Ribble’s all-new Ultra SL aero road bike strikes a familiar aerodynamic profile overall, before making lofty claims based on its unique development and integration. Is this the new Ultra the most aerodynamically advanced road bike ever? Ribble seems to think so, and it’s certainly their fastest road bike yet. And much of the secret is in their wild & curvy new Ultra Bar integrated cockpit…
Ribble Ultra SL uniquely integrated aero road bike
The overall shape of the new consumer-direct carbon Ribble Ultra SL looks pretty much just like the typical modern aero road bike at first glance. It also shares a lot with their recent Ultra Tri Disc triathlon bike…
Deep aerodynamic NACA tubing profiles, integrated fork crown to downtube, sheltered water bottles behind the downtube, dropped seatstays, deep aero seatpost with hidden clamp, and integrated headset with fully internal cable routing.
So what makes it unique?
Ribble Cycles says it boils down to their development process. From the beginning of the Ultra Road project, its early CFD design development factored in a virtual rider to smooth airflow in a more realistic simulation.
Then, with design concepts stabilized, they took 3D-printed rapid prototypes into the wind tunnel with a rider to test the best designs. Finally, they evaluated rideable prototypes on the road & track for real-world confirmation of the designs.
The process is said to have prioritized a more complete aero solution that results in more realistic aero gains out on the road, whether going Pro racer fast at 29mph (47km/h) or at more average road cyclist speeds of 22mph (35km/h).
Ultra Bar aero cockpit and complete component integration
The most striking element of the new Ribble Ultra SL aero road bike is its unique integrated & ergonomically optimized Ultra Bar cockpit. The patent-pending aero bar & stem combo was developed not just for the lowest drag figures itself, but to manage airflow downstream to & around the rider.
First of all, Ribble claims this dramatically curved bar is better able to slice through the air in front of the rider. Then its wake creates a “drag reduction zone” in which the cyclist sits, and directs “vortexes around the rider further enhancing the airflow”.
Ribble hasn’t shared the actual weight or full dimensions of the new monocoque carbon handlebar with us, simply calling it “lightweight, super-stiff” with fully internal routing integration, a direct mount for accessories, and shapely ergonomic drops.
How much faster is it?
Ribble has a detailed aero development Process Paper of the new Ultra available as a PDF on their website for those who want to dive into the fine details of it all. Suffice it to say, they claim the new Ultra SL R complete bike will shave 75 seconds off a 40km ride at 35km/h, or 61s off the same 40km at 47km/h vs. their already aero Endurance SLR road bike. They equate that to a 3 minute shorter time over your typical 100km ride.
Ribble Ultra SL aero road bike – Pricing, options & availability
The new Ribble Ultra SL aero road bike comes with the curvy Ultra Bar as the Ultra SL R, or with a more conventional-looking aero cockpit as the Ultra SL.
Both share the same hi-mod Toray T1000/T800 monocoque carbon frameset, available in five stock frame sizes (XS-XL).
The Ultra Bar itself does not appear to be available separately at this time.
The Ultra SL R sells as a framekit for £2500 with frame, fork, handlebar, headset, seatpost & axles.
Complete Ultra SL R builds start at £3582 with Ultegra mechanical, £5500 with tri-spoke wheels & Ultegra Di2, or from £6082 with Dura-Ace Di2 & deep ENVE wheels. (EU purchases will be subject to VAT & import duty.) Complete bike weight claims start at 7.6kg for a medium frame.
Custom builds are also possible from Ribble’s website, as are custom paint jobs. Individual bikes are available for pre-order now, with some frameset sizes available from October 2021 and some complete build deliveries as far out as May of next year.