The saying goes, “steel bikes with carbon forks ain’t dead,” or something like that. The latest Outback V2 gravel bike from Tom Ritchey’s legendary brand maintains the real-steel racey character we expect from the brand, with some useful adventure bits added in for the longer haul.
The original Outback model used modern through axles, disc brakes, external cable routing and BB, and made space for 40mm-wide rubber. The V2 frame keeps all of those features and now accepts flat-mount disc calipers, accommodates either 48mm x 700c tires or 2-inch-wide 650b tread, and is riddled with mounts for all manner of racks, cages, and fenders. There are three traditional bottle mounts, cage mounts on either side of the carbon fork legs, as well as fender and rack mounts. This frame is clearly ready for some backcountry bikepacking adventures.
The 2020 Outback V2 steel frames are available in four sizes, from XS to XL, in one solid Guacamole colorway, retailing at $1399 (€1449) for the frame, carbon fork, and headset.
Like a lot of adventure or gravel frames, the Outback V2 geometry measurements are very similar to those of a hardtail XC bike from 5-6 years ago. In fact, if you threw a flat bar on this whip you would essentially have a sick old school XC bike with a lower BB, narrower tires, and countless places to attach your sleeping bag.
The frame does use a 27.2mm diameter seat tube, and there’s no mention of internal dropper routing, so folks who want to run a dropper will have to get a little creative. It also has a straight headtube and fork steerer, which likely makes for a smoother and potentially less fatiguing overall ride. That straight steerer does limit upgrade possibilities should buyers want to try a different rigid fork or add a little suspension at some point, and the drop-in headset foregoes the option of an angled headset.
Claimed frame weight for the Outback V2 is 2.27 kg (size XL with a thru-axle and derailleur hanger), and the uncut carbon fork tips the scale to 473g with the thru axle.