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Product Testing


Product safety standards are in place to obligate manufacturers to provide safe products and to confirm for the user that their products are, indeed, safe. If this were true, there’d be no need for watchdog commissions to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury linked to consumer products. Placing blame has been a habit for more than a century (is it the user’s fault or the manufacturer’s when a product fails?) but there’s a more practical reaction: how to design and manufacture a reliable product from the beginning. Product testing to meet required minimum safety standards is a decent start, but wouldn’t users feel far more confident if their products exceeded the minimum standards before leaving the factory?

All bicycle products must meet minimum safety standards under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4210 Safety Requirements for Bicycles. Some tests are easier to pass than others, some fail to consider real world product applications. For anyone in the business of designing products for applications that can vary by user, like gravel handlebars, mountain bike stems, or frames and forks for road cycling, product testing should ultimately surpass ISO 4210 requirements.

As the owner of the brand that bears his name, Tom Ritchey has set testing standards that are at least twice as rigorous as those laid out by the ISO.

MOAB (Mechanical Objective Analysis Breakage)

All Ritchey products are tested to exceed ISO 4210 safety requirements. Many of these tests are performed on our proprietary testing machines, MOAB I and MOAB II, which are located inside the Ritchey Asia product development center. By placing MOAB I and II here, Ritchey’s development and quality control experts gain immediate access to all in-house testing equipment throughout the day, which allows them to regularly monitor all testing activity and make adjustments as needed.

In addition to managing our own in-house testing lab, Ritchey also works extensively with SGS (a Swiss company that provides independent inspection, verification, testing and certification services) and other independent testing laboratories to ensure Ritchey products meet the high requirements mandated by government agencies, standardization bodies, and Ritchey customers.


Fatigue testing applies a certain load to a specific point on a bicycle frame, fork, or component for a minimum of 100,000 cycles, as required by ISO 4210. Ritchey doubles the number of cycles to 200,000 and will often test other points on the bike part with the same load and number of cycles.


Static testing tests a product’s strength by applying a load until the test product deforms. The load is then released until the test product returns to its original shape. Static testing, which is performed on Ritchey handlebars and stems, results in a rate of deflection, measured in millimeters. This number typically yields a real-world indicator of how much pressure a rider would have to apply to a bar or stem (usually a lot more than humanly possible) to cause it to deform.

Prototypes as well as random production samples undergo fatigue and static testing 24 hours per day to achieve and maintain the highest level of safety. We do this to maintain consistently high quality in all our products during normal production.


In impact testing, loads are dropped from increasing heights to simulate a frontal impact. To pass an impact test, no damage can be evident on any point of the test product.

In-house impact testing is conducted on all Ritchey forks and wheels to exceed ISO safety requirements for impact resistance. Ritchey wheels and forks are regularly tested and tuned during the development process to ensure that in the unfortunate event of a frontal impact, the likelihood of a catastrophic failure is minimized. We consider impact testing to be one of the most crucial tests conducted at our testing facility.


Drop testing is an impact test for handlebars. Heavy weights are affixed to the ends of the handlebar, or in the drops in the case of a road bar, and the bar is dropped from various heights onto a solid striker. This brings the bar to an instant stop, which forces it to absorb and dissipate all impact energy. The handlebar’s ability to effectively absorb and dissipate this energy is a key attribute that’s used for developing some of the safest handlebars currently available.

Ritchey conducts drop testing in conjunction with fatigue testing to test prototype and production products at the highest stresses possible. While drop testing isn’t an ISO requirement, we subject our road and mountain bike handlebars to severe drop testing.


To simulate “real world” forces acting on wheels in a lab environment, Tom Ritchey designed his own wheel testing machine and called it JOBST in homage to his mentor, Jobst Brandt. JOBST tests wheels under various loads, resistances, speeds, and road conditions to monitor performance during a wheel’s development process, and to test wheels to their limits in a controlled environment.

Product testing is vital to design, safety, and quality, yet to meet only the minimum safety requirements is to miss out on the potential to evolve products in innovative and practical ways. “Good enough” doesn’t exist for Tom Ritchey, because if he won’t ride something that’s superior in every possible way, then neither should you.

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