While still a fledgling category, gravel bikes continue to see sub-niches emerge, like aero gravel race, bikepacking, rugged commuter… What we have here is a new gravel race bike from Ritchey that isn't made from carbon or claims aero benefits — it's made from steel and it has external cable routing. Meet the Outback.
Ritchey Design's US marketing manager, Fergus Liam, told us that the Outback is "basically our answer to the gravel bike demand". It will have a slightly lower bottom bracket than the existing Swiss Cross gravel bike, along with thru-axles and clearance for 40mm tyres.
Made to perform
The head tube angle is a little steeper than existing adventure bike the Ritchey Ascent, so this new Outback is definitely performance-focused, but it's very capable off-road, according to Liam.
The Outback is made from Ritchey Logic tubing, which features force-direction butting. This means that the butt profile is different at the front compared to the back to improve ride quality. "One of the things that Tom [Ritchey, company founder] focused on early on is where the butts should be placed to be most effective, as well as the length and depth," says Liam.
New Ritchey gravel tyres
It also gets Ritchey's new gravel tyre, the Alpine JB, designed from the ground up by Mr. Ritchey himself. It's designed to be just as capable on-road as off, and features a shallow tyre right the way across its profile. It comes in 28mm and 35mm sizes.
The Ritchey Outback will be available from spring 2017 as a frameset (so frame, fork and headset), costing US$1,400 and weighing around 4.5-5lbs (2-2.2kg). UK and Australian pricing is to be confirmed.