Bay Area Builder Returns to His Roots for Fortieth Anniversary
Forty years ago, at the tender age of fifteen, Tom Ritchey built his first bicycle frames.
Blessed with an innate skill for steel frame fabrication and the innovative spirit of an industry pioneer, Ritchey’s annual production swelled to 250 frames by his senior year of high school.
By 1980, Ritchey had produced 1,500 handbuilt road frames, and he began to develop a new breed of bicycle meant to tame the steep slopes and trails of California’s coastal range: the mountain bike. The rest, as they say, is history.
After focusing his energy for the past 20 years on building an eponymous global brand that produces components made of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber alike, and whose name has adorned the bicycles and components of the winners of major races on the road and on the trail, Ritchey plans to commemorate his forty years in the industry by returning to his roots.
At this year’s NAHBS, Ritchey will unveil the first of 40 framesets produced to commemorate his 40 years building bicycles.
The first of the forty is a 60cm classic road frame of fillet brazed steel tubing – very much like Ritchey’s first offerings 40 years ago. It will feature the original decal set that Jobst Brandt designed for Ritchey back in 1973.
This frame will be auctioned at NAHBS (online via eBay). The starting price is $3500, but if the high bid exceeds $10,000, Ritchey will offer the winner a full custom road or mountain frameset instead. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Team Rwanda.
Three other framesets (exact models TBD, but likely P20 or Everest mountain frames) will be auctioned later in the year, with proceeds benefiting three other charities: the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Trips for Kids, and the Christmas Bike Program.
Should you miss out on the charity auctions, Ritchey will sell the remaining 36 framesets (a mix of P20s and Everests) to consumers for $3500 each.
It’s not just nostalgia that’s behind Ritchey’s “40 for 40″ promotion, though. With the name recognition of an iconic brand comes intense customer demand.
Ritchey explains: “Over the past 20 years, since I stopped focusing on frame building, I am often asked by people around the world if I will build any bikes like my original ones. This is a response to the many requests over the years by people who missed the chance to own one when they were available.”
Also on display at NAHBS will be a new, fillet-brazed version of the production Road Logic frameset, and a new tandem version of the popular Breakaway series bicycle, which will disassemble and completely fit into two travel bags. It will also have a unique geometry and construction that will allow the riders to choose between 700c road wheels or 650b x 2.2 wheels/tires for rougher terrain.
The Breakaway tandem reflects the passion and creativity that Tom Ritchey imparts to his bicycles and components, tempered by his four decades of experience and the wisdom and feedback that only miles spent in the saddle can yield.
“This tandem has been refined over the last four years, through riding two prototypes all over the world with my wife, Martha,” says Ritchey.
“I am very excited to offer it to others, as we have had so many requests when couples see them. We both have loved every minute riding the tandems.”