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First Ride: Ritchey Swiss Cross Disc against the country lanes and muddy trails of the Ritchey Reveller dirt sportive

David tackles the inaugural Ritchey Reveller aboard the Ritchey Swiss Cross Disc

It didn’t take me long to gel with the Ritchey Swiss Cross Disc. I only picked it up 30 minutes before the start of the Ritchey Reveller dirt sportive and had just enough time to set it up, fitting pedals, a bottle cage and sorting the saddle height, all of which is far from ideal preparation for any bike ride, let along one that would take me onto unfamiliar roads and dirt tracks in and around Bristol. 

But the sure-footed handling and stability of the bike, with its skinny triple butted Logic II chromoly tubeset and carbon fibre fork and chunky 35mm treaded tyres, provided the perfect companion for 80km (it was only supposed to be 60km; we missed a few turns, okay) of exploring country lanes and bridleways - made squelchy by heavy early morning rain - south of Ashton Court in Bristol, where the inaugural event started and finished.

Ritchey Reveller - 4.jpg

This is no high-tech cyclocross bike. Compared to carbon fibre Merida cyclocross race bike Mat was riding alongside me, the Ritchey is a thoroughly classic looking bike. That’s no criticism: this is a legendary frame, albeit in cantilever brake guise, to those people who have been cycling for several decades. 

The skinny tubes are beautifully welded together with nice details like the integrated seatclamp bolt, curved and asymmetric seatstays to provide clearance for the rear disc calliper, tiny dropouts, hourglass head tube and external cable routing facilitating full outer casing on the down tube positioned gear cables. And there’s no denying it, it’s a good looking bike especially in this decadent black paint job with recognisable world champs rainbow bands.

ritchey reveller riding1.JPG

On the road the Swiss Cross cruises along with the smoothness you’d expect from a steel road bike, but of course the 35mm Ritchey Shield tyres help to absorb the brunt of the vibrations. It’s a smooth ride. It’s not a rapid road bike, though, with slower acceleration than Mat’s carbon Merida, a difference that is to be expected of the two materials (and he had skinnier, smoother, more road-friendly tyres too). 

That relaxed nature comes into its own in the dirt and mud, though. It’s in the singletrack that the Swiss Cross is most at home. The route for the Ritchey Reveller took us through some idyllic parts of the countryside using a mixture of byways and bridleways that skirted alongside hedgerows, busy roads and through housing estates, the sort of mix you just wouldn't enjoy if you just went out on your road bike, or mountain bike. 

ritchey reveller riding7.JPG

I say mostly, because, despite the low-pressure tyres finding grip in the mud, the road bike gearing (50/34 chainset to 11-28 cassette) was simply too tall for some sections (they were much steeper than they look here, honestly!). A cyclocross chainset and more generous cassette would be on order if I was buying this bike, or a SRAM 1x11 drivetrain because the Swiss Cross was hamstrung on the parts of the route that it was most at home on. Granted some of the trails we rode pushed beyond the capability of a cyclocross bike; a mountain bike, with lower gearing and wider tyres, would have been beneficial. 

ritchey swiss cross 1.JPG

But the Swiss Cross Disc managed it all. What the route highlighted is that tyre choice, tyre pressure and gearing are critical for this sort of riding. While I had an advantage in the gloop, the tables were turned on the tarmac. Despite exceeding the limitations of the bike and its setup on some of the more challenging trails (though the wet weather didn't help here at all) the event did highlight just how much fun it is to mix up your tarmac and dirt on a bike that, while not excelling at either, managed both with decent capability. 

Specification

  • Frame: Ritchey SwissCross Disc
  • Fork: Ritchey Cross WCS Carbon
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 11s
  • Shifters: Shimano RS685 Hydraulic Disc
  • Brakes: Shimano RS785 Hydraulic Disc
  • Rotors: Shimano RT99-S 160mm
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 50/34
  • Cassette: Shimano CS-5800 11s 11/28T
  • Handlebar: Ritchey EvoMax WCS Blatte 
  • Bar Tape: Ritchey Cork Black
  • Stem: Ritchey C-220 WCS Blatte 
  • Seatpost: Ritchey Link WCS 350x27.2mm Blatte
  • Saddle: Ritchey Streem WCS Black
  • Wheelset: Ritchey Zeta Disc WCS
  • Tyres: Ritchey Shield 700x35 Comp foldable
  • Price: €3,999.00 (UK price TBC)

Thanks to Ritchey for letting me borrow the bike. More at http://ritcheylogic.com/swiss-cross-disc-bike

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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8 comments

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DoctorRad | 7 years ago
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Anyone got the route of the Ritchey Reveller on Strava or GPX?

 

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Mei replied to DoctorRad | 7 years ago
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DoctorRad wrote:

Anyone got the route of the Ritchey Reveller on Strava or GPX?

 

Here's the official .gpx:

http://www.bike-fest.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Revellerrr...

I think they changed the end slightly on the day, riding up through "the zig zags" at Ashton Court.

Here's my ride on strava:

https://www.strava.com/activities/607010640

A few wrong turns in there! The course was great and lots of markings, but I was far from the only person who got a bit lost at times.

Avatar
bendertherobot | 7 years ago
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I've done a 35 miler today on a 42t up front with 11-36. Absolutely fine gearing and for an adventure bike all I'll ever need. Very easy to get good speeds on tarmac and keep them up off road. I'd not touch a double on a CX/gravel/adventure bike now.

Avatar
joules1975 | 7 years ago
2 likes

Interesting what you say about gearing, as I think even a standard cross frame is inappropriate for what most cross bikes are used for.

I've fitted a 46-30t chainset with an 11-32 cassette, which makes the bike much more versitile and usable on much wider variety of terrain, yet I rarely run out of gears at the top end (and when I do I don't really mind cause I'm on my cross bike, so spinning out at 35mph is fine anyway).

I don't know why shimano and others have't started making 46-30t chainsets (I know FSA are bringing one out, but good luck finding that at the moment - I had to go to Middleburn). Not only would such chainset be great for many of the new gravel bikes, but they would be great for the less agressive, less speed hungry, more relaxed riders such as my wife.

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reippuert replied to joules1975 | 7 years ago
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joules1975 wrote:

I don't know why shimano and others have't started making 46-30t chainsets (I know FSA are bringing one out, but good luck finding that at the moment - I had to go to Middleburn). Not only would such chainset be great for many of the new gravel bikes, but they would be great for the less agressive, less speed hungry, more relaxed riders such as my wife.

Couldn't agree more with with your opinion on 46/30, there is a large market for the super compact low Q-factor crankset - unofrtunately the only two modern incarnations are serously expensive - Middleburn and Sugino 901XO. Lightweigth oversized bearing tripples are rare, front shifting and stifness on the White Industries are sub-par and MTB cranks just dont cut it with their wide Q-factor.

I was serously looking at the Middleburn option two months ago for my anventure build but i couldn't justify  the cost - its realy beutifull but also serously expensive. Instead i  dusted off my old  Chorus 10 speed shifters and bought a SRAM XO type 2.2 rear deraillure and a 10-speed XTR 11/36 casette to use with my Campy 2015 crank and front deraillure.  Shifting is dead on, and i gives me the same gearing (albeight not as tight) as the Middleburn would have with a 11/29 casette.

Its not a fast road bike so the double wide range of 50-11/36 is ok for danish hills - the 34t-11/36t will come in handy next month on my two weeks / +30000m alpine adventure from Strasbourg to Mentron...

 

 

Avatar
DoctorRad replied to reippuert | 7 years ago
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reippuert wrote:

Couldn't agree more with with your opinion on 46/30, there is a large market for the super compact low Q-factor crankset - unofrtunately the only two modern incarnations are serously expensive - Middleburn and Sugino 901XO.

What's needed is perhaps a resurgence of 5-arm, 94mm BCD cranks. As a double you can go down to 29, and with either a 56 or 58mm inner, down to 20t. I've seen a fair few bikepackers using 20-30-40 with such a crank, for instance.

Unfortunately, they don't seem to be available new any more, but plenty of choice on the used market if you take a look.

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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
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Simply one of the best bikes ever made.

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