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As the name suggests, Ribble's Gravel 725 is part of its new gravel-specific range, and brings a classy, comfortable and fun-to-ride steel frame to the mix, paired up to a full-carbon fork. It has a forgiving ride that flatters any style of riding, and thanks to a multitude of mounting points it can be loaded up for adventure as well as used for a blast on the rough stuff. Can it compete with the best gravel bikes for the money? Well, it's certainly worth considering if you want a steel frame.
For quite a few years now Ribble's solution for those who wanted to explore off the beaten track, including gravel routes, was catered for by the CGR (Cross/Gravel/Road), a capable machine in steel, aluminium, titanium and even electronic options.
This new Gravel model, though, has the geometry to really exploit the aggregate-based trails, giving a confidence-inspiring ride quality and behaviour, regardless of how technical or loose the terrain is.
Just by looking at the 725's side profile above, you can see that the geometry creates a long and low stance, with this medium getting a wheelbase of 1,052.5mm, a lengthy top tube of 570mm, and a shortish head tube height of 150mm.
It's definitely longer (in the front triangle at least) than I'd normally ride, with a reach of 397mm, but with everything else added into the equation it works really well, helped by a stem length that is shorter than you'd find on a road bike.
My body weight felt like it was distributed nicely across the bike, highlighted even more on fast downhill sections.
On rough sections at speed, I'd hold myself slightly out of the saddle with my weight on the pedals and a light grip on the bar to let the bike 'flow' over the rough surface, and it just felt secure and confidence inspiring.
Even nudging 10.8kg, the 725 feels like a bike that floats; it's nimble, flowing nicely through the corners, and it's fun to bunnyhop and jump over the worst of the potholes and tree roots. In fact, if you want a gravel bike that is fun to ride on dry or hardpacked twisty single track through the woods, I'd say the Gravel 725 is a good choice.
The handling is on the neutral side of twitchy thanks to a relaxed front end, and the chassis just tracks well, the rear wheel following the front.
The mild tread of the Halo tyres doesn't offer huge levels of grip on anything looser than a compacted byway, making for an 'interesting' ride everywhere else, especially if you are pushing on a bit.
Feedback levels are great, even when damped by the large volume tyres, and you always know what the tyres are up to.
Even when the tyres do break free, the 725 feels so natural to control just by a shift in bodyweight to either let it drift or bring it back into line. Overall, on any ride that was simply about getting out for a blast, the Ribble was a fun place to be.
The only place it doesn't feel quite as lively is on the climbs, where its weight just dampens the fight against gravity, and any sprinting aspirations you may have. That's one of the downsides of a steel frame, even quality ones: they aren't going to be the lightest. So if you want real performance from a standing start you might be better off with one of the other frame materials in the range, like the carbon fibre model.
Stiffness isn't an issue, though, as Ribble has bolstered the slender tube profiles of the frame with extra welding at the head tube, and an extra section of material welded at the bottom bracket junction between the down tube and seat tube.
One thing is for sure, though, and something I learnt from from cruising around the local trails: the 725 is definitely a comfortable and easy to ride big-mile machine.
I covered my three-hour test loop about five times on the Gravel 725 and throughout all the various surfaces and terrains I never found one where it felt out of place or like it struggled. Even on the short road sections it zipped along nicely, with the only limits on top-end speed coming from the 1x gearing.
Even though the front end feels relatively low it isn't so extreme that it's too much of a drop from the saddle to the handlebar, which means that extended ride time in the same position doesn't become a chore.
That means that on the whole the Gravel 725 is a comfortable bike to ride, especially when you take into account the natural smoothness provided by the steel tubeset – something I checked by switching to a set of 700C wheels with 32mm tyres pumped up hard.
It definitely has that steel 'zing' about it.
There are plenty of mounting options throughout the frame and fork, so on a couple of occasions I loaded up the Ribble with frame, handlebar and seatpost packs, adding about 6-7kg to the overall weight.
The Gravel showed its composure here, and continued to feel planted when being ridden. Only slower, technical sections took a bit more thinking about, but that was more to do with the effect of the weight rather than the bike itself.
On the whole, the Ribble is a great all-rounder, not necessarily excelling anywhere specific, but if you just want to get out and ride in the wilderness it's got your back.
In the Gravel line-up Ribble offers aluminum, titanium, and carbon fibre alongside this steel build.
Reynolds 725 is a chromoly steel alloy which is heat-treated so that the walls of the tubing can be made thinner, butted (using different wall thicknesses along the length of the tube), and therefore lighter than non-heat-treated steels.
The tubes themselves are narrower than you'd see on aluminium or carbon frames, but Ribble has still managed to include internal cable routing for the length of the down tube and the chainstays, along with plenty of mounting points.
You'll find standard bottle cage positions plus an extra set under the down tube; a top tube bag is also catered for, as is carrying loads on the fork legs.
The Gravel 725 will also accept a rear rack and full mudguards, with the mounting positions in the traditional place so minimal fettling of stays should be necessary.
Tyre clearance is probably one of the most crucial things on a gravel bike, and while the Ribble isn't groundbreaking it's capable of accepting 45mm rubber on 700C wheels or 47mm when wearing 650B wheels.
The overall build quality is good throughout, with tidy welding and the matt blue paint job standing up to the abuse of the trails. Ribble has also gone with a threaded bottom bracket shell, which is probably better suited to the mud and dusty conditions the bike is likely to see over its lifetime as opposed to a press-fit option. And when the BB does wear out, it's an easy swap out for any home mechanic with the right tool.
Up front, the fork is full carbon fibre which drops a large amount of weight compared with a steel one, which some brands spec with their steel frames. It is stiff enough to cope with the steering and braking loads even when carrying plenty of kit on the legs, helped by the fact that it uses an oversized steerer which sits inside the 44mm diameter head tube.
I've touched on parts of the geometry already, but to give you a full low-down, the Gravel 725 is available in six sizes suiting people of around 4ft 11in to 6ft 3in, according to Ribble's size guide.
Apart from the measurements already given earlier, this medium has a seat tube length of 500mm (which gives plenty of room for a dropper post should you want one), a head angle of 71.5 degrees and a seat angle of 73.5 degrees.
The fork offset is 50mm, while the chainstays are 435mm in length. Bottom bracket drop is 66.5mm. The stack and reach figures are 584mm and 397mm respectively.
The Gravel 725 is available in three builds, starting with the Sport at £2,099 which comes with SRAM Apex, the Enthusiast with Rival at £2,399, and this top-level Pro build which includes SRAM's Rival XPLR AXS groupset for £2,899.
SRAM's XPLR range is the gravel-specific version of its road eTap groupset, spread over Red, Force, and Rival.
We have a full review on the way focusing on the Rival XPLR group, which will go into much more depth than I will here, but basically XPLR offers the same crisp and precise wireless electronic shifting of its road brethren.
You get a 1x system, pairing a 40-tooth chainring to a 10-44, 12-speed cassette, which gives a wide range of gears to use on the climbs and the flat.
Shifting is controlled by a button on each lever, with one side moving the chain up the cassette and the other moving the chain down.
On a 2x system, pushing both together would move the front mech, but here that can be set up to operate an electronic dropper post. As I say, more details in the upcoming review.
I'm a big fan of the eTap systems, and even with the muddy and dusty conditions found during testing the shifting was unfazed and ran smoothly.
Braking-wise, the power can't be faulted, and nor can the modulation from the hydraulic callipers and 160mm Centreline rotors.
Ribble's in-house finishing kit brand is Level, and it is decent quality stuff. The most noticeable indication towards gravel is the flared riser bar which helps offset the low front end. The flared drops also give a wider stance, increasing control on high-speed sections.
Atop the inline Level seatpost is a Fizik Taiga saddle. It's not one that I have ridden before, but I found the shape comfortable for the majority of riding.
When it comes to the wheels, Ribble has specced Mavic's Allroad 650Bs (I tested the SL version last year), which although not especially light are certainly robust and ride nicely.
I had no issues with durability or stiffness throughout testing, and on a gravel bike I'd say that is definitely more important than weight.
They are wrapped in a set of Halo's GXC FD60 tyres in a 47mm width. As I said earlier, they don't have that deep a tread pattern, but they are fine for spring and summer riding, and tightly packed surfaces.
They do run relatively quickly on the tarmac too, and as most of us have to ride on the road to get between gravel sections that's always a bonus. Everything is tubeless ready so setting that up will be easy enough, just requiring some valves and sealant.
Apart from the builds mentioned above, the 725 is also available as a frameset for £1,299, and Ribble's Bikebuilder allows you to tweak the spec of any build.
How does it compare with others out there? Well, pretty good. There are a few steel gravel bikes on the market that I have ridden, with one of my favourites being the Cotic Escapade. It's built from Cotic's specification tubing (2022 models are using Reynolds 853 for a limited edition run) and it's a blast to ride. A SRAM Apex build will set you back £2,299, which is £200 more than the equivalent Ribble.
Bombtrack's Hook EXT also pairs a steel frame to a carbon fibre fork, and with a standard SRAM Rival build comes in at £2,400, which is pretty much identical to the Ribble Enthusiast build.
It's worth remembering that the Gravel is available across the entire material spectrum, so if steel isn't your thing then I'd recommend still considering the others purely for the geometry (we have reviews on the way). The long and low formula works very well on all sorts of terrain, and with this steel version you get plenty of comfort thrown into the mix too.
Overall, the Gravel 725 is a fun bike to ride, loaded and unloaded, and it represents decent value for money.
Great geometry for all kinds of gravel riding and has that lovely steel 'zing'
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ribble Gravel 725
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
SRAM Rival XPLR eTap AXS 1x12 Speed Hydraulic Disc.
Shifters - SRAM Rival eTap AXS D1 12-Speed Hydraulic.
Brakes - SRAM Rival HRD Hydraulic Disc.
Chainset - SRAM Rival D1 DUB Wide, 1x12, 40T.
Bottom Bracket - SRAM DUB Wide Threaded BSA.
Cassette - SRAM XG-1251 12-Speed 10-44T.
Chain - SRAM Rival D1 12-Speed with Powerlock.
Disc Rotors - SRAM Centreline XR Centre Lock 160mm.
Rear Derailleur - SRAM Rival XPLR eTap AXS D1 Max 44T.
Wheels - Mavic Allroad 650b Disc, 12x100F/12x142R.
Tyres - Halo GXC FD60, 650bx47, Tan Wall.
Bars - LEVEL Gravel Riser Flared, 420/510mm.
Stem - LEVEL 2 3D-Forged Alloy, Black, 31.8mm.
Bar Tape - LEVEL Embossed, Black.
Seatpost - LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy, 27.2mm, 350mm.
Seat Clamp - LEVEL Alloy, Black, 30.0mm.
Saddle - Fizik Taiga, S-Alloy, Black.
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Ribble says, "A high-performance gravel bike without limits. The Gravel 725 craves adventure. Whether you've planned a cross-continent bike odyssey or backcountry gravel session, the Gravel is up for any adventure. Our top-spec build includes the revolutionary wireless shifting performance of SRAM's XPLR eTap AXS groupset, Mavic Allroad wheels wrapped with Halo GXC gravel tyres offer predictable control when the going gets tough, while a gravel-inspired finishing kit from LEVEL completes a bike that delivers the goods no matter what new adventures await."
It's a very capable bike with the added bonus of a quality steel feel to the ride.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the top-level model with two sitting beneath, and a frameset option.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality is neat and tidy, and it's well finished with a tough paint job.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Reynolds 725 Triple-Butted Steel
Fork: Carbon Fibre
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is quite long and low for its size, but the front end is slack enough that handling is kept smooth off-road.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Reach is a bit longer than typical, although that is offset overall with a shorter stem and an inline seatpost.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfort is good thanks to the 47mm-wide tyres and the steel frame.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness has been upped thanks to the extra welded section at the bottom bracket shell.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is good thanks to the added stiffness at the bottom bracket area.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is fast enough to be fun off-road wiuthout becoming a handful.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I got on well enough with the Fizik saddle, and the large volume tyres help too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Mavic wheels cope well with out-of-the-saddle efforts.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
SRAM's XPLR groupset offers a large spread of gears which helps efficiency at both ends.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The SRAM XPLR groupset delivers fast shifts and great braking regardless of the conditions.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A solid dependable set of wheels that perform well, provided light weight isn't your major concern.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Good tyres for hard surfaces and in the dry, but you'll need something with more tread for the winter months.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Decent quality stuff, and I like the flare of the riser bar which gives you comfortable hand positions in the drops.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's looking on a par with, or slightly less than others on the market of a similar spec, as mentioned in the review.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Gravel 725 is a well specced bike for the money, and the geometry means it is fun and involving to ride for all levels of ability. Overall, it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!