By Luke Friend
Among current US bike brands, Ritchey is akin to royalty. Formed in California by Tom Ritchey in 1974, it's been a byword for quality and innovation ever since. Custom-designed thin walled tubing, butted unicrown forks, and front and rear specific tire tread patterns are all Ritchey inventions.
A competitive road rider who raced on the US national road team, Ritchey used this riding knowledge to push bike design forward. He built his first steel frame in 1972 and by 1979 he'd built over 1000.
His bike rides in the 70s and early 80s with Jobst Brandt, author of the seminal book The Bicycle Wheel, provided further inspiration. These formative years with Brandt helped to forge Ritchey's founding design principles: light, fast, strong and durable. Ritchey looked for solutions to enable people to ride long and hard over mixed surfaces.
Ritchey products are still born from hours spent in the saddle. And Mr Ritchey himself leads the way: he remains the brand's lead designer and logs over 10,000 miles annually.
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Ritchey road bikes and framesets
Today, Ritchey continues to be at the forefront of steel bicycle design; a recognised leader in the 'all-road' category. Producing drop bar bikes that excel over a range of surfaces has lead it to update and extend its range in recent years. Their line-up of bikes now includes the revamped Logic Road, the Outback and the Swiss Cross, as well as a couple of carbon offerings, too.
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Road Logic frameset
First released in the late 80s, the Road Logic is not a race frame but instead a road frame built for long-distances and paved surfaces of varying quality. The current model retains the classical lines of the original, but with a few adaption of the modern world. A modern classic, if you like.
The Road Logic uses the brand's proprietary triple-butted Logic tube set. This means TIG-welding construction and short-butted sections that help to save weight. In addition, there's a forged-and-machined head tube design that integrates the headset cups directly into the frame, saving 80g on a standard heat tube design.
Other components include a straight 11/8" headtube and a 68mm threaded bottom bracket. Cable routing is external, and geometry has stayed traditional, too.
So how about these revisions? Despite being a rim-brake frame, the latest Road Logic accommodates up to 30mm wide tyres. There's also a carbon fork, which reduces weight and aids that tyres clearance.
Road Logic disc frameset
The Road Logic disc blends the same ride quality of the Road Logic with a further nod to modern standards: to accommodate disc brakes, Ritchey have redesigned the chain stay and the carbon fork for flat mount brake purposes.
Elsewhere there are 12mm thru-axles front and rear and tire clearances have increased to allow for 32mm rubber.The disc frameset retails at $1399 and is available in a slate/blue or black/charcoal colorwayand sizes 49, 51, 53, 55, 57 and 59cm.
WCS Road Logic bike
Since 2020, Ritchey has made its Road Logic available as a complete bike. It's a rim brake version only and comes equipped with Shimano's tried-and tested 11-speed Ultegra gruppo.
To complete the build it uses a slew of Ritchey road components. The cockpit mixes the WCS Curve handlebar with the WCS C220 stem, and the wheels are Ritchey's Zeta road hoops and are shod with 27mm Ritchey rubber - the WCS Tom Slick, to be precise. The complete bike, which is only available in the US, retails at $2299 and comes in two colours: grey/yellow and blue/white.
Break-Away Road frameset
The Break-Away is a fascinating concept, one inspired by Mr Ritchey travelling around the world and being fed up with exorbitant baggage fees. So in 2002, he designed his latest toy, a steel road frame that splits in two and packs away in its specially-designed case.
The current Break-Away modeluses CrMo butted steel tubing and features a carbon fork. It uses a split downtube that fastens together near the bottom bracket with a lock ring, while the frame also splits at the top of the seat tube. A double seat post clamp secures it here.
According to Ritchey this locking compression system only adds 100 grams to the weight of the bike. And the reverse? Ritchey says it splits and packs away inside 20 minutes.
When assembled it does look just like a regular Ritchey steel road bike. Rim-brake compatible it clears 30m tyres. In addition, it features a straight 1-1/8" headtube and a 68mm threaded bottom bracket, just like the Road Logic.It's currently available in a black/tan coluor and retails for $1699.Case, padding, cable disconnects and couplers are also included.
Break-Away Carbon Road frameset
While Ritchey is best-known for its steel designs, it does deal in other materials too. A few years ago it offered the Break-Away in titanium. Now it's added a full carbon version to its collection.
The frameset features the brand's 'Right-Sized' carbon tubing, which Ritchey says balances stiffness and compliance. Like other Ritchey frames it sticks with a threaded bottom bracket and a straight headtube. The carbon Break-Away's stated weight for a large frame and forks is 1.75 kgs, compared to the 2.35 kgs for the steel version. For the weight-conscious rider it's a significant saving.
Outback frameset - gravel
The Outback is a steel frameset ready to handle all that gravel encompasses. Utilising the brand's Logic triple-butted tubing, it aims to be responsive and forgiving across a variety of surfaces. If you're looking for a frame that's bikepacking ready, the Outback features rack and mudguard (fenders in the US) mounts alongside the updated carbon adventure fork that provides yet more mounts.
There's more fork rake and the headtube is slacker on the latest version, while the wheelbase is also longer promoting a more stable ride.Naturally, its a disc brake compatible frame and you can run it using both 700c and 650b wheel sizes. Tyre clearance allows for 700c x 48mm and 650b x 2.0". Other features include thru-axles, external cable routing and a 68mm threaded bottom bracket.
The frameset comes in guacamole green and retails at $1399. The Outback is also available as a Break-Away model in both steel and carbon. The latter weighs in under 2.0kg making it an attractive option if you plan to race in gravel events around the globe.
Swiss Cross disc frameset
Like the Road Logic, the Swiss Cross has been part of Ritchey's fleet for decades. Originally named after Thomas Frischknecht, a Ritchey factory rider from the 80s, it's been the benefactor of many tweaks and refinements.
The current model mixes the tried-and-tested with some new additions. There's the Logic steel tubing, the threaded bottom bracket and the external cable routing. But now there's 12mm thru-axles, flat-mount brakes, and higher-volume tyre clearance: up to 40mm. These additions still make it a legit cross race bike, but they also make the Swiss Cross more adaptable to gravel and adventure pursuits.
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