Ribble’s Ultra SL R turned heads when it was first glimpsed to the public in August last year. A trailblazing, super-fast road bike, it aimed to be the most aerodynamically advanced road platform on the market today. Striking time trial-esque handlebars with a notable lack of bar tape, optimised tube profiling and adjustable direct mount brake levers all combine to create a bike which gives meaningful performance advantages. Today, the British brand has unveiled the Ultra SL R which will be ridden by UCI Continental Team Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling this season, and, with a wacky colour combo, it won’t be hard to spot it in the peloton.
Created using Ribble’s CustomColour feature, which allows buyers to have complete choice over which paint job dons their frame, the Ribble Weldtite team bike combines the Midnight Ink, Fresh Mandarin and Alpine White colours. It's an amalgamation of shades that shouldn’t really work, but keeping the pops of orange to the front of the bike and a blue base colour just about balances things out, creating a distinctive but stylish look.
Such a daring paint job fits in well with the style of the team that will be on board the Ultra SL R in 2022. Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling is notorious for their attacking racing in the UK domestic scene and beyond. While they often dominate the fiery criteriums of the Tour Series, the team also manages to punch well above their weight in UCI registered events such as the Tour of Britain. Last year, the team’s rider James Shaw finished inside the top 15 at the 2.Pro registered race – a result which earned him a ride in the WorldTour for 2022.
Despite Shaw heading to pastures new this year, the Ribble Weldtite roster remains as strong as ever. Brothers Harry and Charlie Tanfield will ride in the team’s colours this season, Harry finished 4th in the British National Road Championships last year while Charlie headed to the Tokyo Olympics with the GB track squad. Breakaway specialists, both of the Tanfields will relish the aerodynamic profile of the Ultra SL R as they look for every marginal gain on the road.
With their sights set on the The British National Championships and Tour of Britain once again in 2022, the team’s focus on the domestic race scene fits in well with the heritage of the Ribble bikes which they will ride. Trading since 1897, the brand is steeped in cycling history – its bikes have been ridden by various British champions such as Sir Brad Wiggins, Geraint Thomas and Chris Boardman. Now in its 125th year, Ribble has asserted itself as a fresh-thinking, disruptive, leading bike designer.
The collaboration with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling has been an asset to the British brand throughout the thorough R&D process that went into creating the Ultra SL R. It took three years of development to build the Ultra, and real-world testing of the bike and rider was a crucial part of the process. “Our involvement with RWPC allows us to gain essential product feedback and insights into real world racing conditions and will inform our R&D as we continue to develop and innovate in the creation of world-class racing machines,” explains Andy Smallwood, Ribble CEO.
When looking at the Ultra SL R, the results of the detailed research that went into building the bike is clear. A big focus is placed on the cockpit design – hitting the wind first, this is a key place to look for aerodynamic gains. The handlebars are optimised to give riders more control while riding in an aero position for longer, and the direct mount brake lever attachment has allowed Ribble to get creative with the shape of the bars. Enhancing aerodynamic performance even further, textured finish to the drops also ensures maximum grip without the need for traditional handlebar tape.As well as the cockpit design, every tube profile on the Ultra SL R has been analysed and refined to create the most efficient shape and reduce the amount of drag. Thoroughly tested in the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub wind tunnel, the downtube shape even makes the bike faster with a water bottle than without. Thanks to the plethora of innovations, Ribble claims that using the bike over a 100km ride makes for a significant 3-minute saving when compared to the current Endurance SL R bike.
Debuting with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling at the UCI Europe Tour in Dorpenomloop Rucphen (1.2) in the Netherlands on 13th March, both the colourway and unique design of the Ribbles Ultra SL R will ensure the team stand out in the crowd. With the marked gains that the bike will bring in performance and a strong line-up for 2022, this season could well be one of the team’s best.