Spotted: Prototype Ritte Road Bike

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (10)

At first, this two tone blue creation looks like many of the other bikes bearing the Ritte name. On further inspection, the lack of a seat mast and the squared tubing and short head tube point to something new out of the Ritte camp. As it turns out, this is the prototype for a new bike that Ritte has been working on with plans for a 2015 launch. Our guess is that this will be the new Vlaanderen, though time will tell. Details are slim, but on for some close ups, and a few words from Ritte…

After our Mavic 125th Anniversary Bike story was posted, the comments were pretty harsh especially towards Ritte. As always, we’re actively working to improve the comment section to be more constructive, but in the mean time the comments prompted Spencer Canon from Ritte to reply. You can find this in its entirety on the original post, but we felt it was worth posting here for all to see. Ritte’s carbon bikes may not be hand made  in the US like Argonaut’s, but they are far from catalog bikes. The Ritte guys are as passionate and are as big of bike nerds as any, so we feel it’s worth hearing Spencer out, and getting to know them a little better:

Hi everybody, I’m Spencer. Designer for Ritte Bicycles. There is some misinformation floating around that has given many of you a negative impression of which I don’t think we entirely deserving. Frankly, it’s our fault for not really doing any PR or outreach to the the media to show what goes on at Ritte. It is hard to read hurtful comments and so I often ignore them instead of addressing them head on. So if your only experience of our company is some four year old forum comments and our goofy marketing, then I really can’t blame you for thinking we’re a bunch of a**holes trying to pull one over on people with flashy paint jobs. Now we may or may not be a bunch of a**holes, but we’re anything but cynical and our latest frames (like the Vlaanderen we used for the Mavic 125) certainly don’t deserve to be trashed. I actually really understand the spirit of your comments, which is why I think if you got the chance to know more about us, it would change your opinion.

Back in 2008 we started with a beautiful frameset that we didn’t design. It was the example frame used to attract new business to a new, very good factory. It wasn’t something that could be bought on a website or something… one needed a connection to the factory. And there were a few other companies that got them, though we spent extra on a higher-quality carbon layup. It really wasn’t our intention at that point to be in the spotlight. We were building our brand and trying to get all our ducks in a row and had followed the same path that many, many other very reputable bike companies take. We however stuck to a policy of transparency and were very open about the source of our frames and even directed people to the direct-sale brand were you could get a similar frame for cheaper. To this day we have been severely punished for that honesty, but given a chance to go back, we still wouldn’t lie about it. In fact, often our critic’s very own bikes are more guilty of the transgressions that are pinned on us.

Fast forward almost six years and we are very far away from that original frame. We use the same factory, which is now also responsible for several very expensive bikes from other brands and we have an in-house designed frame that is of the same quality of frames sold for much more. We have also spent years building custom frames from stainless and standard steel, and we built up a small business painting our own frames, and the frames of many other custom builders. I know it sounds like bullshit, but we really are committed to making frames that ride wonderfully and charging only what we have to for them. In most cases, our competitors (who have a dealer-sales model as well) pay less for the production of their frames and charge more. But I think the greatest character witness we have is that we’re well-respected by the rest of the Industry (evidence of this is in the Mavic inclusion)… because you can’t bullshit the Industry. The guys and girls who are actually in the trenches, designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling bike stuff know who does what how, and most of them would not agree with your comments.

If any of you are ever in the LA area, our door is open to you. Please come by and give us a chance to change your mind. If you have any questions, accusations or whatever, you can ask me anything and I will answer openly (except in the few cases where I’m bound by some other company’s confidentiality agreement.) My email is spencer@ritteracing.com

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (11)

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about bikes. Oh look, new and shiny!

If this is the next generation of the Vlaanderen, the absence of the seat mast will be a big change. The seat stay junction looks pretty similar to the current Vlaanderen, so our money’s on that.

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (12)

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (17)

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (16) Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (15)

Aggressively squared tubing continues with internal cable routing, as well as the option for Di2. Obviously this is a prototype, so anything could change, but it looks as if the frame utilizes a PF30 botton bracket. The head tube is on the shorter side with a tapered steerer – possibly with a 1 1/4″ lower bearing like the current Vlaanderen.

Ritte Vlaanderen 2015 road bike prototype (13)

The rear shift cable looks like it will be moved back and up on the chainstay for a cleaner exit, especially when running wires. That’s it for now, we’ll report back with more as soon as Ritte offers anything official on the new bike!

Comments

Jupes - 07/15/14 - 10:29pm

Not normally a “blue” fan, but this shade has some class and goes well with the red. With the Seatpost, the entire effect gives the ride class. Interesting blend of components, but it’s a prototype.

Bill - 07/15/14 - 11:39pm

either its two different bikes or the front deraileur is sram and the rear deraileur is campy.

Also, can you stop making bikes with deraileur hangers- they flex and they oftensnap off when you crash. Back to braze-on please.

Rico - 07/15/14 - 11:54pm

Nice!

Zach Overholt - 07/16/14 - 12:07am

@Bill, same bike – The Ritte crew wanted to ride it during the Mavic ride and didn’t have a braze on Campy ft derailleur in time. They said it worked well enough for the ride though.

Jim - 07/16/14 - 12:53am

@Bill, would you rather your derailleur hanger bend or break, or your frame?

Any - 07/16/14 - 1:21am

@Bill

Isn’t the point of mech hangers that they snap when you crash, and save the frame? Also, how does one braze onto CF?

SamSkjord - 07/16/14 - 6:33am

“can you stop making bikes with deraileur hangers- they flex and they oftensnap off when you crash.”

Greatest comment I’ve ever seen.

Lovely looking bike, if only it had discs.

Gummee - 07/16/14 - 8:03am

I must have missed the memo: Ritte has (had) always equalled ‘Pedalforce frame with a fancy paintjob.’ (at least their carbon stuff).

I don’t work for a Ritte dealer, so I’m not going to buy one right now, but if they’re designing their own stuff and not just re-painting a chinese frame, I’ll take another look.

M

Ck - 07/16/14 - 9:05am

Always supported Ritte through the hate. I was well aware of how they started and had faith that it was only a stepping stone to get into an industry that’s very costly to start in. Their bikes are beautiful and I still regularly get people who want to take pictures of my Crossberg. One day I hope to get some custom paint work done by them. I love their recent digital theme.

badbikemechanicx - 07/16/14 - 11:19am

I am digging the paint scheme. It’s nice to see bright a** colors in the era of flat black carbon bikes.

Alex - 07/16/14 - 12:39pm

As the proud owner of a Ritte, I have to say that I love my bike. I had the chance to stop by their HQ in Los Angles and its a rad crew of people who love bikes. Their transparency says a lot about their character and I will definitely continue to support their brand. ‘Everybody High Five Everybody’

Eyal - 07/16/14 - 2:47pm

(deleted)

Bill - 07/16/14 - 3:05pm

I meant the front deraileur mount that wraps completely around the seat tube with a clamp- as opposed to this bolt on mech- which actually does crack the frame when it snaps off.

Cam - 07/16/14 - 3:16pm

@Bill, can you just stop crashing please.

Honest question - 07/16/14 - 3:46pm

This is a genuine question that I wanted to ask in the other comment section: When Ritte says they “spent year building custom stainless and standard steel frames”, does that mean they, themselves, built them in-house with Ritte employees or that they were built by a well known custom frame builder and were branded as Ritte?

Also, in the name of transparenc, are Ritte’s latest line of carbon frames completely their own and in no way available somewhere else, unbranded? I’m not refering to layup differences, but more to the point of does Ritte own their own, unique molds?

Would be interested to hear from Ritte on this since we have their ear. Thanks.

Spencer - 07/16/14 - 6:46pm

Hi @Honest,
For the custom stainless, steel and stainless/carbon frames we designed the frames: geometry, tube sizing, etc. Because of the unique nature of those metal frames, many parts we machined from stock stainless, like head tubes, bottom bracket shells and lugs for the stainless/carbon frames. For welding, we used a few different frame builders who specialize in OEM work. We eventually ended the custom program because the frames’ high price point just didn’t fit our business model. We have replaced those custom frames with stock-sized stainless frames that we’ve released this month.

The prototype carbon frame in this post was designed by us from scratch. We have a slightly unusual process in that we begin with a clay model instead of a computer model. I have a background in sculpture and not in computer modeling, so I start by creating a clay model of tube junctions, sketches and a pen-and-paper design. We then use a local 3D modeler to create the computer model that goes to the CNC machine for molds. The part of the process we don’t direct is the actual carbon layup engineering, which we leave up to factory-based engineers who have a wealth of experience. I think that a few of the things that makes Rittes very nice riding bikes is the expertise of the layup engineers and that about half the carbon that goes into the frames is made by the factory on-site, so they can customize the material itself depending on their immediate needs. Maybe that’s more of answer than you were looking for, but there you have it.

Also, a note on the pictures above: if you’ve ever wondered if a Red front derailleur works with campy, the answer is not as bad as you’d think. We built up that bike for testing and since it’s the first non-clamp road frame we’ve made, we didn’t have any braze-on Campy derailleurs laying around. The earlier commenter is right about braze-ons being more fragile than clamps, but there’s just not really a way to clamp something round to something square.

Honest question - 07/17/14 - 1:27pm

Thanks, Spencer.

Comanche Racing - 07/17/14 - 4:00pm

I’ve ridden several RITTEs and have known Spencer for a couple years now. They are legit, professional (and relaxed), and are passionate about what they do. I would love to represent them and everything they stand for, over any other company out there.

From the fastest crit’s in the US (The DriveWay Austin – Holland Racing) and beyond, they’re enough bike for anyone out there.

Oeds - 07/17/14 - 5:11pm

Perfect! Pure craftmanship from bottom to top!!!

Joseph Clemenzi - 07/18/14 - 10:42pm

SPENCER FOR PRESIDENT

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