Steel is real for Oli, our Clitheroe Store Manager

Steel is real for Oli, our long-distance cycling Clitheroe Store Manager. Since our flagship showroom opened back in April, we’ve all taken the opportunity to test our commute to work. By car and, of course, by bike.  Top marks on the cycling commute leader board undoubtedly go to Oli. So far, he’s cycled the furthest in any single ride. Commuting from where he lives in Stockport to our showroom on the Barrow Brook Retail Park.

Admittedly it’s not a commute that he does very often. Especially by bike! But it reflects the fact that Oli is clearly, by his own admission, a cyclist who prefers distance to speed. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it was the CGR 725 that really caught his eye. Especially considering that there is a lineup of no less than 41 bikes in-store to choose from! It’s one of four models that make up the all-road capable CGR range (Commute Gravel Road). The other models being variants constructed out of aluminium, titanium, and carbon.

Steel is real

“As the saying goes, “steel is real”. So for the kind of long days in the saddle that I go for, this is the frame for me.  OK, so it may not be as light as the other three CGR’s in the range. But, what I’m looking for on long haul rides is comfort, rather than marginal weight savings.”

The CGR 725 is handcrafted from Reynolds 725 tubing, an iconic, stalwart of British tube manufacturing. So you’re getting a bike with an incredible provenance and tubing heritage.  We get lots of people who come into the store who get all misty-eyed over the look and feel of a Reynolds steel frame. It’s the added retro styling on this particular model that creates an additional sense of nostalgia.

The appeal of steel

“Having just completed a cycle tour of the Yorkshire Dales, around Settle and Pen y Ghent, I’ve got a real wanderlust to do something more ambitious. The CGR 725 is the perfect long-distance touring bike, and probably the closest thing Ribble does to an Audax bike.  We’ve had people visit the store who are planning to do Lands End to John o’ Groats, or the Coast to Coast. This is the bike that they’ve been eyeing up on our website before they visit to check it out in the flesh”.

Closer to home, Oli has the Derbyshire Peaks and Macclesfield forest right on his doorstep. He also regularly heads over to Warrington for a weekly spin via the Bridgewater Canal, alongside the River Mersey and the Trans-Pennine Trail. The CGR 725 is a bike that has the gearing with ‘spin to win’ big crank performance on the flats, as well as all the ratios needed for thrills on those Derbyshire hills.

“The CGR 725 is a sturdy steed and, while it’s not as light as its other stablemates, it certainly rewards you with a great, responsive ride.  The model we’re road testing comes equipped with Shimano GRX 1×11 speed gearing. But, I’d be opting for the Enthusiast edition which comes kitted out with Shimano’s mid-range 105 groupset. I prefer the tighter gear steps that the double chainring offers which helps to maintain pedalling rhythm during gear changes.

Endure to win

Next year I’m doing the Second City Divide ride. A 600km bike packing odyssey across off-road terrain between Glasgow and Manchester that includes 10,000km of ascent over 4-5 days.  It’s a hard-core challenge that’ll need a bike that can hack the terrain but also have the technical abilities and manners to go through its paces.  The CGR 725 ticks all the boxes in this regard – including good clearance for mudguards and a multitude of lugs for onboard fuel, as well as being robust to load it up with panniers.

When it comes to long-distance cycling, Oli’s preferred on the road fuel is Nutella, in a sandwich.  By his own admission, he’s a bit of a carbs monster with a prodigious appetite for rice, pasta, and potatoes. Although to look at him you wouldn’t know it!

Interesting fact alert

Cycle touring aside, it’s worth noting that, up until 1995, steel bikes were still prevalent in all Grand Tour races. Spanish strong man Miguel Indurain winning the Tour de France 5 times on such a bike.  Proof, if ever it was needed that, steel is real.


Interested in meeting in finding out more about the team behind the brand? Meet Susie, our In-store bike expert.


Electric bikes, are they really cheating? Check out our blog to find out why they are the fastest-growing sector in cycling and why many of the myths remain precisely that, myths.


Ribble mechanic took on his toughest challenge to date – The Hell of the North-West. Read about how he conquered this epic ride here.

4 Comments
  1. Hi Ryan,
    In the blog Oli mentions that the model he was road-testing was equipped with …. So the bike in the blog is not actually his, but simply one he was given the opportunity to test.
    Best Regards
    TeamRibble

  2. I was looking for something more for distance than speed. I mainly ride 50/50 gravel and tarmac. I also need something suitable for hills when I head over to the Peak District. I was going to go for the Gravel AL but I’m tempted to get one of these.

  3. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for getting in touch, it’s a bit of a dilemma you have there. There’s no question that the geometry of the Gravel is much better suited to off-road terrain and less so to the road. The better all-rounder is the CGR 725 which is easily robust enough to cope with the roughest gravel tracks yet offers a geometry that’s suited for putting in the miles on the road too. The other thing to bear in mind is that an aluminium frame will ride quite differently to a steel model. The alloy will feel a little lighter and more nimble, it will want to dance over the terrain. The CGR 725 on the other hand feels more solid, it just takes it all in stride with little fuss.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

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