Which frame material should you choose?

Which frame material should you choose? Whether you’re looking for your first proper bike in years or a replacement for an existing bike, you will be faced with this age-old question. But why should you choose one over the other? How does the choice of material affect the ride? Who better to provide the answers to these questions than the folks at Global Cycle Network (GCN). So, we invited them to our new state-of-the-art Clitheroe showroom to put the various models from our CGR family of frames to the test. Read on for the answer to the question which frame material should you choose?

The Route

To test which frame material should you choose the GCN team were invited to Ribble’s newest showroom in the heart of the Ribble Valley. Which just happens to sit right on the doorstep of the Forest Of Bowland. An area of outstanding natural beauty, it offers some spectacular cycling country routes whether your preference is on or off-road. So, where better for the chaps of GCN to check out the attributes of the CGR family of bikes. While also providing the answer to the timeless question – which frame material should you choose?

Who Chose Which Bike

Due to the route being over varied terrain we invited the GCN team to test bikes from our highly capable CGR range. This family of highly versatile all-road machines are well-suited to a number of uses. They take almost any type of riding in their stride. Their versatility extends to daily commutes, weekend rides and even light bikepacking adventures.

In the CGR we’ve developed a stable handling range of bikes that retain a racy dimension. A slightly taller head tube provides better stability and greater comfort throughout the entirety of the ride. Another key feature is tyre clearance. This generous clearance opens up a vast choice of tyre options. So, you can fine-tune the setup to suit a variety of surfaces, terrains, and conditions. Wherever you go, however you ride, the CGR will take you there with timeless performance and style.


Being such a massive fan of carbon, it was no surprise to see Oli choose the CGR SL. The lightest of the frames on the test, it features the same advanced monocoque carbon construction as that of our Endurance SL carbon road frames. The frame is manufactured from a bespoke mixture of Toray T1000 & T800 carbon fibres. These are meticulously layered over an EPS inner core system to ensure complete structural consistency of the fibres and resin. This also eliminates any excess material on the inside of the frame and any weak spots.

This advanced process allows us to produce a frame that’s as stiff and strong as a frame that is constructed using considerably more carbon material. Yet it’s considerably lighter and generates up to 28.5% less drag compared to the previous generation of carbon frames. The stiffness and geometry work together to deliver a stable handling bike with rapid acceleration and enhanced pedalling efficiency.

The CGR SL with Red to Anthracite fade CustomColour, Zipp 303S wheels and LEVEL 5 bars.


The CGR SL that Oli rode is equipped with a high-end build specification that includes the fully wireless shifting of SRAM Force eTap AXS 1×12 speed. The wheels are tubeless-ready Zipp 303’s fitted with Schwalbe’s fast-rolling all-rounder, the G-One Allround. Upfront is a LEVEL 5 carbon integrated handlebar system. These integrated handlebars allow for every cable to be routed internally to keep everything neat and tidy. Whilst preserving the bikes streamlined looks. The LEVEL 5 system also reduces drag by up to 40.5% over a traditional handlebars setup. The final finishing touch is a Red to Anthracite fade custom paint design created using the CustomColour tool in BikeBuilder.

  • Frame: Toray T1000/T800 Carbon Fibre Monocoque
  • Forks: CGR Carbon Disc, Tapered Steerer, Thru-Axle
  • Groupset: SRAM Force eTap AXS 1×12 Speed
  • Wheels: Zipp 303S Carbon Tubeless Disc
  • Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Allround 700cx40mm
  • Handlebars/Stem: LEVEL 5 Carbon Integrated
  • Seatpost: SL Carbon Monocoque, 5mm Offset
  • Saddle: Fizik Aliante R5 Kium Rail



Alex found the timeless looks and smooth lines of the CGR Ti too much to resist. As well as being incredibly rare, (just 0.63% of the earth’s crust contains titanium) Titanium frames have to be constructed in an oxygen-free environment. Therefore, it takes a very skilled craftsman to produce such a jaw-droppingly beautiful frame.

The CGR Ti is manufactured from high-grade 3AL/2.5V titanium. With a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other material, titanium produces a lightweight yet incredibly robust frame. What a titanium bike apart is the incredibly luxurious ride quality that it offers. The natural shock-absorbing properties of the material delivering an ultra-smooth ride over the roughest road surfaces. This equates to less rider fatigue and mile-eating ride comfort. Titanium also has the ability to shrug off the sort of impacts and rough handling that can potentially write off other frames.

The spectacular lines of the CGR Ti conceal the robust nature and comfortable ride quality of the ‘dream’ material.


Alex’s bike is equipped with a high-end build specification that includes a Shimano GRX RX810 gear system. If you prefer a road double groupset to a single ring, fear not, for there’s a choice of groupset options available in BikeBuilder. Ranging from the mechanical shifting of Shimano’s ever-popular 105 2×11 speed through to the fully wireless shifts of SRAM’s flagship Red eTap AXS 2×12 speed. Tubeless-ready Mavic Allroad wheels fitted with WTB Sendero tyres and a shock-absorbing LEVEL carbon seat post fitted with a Fizik saddle complete this premium package.

  • Frame: 3Al/2.5V Titanium, Triple Butted, Seamless Welds
  • Forks: CGR Carbon Disc, Tapered Steerer, Thru-Axle
  • Headset: LEVEL 44, External Cups, Anodised Gold
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX RX800 1×11 Speed
  • Wheels: Mavic Allroad SL 650b+
  • Tyres: WTB Sendero Road TCS 650bx47mm
  • Handlebars: LEVEL Flared Alloy, 42/51cms
  • Stem: LEVEL 2 3D-Forged Alloy
  • Seatpost: LEVEL 2 Carbon/Alloy, Setback
  • Saddle: Fizik Aliante R5 Kium Rail



Being a self-confessed fan of Aluminium, Simon chose the most affordable option on the test. The CGR AL is handcrafted from 6061-T6 Alloy, which is then heat-treated and finished with seamless welds for enhanced strength and that premium look. Aluminium is lightweight and stiff so it offers rapid acceleration and enhanced pedalling efficiency.

Hydroformed tubes and a dropped seatstay geometry introduce vertical compliance. In effect, the seat post and seat tube flex slightly to reduce the amount of vibration being transmitted from uneven road surfaces to the rider. Improving the CGR AL’s long-distance ride comfort without compromising speed and agility.


Simon’s CGR AL is equipped with the pro-level mechanical shifting of a Shimano Ultegra 2×11 speed gear system. The wheels are tubeless-ready Mavic Allroads fitted with Schwalbe’s G-One all-rounder tyres and a vibration smoothing LEVEL 3 carbon seat post fitted with a Fizik saddle.

  • Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium, Heat Treated, Seamless Welds
  • Forks: CGR Carbon Disc, Tapered Steerer, Thru-Axle
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000 2×11 Speed
  • Wheels: Mavic Allroad Disc 700c
  • Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Allround TR, 700x40c
  • Handlebars: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy
  • Stem: LEVEL 6061 Alloy
  • Seatpost: LEVEL 3 Carbon Setback
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares R5 Kium Rail


CGR 725

Ribble’s very own bike designer and ex-US Postal team rider Jamie Burrow rode the CGR 725. A classic looking steel bike, albeit with a thoroughly modern twist. In the video, Simon utters the well-known expression ‘steel is real’. This provides some insight into the reverence in which steel is is still held, even today. Fans of the material will wax lyrical about how comfortable a steel bike is to ride and how a high-quality steel frame can last decades if looked after.

The natural spring of steel provides a compliant ride quality that makes it ideal for taking on the challenge of rougher road surfaces. The frame is handcrafted from Reynolds 725 steel tubing which has been manufactured in Birmingham, England for over a century. Using triple butted tubing and joining each tube with seamless welds provides the frame with exceptional strength and durability.

The CGR 725 also comes replete with all of the features you would expect to see on a modern frame. Internal cabling routing to keep everything neat and tidy, while protecting the cables from dirt and grime. Disc brakes offer superior all-weather braking control for imnspired confidence on every ride. Carbon forks with thru-axles stiffen up the front end for precision and direct steering control.

This bike differs slightly from that in the video, in having a 105 road groupset and Mavic Allroad wheels.


Jamie’s CGR 725 was equipped with the wide gear range of Shimano’s GRX RX400 2×10 speed gear system, Mavic Aksium wheels fitted with Schwalbe G-One tyres and a shock-absorbing LEVEL 2 carbon seat post fitted with a Prologo saddle.

  • Frame: Reynolds 725 Steel, Triple Butted, Seamless Welds
  • Forks: CGR Carbon Disc, Tapered Steerer, Thru-Axle
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX R400 2×10 Speed
  • Wheels: Mavic Aksium Disc 700c
  • Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Allround 700x40c
  • Handlebars: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy
  • Stem: LEVEL 1 6061 Alloy
  • Seatpost: LEVEL 2 Carbon/Alloy
  • Saddle: Prologo Kappa RS


So which frame material should you choose? In all honesty, there is no simple answer to this. It all comes down to what you want from the bike. How fast, light, agile, and comfortable you want it to be. What we can say is that wherever you ride your CGR, you’ll be having the time of your life with a grin on your face.

How do you choose the right size bike? Find out in our guide.

Stay up to date with all of the latest race results from the Drops -Le Col’s women’s race team here.

Did you spot ex-pro team rider and Ribble’s Head of Product Jamie Burrow in the video? Find out more about the man, the myth, the legend here.

  1. I enjoyed the information on the different frame materials, and appreciate that comparing them is not simple. However, why is it not possible to rank the different frames in terms of weight, stiffness, comfort, longevity, and price?

  2. Hi Samuel,
    Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and for getting in touch with your feedback. It’s a great suggestion, though as you state a tricky one to accomplish. By ranking one bike/frame higher than the other you run the inherent risk of making a bike seem less attractive to potential buyers simply for the different ride characteristics that it offers. We’ll give it some serious thought and see if there is a way to do as you ask.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

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