Gosh darn it, we say it every time another steel frameset passes through the grit.cx underground bunker doors, but we don’t half suffer from a bit of ferrous-o-philia. We aren’t the only ones though. Tom Ritchey has been a proponent of the metal for longer than many of us have been riding bikes, and when Tom brings out a new gravel bike, it’s only natural that we want to take a closer look.
The Outback is a new frameset from the company that Tom founded, and while it sticks firmly to the company’s steel-based roots, it also comes with some welcome modern touches.
Lets get the basics out of the way. As you’ll already have guessed, the Outback frame is made from steel. To be more precise, the tubing is double-butted Ritchey Logic, and is pleasingly skinny in comparison to almost every bike we’ve ridden recently. The matching fork is actually carbon – the Ritchey Gravel Thru Axle fork. It comes with a 142x12mm rear end, and unusually nowadays features a straight 1 1/8in steerer. This isn’t thanks to a bit of cost cutting or using up old stock, but down to Ritchey’s firm belief that a straight narrower diameter steerer/headtube gives a more comfortable ride.
The frameset uses post-mount disc brake mounts, so if you have new-fangled flat mount brakes ready to go, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a frame to fit them on. That skinny headtube flares at the top and bottom to directly hold headset bearings, and making for a neat transition from slim frame to slightly chunkier forks. The lugged seat-tube cluster also holds an integrated post clamp bolt. Finally, tiny cowled Ritchey dropouts sit at the end of slender stays. There is an undeniable attention to detail and the eye is drawn one from neat touch to the next before wanting to take a step back and take in the whole. And what a whole. Built up, the Outback just looks right. Nice angles, nice dimensions, purposeful without being overbuilt. Slender, without appearing noodle-like. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we’ll reserve final judgement until we get out on the trails.
The Outback only comes as a frameset, with a UK RRP of £1299 (€1499). That’s frame, full carbon fork, and Ritchey WCS headset.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that we have a full bike however. This is one of a few builds in the UK at the moment for demo and press use. As you’d expect there is pretty much every Ritchey product going hanging off there, along with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset.
Here’s a quick run down:
- Frame // Ritchey Outback (Duh!)
- Fork // Ritchey Carbon Fibre Gravel thru-axle
- Wheels // Ritchey WCS Zeta disc thru axle
- Tyres // Ritchey WCS Alpine JB 35c
- Stem// Ritchey WCS C220
- Bars //Ritchey WCS Evomax
- Seatpost // Ritchey WCS Alloy Link
- Saddle // Ritchey WCS Skyline
- Size Tested // L
- Sizes available // XS, S, M, L, XL