We first got an up close look out at Ritchey’s newest do it all gravel bike last year at Eurobike, when it first debuted. Developed out of the popular Swiss Cross, the bike wasn’t quite ready for the big time, and Ritchey spent the better part of a year working on the details and giving it a new full carbon fork. Now the gravel bike is ready for your adventures. And we got it out for some first impressions, even riding with the man Tom Ritchey himself.

Ritchey Outback logic steel adventure road gravel bike

On paper, the Outback seems like the epitome of what contemporary Ritchey bikes are all about. A modern steel road bike designed to fit enough tire to ride any kind of road or trail (to 40mm). Plus, disc brakes for reliable stopping. And with Ritchey’s own custom triple butted steel WCS Logic tubing and a slightly curved seatstay design, it yields a relatively lightweight bike with a classic lively steel ride.

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike complete bike
photo courtesy Ritchey

So it was a little surprising that a bike with such promise would take so long to market. It seems Ritchey knew the bike would be popular. So they were extra careful to get the details sorted before it was available, and to make sure production could keep up.

Tech Details

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike frameset

But that time is here now. The $1360/1500€ frameset (including headset & the all-new full carbon Outback WCS Gravel fork) is available now and shipping to both US & EU customers.

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike details

The bike sticks with some classic tech features – like a 27.2mm seatpost, integrated seatpost clamp, a 68mm threaded BB, straight 1.125″ steerer, and external cable routing.

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike rear end details

But it also gets modern and semi-modern touches – like the neatly integrated headset cups, 12mm thru-axles, and disc brakes (although those stick with post mounts.) The bike is available in a five size range (XS-XL) with geometry more upright and relaxed than the more racy carbon Break-Away travel Outback that debuted several weeks back.

Bike Setup

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike riding

We had the chance to get a bit of riding in on the new steel Outback this fall. That included a ride after Eurobike dubbed Tom’s Gravel Ride with a bunch of various other Ritchey bike builds, including Tom himself.

Like Tom, we rode the bike in a road compact double configuration with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset, an 11-32 cassette, and hydraulic brakes. We also were sporting the WCS Alpine Jobst Brandt 700c x 35mm tires on Zeta wheels, curiously not set up tubeless and a solid performer on road & trail (even sliding predictably and confidently through the mud with a little momentum behind them).

Apparently the night before our ride with Tom, Ritchey’s EU team passed up time for beers to stay up late and set ten test bikes up tubeless. That’s actually a pretty rare treat for a test bike. Like when consumers buy bikes with tubeless-ready wheels & tires from a bike shop, but with tubes inside, the logistics of test bikes often means we at Bikerumor need to set them up tubeless ourselves. That often means our first few rides happen before we get around to digging out tubeless valves, tape & sealant.

Our complete Large bike weighed right around 10.6kg/23.4lb without pedals. That’s not exceptionally light, but respectable for a frame that claims to weigh 2170g on its own. Everything on our build was also aluminum. So there was plenty of room to shed some grams if you want to go down that road.

First Impressions

Ritchey Outback logic steel disc brake thru-axle adventure road gravel bike road bike Tom's Gravel Ride Tom Ritchey

Benefitted by the tubeless – and not just tubeless-ready setup (hint: set your own gravel bike up tubeless right away, please), the new steel Outback was effectively everything we hoped it would be. The geometry of the bike (72° head/74° seat/70mm BB drop) proved stable and easy to manage for everything from asphalt to gravel to dirt singletrack. From the moment I jumped on the bike I was comfortable riding no-handed on or off-road. And when the track got wet & slippery the bike just was asking to ride faster.

Many carbon bikes & tapered carbon forks tend to talk-up the importance of front end stiffness with regards to ‘good’ handling. Ritchey knew what they’re doing by sticking to smaller straight 1 1/8″ carbon steerer tubes paired to their steel bikes. For sure it is less stiff, but the lateral flex of the front & rear ends of the steel Outback feel balanced together. And never did I get the sense of having less control through steering input. On the other hand, I’ve definitely ridden similar technical trails on cross & gravel bikes with stiff tapered carbon forks only to realize an hour after a ride that my shoulders were sore. That hasn’t happened yet on the Outback.

This is a production steel bike that isn’t going to compete with carbon competition of weight or ultimate speed. But steel is still real. And a real good option for the rough-and-tumble life of a gravel bike. I know if this bike found a place in my quiver, I would ride it hard and put it away wet for years to come.

So after that early tease, it was a long wait to see the Outback ready for customers. But it was probably worth the wait.



    • They value the aesthetic appeal more than practicality, for whomever they’re marketing to.

      I prefer the base Specialized AWOL for practicality — more rack and fender mounts while still being thru-axle and (maybe not a good thing) flat-mount disc brakes.

    • Hear hear. What kind of all-rounder or adventure oriented bike can’t take racks or fenders? If it’s a light-weight ultimate performance fair weather machine there may be an excuse, but when the frame alone is over 2kg? Surely these features would only add to the retro aesthetic?

  1. I’m not too down with the aesthetic of the small diameter tubes coupled with the larger diameter carbon fork, but that could just be me…

  2. Huge fan of Ritchey’s products in general, and this release makes me wonder if my recent buildup of an ’18 Van Dessel WTF was the right decision after all…..

  3. Did you happen to ask Ritchey if this is the disc version of the Road Logic or will that be coming? On my dirt/gravel backroads 28c tires are fine

  4. Still waiting for a manufacturer to kick old school road bike styling to the curb, and actually slope the top tube a bit on the their gravel bike. More slope, more exposed seatpost, and easier fit on smaller frames.

  5. It seems like every gravel bike coming out stops at tire clearance for 40c. Yet it seems like everyone is asking for MORE TIRE CLEARANCE. Why is this?

      • Chainstay length won’t matter much for this use case, and 2.2/2.35″ and below will fit without much tinkering with shapes. The rear spacing is ready for it, it’s designed around 1x, and they’re trying to bill this as a real gravel bike. Maybe a yoke is a good idea? They supposedly took such a long time, wonder why(not really) that didn’t come up.

        For reference, a Surly Karate Monkey has only 423mm chainstays and 2.5″ clearance, so what’s the issue?

        • “For reference, a Surly Karate Monkey has only 423mm chainstays and 2.5″ clearance, so what’s the issue?”

          Road cranks (chain ring diameter and spacing width) and front derailleurs.

    • Because they want to dictate what we can get, instead of offering something interesting. Is it much of a surprise that Tom Ritchey is stuck on the past? It’s just a cx bike with geometry tweaks. Same with that fork–it’s basically a CX fork. Most of ’em can already take 40mm tires, so what, a year to come up with that? Not sure why that took a year to dial in.

    • These bikes are meant for roadies, who want road groups with narrow Q factors, often with front derailleurs, so 40mm rubber is about it (in 700c at least), or the chain rubs the tire. When monster cross bikes first came out several years ago they had mountain groups on them, but [you’re] not hearing much about those now. the buying public is fickle.

  6. Surprisingly heavy. Is it 2170g for just the frame? I don’t think I’ve ever had a steel frame (mountain or road) that weighed more than 4.5 pounds (2040 grams). Except my ‘88 Hardrock, but that’s in a slightly different category…

  7. Nice looking bike but a little disappointed to see the exposed cable routing on the underside of the downtube. This wasn’t sensible for mountain bikes in the 90’s, and I don’t think it’s sensible for a gravel bike either. Similarly the backwards facing seatclamp, just a magnet for dirt off the tyres in a place you really don’t want it. That seems a shame on a bike which touts itself as being so carefully thought out.

    • From a traditionalist’s perspective, internal cables are a p.i.t.a., higher friction, hard to set up and change cables, add weight. I don’t see them much on steel bikes.

    • The only exposed cable is the front derailleur, where no housing is needed below the cable stop; and routed for bottom pull road style front derailleur. This is how I would prefer it. I think Ritchey has it right.

      • I think also. And for the reference. My steel hardtail has all the cables outside. The way I prefer it. I can run whole cables that I think is a Pluss here in Norway, and it’s way easy er to deal with. It’s not 90’s… it’s experience after 30 years as a framebuilder..

    • Unless you’re foolishly running your rear shift cable down your seat stay, exposed cables are better. Lighter and easier to clean. Internal and full housing are just more fashionable.

  8. If marketed as a “gravel bike” please for the love of God and hydration add a 3rd bottle mount on the underside of the down tube. Also if you’re running the cables below make them to be covered housing and keep the crud off of them. I believe it’s a very fine bike but with zero rack mounts and no 3rd bottle cage mounting it seems to market to the racer boy crowd. I reside and ride in a very hot dry summer climate and long distances between towns and available water stops. I do love the color and the look of the bike but like it is stated above if it was in development for a years time I think the execution of the design could be much improved.

    • It’s steel, drill some holes, add some rivnuts and add your cage. I did that on my MTB. I called Chromag first, and asked if it’d void my warranty, they said as long as the frame didn’t fail at the rivnuts, they’d honor the warranty.

        • I agree with you Dinger. Why should I chance a warranty failure on a brand new frame? I like the RLT Steel and haven’t thrown a leg over one but have seen a few at some gravel events.

      • I did add rivnuts for a 3rd bottle mount on my Soma Double Cross. How hard is it for the manufacturer to do it in the first place when marketing as a gravel bike? My Soma is long out of warranty territory so I’m not worried about that.

    • Offcourse you can. Straps under the cables. A little modified my bag, bexourse the clamp is in the wrong place. But then custom frame bags isn’t that much more costly. .

  9. I don’t understand all the negative comments. I love this bike!! Nice! Great! I love steel also!! I’m no fan of seatstays ending at the seattube clamp. But that’s just me, and agree I want more options to racks and stuff. I guess they think it’s all about frame bags and that route, not panniers. I would like both. But anyway nice bike!! I think the price is a little stiff as your almost in costume framebuilder land prices. And if me personal was going to spend that kind of money it would be costume fit.

  10. Robert Axle will cover you for a rack mount, fenders are silly unless you are commuting. Besides, you’ll likely be limited to a 700×32 to fit a fender, I’d rather run 38s, keep some room for mud and leave the fenders on my rain bike.

  11. Fenders like some old english 3 speed? F’ that, buy a nice set of clip ons for the rainy days, it’s not like any fender will keep the rain off your feet, and a seat post mounted fender is all that’s needed to keep spray off your shorts. Rack mounts? jeeze you all sound like a bunch of ninnies whining on about wanting every type of braze no all over this gorgeous steel steed, and honestly most would never use any of them, it’s just some sort of post apocalyptic fantasy you have. For sporty bikes, racks are a thing of the past, get a seat post bag and if it’s wet it doubles as a fender. This is not a townie, and it should be obvious Tom and his crew don’t ride gravel like a bunch of sloths. If you can’t ride 3 hours between water stops with 2 large bottles, your going too slow. If you want to hammer out hard rides on big slopes like the man Tom, then this is the way you do it, otherwise get a Big Dummy and dredge along guzzling 4 litres of water per hour and trying to keep your shoes clean.

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