I’ve bee riding a Ritchey Commando for the last 6 weeks. During that time the Commando was the only mountain bike that I rode. Both of my personal bikes were out of commision, so the Commando stepped in and has gotten ridden a lot. I’ve sort of been on a tear in the riding department. Chris Reichel told me that I should ride my bike every day. He said “It’s your job dude!” That hit home with me, so since the middle of last summer, I’ve been doing my job just about every day. Even if I just get out for an hour, it’s a lot more beneficial than, say, sitting in from of a computer.
(click any photo to release flying monkees)
At the very beginning of the test, before, I’d even ridden the Commando, I had some concerns eating into my brain. My little voice inside my brain was saying – This was a 4″ bike and I’m used to riding five inch Otis and the two by drive train was a couple of teeth north of what I’m used to pushing. (Refer to Rule#5) It probably helped that I had a couple of months of base mileage under my shrinking belt, because the gearing never seemed to give me more than I could handle. I was able to ride all of the short steep (Wisconsin) sized climbs and I never missed the extra flotation, because most of my rides were on dirt with the commando. I did get to ride in the snow a couple of times, but 90% of my test rides were on dirt singletrack. BTW – The commando rode great in both Dirt and Snow. After over a month of rides on the commando, all the little voices in my head were smiling!
I tested the bike during a record setting wet and warm, ‘El Niño’ November and December in 2015. The Commando came into the test lab with a Larry up front and a Nate in the rear. I forgot how nice of a front tire that the Larry is for dry to loamy singletrack. I eventually encountered wetter conditions and switched the tires to Vittoria Bomboloni front and rear, during the 6 week test period and ended the test with a Bontrager Gnarwhal on the rear coupled with the Bombo up front. I also swithched the touch points of the bike to my personal preferences. A Brooks Swift Saddle, Ergon Grips and a pair of VP Components pedals all made me feel even more, at home on the Commando.
Our Commando came in three pounds heavier than Otis and is geared slightly harder, but seemed to nail everything like butter. A fat-bike’s weight, is probably the most over emphasized factoid spewed on the interwebs. The Commando rides like it was made for me. I happen to like a more traditional fat-bike geometry. The large Commando frame sports a 70.5/72.5 HT/ST which reminds me of my moonlander in the way it effortlessly glides over just about anything. The 18″ Moonie, that I rode for two years, rocked a 70.5/73 HT/ST. I read late comers to the fat-bike game talk about how legacy fat-bike geometry sucked and the new slacker short chain stay machines are the better choice. I agree to a certain extent, but I think the more traditional fat-bike geo fits my particular style of riding better than full-blown enduro-fat geo. I’m not hucking off of anything and I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t get big air or ride big drops. So there’s nothing wrong with traditional fat-bike geometry….in fact it rides like a dream….as did, our test Commando. After all…old school, fat-bike geometry is the bike that gave creation to the fat-bike grin. Any discussion about ride geometry is really splitting hairs or +/- 1 degree. Otis is a 69.5/73 HT/ST and that seems to be my sweet spot, but YMMV. The bottom line here, is that I really liked the way this bike rode.
The aesthetics of the Commando are very much to my liking. There’s something about the contrast between the diameter of the tubes of fat-bike frames and forks, that are made from steel and the big tires that define the category, that created a proportional skew that just screams fun to me! The steel tubing of the Commando and the decades of research and development that Ritchey brings to the table with Ritchey Logic Tubing is the heart and soul of what make this fat-bike something that should be on every ‘steel is real’ fan’s radar or wish list. I think this is the perfect bike for riders out there that want to swap parts from any old mukluk. The Commando frame and fork is about a grand and they have sick deals on full builds through their dealers, if you want to build one up from scratch.
This is one bike that I’m really sad that we have to return. If I were in the market for a 4″ 170mm steel bike, I would buy a commando and would be proud to own and ride this bike! I’d deck it out with camo bags and ride it everywhere! I give the Ritchey Commando Frame and Fork – Five Gnomes!
For more information about Ritchey or to find you local Ritchey Dealer visit – www.ritcheylogic.com