Based off the popular steel Swiss Cross which already sees a lot of mixed surface riding, the new Outback takes the quick handling cyclocross bike and tweaks it with a bit more of fast moving all-road tune up. Along the way it picks up thru-axles and clearance for pretty big gravel tires, including a fork that will see some aftermarket sales as well. The more adventure-targeted Ascent with its ability to swap in either 27.5″ or 700c wheels for more trail-readiness is getting some a packable update by way of Ritchey’s BreakAway setup. Take a closer look at both bikes after the jump…
The Outback is a reimagining of a bike that Ritchey had in the past, originally as a 26″ touring bike meant for adventures on and off road. The new bike swaps to a 700c wheel configuration, and aims to carry on the mixed surface adventure riding, but at the fast pace of a modern gravel racer.
The bike sticks with a straight 1.125″ steerer and Ritchey’s own integrated headset cups that let it keep that tiny, classic headtube shape. And combined with 12mm thru-axles front & rear, that also means that Ritchey has a new fork in play, vs. the convertible WCS Cross Disc Taper we saw in Tapei.
This fork seems to use that same interchangeable dropout setup, although Ritchey says the frameset will stick with 12mm thru-axles at both ends. Like their standard WCS Disc Cross fork that shows up on the Swiss Cross, this one looks to keep the same 395mm axle-to-crown, and will be a good aftermarket fork upgrade for all of those straight steerer bikes out there looking for thru-axle compatibility, offering both 15 and 12mm axles setup and straight or tapered steerers. And from what we’ve been told it could be ready as early as mid fall, although not soon enough to rebuild your bike in time for cross season’s start.
The bike uses the same Ritchey Logic location specific butted tubing set that has given their other light steel bikes a classic sought after ride, so this one should do the same for the gravel riding set.
Geometry-wise the Outback is said to drop the bottom bracket a few mm and slacken the head and seattube angles a half a degree to add a bit more stability on the road, while preserving quick overall handling. Tire clearance for the Outback is 40mm. That means it will handle either the 35mm version of Ritchey’s new Alpine JB (Jobst Brandt) tires that this bike is built up with, or their much more aggressive returning Megabite tread in its 38mm guise.
The Outback will be available as a frameset-only in this light teal blue. It will sell for $1400/~1500€ including frame, fork, and headset, and will be available in both the US & Europe from the early springtime 2017.
We first had a preview at the Ascent last fall in its regular setup, but as a mid 2016 season update Ritchey is bringing the bike in a travel-friendly BreakAway version to the US market. The 160mm disc brake, quick release axle bike gets all the fittings to mount a full set of racks, panniers, and fenders for any adventure. Ritchey says they’ve had a big response of people strapping on light bikepacking bags for off-road touring, so they’ve been highlighting the bike with an Apidura setup, in addition to their new wide dramatically shaped VentureMax off-road drop bar.
The do-it-all steel touring bike is designed with two max tire sizes in mind: 27.5 x 2.1″ or 700 x 40mm. Ritchey sees it as something of a mini Monster Cross bike that can be taken to explore dirt roads and trails of pretty much any type.
And with positive feed back on the bike they decided to try a BreakAway version of the bike so you could pop it in a bag and take it with you. Available in the coming weeks, the Ascent BreakAway will be an exclusive kit in the US, and the only mountain bike travel frame in their line-up. It will include frame, fork, headset, and soft travel bag and retail for $1700.
The standard Ascent frameset will carry over for $1200/1300€ in both the US and Europe. Assuming positive response to the BreakAway version, it might cross the pond as well in the future.