Tom Ritchey is best known for building mountain bikes and mountain bike components. He was at the birth of mountain biking way back in the 70's. Tom however also has a lengthy history in road bikes. After all, Tom was a Cat 1 bike racer and USA National Team member.
I decided to take my 1998 Kestrel 500 SCI out of service as I began to have concerns about its age. I live in Traverse City, Michigan and the terrain offers many hills with some good 40+mph descents. It's not mountainous, but we do have plenty of mile long 6% average climbs, and of course, downhills. The prospect of a rather old carbon fork, or frame, potentially failing on a downhill had me pondering a replacement for what had become one of my all-time favorite bikes.
In my search for a new bike, I had a few requirements: performance, comfort, threaded bottom bracket (press fit sucks), 27.2mm seat post for comfort, a proven geometry, and lightweight. Frame material was up for grabs as I know that how the material is used is more important than the material alone.
Some background about me - I used to race road, criterium, track, mountain bikes, and even dabbled in cyclocross. I rode in the 1980 Olympic trials (read "pack fodder"), I even managed a third-place field sprint behind Jocelyn Lovell and Gordon Singleton in a road race in Canada later that year. I've had three custom frames built for me by Mark Nobilette. Mark is an American frame builder who started his career as an apprentice to Albert Eisentraut. I love Mark's work, but I was hoping to spend much less than what custom frames run these days. I’ve also owned other custom frames including a prototype Paramount track bike.
Earlier in the year I had purchased a Ritchey Ultra hard tail mountain bike. I can say that the Ultra is the BEST mountain bike that I have ever ridden or owned. The Ritchey Ultra has an amazing ride quality and handling. This got me thinking... What does Tom offer in road frames?
As it turned out, the Ritchey Road Logic appeared to meet my wish list requirements. Tom's rich history and experience was not wasted on me I knew of Tom's legacy. I had met Tom many years ago while in Durango at the 1990 Mountain Bike World Championships. My friend, Mark Nobilette, introduced me to Tom. Knowing Tom’s reputation for quality, as well as having owned quite a few of his handlebars and stems as well as working on many bikes equipped with Ritchey components, I decided to pull the pin and order one.
Meet the Ritchey Road Logic
The Ritchey Road Logic has been around for several years now. It was first introduced in the late ‘70s. More importantly, it is a design that has been refined over decades of use.
In a world of niche bicycle types, the Road Logic falls into the classic road racer category. It’s neither a criterium design nor is it a Grand Fondo/endurance style bike but it certainly is capable for either end of the road spectrum.
Early in Tom’s racing career, his Cinelli road bike cracked. Tom was resolved to salvage the frame but first he had to learn how to repair the classic Italian frame. This was his first step in what became his journey to being one of the best frame builders in the US, if not the world.
Ritchey Logic Tubing
Over the years Ritchey developed his own blend of steel tubing. Originally as Tom was designing and building road, cyclocross and mountain bike frames, he was faced with compromises from existing steel tubing manufacturers. He approached Italian tube maker Columbus, but they were unable to make what Tom wanted so he turned to Tange. At the time Tange was making much of the tubing for most mountain bikes made in Japan or Taiwan.
Ritchey Logic tubing is manufactured by Tange to Tom's specifications. The diameters and butting, as well as alloy composition, are entirely unique to Ritchey. His blends are the result of more than four decades of experience.
Each tube set has its own characteristics that are designed for optimal ride performance. The ride quality of a Ritchey Logic frame is phenomenal. Ritchey bikes are noted for being stiff yet resilient.
If you are not familiar with how steel frames ride compared to carbon fiber, your first impression may be that steel has more lateral flex in the bottom bracket. More so than aluminum or titanium. Don't let that fool you... Steel bikes are efficient.
On my second ride on the Ritchey, I posted a PR time on a hill workout that involves three climbs including one category four climb. My time and average heart were both lower, and my wattage was higher. This was just a week after setting a PR on the same climbs under similar conditions on the Kestrel. The Ritchey weighs 100 grams less than the Kestrel. And you though steel was heavy… Overall weight of the complete bike is 17.8 lbs. Yes you can get lighter weight frames, but you’ll likely never notice any performance difference.
- Forged and machined head tube
- Integrated headset
- Sloping top tube
- 1 1/4″-diameter down tube, 1 1/8″ top tube, and a 1 1/8″ seat tube
- Fastback seat cluster with integrated seat binder
- Forged socket style rear dropouts
- External cable routing
- Carbon fiber fork with carbon steerer tube
- 68mm, English threaded bottom bracket
- 100mm /130mm hub spacing
- Front Derailleur clamp 28.6mm
So How Does It Ride?
The Road Logic has a natural, graceful, intuitive feel. The bike feels very neutral. High speed (40mph) descents are stable. Cobbles, brick, broken pavement are taken in stride with confidence. Rarely have I ridden a bike that has such good, all around manners.
Frame Geometry and Handling
The Road Logic is a classic road racing geometry. While Ritchey's original inspiration was based on Cinelli, it is in a league of its own. It is nimble enough to race criteriums, comfortable enough for gran condos or stage racing, and has clearance for up to a 28mm tire as well. Your brake arch clearance will be a limiting factor.
While not a gravel or cross bike, I have ridden a fair amount on dirt and gravel roads on the Ritchey. The bike manages short off-road jaunts, but it is more confident on pavement.
Ride Quality and Comfort
The Ritchey has a nice compliant ride. I've owned stiffer bikes, and I've owned more cushier bikes, but this one is probably the best of all in that it is “just right”. My old Raleigh Competition GS was a plush, long chain stay, stage geometry bike that was super plush. My Nobilette Custom “B” and my Paramount PDG 7 were both extremely stiff. The Nobilette probably comes closest to the road logic. No surprise considering that Mark Nobilette and Tom Ritchey share common frame building roots.
Is the Ritchey Road Logic the Right Bike For You?
If you value stable predictable handling, a design that has been refined over decades of experience, and has great road feel and comfort, then YES. You can buy the Road Logic at Nashbar.
If you are a weight-weenie looking for the lightest weight frame possible then probably no.
For those desiring a disc brake version, new for 2020 is the Ritchey Road Logic Disc.
The Ritchey Road Logic is an outstanding value. It is rare to find this level of quality at such a reasonable price. Compared to carbon bikes, you can save a lot of money and upgrade parts where they really matter like wheels, or save some cash for traveling to rides in places you've always wanted to visit.
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