The new Ritchey Ascent is a bike to disappear into the wild on

It’s a little bit bikepacking, a little bit rigid mountain bike, a little bit touring, and looks like a lot of fun.

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Ritchey has just announced a new version of its venerable Ascent, a do-it-all adventure model it is calling a “Swiss Army knife of sorts, Jack of most trades, Jeremiah Johnson of bikes”. The last bit has lost me, I’ll admit, because this bike seems destined for much more cheerful, less harrowing exploits.

The Ascent model name has been in the brand’s line-up since the mid-1980s, but in a few different guises. Way back then, it was a mountain bike; before this newest version, it was kind of a rugged touring bike. In its most recent incarnation, it shows some of both strains of that heritage, while adding in some adventure-bike ethos.

It “invites you to chase your own life experiences out on those unexplored passes, winding roads, and endless trails,” a mission statement which inspires more than a little wanderlust in me in the midst of another COVID lockdown. 

Let’s talk tech

Like most Ritchey framesets, this one is built from the company’s heat-treated, TIG-welded and triple-butted ‘Logic’ steel tubing. There are mounts all over the thing – rack and fender mounts, bottle cage mounts inside and outside of the main triangle – and for ease of access and trail-side maintenance, everything is routed externally, with an external seat collar keeping the 27.2 mm seatpost in place. The frame weighs in at 2,400 g in a size large.

The new steel fork follows the practical theme, with mounts on the side, fender mounts, and a dynamo mount. Fork weight is 1,125 g, uncut, and the frameset is supplied with one of Ritchey’s excellent press-in WCS headsets.  

The Ascent has massive tyre clearance in either 29” (700C) or 27.5” (650B) wheel sizes, clearing up to a 2.6”-wide tyre. Those dimensions are much more ‘mountain bike’ than ‘gravel bike’, and some of the other standards on the frameset follow in that direction – although Ritchey says that you can run it with a flat bar or a drop bar, and has helpfully provided pictures to help you visualise it in either guise.  Here, take a look:

The bottom bracket is English threaded, and 73 mm in width. The rear hub is Boost 148 mm spaced, and the brakes are post-mount rather than the flat-mount standard that’s the norm on gravel bikes nowadays. While that’s arguably less discreet-looking, it’s also much less fussy to get and keep aligned.

The whole thing’s dressed up in a hard-wearing, understated and handsome orange-ish ‘Sierra Red’ paintjob, with a vibe that leans much more ‘flannies and baggy shorts’ than ‘lycra and aero optimisation’. 

I would not kick one out of the garage.

A place in the Ritchey range

With the release of a new Ascent, there’s the question of where it fits in with other bikes in the Ritchey line-up, which already includes a couple of gravel bikes and a hardtail mountain bike (along with beloved classics like the Ritchey Road Logic).

Ritchey’s adventure-oriented gravel bike, the Outback, is probably the closest, and the two are reasonably close in terms of geometry. However, the Ascent is a little longer in the chainstays (463 mm) than the already-long Outback (453 mm), and the head tube angle is half a degree slacker at 70.5°. That contributes to a wheelbase of 1092.4 mm (size L), which sounds lovely and stable, especially if you’re on rough terrain or if you’re hauling a load. 

Compared to the Outback, the reach of the Ascent is within a couple of millimetres – although, obviously, run your sums depending on whether you’re considering a flat bar or a drop bar. The stack is a few centimetres taller due to the length of the fork. 

Any similarity to the Ritchey Outback can only be a good thing, in my book. We reviewed that bike early this year and I fell in love, buying it at the conclusion of the review period and selling the near-new gravel bike that I already owned. It was truly better than the sum of its parts.

If the Ascent manages to combine the gorgeous ride quality of the Outback with a more rugged, adventurous personality, it should be an appealing option indeed for those looking for a bike to ride off into the wilderness on. 

The Ascent frameset is available now, and retails for US$1,299 / EU€1,299 / AU$TBC. Find out more at RitcheyLogic.com

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