Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Ritte teased their new Ace road bike last fall, saying it would knock the Vlaanderen down a notch to take a seat at the top of their lineup. It shares its geometry with the Vlaanderen, along with a few fitment specs like internally routed mechanical or electronic ports, 700×25+ tire clearance and a generally stiff, race-oriented feel.

But, it switches in a few user friendlier specs like Pressfit BB30 and standard seatpost rather than the Vlaanderen’s BB30 and integrated seatmast. The frame uses an updated, nearly full monocoque frame construction with T700/T1000 high modulus carbon fiber. It’s made using a hard inner mold and bladder system that creates everything but the seatstays as a single piece.

The result is a bike that’s reasonably light and has dangerously good looking lines, but whose real purpose is to enable you to ride hard and fast. Fortunately, it does so without beating the rider up or sacrificing stability at any speed, making it honest-to-goodness one of the best road bikes I’ve ridden…

FRAME OVERVIEW & ACTUAL WEIGHTS

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Fair warning, there are a lot of pics here. Personally, I found the Ritte Ace to be one of the best looking bikes on the market and just couldn’t bring myself to edit out all the photos. The mix of hard edges, creased corners and rounded intermediate sections struck a chord. Ritte may be somewhat known for their Belgian inspired paint schemes (also quite attractive), but this one’s appeal was there even with a matte Payne’s Grey color tone.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Ritte founder Spencer Canon said the main goal for the Ace was “Responsiveness through stiffness. Stability through geometry. Liveliness through carbon layup and molding method.” At the risk of spoiling the entire review too early, he nailed it.

The front end uses a 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ tapered headtube and a solid, square-ish top tube and downtube section to hold it steady.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Cables enter the ports at gentle angles, with drivetrain running through the downtube and the rear brake popping out the top tube just before the seat tube.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Upper body forces move from the headtube to the BB through a morphing downtube that rounds at the top while flattening out the sides and bottom as it goes down.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

The BB shell is boxy and directs your pedaling forces backward through equally stout chainstays.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

The seat tube maintains appearances by going from completely rectangular at the bottom to fully round by the time it meets the top tube. Chainstays keep their boxy shape as they go back, but curve and flow to provide the right heel, tire and chainring clearance.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

You may have guessed by now, but aerodynamics were not really part of the design process. When I asked about it, Spencer said “The frame shape was designed for maximum tube volume and was dictated primarily by function. Aero wasn’t a consideration with this frame.”

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The transition from top tube to seatstays takes a flowing path similar to the Vlaanderen. That plus the seatstay’s shape are these siblings’ only family resemblance.

The brake cable’s exit angle is perfect. Not only does it look good, but it provides a straight, efficient path to the caliper and holds it close enough to the frame to prevent thigh rub. It’s a little thing, but little things like this add up to a happy bike rider.

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The seatpost is their own design, too, which looks good but is one of only two small things I don’t care for on the Ace. The post itself is fine – not too stiff and it held the saddle just fine.

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The part I could do without is the front bolt knob. It’s good in theory, but you need to loosen the rear bolt more than normal in order to release tension on the knob to make it adjustable by hand. The result is more time spent on trial-and-erroring your saddle into the right angle, which may have to be repeated any time you’re adjusting fore/aft saddle position, too. I also think the bottom of the cradle could use a little more support for carbon rails, but I didn’t have any visible wear and tear to my saddle after the test period.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

The second thing I’d change is the amount of overlap for the rear axle. The dropouts are pretty shallow. Sure, your weight is helping press them into the frame, but it wouldn’t take much more material to add some peace of mind. That said, the rear wheel never came loose or did anything to alarm me.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

The fork’s dropouts are normal, though, which brings us back to the front of the bike.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

Fork legs are stocky, with bluntly rounded exterior shapes and a flat inner face that mimics the seatstays.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

No doubt these strong legs contribute to the stiff, responsive ride characteristics Spencer desired. Tracking was spot on at any speed.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

The steerer tube uses a 1-1/4″ lower with full carbon bearing race.

Ritte Ace carbon fiber race road bike review and actual weights

We received the bike with a SRAM Red 11-speed group minus the wheels and cassette, built with Ritchey WCS alloy stem and handlebar. I added my own Dura-Ace pedals and wheels set up tubeless with Schwalbe One tires and the Recon titanium 11-27 cassette and used one of my favorite saddles, the PRO Turnix with carbon rails. All in for a size XL (~57) bike, the weight was 15.1lbs (6.85kg) with a tiny bit of road grime still stuck to it. Claimed frame weight is 900g to 1150g depending on size. Claimed fork weight is 360g.

Retail is $2,700 for frameset (frame, fork, headset).

RIDE REVIEW

In this day and age, saying a high end carbon road bike rides really well is virtually meaningless. Heck, modern carbon road bikes retailing as a complete bike for $2,000 ride really well. So there has to be some magic to justify the extra spend. With the Ritte Ace, there is. For starters, the brand has some cachet, and you’re not nearly as likely to show up on a group ride and be one of many with the same bike (unless you’re on a shop team on a shop ride for a shop that sells Ritte, in which case they can be prolific).

More importantly, there’s the ride. The geometry is dialed. It’s quick and snappy, but stable, which is a pretty challenging combination to engineer. I found it equally adept at darting around city corners as it was for hands free riding on crushed limestone access roads. On the pavement, it would react as directed, but wasn’t twitchy. Which is just right for group rides where you need to hold a line but still dodge the occasional kamikaze squirrel.

With aspirations of being responsive and race ready, a bike could easily sacrifice comfort for efficiency, but the Ace brings both in spades. I put in many miles on Florida’s rough country road pavement and unpaved rail trails and bike paths around Flagler County, mostly at a leisurely exploratory pace for 2-2.5 hour stretches. Then I brought it home to the rolling terrain of Greensboro, NC, and joined a few fast friends for city limit sprints and my own hill training efforts. It didn’t matter whether the ride was slow and steady or peppered with intense efforts, the Ace kept its poker face through it all.

Side note: I set the Schwalbe One tires up tubeless and ran only about 90-95 psi, which is 5-15 psi lower than I’d normally run with tubes. That certainly aided the overall comfort and helped offset any vibrations that’d normally make there way through the alloy handlebar (I prefer carbon bars for just that reason). At higher pressures, the usual road buzz was present.

Put it all together and, for me, the ride fell into that magic category. No, it didn’t have thru axles, aero tubes or disc brakes. But it had good chemistry in every sense of the word. It just felt right on every ride. Its name may be Ace, but it’s really more of a Jack of all trades.

RitteCycles.com

23 comments

  1. Frank on

    Have to agree that it’s a good looking bike. If I didn’t agree with the Ritte philosophy so strongly I’d have to seriously consider it.

    Reply
  2. Matt on

    This is a really interesting bike. Can someone tell me what the original issues were with Ritte bikes. I seem to remember people knocking them.

    Reply
  3. Dude on

    People knocked on the sourcing mostly if I recall correctly. I had a 2011 Bosberg for a while (open mould I think, classic paint scheme), it was an awesome bike.

    Reply
  4. justaguy on

    Ritte has definitely come a long way in a short time. Originally they were using open mold frames and putting fancy paint on them. Now they’re designing their own frames and using proprietary molds that they themselves own, and still putting fancy paintjobs on them. The new stuff is really nice.

    Reply
  5. anonymous on

    Could a review be any more pointless?

    Cache? The only cache Ritte has that I know of is overpriced generic carbon frame, true or not.

    Dialed in geometry? The charts look to have as generic geometry as possible, with an uninspiring 41cm chainstay, 68mm BB drop, 45mm rake in all sizes, even when coupled with a 71 degree head tube angle in the smallest two sizes.

    Even the author admits the comfort was largely because he used lower pressures, and it’s not difficult to find a stiff and responsive carbon frame, in the $2,000 complete bike category that the author has shown disdain for.

    I don’t get it. I’ve heard the standard line, stiff, handles well, comfortable, etc about nearly every carbon frame.

    Reply
  6. David on

    Reach figures in the geometry chart are wrong. Or top tube is wrong – in any case, things are not matching up well, which is not a good sign.

    As someone who would ride an XL (except in this case I wouldn’t) I’m really not thrilled by 74deg HTA with 45mm rake, any bike I’ve been on with those figures feels a bit confused.

    While Ritte deserve credit for moving to designing their own bikes it’s noteworthy that other brands make bikes that are stiff, ride well and have good aerodynamics. It’s hard to give credence to a bike being a race bike when aero is ignored completely.

    Reply
  7. Tomi on

    As mudrock said, the head tube really tall. Very Cervelo-esque and way too high for my fit. Why are most modern bikes made to fit a lady riding a dutch omafiet. ?

    Reply
  8. Tadams on

    Looks amazing! bought my Ritte Vlaanderen from the guys at (PUSH CARTEL) in Ambleside. I can’t recommend them enough! go check them out.

    Reply
  9. Pistolero on

    Tall headtube are good for 90% of users, who otherwise would install 3-5cm of headset spacers. with large headtubes, 5% of users will need no spacers, and for the 5% left of users, get a frame with a short head tube and leave the 95% of us have that “long” headtube, thank you.

    Reply
  10. Tomi on

    @Pistolero So lets stop talking about aero, lightness and stiffness or any performance/racing oriented product as it doesn’t seem to be of interest to 95% of you guys.

    Reply
  11. h on

    a race frame without the safety of having at least 90% of the QR washers in contact with the dropout? i’d looooovve to to be max effort sprinting a few feet from other racers and have my rear wheel disembark on a separate journey…

    Reply
  12. Ronin on

    Not related to this, but I feel I’d be double dumb to get a new bike without disc brakes. Too many fast downhills that end with an intersection of some sort. And if it’s wet…

    This review was kinda weird. The comments above can’t quite get an angle. It looks OK to be fair, but like version 2 would be better.

    Reply
  13. pmurf on

    @Ronin it’s your choice, but you would not be “dumb” for buying a bike with rim brakes now or next year….yes, discs are fantastic. Better than rim. But did everyone using rim brakes in the past century blow through every intersection at the bottom of a hill? No. Wait, what about in the RAIN!? Still no. The viability of this bike has little to do with the kind of brake it uses.

    Reply
  14. JoeD on

    I actually agree with Ronin but for different reasons. I really think with the UCI allowing road disc brakes to be tested in races later this Summer that unless there’s a slew of gruesome accidents, disc brakes will be adopted. Once adopted by the pros I think rim brake offerings from all the major manufacturers will dry up within a couple years. I am only looking at road disc bikes for my next purchase, (2016 CAAD12?) I want to be able to buy aftermarket wheels that are future proof…

    Reply

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