2024’s Best Road Bikes

2024’s Best Road Bikes
Originally published on Bicycling

Each year, Bicycling’s test editors choose the Best Bikes from the thousands available across dozens of categories. Our process starts with analyzing price, features, and how each bike solves a rider’s needs. We also monitor cycling trends, research emerging riding categories, and closely follow new technologies. Then we tighten our focus on the bikes with the most potential, get them, ride them extensively, and discuss them rigorously amongst the test team and with other cyclists. 

Almost no one uses a bicycle only how it’s portrayed on bike brands’ websites. So we test bikes in ways our readers ride them. We go to group rides and events, dig through social media posts, and dive into the minutia to give us insight into obstacles riders face and how they use their bikes to solve them. 

Ritte Esprit—Best All-Around Road

The best new bike I rode in the last year was the Ritte Esprit. I liked it so much that Elijah from Ritte needed to travel to Pennsylvania and practically rip it from my hands to get it back. After my test bike left with him I kept the tab open on my browser for months and hovered over the “Add to cart” button with my cursor dozens of times—but I’m still unsure which color I want. 

The Esprit changed my perceptions of what I want and expect in a road bicycle for 2024—and probably for the next several years. I think about the Esprit almost every time I pedal a different bike on the road. So many of the things that annoy me about other road bikes, Ritte gets right with the Esprit. 

Road bike development led us down two distinct evolutionary branches over the past twenty years (and lots of niches and specialization along those branches). Unfortunately, a model like the Esprit cannot exist for many brands. Big brands need rigidly defined race and endurance categories to market and sell bikes. 

Such is the current landscape of high-end, production carbon road bikes. Race bikes are low, long, and fast. They are lightweight, have skinny tires, and prioritize efficiency over comfort. Race bikes are at the razor’s edge of everything. Endurance bikes are upright, short, and compliant. They sacrifice speed to fit wider tires and fenders for versatility. Endurance bikes are practical. 

Ritte took those rules and set them ablaze. The Esprit is low, long, and fast. It’s also amazingly comfortable, fits decently wide rubber (up to 35mm—or room for fenders if you want,) and has forward-looking component compatibility without using proprietary parts or standards. 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love race bikes—my daily driver is a Specialized Allez Sprint aluminum criterium bike. Something is alluring about products crafted with the singleminded purpose of traveling ruthlessly fast. Race bikes show no mercy. They force you to ride faster, be efficient, and hone your skills—and the reward is speed and handling. 

Endurance bikes don’t elicit the same feelings in me. Some ride quite well and many are brilliantly engineered with features that provide riders with more comfort and confidence than they might get from a race bike. Yet when I ride most endurance bikes I do the shrug emoji because they don’t have that little edge I like from a road bike. But some of the features of endurance bikes could appeal to me and benefit me on my everyday rides (the 90-plus percent of miles I pedal in a year). 

Wider tires are great for added comfort and traction, plus they allow you to explore some dirt roads or take that shortcut home on that road with notoriously bad pavement. Component fitment standards like T47 BB, UDH, 27.2mm post, and 1-1/8” round steerer tubes make sourcing, changing, and maintaining parts easier, cheaper, and less time-consuming. Plus, bikes with standard parts can be built slightly more robustly, but remain generally lightweight. 

These features are exactly the things that make the Ritte Esprit great. It weaves together the elements I love about road race bikes with a sprinkling of endurance bike flourishes into a sublime package. The extra tire clearance, universal standards, and overall comfort make the bike better for my daily riding and training without detracting from its speed or crisp handling. 

The Esprit’s handling is not an accident or stroke of luck. It was developed for Ritte by frame-building legend Tom Kellogg (of Spectrum Cycles, Seven, and Merlin fame). And in a word the handing is “quick” and most certainly inspired by top-level racing bikes. The bike turns extremely fast, perhaps twitchy to some if you’re more accustomed to bikes with more relaxed feeling endurance geometry. The Esprit rewards riders having strong bike handling skills and full commitment with exit speed and acceleration 

The Esprit’s chainstays are a touch long (415mm on an XL frame). With the bike’s quick handling, the longer stays help provide stability and keep the rider’s weight centered when cornering. The Esprit feels very balanced front to-back.

In addition to the ride feel and handling, Ritte’s purchasing experience is another key win for the Esprit. The buying process better resembles working with a custom builder than buying a production bike. Riders can select from five stock colors in five frame sizes (XS to XL), then pick the built-tier (One = SRAM Red or Shimano Dura-Ace, Two = Force or Ultegra, Three = Rival or 105). 

The choices don‘t end there—Ritte offers an incredible 16 configurations of its one-piece Othr cockpit, 0mm or 25mm offset posts, power meters, and wheel upgrades. But that’s only scratching the surface: If you don’t see what you need or want on Ritte’s dropdown menus, shoot them a message and they will bend over backward to get you sorted with your ideal bike. 

Custom-builder level of attention usually comes with a boutique price. Yet, Ritte’s prices for complete-build Esprits make even recently deeply discounted prices from some mainstream brands look super pricey. Hell, Ritte’s pricing even gives notably low-priced Canyon a run for its money. Our raw finish, Level Two Ultegra Di2-equipped, 16.6 pound, XL-size test bike prices out at $6,595Level Three models start at $5,995 and framesets are $2,950

As much as I loved the Esprit, I failed to scream about it from the rooftops until now. But why? 

It’s almost like seeing your favorite upcoming independent artist play a small show in your local club right before that track you love becomes the hot new song everyone knows about. Perhaps a part of my subconscious wanted to hold onto that feeling for as long as possible and have the Esprit be my little secret. 

Now it’s time for others to hear about and appreciate the Esprit. But don’t just hum along to this tune, scream about it at the top of your lungs like no one is listening and dance to it like no one is watching. Race bike fit and geometry with endurance bike comfort and versatility is the soundtrack to the summer of 2024. Throw in service and attention to detail unmatched by almost any other mid- or large-sized bike brand and Ritte has a smash hit.

Tara Seplavy, Bicycling Editor

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