• NAHBS 2017 Builder Profile: Vlad Dolinsky

    Name: Vlad Dolinsky
    Years Building: 4
    Website: www.vladcycles.com
    Social media:
    instagram.com/vladcycles
    www.facebook.com/vladcycles
    twitter.com/vladcycles 
    What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
    Cannondale Prophet, full suspension mountain bike.  I moved from Brooklyn, NY to Northern New Jersey about fifteen years ago, and discovered mountain biking.   This was before I learned that hard tail are better ride for me.
    What was the last bike you bought that you didn’t make, and why?
    Single speed, Steel Vassago Jabberwocky.  I was experimenting with different types of bikes.  I rode aluminum, carbon, titanium, and finally steel.  I discovered that steel bikes had superior riding characteristics.  In addition, I was trying out single speed riding, and really liked climbing on it.  There is no downshifting here when you approach a climb!
    When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
    I was looking for a best ride, and turned to Ti before I tried steel bikes.  I actually bought a custom Ti frame from Black Sheep, and was really amazed by the craftsmanship of the bike.  Then I started following other frame builders and developed that desire to start building my own frames.
    What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
    I wish it was my last job! J I have a mechanical engineering degree that I received while I lived in Ukraine.  After moving to US, I obtained a degree in accounting/finance.  So, currently I am doing both, fabricate frames and work in the finance industry.

    Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
    I discovered Metal Guru frame building school run by Carl Schlemowitz, aka Vicious Cycles located in New Paltz, NY.  So, Carl was my mentor, and we still maintain good relationship.  All my frames are powdercoated or painted in his shop.

    What do you listen to when you’re working?
    AC/DC, METALICA and Trance
    What’s your favorite tool in the shop and why?
    Anvil frame jig, Bridgeport mill and Bringheli alignment table.  I believe this a minimum that is needed to efficiently and precisely build frames.
    Every builder seems to have an “Ah Ha” moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
    As bike wheels are getting fatter and chainstays are getting shorter, my important “Ah ha” thing was how to fabricate chainstays with appropriate clearances/bends to accommodate various demands.
    When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process? What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first?
    Understanding how the bike will be ridden and making sure geometry and fit are correct for that specific build.  Second is aesthetics of the bike.
    What’s your go to bike when you go on a ride? (Provide a picture if you could)
    My go to 650b plus MTB!
    Last words?
    I ride primarily my 27.5 plus on the trails. The bike I showed during 2015 NAHBS in Louisville, KY. It was designed around 29er 100mm travel suspension fork with a little bit steeper head angle. I like the traction of the plus tires and being able to ride in all conditions. I keep a set of 29er wheels for this bike that I use on smooth and flowy single track from time to time. However, about five years ago I discovered road biking. So, I ride road bike a lot during Summer now and, finally, I built myself a gravel bike that I just displayed in SLC.  The goal here was to combine pavement, gravel and dirt riding in one ride so who knows may be that will be my favorite ride after all.

  • Vernor on traveling and riding abroad

    It's safe to say Brian Vernor has traveled his fair share of the world - often documenting his  experiences through photos in such a way that the viewer is compelled by the flowing landscape or moving city without the need for words. When he speaks of his trips, it's casual - not flippant or glib. It’s with an ease that one would suspect even the worst moments are worth more than their weight in gold. We were able to catch up with Brian after a trip he made to Chile in the summer of last year and hear his take on traveling and what lures him to keep moving.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    Chile has an allure. The land is stretched out in a way that just seems infinite. I was there once before, but not cycling. For this trip I really wanted the chance to see it from the saddle, and also camp out. I think when you sleep outside and move at a lumbering pace (like when you are cycling), you see a place's natural rhythm. Changes in temperature, light, all the natural ways a place changes throughout the day - you experience it in an intimate way. I like knowing a place through that kind of constant outside exposure. Chile feels a lot like my home in California, but amplified; the mountains are more abrupt (and sometimes exploding), the rivers are more raging, and the night sky a bit less polluted by city lights.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    We planned out our route, roughly, but I'm always stopping and doing photos and really we just never made it as far as we planned each day. I'd rather stop and do my thing, whether it is simple documentation or making something more creative. Traveling and taking photos along the way is really bad for making time and distance goals. My priorities are more on the photo side of the spectrum. Some people are good at charging hard and covering a lot of ground. That can be fun, too, but I usually look at my trips as a chance to be creative above all else.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    I thought my limited Spanish would go further. The cliché that, "Chileans speak Chilean, not Spanish," is real. 

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    Our trip mostly consisted of dirt roads, and a little bit of trail. I like riding any surface, but the more rural the better, and Chile is mostly rural. Around every corner was a new view of a river, a mountain or volcano, or a lake. It was so idyllic. I can get really into riding in cities, but on this trip we never experienced that. Los Lagos, the Lakes Region, is a quiet, beautiful area in the South, and I loved it. Chile is so large, that if I make it back I want to explore some further South coastal regions.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    Despite what I said above about appreciating rural areas, I love cities just as much. So if I weren’t in Chile I’d be happy navigating a city. New York City is one of my favorite places to ride a bike. So are Milan, Cairo, and Bangkok.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    Having a camera and using it always pushes you into strange experiences. Also, simply deciding to take a photo, or not, is a conscious act which requires you to think about your place in the world. That's so important - reflecting on why you're there and what your relationship is to the people and place. I’m not a neutral presence so I have to continually reflect on it, and consider my impact. 

    I rarely use a connected/GPS device for navigation. It's understandable in truly remote areas, but in a place where you'll be interacting with locals, a physical map is a much better tool. Because everyone loves maps, people want to look at them with you and share knowledge. Maps are very practical, but also social.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    I never ride my bike with music/headphones, but if while in Chile I rode with music I'd want something on that came from Chile. Huaso (like a cowboy) tunes would be a good soundtrack. These were playing on a lot of radios, at markets and other public spaces. Huaso songs are about the land, and working the land, and love too (of course).

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    My friends and I prepared food most days, so we were constantly shopping in small markets along the way. Chile is such a fertile country, so fresh produce was everywhere. I loved the tomatoes and avocados. Most markets had locally-preserved meats, which were mostly really nice. 

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

    Travel advice is usually too broad. Every traveler and trip is different, but when people ask me for advice I say to bring less. Anything you forgot you can acquire abroad and it will cost a lot less, usually. The less you need before you feel comfortable going, the better. I think over packing, hyper-planning of gear, that need we have to think we have all the right stuff, is usually just anxiety. Anyone who travels a lot learns that you need very little, and when you need something then finding it abroad is a lot more interesting than getting it at a suburban mall at home.

    Travel, Ritchey, Vernor, Chile, Adventure Bike, Cycling

  • NAHBS 2017 Builder Profile: Tom Donhou

    Donhou-15

    Name: Tom Donhou
    Donhou Bicycles
    Years Building:7
    Website: www.donhoubicycles.com
    Social media:
    twitter and Instagram and Facebook
    Donhou-10

    What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
    My first bike was a little Mongoose Minigoose, raced my first BMX race on it and would jump ditches on the local building site until I was far too big for it. It even had a spell of being set up as a “speed” bike when I flipped and laid flat the bars for more aerodynamics! Was a Christmas present when I was young.

    Donhou-8

    What was the last bike you bought that you didn’t make, and why?
    Last bike I bought was a NS Snabb to replace my dangerously fatigued and over repaired 1999 Kona Stab, that I had been using since I raced downhill on it back in the very early 2000’s. I’d broken it and “made do and mended” it for 15 years. When I noticed a new crack forming during a downhill race last year I decided it was time I needed to replace it before I injured myself. Was super sad to see it go. The Snabb was the first new bike I’d bought in 15 years!

    Donhou-4

    When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
    I was actually out on the road in China, riding from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to Singapore. I’d ridden out across the Gobi desert and on into to China. As I was riding I was redesigning the bike I was riding, essentially designing the perfect expedition bike. That led onto how I was going to make it/have it made and as I lay in my tent one night on the side of the road in China it came to me, I’d start building frames and build it myself.

    Donhou-13

    What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
    I was a product designer.

    Donhou-6

    Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
    No, I’m fully self taught. If I had to say I had a mentor I would say that Paul from Burnham Auto’s was a key guy, he opened his doors to me as a keen kid. I used to hang around at his hot rod shop and picked up a lot of what its like to run a custom shop, that was a key inspiration for starting up Donhou Bicycles.

    Donhou-14

    What do you listen to when you’re working?
    All sorts, although it does tend to swing mostly between old time music or synthwave. For the darker days, a lot of punk rock gets played and when all else fails Swans go on. Right now I’m listening to Keith Lovett, a genuine travelling folklorist I met in Moab after the NAHBS show, we don’t get people like that in the UK and I was touched to meet him.

    Donhou-12

    What’s your favorite tool in the shop and why?
    I like my ten inch round second cut file. I use it a lot for filing fillets and I guess I just like its simplicity over power files, the control I get from using it.

    Donhou-7

    Every builder seems to have an “Ah Ha” moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
    You get a few of these and it’s nice when they appear! The last one I had was during the design process of our new CX model, while designing the seat lug for it. I always thought it would be a cool idea to include a seat lug in the design of my bikes, but when I realised how many design problems it over-came in one go, it was a real ‘ah ha' moment!

    Donhou-1

    When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process? What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first?
    The start point is always the customers fit details, that lays out exactly what we have to work around and then we go from there. Tune the geometry and tube choice for the type of use the bike will get and how the rider likes a bike to feel, then we can start adding some personal touches with paint or bi-lam construction or some of the things we can offer as a custom builder. It just happens with a lot of discussion with the customer, try and gleam as much info as possible and rely on my design background for reading between the lines, to be able to offer what sometimes a client can’t quite visualise themselves.

    Donhou-3

    What’s your go to bike when you go on a ride?
    Right now my go to bike is my 853 pub bike. Looks like a total beater but it’s a real sleeper and I love it. Single speed with CX tyres, it gets on/off road action, I will go out to the forest for a ride with the dog, commute on it and even race CX on it. Now the weathers getting better again, will start bringing out some of the other “better" bikes but its definitely the go to right now.

    Donhou Bicycles, NAHBS 2017

  • Overcoming a TBI

    IMG_5927My name is Ben Frederick. l rode bikes for Ritchey at the pro level in cyclocross from the fall of 2015 through the fall of 2016. I crashed heavily two weeks before the 2016 ‘cross season kicked off and have been recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury since. My hope is to tell you a little bit about my experience to help raise awareness of the (potential) effects of concussion.

    It was 6:15AM when my alarm buzzed for a 5.5 hour ride with trails. It was hot. Really hot. 95 degrees and humid. I wanted to get the bulk of the hard work done before the heat hit. Ate (lots), on the bike by 7:00. Woof, the legs were tired. The trails should fix that. Another hour ripping turns, going fast, getting rad on the cross bike. Flow. Another hour. A break. Eat. Drink. Easy spin to the next trail. The dirt was kind of sandy and wet …tire stops, head smacks the ground and digs in. No bounce, no slide. Like hitting a wall.

    That’s the moment things changed. A transitional trail, not getting rad, nowhere near my limit technically or physically.  It changed my life

    image008I didn’t lose consciousness and even rode 30 more minutes, attempting to finish my workout. I went home, took a nap, shook it off, “no problem”.  But I felt worse and worse.  A short car ride a few days later sent me into a fog so deep that I went to the hospital. The following 4 weeks became the same awful day on repeat. Stuck in a dark room. No screens. The effort of moving around the house to make food causing bad headaches, nausea, dizziness.  

    The 7 months since then has been a slow battle back to normal.  Not the normal of an elite athlete, but the normal of being a human being. The normal of completing simple tasks like driving. Sitting in a coffee shop. Listening to music. Reading a book. Holding a conversation in a room with other people talking. The list of things I took for granted and still struggle with goes on.

    IMG_2145

    Despite the trouble of existing, I held on to the hope that I could race. It was what I knew. What I loved. What I spent years of effort to do. Any attempt at a bike ride outside and or on the trainer reduced me to tears, and two days spent in bed.  The writing was on the wall, and it was confirmed by the doctors at the Cantu Concussion Clinic in Boston a month after the accident; no riding or exercising for another 4 weeks, with no firm end date predicted.  I was  told to avoid any sort of stimulation: physical, mental, emotional.

    “Well, doc,” I said,  “My career just ground to a halt, I have no way to make money now, my girlfriend dumped me while I was stuck in a concussion fog in a dark room, and I’m 500 miles from home. I’ll do my best not to think about any of that."  

    Back home, back to the dark room, back to isolation. "Okay, maybe I could ride at Nationals (3 months yet away), yeah, that could happen. Nationals. Then Europe. I can do this”, I told myself, laying in bed with my head pounding and the floor spinning from making lunch.  

    A month passed and I hadn’t show much improvement. I was told  to take  another month off.  There was no way I could race. Months and years of hard work, focused on this one season, was now slipping through my fingers. The support of amazing sponsors, investing in the potential for success, left unfulfilled. I had to let go of the season, let go of the pressure, and focus on just recovering to “normal".  

    Turns out, it takes much much longer to heal brain tissue than any other tissues.  You can’t use crutches on your brain; you can’t take the weight off until it heals enough to start walking on it.  When it’s trying to heal itself, the resources aren't there to help with processing noise, light, or other stimulus. I was told, very concussion is a snowflake: They may look similar, but each one is completely unique. I had a special snowflake of fluid built up in my head. Not enough for surgery, but enough to cause any sort of elevated heart rate in the first four months (even 100 bpm) to be hugely painful.  Headaches that felt like my head in a vise .  If I tried to do anything more than sit still, a sea of dizziness, nausea, and overwhelming anxiety were driven through the roof.

    Now, with no means to earn a living, I was stuck.  I couldn’t stay with family in Virginia - I needed the health care and insurance that was provided in Massachusetts.  I couldn’t drive, and the community I sought in the new town I had just moved to left me isolated.  I could barely navigate the world inside my head, let alone outside my room.

    IMG_4343It was at this moment, when I felt most alone, Christin and Colin Reuter & Maris and Cole Archambault  who didn’t know me but for a few short interactions in the cycling community reached out.  They came over and sat with me in my darkened living room for short dinners and asked how they could help.  They became a lynchpin in my recovery, helping fundraise, coordinating logistics, and introducing me to their friend group who have in turn become like family and an amazing support network.  They’ve all helped guide me out of what was a very dark place.  I will be forever grateful.

    It’s been seven months since the crash. I’m no longer held back by a dark room and 100BPM. For awhile, I could hike but would need to spend the rest of the day recovering, over-sensitive to every noise and light.  I’m building on that now, and went on a run for the first time last week.  I’m able to take photos and have been loving the creative process.  Riding and driving are getting closer.  My vestibular system still gets overwhelmed by stimuli at high speeds, but I’ve made it around the block now without having to stop.  My computer time is increasing, though combining screens with cognitive effort is a bear. (This essay that would have taken an afternoon before the concussion has taken a couple of weeks to get down).  I still struggle with being around lots of people/highly stimulating environments. Coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and busy streets all become overwhelming quickly.  It feels like a wall of noise and movement that takes a huge effort to exist in. It’s getting better though.

    A friend told me awhile back that a brain injury takes between a week and forever to recover from.  That sounds about right. For some, it’s a week of headaches and feeling off, for some it’s a battle they continue to fight for years. Some people say they changed from who they were before the injury.  Some people understand the trials of an unseen injury, some never will.  

    Moving forward is a daunting proposition. I got very good at riding a bike in circles. That goal, drive, magnetic north was my barometer for all of my decisions. With that gone, it opens the world up wide with possibilities. It’s scary as hell, but I am hopeful.  My gratitude for new friends who have helped carry me through is high, and I have a new appreciation for anyone else who has struggled with unseen enemies.  To them I say: “it gets better, just hang on.”  

    Thank you all for reading

  • NAHBS 2017 Builder Profile: Mike DeSalvo

    Desalvo-1Name: Mike DeSalvo
    Years Building: 18
    Website: www.desalvocycles.com
    Social media:
    www.instagram.com/mike.desalvo/
    www.facebook.com/DeSalvo-Custom-Cycles-193361797343222/

    Desalvo-2

    What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
    The first bike I remember was a Free Spirit BMX – given to me as a birthday present

    Desalvo-7

    What was the last bike you bought that you didn’t make, and why?
    Kona Explosif – I was working in a bike shop and we sold Kona’s and I was always a fan of steel bikes.

    Desalvo-11

    When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
    Growing up working in bike shops I was always interested in the US made bikes,  Bontrager stands out as a builder whose work I liked.

    Desalvo-9

    What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
    Bicycle Mechanic

    Desalvo-10

    Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
    No mentor per se but lots of friends in the industry who share information.

    Desalvo-8

    What do you listen to when you’re working?
    I was a kid in the ‘80’s so lots of the Clash, Social Distortion, the Smiths etc – I get accused of lots of bummer rock too.  Music is pretty key when you work by yourself all day.

    Desalvo-12

    What’s your favorite tool in the shop and why?
    At the moment I really like my tungsten sharpener.

    Desalvo-3

    Every builder seems to have an “Ah Ha” moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
    Nothing comes to mind, but for me I think no matter how many bikes you have built there is always more to learn.

    Desalvo-5

    When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process? What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first?
    I think the 1st step for me is to listen to their needs to insure I build a bike that is what they want.

    Desalvo-4

    What’s your go to bike when you go on a ride? 
    Lately my mountain bike sees a lot of use.

    My bike 1 (2)

  • Check out what Karl Scored...

    1984 Ritchey Team Comp with original Bullmoose!

    "Picked up this little gem off Craigslist today. Almost all original including the Dura Ace hubs.I cleaned it up a bit, removed the killed chain and broken front derailleur. She's almost all original. Dura Ace hubs, XT deer head shifters and derailleur. Four finger Shimano levers and twin down tube water bottle bosses. "
    7

    10 9 86 5 4 3 2 1

  • NAHBS 2017 Builder Profile: Carl Strong

    StrongPortrait

    Name: Carl Strong
    Years Building: 24
    Website: strongframes.com
    Social media:
    https://www.facebook.com/strongframes
    https://twitter.com/StrongFrames
    https://www.instagram.com/strongframes
    http://strongframes.tumblr.com
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/strongframes

    strong10

    What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
    I don't remember my first bike. I was too young. The one that really strikes me was when my Mom took me to Goodwill and we bought several Schwinn style balloon tire bikes. Then I got to switch parts around until I had a combo I liked. Not sure how old I was at the time but very young.

    Strong1 What was the last bike you bought that you didn’t make, and why?
    A DeRosa. At the time I was certain a better bike couldn't be had.

    strong3 When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
    When I was in college and couldn’t afford good bikes. I read Hot Tubes in the back of Bicycle Guide and thought, I can do this.
    strong4

    What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
    I transitioned from a good job setting up an accounting system in a chain of sporting goods stores to a part time gig welding aluminum frames for truck toppers. Then finally went full time building.
    strong5

    Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
    Nope but I do and did have a lot of builders who inspired me.

    strong6 What do you listen to when you’re working?
    Podcasts

    strong7
    What’s your favorite tool in the shop and why?
    I have an old alignment plate that was once in the Schwinn Paramount factory. I like it because it's really cool and very useful.

    strong8 Every builder seems to have an “Ah Ha” moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
    When I finally learned how to align frame using a welding sequence vs cold setting. It took a lot of repetitiveness. Once I was finally building enough frames frequently enough the patterns started to emerge.

    strong9 When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process? What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first?
    Understanding the customers goals and priorities. That's job one and they don't always know them. So that's the first thing we have to figure out. Once we know them everything else takes care of itself.

    strong2
    What’s your go to bike when you go on a ride?
    My go to bike is a 7 year old tube to tube carbon bike. It was the first carbon bike I built. It's a cross bike and it's small because I made it to fit several riders. It just sort of became my own. I ride it with 37mm Rando tires, a hodgepodge of spare parts from around the shop and love it.

    2017-03-22 07.33.21

    Carl's TIG special features an elegant mix of WCS and SuperLogic.

  • NAHBS 2017 Builder Profile: Low Bicycles

    R0012014

    Name: Andrew Low
    Years Building: 7
    Website: lowbicycles.com
    Instagram: @lowbicycles

    R0012012

    What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
    My First bike was a hand-me-down schwinn-like blue and white kids bike with a Banana seat and coaster brake. Started with training wheels, and learned how to ride 2-wheel on this bike. 
    What was the last bike you bought that you didn’t make, and why?
    The last bike I bought was a beat up aluminum KHS Aero track bike. I bought it because I was into aluminum track frames, and I thought Rob Solimo's (SF messenger of Mash fame) bike was super cool, and I wanted a bike like his. I was already working toward building my own frame at this point.
    When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
    I have always been a builder/maker (I used to build roll cages for jeeps at a custom fabrication shop when I was in college), so as I got more and more into bikes, building a bike frame was sort of a natural step for me.
    I think I decided at some point in 2007 to build my own frames. I just wanted to meld all the things I liked about my favorite bike frames at the time into one frame.

    R0012002 What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
    I was self employed as a handyman/carpenter/painter.
    Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
    Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster was instrumental in helping getting me started in working with aluminum. I still check in with him from time to time when I have a difficult question.

    R0012006What do you listen to when you’re working?
    Political podcasts in the morning and Books on Tape in the afternoons. Just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and just started Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer.
    What’s your favorite tool in the shop and why?
    My heat treating oven, because it is the most complex tool I built myself. I have heat treated every single aluminum fame I ever built in this oven.

    R0012003Every builder seems to have an “Ah Ha” moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
    The reason I enjoy building the same thing over and over again is because of all the 'ah ha' moments you have as you progress in your craft. I really can't think of one that stands out more than others.
    When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process? What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first?
    First what kind of riding they do, how they ride, and fit, fit, fit.

    R0012001

    What’s your go to bike when you go on a ride?
    My mki road bike.

    IMG_0386

    LOW Bicycle's new gravel rig features full WCS cockpit and Apex 36 disc clinchers.

  • RITCHEY x STINNER x ORNOT

    StinnerRitcheyOrnot

    OrnotCX-3027 We teamed up with Ornot Clothing and Stinner frameworks on this beautiful collaboration that features our coming soon late tapered disc fork and over-sized external lower headset.
    StinnerRitcheyOrnot 12mm thru axle and post calipers for large rotors
    StinnerRitcheyOrnot Also coming soon will be our new over-sized external headset lower for 44mm head tubes. This pair perfectly with our 1-1/4" tapered fork.

    OrnotCX-3026

    StinnerRitcheyOrnot

    StinnerRitcheyOrnot- Stinner went all out to match our WCS C260 stem to the rest of the paint scheme.
    Collaboration_StinnerRitcheyOrnot-8 Peek-A-Boo!
    StinnerRitcheyOrnot More than enough clearance for 40's

    StinnerRitcheyOrnot
    OrnotCX-3061

     

    StinnerRitcheyOrnot OrnotCX-3009

  • Carmichael Training Systems on Why They Love Ritchey Bars and Stems

    Ritchey-bars

    There is absolutely nothing more frightening than breaking a handlebar or stem while riding a bicycle. In the 40 years I’ve been riding, some of the worst non-collision crashes I’ve ever seen (meaning not getting hit by a car or colliding into a mailbox) have resulted from breakage or slippage of a cockpit component. So, while handlebars and stems are sometimes seen as mundane parts of a bike, I take them very seriously. Two years ago the CTS Coaches and I started riding aluminum WCS C260 stems and a variety of WCS carbon handlebars from Ritchey, and here’s what we’ve experienced.

    Safety

    It is very difficult to prevent a crash when something goes catastrophically wrong with your handlebar or stem while you’re moving. Either the weight of your upper body (which is now not supported the way it was a second ago) is going to throw you off the bike, or you’ll lose steering control of the front wheel. Other times it is a crash that leads to damage or slippage, which in turn costs valuable time to adjust or can knock you out of an event altogether.

    Problems with breakage and slippage are a significant risk with carbon bars, stems, and steerer tubes. Carbon is great material, but it does not react well to being crimped or crushed. When you overtighten stem bolts you damage your handlebars or steerer tube, or damage the stem itself if it’s carbon, too. On the other hand, when you’re too cautious and under-tighten the bolts, your bars or stem can slip under load.Ritchey_3

    It is crucial to use to torque wrench when working with carbon parts, especially when you travel with bikes as much as CTS Coaches do. Instead of “set-it-and-forget-it” like cyclists who never take their bikes apart and pack them, I travel about 200 days a year and most trips require packing and unpacking a bike. My coaches travel less, but many pack and unpack their bikes at least once a month. In two years, with 45 coaches riding and traveling with carbon Ritchey handlebars, we had only one instance where a coach damaged a handlebar from installation.

    Thus far, 45 CTS Coaches have ridden an average of 12 hours a week for 93 weeks (January 2015 to mid-October 2016), which comes out to 50,220 hours on Ritchey carbon handlebars paired with C260 stems attached to carbon steerers. When tightened to the recommended torques this combination made for a solid and confidence-inspiring setup.

    Handlebars

    CTS Coaches come in all shapes and sizes, so they individually chose the width, reach, and drop that fit them best. The two most popular Ritchey models were the WCS Carbon Evocurve and the WCS Carbon Curve. The Evocurve features a 4-degree sweep and ovalized tops, and both models are short reach, short drop bars. Keep in mind, the coaches spend a lot of time riding, but mostly for training and working at camps. The shorter reach and drop bars often result in a less aggressive position, which is good for long days at camps even if a deeper drop or longer reach might be more aerodynamic.

    One thing several coaches noticed was the distinct improvement in comfort between their previous aluminum bars and the carbon bars. While very stiff for climbing out of the saddle, the carbon still had more damping on rough roads. Of course, the thick tape from Zevlin might have played a role there, too.

    CTS ride only Ritchey bar, stem post

    Stems

    The WCS C260 stem from Ritchey has a few unique features. First, it has three bolts fastening it to the steerer tube, and the cutout in the steerer tube clamp is curved. This is meant to spread the pressure from clamping to protect the steerer tube. Since the stems were great at resisting twisting – even under impact – and we damaged no steerer tubes, it would seem the clamp did its job well.

    The other end of the stem worked great, but was a bit inconvenient. The name C260 comes from the fact the stem wraps 260 degrees around the handlebar before clamping to the faceplate. In contrast, most stems wrap nearly 180 degrees around the bar and the faceplate is similar. I get the logic (no pun intended) behind the 260-degree clamp – it distributes the clamping stress more evenly throughout the stem, screws, and faceplate – but there’s one serious drawback. If you want to swap stems at any point, you will have to unwrap your handlebars and feed the bar through the clamp until you reach a portion of the bar that is narrow enough to fit through the front opening. For most people this won’t be a big problem, since you probably know what stem or handlebar you want to use and will only set it up once. But if you tinker with your bike and swap out components, just be aware of the 260-degree wrap.

    The other thing to be aware of regarding the C260 stem is the fact it uses T20 Torx bolts, four on the faceplate and three on the steerer clamp. Most modern multitools come with a T25 Torx wrench because that’s what disc brake components use. Some might come with a T30. Very few come with a T20. Fortunately, Ritchey has an awesome and lightweight multitool that does have a T20! Of course, since you’re clamping to a carbon bar and/or steerer, you should really use a torque wrench.

    Bonus: Seatposts

    This is a long-term cockpit review, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ritchey WCS Carbon Link Flexlogic and WCS Carbon 1-Bolt seatposts. They performed flawlessly, with no slippage in the frame despite a carbon-carbon interface. Most coaches used the Link Flexlogic, which has independent bolts to clamp each saddle rail. The benefit of that system is that it is very secure, and also very versatile. By just swapping out the clamp assembly you can use MonoLink saddles or regular railed saddles on the same post. Another really nice feature of all Ritchey seatposts is that they have height markings on the back. Again, because CTS Coaches travel so much, these markings make it easier to get the bike back together quickly without resorting to the old hack of wrapping electrical tape around your seatpost to mark the correct insertion.

    Hash marks makes finding your height easy

    Summary

    Let’s be honest. People don’t typically spend a lot of time deliberating about what stem or seatpost to get, and are only slightly more picky when it comes to handlebars. As long as the dimensions are right for their bike fit, they’ll take it. I encourage you to put more thought into these crucial yet often overlooked components. Tom Ritchey does everything for a reason, and a damned good reason at that. The result is componentry you can trust your life with, which is essentially what you’re doing when you trust your handlebars and stem to steer you in the right direction. I trust Ritchey, and after 50,000 hours with their hands on Ritchey bars, so do my coaches.

    Chris Carmichael
    CEO/Head Coach of CTS

    All Photos by John Segesta

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