres for more comfort.
Ribble HT Ti: first ride review
Comfort, of course, is something that titanium frames have always been celebrated for; its inherent compliance said to help take the edge off bumps. But this reputation is somewhat overblown, as the advent of modern tyres means that a slight increase in volume, or reduction in pressure, has a far more significant impact on hardtail comfort than titanium tubing can provide. And the flipside of titanium’s pliancy is that it’s a challenge to engineer in enough lateral and longitudinal stiffness. A challenge made greater when you factor in modern geometry and longer tubes. With most titanium hardtails, the end result is an imperceptible increase in comfort alongside a more noticeable flex under power and load, whether sprinting, climbing out of the saddle, or hard cornering. The Ribble HT Ti is no exception to other Ti hardtails I’ve ridden in this regard. So if you’re a fan of the material’s ride characteristics, then you’ll love this bike, if you’re not, well the brand has a steel frame version coming out very soon.
As for the geometry, it’s certainly slack, with a 63° head angle, but it doesn’t feel excessively so because the longer travel 150mm fork means that it sags deeper with you aboard to produce a less radical dynamic stance. Such a long fork does bring larger variations in geometry and handling on the trail, however, so it might actually be a more versatile bike with a bit less travel up front. This would also help bring the bottom bracket height down a touch, which would be no bad thing. As it stands, there’s certainly plenty of pedal clearance, though, but if technical climbs are your thing as much as technical descents, the seat angle could definitely be a bit steeper to encourage a more efficient position.
For a first attempt, Ribble has played it far from safe, and this bodes well for its future models. The HT Ti is an eye-catching bike that has brought plenty of attention to Ribble's new venture. We're excited to see what comes next.