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Ritte Satyr review

1 Feb 2021
Verdict:

A bike with guaranteed grin factor. It might not win you races, but it will definitely get you style points

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Stable • Confidence-inspiring • Compliant • Feels bullet proof • Classic looks
Against 
Heavy

In Greek mythology, the satyr was a forest creature with the upper body of a man and legs of a goat, which, according to legend, was a bit of a party animal, with a fondness for women, wine and dancing. Ritte has chosen the name of its new gravel bike well, because it definitely has a playful side when it’s let loose in the woods.

If the name Ritte doesn’t ring any bells, that’s because it’s a fairly young company, founded in Los Angeles in 2009. It burst onto the road scene with its flamboyant, edgy paint schemes and, with a brand ethos to match, it was conspicuous

in an otherwise fairly conservative market at the time. But despite its promise, Ritte gradually faded into obscurity, at least on our shores.

Kellogg’s by design

Part of the company’s problem was losing its UK distributor, but recently bike shop Rockets and Rascals in Poole, Dorset, has taken up the mantle of returning the brand to prominence. So this is Ritte’s comeback, still unashamedly bold, but having grown in maturity, and with another ace up its sleeve.

Let me run another name past you: Tom Kellogg. No? Well it’s a name that should be familiar to anyone who has had an interest in high-end custom steel and titanium bikes over the past 40 years.

Kellogg is a highly regarded US framebuilder, having worked for the likes of Merlin, Reynolds and Time before branching out with his own custom brand, Spectrum Cycles. Kellogg was set to retire in 2019 but Ritte has persuaded him to hold out for a last hurrah, and he agreed to collaborate on two limited-edition steel frames, of which the Satyr gravel bike is one.

It’s constructed entirely from Reynolds 725, which is near the top end of the British company’s line up of steel tubing, being thin-walled and lightweight. The round tubes lend the Satyr a classically handsome look, with clean lines and exquisite welds that immediately draw the eye.

The British racing green and cream colour scheme might give the Satyr a vintage feel, but don’t be misled – it’s very much the modern gravel frame. It includes flat-mount disc brakes, T47 oversized threaded bottom bracket, thru-axles, fully internal cable routing, and up front is Enve’s latest G-Series carbon gravel fork. 

While the fork’s chunky, bow-legged appearance jars slightly against the skinny frame, it’s a popular choice among gravel slayers, and I was eager to see what it would all amount to out on the trails.

Steel is real

Steel might no longer be the darling material on the road, but for gravel bikes it has a lot going for it. Weight is, of course, still a factor off-road and I can’t deny 9.53kg is a little heavy, giving up at least half a kilo to similarly specced carbon bikes, but as soon as I swung off the tarmac it became obvious that the extra bit of heft wasn’t going to be a problem, and actually on many occasions it proved to be more help than hindrance.

The Satyr felt beautifully planted and stable, ably assisted by the springiness of the Reynolds 725 tubing. Not in a power-sapping way – the frame still felt plenty stiff enough to transmit force efficiently – but in a way that undeniably played to the bike’s strengths on the rough stuff.

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The steel tubing seemed to absorb and dissipate the chatter from the trail effectively. Also, it lessened the severity of sudden slips and jolts, such as unexpectedly catching the edge of a tree root or rut at speed, for instance.

Buy the Ritte Satyr now

The overriding sensation I had of the Satyr was that it was markedly less skittish than many bikes I’ve tested, and its ability to carry momentum over rough ground with such composure encouraged me to stay off the brakes more than I otherwise would.

I felt happy to take sketchy, root-strewn descents at full tilt, and when cornering on loose surfaces it provided a good balance of feedback and poise such that I could crank round bends at a fast pace without concerns for washing out.

There’s no other way to say it – it’s just a lot of fun to ride. And there’s always that weight off your mind with steel that should you hit the deck chances are you’ll likely only be dealing with a few minor paint (and possibly body) scuffs, rather than a wrecked frame.

The Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheels and Teravail Rutland 700x 42mm tubeless tyres are a great combination, enhancing the Satyr’s overall performance. The wide-profiled wheels struck an ideal balance of weight, stiffness and strength, belying their £800 price.

The tyres impressed me immensely whatever the terrain, never leaving me wanting for grip even when plugging through squelchy, muddy trails or grinding up loose gravel climbs, yet neither did they feel too draggy on hard-packed trails and roads. They’re a really versatile choice.

Shimano’s GRX 810 groupset – 1x setup with a 40t chainring paired to 11-40t cassette – was equally well matched and flawless in terms of its shifting and braking performance.

Overall the Satyr feels like a classy machine. Kellogg’s influence has clearly not been about trying to re-invent anything – the geometry is straight out of the book of accepted norms for gravel bikes – but he has certainly afforded it an unmistakable feel of high-end custom steel, but without Ritte slapping on the associated pricetag. 

Buy the Ritte Satyr now

As gravel bikes go, I’d say the Satyr is likely to gain more style points than race wins, but I can guess which one of those two things the vast majority of customers will care about most.

Spec

Frame Ritte Satyr
Groupset Shimano GRX 810
Brakes Shimano GRX 810
Chainset Shimano GRX 810
Cassette Shimano GRX 810
Bars Easton EA70
Stem Easton EA70
Seatpost Easton EA70
Saddle Fabric Scoop Sport
Wheels Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide, Teravail Rutland 700x42mm tyres
Weight 9.53kg (large
Contact ritte.cc
Price: 
£1,999 frameset, £4,099 as tested