Ever since Sven first reported about Tom Ritchey bringing back the Commando in the form of a steel 4″ fat-bike at NAHBS two years ago, I’ve wanted to get a chance to ride one. Ritchey is a legend and has been making mountain bikes for longer than I’ve been riding. Some of my earliest memories of rides down along the Des Plaines River on MTB’s include a cat that rode an early Ritchey. I can’t remember his name, but that dude could bunny hop over three foot split rail fences. That was a big deal in 1986. One of my ride buds, from back in the day, Tommy ‘Motts’ Unger, rode a white Ritchey that always caught my attention and fueled the N+1 bike lust in my brain. Over the years, I’ve built a slew of bikes spec’d with Ritchey components, which only made me bigger fan of the Ritchey Logic design philosophy. Tom Ritchey’s bikes always seem to adhere to a classic design that he has refined and improved, in a way that retains strength and optimizes the supple ride characteristics that steel frames are know to exhibit (when done right). Tom Ritchey is a classic American Bicycle Artisan/Engineer. So I expected great things from his fat-bike, but I was concerned that I might be too fat to ride Commando. (TMI?)
In September I got the opportunity to ride the Ritchey Commando out in Bootleg Canyon, during the Outdoor Demo at Interbike. We interviewed Sean Coffee about the Commando (video below) and I took the bike out for a spin.
As soon as I got on the Commando, I felt like I was on one of my own bikes. It’s always nice when you jump on a demo bike and the fit is close to ‘spot-on’. (It doesn’t happen that often). The commando has a classic fat-bike geometry, which is the ride that I prefer, over the more slacked out front ends on some fat-bikes. All of the geo numbers are below. The frame didn’t appear to yield too much flex for my weight so I set a course for this very bike test!
Ritchey sells the Commando, as a frame and fork, through their web-site and from their dealer network – aka your local bike shop. Our test bike was the very same demo-bike that I rode at interbike. The rider controls are all Ritchey Trail componentry. The wheels are somewhat of a mystery Taiwan skunk works deal and the drive train is a 2×10 with a Sram X5 Crank and Shimano XT triggers tethered to XT deraileurs. The brakes are the most excellent Shimano Deore XT hydros. The bike came with a Larry up front and a Nate in the rear, but what we’re really testing and going to be reviewing here, is the Commando Frame and Fork, because there’s no stock build for this bike. Folks that buy a Commando can custom spec their build, just the way they like. Because I know that you’ll ask, our test bike weighed 32 lbs 8 oz with pedals, spec’d as above.
The Commando frame features premium quality seamless, heat treated, triple-butted Ritchey logic II tubing. The head tube is forged and machined to make it lighter and stronger than a standard 1-1/8” head tube. The Commando is a 170mm rear and the CrMo steel Ritchey Logic fork is spaced 135mm. The frame can accomidate 26 x 4” tires and comes in Sizes: S (15”), M (17”), L (19”), XL (21”). Our Test Bike is a 19″.
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I’ve had a handfull of rides on the Commando and I think this bike is a ripper! My concerns about the frame being too flexy for my weight have been dispelled completely. (I did go on a diet). I look forward to the next month of rides! After we get more miles in, on the Commando, we’ll publish a full review somewhere around the beginning of December, so check back for the full report.
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For more information about Ritchey visit – http://ritcheylogic.com/