Photos by Justin Steiner
Ritte is an interesting company. With marketing that seems to drift between sarcastic, ironic, off-color, and bro-tastic, it continues to be polarizing. But even if one doesn’t care for the brand, its style is iconic and distinctive.
It might be easy to dismiss the Crossberg as just another aluminum cyclocross bike, and in a lot of ways it is somewhat cookie cutter. But it fits in with its intended purpose as a race bike. A true cyclocross race bike gets beaten down over the course of a season: mud, pressure washing, getting jammed into the back of cars with another two or four race bikes. All these things take their toll, a toll that can beat down a carbon bike.
Every time I rode the Crossberg I wanted to go fast, and that is what a race bike is all about. Other than a pair of water bottle mounts this bike doesn’t make any overtures to practicality. It isn’t for riding to work on Monday and racing on Sunday. You can’t install a rack and go for a short tour. But really, after riding it for a spell, I don’t want to. I just want to find a cross course and turn the screws on some fellow riders.
I selected a size large based on top tube length, which run short across the board. The seat tube is tall as well, which makes it easier to shoulder during a race course run up, or up the stairs to your fourth floor walk up. It took me a while to embrace stem lengths beyond 100 mm again, as my preferences have followed the short stem trends in mountain biking. But once I got over my bad attitude, the 120 mm stem I settled on got me out over the front wheel, helping it to bite in flat, loose corners and made for an excellent position for out of the saddle climbs and sprints.
Handling is solidly racy. Get on the gas, brake late for the corner, square it off, start pedaling directly after the apex, repeat, win races. This isn’t a bike that has the edge taken off for riding to the bar to compare mustache waxing styles, so be prepared to pay attention at high speeds, as letting your mind wander can lead to scary moments. Bombing dirt and gravel roads is certainly possible and still a ton of fun on this bike, but something lower, slacker and longer is a better choice if that is the majority of your riding and racing.
I was glad to see all the cables are externally routed on the Crossberg as it eases maintenance, something that is a regular occurrence on a race bike. Ritte says this aluminum model is a step in the development of a new carbon race bike, but I hope the carbon bike keeps the external cables, which is becoming a rarity in this day of internal routing.
One of Ritte’s marketing lines is: “We make competition-focused bikes for unusual people,” and I think that is a very accurate way to sum up the company. The Crossberg Disc is an excellent race bike, and a viable option to the more mainstream brands. While it might not attract as much attention as more expensive models, like a Mazda Miata setup for track use only, it is more than capable of embarrassing carbon wonder bikes under the right rider. If something more road oriented is your style, Ritte just released a disc road bike, the Snob, made from domestically produced stainless steel.
- Price: $1,250 (frame, fork, headset)
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L (Tested), XL, XXL