review

Ritte Ace frameset

8
£1,999.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Smooth and impressively composed handling, but the Ace is up against some serious competition at this price point
Weight: 
7,400g

With its sharp lines and Belgian influence, the Ace is the latest frame from US firm Ritte. The Ace delivers refined and impressively composed handling with plenty of speed when you open the taps, but at £2,000 for the frameset the it is up against some very stiff competition.

The Ritte Ace is another of those US designed bikes that really wants to be Belgian - the Lion of Flanders is on the head badge is a bit of a clue there. As is the company name - a nod to Henri "Ritte" Van Lerberghe the 1919 winner of the Tour of Flanders who won on a borrowed bike with the biggest winning margin in the race's history his winning ride included picking up his bike and carrying it through a train that was blocking his path. The Ace is Ritte's brand new flagship carbon fibre race frame and replaces the Vlaanderen. While the frame is all-new, the geometry is carried over from that previous frame, so if you're upgrading you'll find the fit identical.

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The sharp lines and slab-sided tube profiles shout stiffness. The look of the bike the main focus behind the development of the new frame has been to make it as stiff as possible. The Ace is made from a combination of T700 and T1000 carbon fibre and has a full list of modern features; a tapered head tube, pressfit 30 bottom bracket, internal cable routing and Di2 compatibility. Frame weight is a claimed 980g and the Shimano Ultegra and Easton wheels test bike in a size 56cm here weighs 7.4kg (16.31b).

The chainstays and seat tube are asymmetric so they can put more material where there is space to, in an effort to increase the frame stiffness. This design also allows clearance for up to 28mm tyres, which will be appreciated by fans of wider tyres. The frame takes a 31.6mm seatpost rather than the more common 27.2mm option. The new all-carbon fork weighs a claimed 360g.

Ride and performance

I clocked up about 500km on the Ace and what was immediately clear from the first ride, and the characteristic that defined my time with it wasn't stiffness but how smooth the ride was. Based on appearances you have every reason to expect the frame to be overly stiff and lack composure on anything but a silky smooth road surface, but that just wasn't the case. Despite 23mm tyres and the 31.6mm seatpost, the frame and fork manages to filter out the vast majority of vibrations that can lead to a bumpy ride. The level of smoothness was highly impressive.

There's no lack of stiffness when you want to go for it though, but it's certainly not the stiffest frame in its class. From a hilly 100-mile ride with some seriously steep climbs to my local chain gang, the Ace delivers enough stiffness to ensure good efficiency, from hard pedalling out of the saddle to pushing the big ring trying to close a gap to the wheel in front when you're deep into the red. It's a decent climber, though it's not the best I've ridden at this sort of price.

The geometry gives a stretched out position with a low front-end, so it really allows, and encourages, you to got low and aerodynamic. That's great for booting along in the chain gang or descending high speed downhills, but the geometry also makes it a comfortable place to be for longer rides where it's a very calm and stable place to be.

It's a refined ride, but for all its smoothness, the Ace didn't always provide the most engaging ride. It's almost that it isolates you too much from what is passing underneath the tyres. I sometimes hankered after a bit more feedback, more information about the road surface through the contact points to provide that sensation of speed that it often failed to deliver. It's perfectly competent though, and doesn't fail to deliver fast times if you're pushing yourself against the clock, it's just not the most exciting bike from A to B.

Ritte don't do complete builds in the UK so distributor Silverfish supplied a demo bike for this review. I had no issue with the build kit, a Shimano Ultegra mechanical is wonderful to use and the Easton EA70 SL wheels were smooth and compliant and displayed a reasonable level of stiffness. I had no complaints from the Onza Preda 23mm tyres either, fast and durable they proved to be. Easton EC70 handlebars were a nice shape with a good reach, I changed the stem for a longer one, and the saddle was also changed to a Prologo Scratch.

There's a lot to like about the Ace. It's wonderful to look at and manages to be distinctive in a market where many road bikes are starting to look very similar. Ritte has got the key ingredients right, and the level of smoothness is wonderful, and appreciated on my rough local roads, but it lacks a bit of sparkle that other frames provide. There's some serious competition in the £2,000 carbon frameset market, and Ace can at least hold its head high in such a crowd.

Verdict

Smooth and impressively composed handling, but the Ace is up against some serious competition at this price point

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Ritte Ace frameset

Size tested: 56

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

New for 2015, the Ritte Ace takes over as the flagship of our road racing lineup. Utilizing the most state-of-the-art construction techniques and materials, the Ace takes power transfer and responsiveness to an even higher level.

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Here's what it says on the Ritte website...

True Monocoque - Unlike most carbon frames, which are made in three or more separately molded pieces, the Ace is made as one main structure, eliminating hard joints and seams through the main tubes and joints. This allows for a more rigid frame with fewer stress points and better transfer of road feel through the frame.

Positive Molding - The Ace utilizes the most up-to-date molding process with a hard inner mold and bladder system, resulting in higher carbon compaction and more uniform wall density for a light frame and lively ride.

Grounded Geometry - The Ace uses the same well-tested, much-loved geometry from the Vlaanderen for confident, precise handling and stable descending. The design is based on a slightly longer wheelbase with better front/rear balance.

T700/T1000 Carbon Layup - the highest possible grade of carbon that can be practically used on a road frame. The carbon works in unison with our molding technique and monocoque design to provide the best possible frame structure and ride quality.

Interchangeable Di2/Mechanical - Now Di2 and mechanical cabling is cleaner-looking and easier to route with specially designed inserts.

25+ Tire Clearance - The Ace can accept the biggest possible tires that a standard brake caliper can clear. Every brand's 25s and many 28s can fit.

Lifetime Warranty - We stand behind the quality of our bikes, but if there's ever a structural issue with your Ace as a result of manufacturing or material defect, we'll handle it for you.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Long and low, very much a race bike

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes, supremely comfortable ride and position and wonderful smoothness

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes, certainly stiff when you need it to be but not the stiffest in its class

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Wheels and tyres

Controls

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? There's a lot of choice at this price point

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Some

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

There's a lot to like about the Ace. It's wonderful to look at and manages to be distinctive in a market where many road bikes are starting to look very similar. Ritte has got the key ingredients right, and the level of smoothness is wonderful, and appreciated on my rough local roads, but it lacks a bit of sparkle that other frames provide. There's some serious competition in the £2,000 carbon frameset market, and Ace can at least hold its head high in such a crowd.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. 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.

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