After two seasons of unprecedented success aboard the Ribble Endurance SL R, it was time to mix things and add a new weapon to the Ribble Weldtite arsenal – the Ultra SL R. Designed to dominate the straight line and defeat the wind – every element of the Ultra has been developed to give the team the ultimate aerodynamic performance advantage. Read on to find out what goes into transforming a virtual design into a race-winning pro team bike.
The Ribble Pro Cycling story began back in 2018 when it was decided that Ribble would create its first professional cycling team in nearly two decades. So, after securing the services of the UK’s finest talent, we were confident that we had a team destined for success.
With such prodigious talent on board, this success proved almost instantaneous. The team went on to amass no fewer than 180 race wins over the course of the 2018 and 2019 race seasons alone. But like everything in cycling, the rider roster, and the bikes that compete upon has undergone constant evolution.
Throughout 2021, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling competed aboard the Endurance SL R. It was a partnership that blossomed, with riders notching up innumerable race victories both on the continent and at home. These included memorable top-10 placings in multi-stage races where Ribble Weldtite consistently engaged in battle with the World Tour teams.
2022 and beyond
However, it was the launch of Ribble’s latest aero bike in 2021 that was to signify a new addition to the team’s arsenal for 2022. The new bike is, of course, the Ultra SL R. A bike developed specifically for racing at the highest level, and one that offers them the ultimate aerodynamic performance advantage.
A ground-breaking design, the Ultra SL R shakes the very foundations of aerodynamic bike design. It’s the world’s most advanced road bike and one that Ribble Weldtite riders will pilot for the entirety of the 2022 season. It was designed with one simple brief – to be the fastest aero road bike in the world. Not just the fastest when tested in the lab but the fastest in the real world.
What of the Endurance SL R you may ask? Well, the Ultra SL R’s addition is, in effect, an extra string to their bow. You can still expect to see team riders racing on the Endurance SL R and Ultra SL R throughout the course of the season. With such a combination, we feel that Ribble Weldite have the perfect tools in their arsenal to take their performance to the next level and to add to their already impressive tally of race victories.
In-House Paint Shop
Painting a pro team bike is no different to any of our customer’s bikes. We ensure that we apply the same level of dedication and quality of care that every customer can expect to receive when it comes to their own CustomColour frame. With experience gained through years of working in the motor industry, our highly experienced paint shop technicians transformed a virtual design into a visual masterpiece.
Whenever a new team bike is in the offing it creates quite the stir at Ribble HQ. After all, we are cyclists and racers ourselves and projects like this create huge interest. Throughout the entire paint process, we had team rider, Cam Jeffers casting a watchful eye over his new bike as well as various members of the Ribble team just happening to be in the vicinity and checking on the progress while they were here!
CustomColour made real
The process of achieving the Ribble Weldtite team bike look is extremely time-consuming and requires incredible skill and no little amount of patience. The bike featured here took the best part of a full working day to reach completion. This takes into account the amount of time it takes to prepare the frame for spraying, cooking time for the paintwork as well as the overall build time. When you factor in the team’s requirement for 30+ bikes, you can really start to appreciate the enormity of the task of equipping a pro racing team with new team bikes.
1. Paint Mixing
Paint simply comes out of a bottle and is sprayed on, right? Would you be surprised to learn that it doesn’t? Far from it! The process of creating the Midnight Ink and Fresh Mandarin Metallic paint is a little more involved. The most startling discovery for the team who followed the build process from start to finish was the realisation of just how many colours were required to achieve the target colour!
Thankfully, there’s a programme that takes care of the heavy lifting and calculates the exact mix of colours required. A menu of colours is displayed onscreen, each with a specific target weight listed. A mixing pot is placed on a set of electronic scales and the colours are added one by one. It’s imperative that they are measured out precisely to the specified weight. It’s an exact science, for any mistake in excess of 0.1g will require a complete recalculation of the mixture, which as you can imagine is a little less than ideal. Once all the paints have been added, they are mixed together to ensure consistent colouring with no floaty bits!
2. Frame Prep
The frame receives no less than 3 coats of primer paint to ensure that it’s ready to accept the final team colourway. Once each coat is applied, the paint must be ‘cooked’ to harden the paint and then sanded back where necessary. The seat post and handlebars are prepped in much the same way. The final coat of Alpine White paint forms the basis for the panels that lie betwixt the orange and blue colourways on the top tube and forks.
3. Paint Spraying
In advance of the actual spraying process taking place, each section of the frame must be meticulously marked out with tape. While each individual section is in the process of being painted, the rest of the frame is covered over to prevent contamination. The head tube and top tube templates must also be applied before any painting takes place. Only once all of this prep work is complete can the actual process of painting the frame commence.
- An orange ground coat is sprayed on to the head-tube, top-tube , forks, and handlebars, then cooked at 60° to harden.
- This process is repeated, albeit with the base paint being covered by the bright orange notes of the Fresh Mandarin Metallic paint we cretaed in-house earlier.
- Once the orange paintworks’ complete we move onto the rest of the frameset which gets a coating of Midnight Ink.
- The frame, forks, and seat post are once again cooked at 60°to harden the blue paint.
- The templates mentioned above are removed to reveal the white head tube and top tube Ribble logos.
- Frame, forks, seat post and handlebars are ‘rubbed back’ with degreaser.
- Any additional transfers such as Ribble decals and sponsor logos are applied.
- A clear coat lacquer is sprayed over the frame, forks, seatpost, and handlebars to add the final finishing flourish of perfection.
Hand-Built with Care
Every bike that is built in our workshop in Preston, England is assembled by hand. By one mechanic – from start to finish. It is this process that enables us to offer an unmatched level of customisation within our industry-leading BikeBuilder.
Every bike that leaves our workshop is subjected to the same attention to detail as each mechanic applies to the team bikes of Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling.
What’s changed for 2022?
For 2022 the riders will receive the Ultra SL R frame platform with all of the incumbent drag-reducing features that our most advanced carbon road racing frameset offers.
The Ultra delivers watt-saving gains across the entire frameset. Every aspect of the pioneering frame, fork, and seat post has been optimised to perform in real-world conditions. More specifically around the 5-10° of YAW that simulates the crosswinds commonly experienced by cyclists.
Ultra Aero Handlebars
The innovative Ultra Aero handlebar rewrites the rules of aerodynamic integration. Actively managing airflow upstream of the rider by encapsulating ergonomics, component integration and ground-breaking aerodynamics. Their wake generating technology creates a drag reduction zone for the riders’ legs to sit within for a nett drag reduction of 2.1% for bike and rider.
Ultra Aero Seatpost
The Ultra SL R seat post features a truncated aerofoil profile that is aerodynamically optimised to reduce drag in the high-speed airflow disturbed by the rider’s leg. A composite shaft provides improved shock absorption for vibration-smoothing ride quality.
For as long as some of us can remember, Mavic’s bright yellow service car has been an iconic symbol of cycling’s toughest multi-stage race – the Tour de France. Ribble Weldtite makes the switch to the French brand’s flagship wheelsets for 2022. Riders will have the choice of the Cosmic SLR in 45 or 65 variants to suit the race profile, conditions, or personal preference.
We know what you’re thinking, I love this colourway but will it actually be available to order? Well, we have great news, as it’s a CustomColour that’s created in-house, it will be an available option on all for the carbon road models in our range. This includes; Ultra SL R, Ultra SL, Endurance SL R & Disc, Endurance SL & Disc, Endurance SL e and the Ultra Tri. Simply enter the BikeBuilder and click on the style option to access all available CustomColour options or to create your own unique design.
Want to know how to add design your dream Ribble bike? Click here for a step-by-step guide to CustomColour in BikeBuilder.
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