It’s hard to narrow it down to one bicycle given how saturated the market is. When I was looking for my next road cycling bike I had to give great thought and care into what would lengthen my arms into my pockets. After deliberation I chose to use the Ritte Ace frame set to build my new bike. The frame will be the focus of my review as it is the main component however I may talk about aspects of the bike as a whole.
Ritte is a Californian based road frame manufacturer. Ritte as a company, state that their goal is to create unusual bikes for unusual people and not necessarily follow the crowd. The Ace frame set is their flagship race frame. Built for speed and uncompromising stiffness.
The frame is extremely simplistic with its use of neutral block colours. This gives the frame a very clean look. It appears understated and gives an air of high end design. With most of today’s bikes being highly branded and using detailed paint finishes the Ace frame stands out from the sometimes visually chaotic frames you see elsewhere. For example, the brand Cipollini produce high performance racing frames but their finishes are usually quite garish and in your face. These types of finishes appeal to most and are becoming increasingly common on the road. In order to create a product that is striking and different, Ritte have chosen to apply far subtler finishes.
Internal Cabal routing is used throughout to enhance the clean lines of the bike. This also protects the cables from wear however it can be fiddly to change the cables when servicing. In comparison to more traditional external cabal routing it is noticeable just how neat having the brake and shift cables running inside the frame is.
On closer inspection of the Ace frame it is noticeable that it uses an asymmetric geometry. One side of the bike is a different shape to the other. This is designed to give clearance for the chain ring and drive chain. This gives the frame a somewhat quirky appeal. You would not notice this unless riding the bike. It’s as though the frame has a hidden secret it only divulges to the rider.
When the frame is matched with wheels and a finishing kit it becomes clear just how aggressive the geometry of the frame is. Although the modern positioning, with a super steep saddle to handlebar drop give the bike a mean character, it still manages to retain the same simplicity of a vintage steel frame race bike. With technology within the bicycle industry constantly advancing it is nice to own a bike that pays homage to bicycles from by gone eras.
Due to the fact that Ritte are frame manufacturers only and do not provide the consumer with a finishing kit, wheels or drive chain, there is a massive opportunity to create a truly unique and individual machine. When purchasing this frame, you can take the time to select each individual component, not only for performance but also to retain the aesthetic that the frame set lays down. The custom nature of the finished bike gives the product an air of exclusivity and a sense of craftsmanship.
In terms of performance the rite frame set is definitely within the elite category. The high quality Torayca carbon gives the frame unmatched stiffness when compared to aluminium or steel. When turning the cranks at pace, no power is lost with every watt being driven through the frame and into the pedals, resulting in high speeds and quick acceleration. The downside to this stiffness is the discomfort of feeling every bump in the road. Unlike Aluminium, carbon has no vertical compliance (flex) unless it has been built into the frame set during the carbon layup stage of manufacture. This can give an uncomfortable ride if not prepared or used to it.
The geometry allows the bike to corner confidently and helps me to get into an aerodynamic position on the flats to save energy. Although not as comfortable as other bike geometries out there such as the Trek Domane or the Specialised Roubaix, the added handling more than makes up for this. The Ace has been designed for speed and performance at the end of the day and some sacrifices have been made. Once warmed up and with plenty of riding to get used to the frame set I have managed to get pretty comfortable on it. So much so, that I barely notice any discomfort.
When paired with a top end group set (drive chain, gears etc.) the Ace really begins to stand out. Bikes I have ridden previously have had middle of the range drive chains, that are perfectly adequate for casual club riding and mile grinding. However, when you want to put the pace down, their limitations are quickly realised. I have chosen to use Sram Force 22 as my drive chain. It matches the quality of the frame with the crispness and smoothness of its shifting. A stiff race frame requires a stiff race group set to match it not only in performance but also aesthetics.
One criticism of my current build in terms of its performance would be its ability to cope with steep climbs. For the money I believe I could have purchased a lighter frameset or complete bike that would allow me to save energy when faced with really steep hills. However the performance of in terms of handling and the added power transfer when sprinting on the flat more than makes up for this. In the future I could upgrade components to make the bike as a whole lighter. At 7.2 KG the Build is hardly heavy. However, I believe it could be better.
I have a strong emotional connection to my current build. It is the first Bike that I have put this much thought into and the first frame set that I have built up from scratch. Due to the custom nature of the bike I feel privileged to ride it. I feel like I am riding a designer product. I compare my emotions to that of someone taking their prized sports car out for a spin. The bike looks cool, fast and professional so I feel like cool, fast and pro! I think that if you don’t like the look of your bike you are less motivated to ride it. I see the Ritte frameset as a work of art, whereas I view other frames as tools to be utilised when required. I’m not aware of any other product that makes me want to use it just by looking at it. The performance of the Bike unlocks a deep meaningful sensation of flow that is hard to match.
In conclusion the Ritte Ace Is a beautifully crafted frame that aesthetically matches Ritte’s mission to create outstanding bikes that have a real flare and character. When building the frame set the consumer has a real opportunity to bring the frame to life and create not only a high performance race bike but a bespoke work of art. When reviewing the Aces’ performance, it is hard to fault it, there are more comfortable frames out there however comfort is not what the frame was designed for. The weight of the finished build could be improved but that is more a fault of component choice rather than the frame. Bikes in general can have strong emotional connections with their owners however when the bike has been built piece by piece by the owner the motivation to ride and the connection to the machine becomes that much more engrained within the rider. As a finished bike I am extremely happy with the Ace and feel I will be for some time.