First Ride: Ritte Phantom – Steel is Still Real

When legacy tubes and a legacy frame designer meet

Ritte (usually pronounced “Ritta”) is a  SoCal brand that that  underwent a change of owners last year and has come out swingin’ with some  new bikes. After first making  a name for themselves with carbon frames, the brand is now re-establishing  itself first with two new steel bikes.

The Phantom is made from Reynolds 725 tubes and represents their “all-road” entry.  One of the more interesting details of the bike is that to nail the design and geometry Ritte rang up legendary frame builder Tom Kellogg formerly of the east coast legacy frame shop  Spectrum Cycles. Tom retired from running his frame business last year, but was called-out of retirement to add his signature on the inside of the chainstay – a classy touch.

As unfashionable as steel is supposed to be in this day & age of black plastic madness, owing to its small diameter tubes, countless frame details, and eye-pleasing paint, the Ritte was a run-away attention getter on our last group ride.

Our test bike was rolling on alloy Hunt wheels wrapped with 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tires with ample room to go bigger (32mm) still. Up front was an Enve fork with internal cable routing to match the frame’s cable routing.

In addition to the Enve fork, one of the standout frame details is the beautifully sculpted head tube…it’s the details folks!


The Phantom is available in six sizes. With pedals our medium size bike weighed just a skootch over 20 pounds. The head angle measured 73 degrees with a 73.5 seat angle and the wheelbase came in one centimeter shorter than the claimed 99cm.


The Shimano Ultegra Compact drivetrain (mated to an 11-32 cassette) kept us in the big ring and delivered all the quick and effortless shifts we could ask from it. The stylized dropouts are another nice frame detail.


Wait, did you say you were hoping for more style points? How about that nicely accented seatstay bridge? The chainstay yoke is another unique touch. Overall craftsmanship is first rate.


When it comes to talking about steel bikes, we’ve lost track how many times we’ve had to have the same discussion when it comes to talking about ride quality. No different than a carbon frame, any bike’s ride quality has more to do with how the tubes are designed and constructed than the material itself. Somewhere between the Reynold’s tube and the Kellogg design, the Phantom offered up sweet ride. By minding the tire pressure (between 85-90 psi) the Ritte offered up the type of  enjoyable ride quality  that anyone with experience on quality steel frames will always brag about. Road feedback was subtle with the most noteworthy attribute being a fast front end that brought with it a sense of rider caution on higher speed corners with a quick turn-in.

Ritte makes the Phantom available either has a frameset (a screamin’ deal at $2250) or with three different builds: Shimano 105 or Ultegra or SRAM Red AXS. For more info:  Ritte Bikes.


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