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Ritchey at 50 - A Timeline

Part history lesson and part celebration of the 50-year anniversary of when Tom first welded up his own bicycle frame – at 16-years old – here's a comprehensive timeline of the history of Ritchey.

Tom’s love of bikes began at an early age with his entrepreneurial spirit. While most kids mowed lawns or had a paper route, Tom began a tubular repair business - eventually earning enough money to buy his first bike at just 11 years old, shown above.

We often talk about Tom Ritchey's many achievements, innovations, and influence - and how we all still ride today the products and concepts he has created over the years. But perhaps you're slightly unfamiliar with everything that Tom and the company he started has accomplished. Part history lesson and part celebration of the 50-year anniversary of when Tom first welded up his own bicycle frame – at 16-years old – here's a comprehensive timeline of the history of Ritchey.

1970s

1972

  • Tom Ritchey builds his first bicycle frame - at age 15

1973

  • Tom began building frames for other people under “T. Ritchey” moniker with the first customer being childhood friend, Donny McBride

1974

  • Tom begins building frames for Palo Alto Bikes - up to 150 bikes per year
  • Tom develops and utilizes twin-plated crown forks

1978

  • Tom builds his first mountain bike

1979

  • Ritchey MountainBikes formed as an informal partnership between Ritchey, Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly
  • MountainBikes becomes the first business to sell mountain bikes exclusively

1980s

1980

  • Tom creates 130mm mountain bike specific rear hub
  • Tom develops 120mm bottom bracket spindle to account for wider chainstays that accommodate a wider rear tire Tom invents the Bullmoose integrated mountain bike specific handlebar and stem

1981

  • First Ritchey employee hired
  • 400+ frames built

1982

  • Built 700 frames
  • Road & Track automobile magazine names MountainBike the Best off-road vehicle

1983

  • Ritchey MountainBikes dissolves
  • Team Ritchey MTB established
  • Ritchey begins using standard unicrown tapered fork

1984

  • Logic butted tubing is invented for usage with TIG and fillet brazed frames
  • Developed new MTB-specific tread design with IRC-Japan that applied road tire technology to MTB tires - introducing a folding bead and 120tpi
  • Tom partners with Palo Alto Bikes to fulfill orders for his bicycles
  • Ritchey USA is incorporated

1985

  • The first welded mountain bike specific rim, the Ritchey Vantage, is produced by Ukai - a wider, 25mm rim developed to better accommodate a wider knobby tire

1988

  • Ritchey introduces Vector Force Analysis (VFA) tread designs for mountain bike tires featuring front- and rear-specific and rotation direction treads
  • Tom Ritchey is inducted into the inaugural class of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
  • The tig-welded Ritchey Ultra mountain bike makes its debut

1989

  • Logic Condensed double-butted spokes produced by DT Swiss
  • Don Myrah wins Amateur MTB World Championship in Mammoth

1990s

1990

  • Team Ritchey professional MTB team forms, signing a young Thomas Frischknecht as a member
  • Ritchey opens an office in Italy, its first expansion outside the United States

1991

  • Ruthie Matthes wins MTB World Championships in Ciocco, riding for Team Ritchey
  • WCS component level introduced, featuring handlebars
  • Road Logic road bike released
  • Tom designed the first Z-Max VFA tire

1992

  • Off Center Rim Technology (OCR) made possible a balanced spoke tension in rear wheels and off-center disc-specific front and rear wheels
  • Riding for Team Ritchey, Henrik Djernis wins MTB World Championships in Bromont
  • Matthes and Frischknecht, of Team Ritchey, crowned World Cup champions

1993

  • Frischknecht is again World Cup champion

1994

  • Ritchey unveils the SwissCross, named in honor of Thomas Frischknecht
  • Ritchey International is officially incorporated in Switzerland to support and expand Ritchey’s growing global business

1995

  • Ritchey creates its first clipless MTB pedal

1996

  • Thomas Frischknecht wins the Silver Medal for mountain biking, atop a Ritchey P20, at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta
  • The innovative SpeedMax tire tread is introduced for, and raced at, the Olympics

1997

  • Vector Wing saddle technology introduced, which increases comfort by dissipating pres­sure
  • Ritchey offers 2x9 speed drivetrain for mountain bikes as faster alternative to triple chain­rings in racing

1999

  • Ritchey Asia is established in Taiwan to embolden growth in the Asian market and sup­port product development operations
  • Ritchey creates the first disc-only OCR rim
  • Ritchey develops alloy 3D Net-Shape forging for stems that led way to a new generation of lighter, stiffer and stronger stems without welding
  • Ritchey creates its iconic flip-flop logo

2000s

2001

  • Tom creates the unique Break-Away system that allows a full-size bicycle frame to be split apart to fit into its own special travel case

2004

  • After years of taking a scientific approach to design and carefully researching material stress points to ensure maximum durability, safety and performance, Ritchey releases its first carbon fiber component - the WCS Carbon Road Bar

2005

  • Tom visits Rwanda and soon designs the Coffee Bike to help Rwandan coffee farmers transport their crops more efficiently to washing stations

2006

  • The WCS 4-Axis stem is released - designed specifically for lightweight carbon and alloy bars

2008

  • Ritchey creates the 1-Bolt seatpost clamp for quick, secure adjustment and reducing stress on lightweight saddle rails

2009

  • Ritchey launches the SuperLogic line, a collection of the highest-end carbon fiber components engineered from the most modern, cutting-edge materials
  • Nino Schurter wins his first of several UCI XCO Championships, riding a Ritchey cockpit

2010s

2012

  • Tom is inducted to the United States Bicycle Hall of Fame in Davis, California
  • “Tom Ritchey’s 40-Year Ride” documentary film is released, chronicling and celebrating Tom’s first 40 years of innovation in the bike industry
  • Ritchey releases the revolutionary and patented C260 stem, which more evenly distributes clamping stress through the handlebar, faceplate, hardware and stem body

2014

  • Phantom Flange hubs are introduced to adopt the efficiency and aesthetics of straight-pull spokes with the use of strong and reliable j-bend spokes

2015

  • The C220 stem is introduced, wrapping 220-degrees around the handlebar and allowing for a lighter faceplate and stem body with no sacrifice in strength or stiffness

2016

  • The Ritchey WCS VentureMax handlebar is unveiled, offering riders a wide 24-degree drop flare, perfect for the emerging gravel market
  • Riding Ritchey WCS bars, stem, post and pedals, Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter both win gold medals in mountain biking at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

2017

Ritchey Outback relaunched as a modern gravel bike

2020s

2020

  • Building upon the success of the VentureMax gravel bar, Ritchey doubles down on the flare with the WCS Beacon handlebar, featuring a 36-degree drop flare
  • Ritchey is first company to offer compression caps with its legendary stems

2022

  • Ritchey celebrates 50th anniversary of Tom welding his first bicycle frame and starting a cycling revolution
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