Ritchey Road Logic
Ritchey Road Logic Preview
Words by Tim Granshaw
The Ritchey Road Logic: a modern steel classic
I recently changed my racing license from a US to UK membership. This change has resulted in a rather dramatic downgrade from Elite to Category 4. Staring at my shiny new license, I thought about the last time I was a Category 4.
It was 1992, my first full year of racing on the road. I was riding a beautiful turquoise Bianchi with Campagnolo Super Record, a retro bike lacking even index shifting. The bike I really wanted, the bike I dreamed of winning races on, was a Ritchey Road Logic in a beautiful deep blue paint scheme. Two years prior I had longed for a Ritchey P-22 mountain bike in the iconic red, white, and blue paint, but could only afford the still-capable but slightly heavier Bridgestone MB-1 with Ritchey components.
I never had the chance to ride a Ritchey: money and later, sponsorship, deemed that our paths would not cross. A few years on, Ritchey stopped making frames in significant volumes focusing on their component business instead. Maybe the opportunity was gone forever?
Over the past several years Ritchey ramped up their steel frame production again. First the Breakaway travel bikes, followed mid-last year by the Ritchey P-29 mountain bike in that still awesome US (or UK) themed paint scheme and the Ritchey SwissCross cyclocross frameset. The latest addition for 2013 is the Ritchey Road Logic steel frameset. Billed by Ritchey as a classic frame built for long rides and races, my 55cm test frame features a classic 73.5/73.5 seat and head tube angle combination with a long 56cm top tube.
The frame is available in any color you’d like, as long as it’s a dark gray and includes panelling with the frame name across the top tube and the Ritchey logo on the seat and down tube. It’s old school, but looks great sitting next to some of today’s carbon fibre super bikes with their extensive sticker collections. My current race bike includes 21 brand mentions on the frame and fork alone.
Underneath the paint, the frame includes a specially designed Ritchey Logic tubeset. The tubes include short butted sections to ensure light weight in a still durable frame. Butted steel tubes have a thinner wall thickness in the middle of the tube, while they are thicker at the ends to withstand the duress of the welding process.
This tube design is complemented with an unusual, almost hourglass shaped headtube: the included Ritchey headset slots neatly into the flared ends leaving a very clean look at the front end of the bike. There’s almost no gap between the steel head tube and the matching gray Ritchey WCS carbon fork. This design also saves 80 grams in frame weight compared to a similar frame with a standard headset. Like any classic steel bike, tire clearance is more than ample. Ritchey claims enough room for 28mm tires, but a quick test suggested that 30, maybe even 32mm tires will fit: great for mixed condition rides of dirt and tarmac.
The frame without fork, weighs in at 3.9 pounds. For the weight weenies out there, that’s almost double that of the Specialized SL4. I’ll weigh the bike once it’s built, but I’ve been told that a 16 pound complete bike is the norm. That additional weight also brings a number of benefits.
1. Steel has a comfortable compliant ride that isn’t matched by today’s carbon wonder bikes, yet is still stiff enough for 99.9% of the population.
2. Crash resistance: a steel frame will survive a crash that would destroy just about any other material except perhaps titanium.
3. Durability: steel, like diamonds, is forever. The odds of breaking or snapping a steel frame are minute.
4. It’s different: there aren’t many people racing steel these days. It’s a material for the enthusiast.
I’m excited about this frame, so excited that I’ll be racing it as soon as I’ve built it. This will also be the first part of a more extensive review of steel frames with CycleTechReview. I’ll check in throughout the season, as I jump in the shallow end of racing, to provide a more comprehensive review of the Ritchey and how steel compares to it’s alternative-materialed brethren. Over the next couple of months I’ll also interview some of the steel frame builders leading the revitalization of steel bicycles.
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