If you’re nervous about buying a bike online, you’re not alone. In fact, we get questions from readers all the time asking about where to buy the best road, tri, and cyclocross bicycles online. We decided to take our answers a full step further–and make our wallet a little lighter–by taking you through the full process, and show you what you can expect from an online purchase.
To test the waters, we ordered UK-based Ribble Cycle’s in-house built CX5 Cyclocross bike (full review on deck). Why did we choose Ribble? We’ve heard a lot about their full customization dashboard, and the price point is low for a high quality bike. In fact, just have a look at their sale bikes here to see how inexpensivley these bikes sell for.
In case you’re wondering, no, Ribble did NOT give us this bike free of charge. We got the full experience of buying online (including watching the money leave our bank account).
Here’s the low-down on what we ordered:
HOW DOES THE ORDERING PROCESS WORK?
First, you’ll start by choosing your bike, and Ribble makes it easy with their filters that let you select everything from position to materials.
Then head to the the bike customizer. For total control over your ride, they even have an advanced bike builder with full component options.
Select the groupset, stem, bar tape color, etc to your exact liking. The price points are listed below as you order, so you can see exactly how much each option will affect the overall cost.
Once you’ve submitted your order and paid, you’ll get periodic “progress updates” about your bike. Why? Because the people at Ribble physically build your bike from the frame up (they make the frame there too). So you’ll see your bike status go from “Ordered” to “Pulling” to “Being Built” to “Dispatched.”
ORDERING TIMELINE – HOW FAST DO YOU GET YOUR BIKE?
All in all, it took a little over two weeks to get my bike. I placed the order on July 14th, and it arrived August 3rd. That’s with shipping from the UK to California–so it traveled a ways. I have heard of others getting their bikes in the UK in a matter of days, but I can’t confirm or deny the truth of said statements.
Officially, Ribble’s shipping prices and timetables are listed here.
Suffice to say that Ribble is a pro at bike packing. This thing was so well padded and protected, there’s no way anything was getting at my bike.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR RIBBLE BIKE
It’s a pretty simple process to reassemble your bike since you really just need to pop the wheels on, attach the handlebars to the stem, and install the saddle/seat post.
Ribble has a video that covers the basics here, but if you’re nervous about doing it correctly, you should definitely take it to your local bike shop to have it built up properly.
Putting it together for me was quick and simple, and even the tires were pumped up to a decent pressure.
NOTES & THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
You’ll notice in the above picture that the rear wheel has a black protective disc behind the cassette. Make sure to remove that before you ride off.
Also, the rear derailleur was definitely off line from shipping. To the point where it was actually sticking into the spokes. A common occurrence with shipped bikes, the derailleur hanger had bent quite a bit.
You can fix this by using a special tool to bend it back to its proper angle (you can also grab an extra one when you order). It’s a simple process of removing the rear derailleur (just let it rest on the chain out of your way) and checking the hanger angle.
You definitely shouldn’t do what I did, which was to grab a wrench and eyeball it. Sure, I haven’t had any problems with it, but you want to make sure you get it right, so don’t try it at home (in other words, you didn’t hear it from me).
Finally, the one thing you might consider is that the advanced builder didn’t quite show me the right bar tape color. I was hoping to get a blue that matched the blue on the frame, but ended up with something a lot darker.
Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of. If in doubt, go with black.
WHAT WAS THE ACTUAL COST?
We chose to order from Ribble because of their really cool “customizer” panel. While you can just hit the order button with the recommended build for the set price, Ribble offers you lots of choices. These choices will affect the price (plus or minus) based on your chosen components.
The CX5 starts at just over $1,300 USD. I know, right? You can see the differences in that build here. With the upgrades we made like choosing SRAM Rival 1X Hydraulic over Shimano 105, and upgrading to Mavic Aksium wheels, our complete bike topped out at $1,718 USD.
SHIPPING AND CUSTOMS COSTS (US BUYERS)
If you’re in the US, as we are, you’ll likely find yourself paying about $140 for shipping. Definitely something to consider as you work your way to your final price. UK shipments are much less: only about £20.
But, for US buyers, you might also find yourself paying customs fees. This was a small surprise to me when the mail person wanted $86 to give to Uncle Sam (thanks for being a real jerk, Sam). Apparently, this is not necessarily always the case, depending on how the government is feeling that day, but it was for me.
FINAL COST, FULLY DELIVERED
When all was said and done, and the bike was in my hands, the full bill totaled $1940. Ribble’s discount are sweet; however, and we got 15% off! So our final bill actually ended up being about $1,690. Not bad, not bad.
All in all, I feel quite stoked about my experience buying from Ribble. The bike is extremely well built, masterfully assembled, and rides well. Full review is on deck, as I said.
For the price, Ribble is the way to go. The buying process is easy, and they offer enough sales and discounts throughout the year that you can get a serious deal. I definitely recommend them. Plus, they offer a 30-day test ride that lets you return your bike if it doesn’t fit properly or you just don’t like it.
All these factors together along with Ribble’s professionalism means I’m stoked over my new bike. Now if only actually racing cyclocross were this easy . . . .
Ribble has extended a sweet offer to SLO Cyclist readers. Get $65 in free accessories when you buy the R872. Head to check out the R872, and use code SLOCYCLIST-65
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