Initial Review: Ritchey Classic seatpost and stem
With seatpost and stem reliability more or less nailed down at this point, isn’t it nice to be able to chose bike finishing kit on the basis of reputation and appearance? After all, once weight and price are factored in, most commonly-available options are reassuringly similar (and drama-free) in use. They hold the bars or saddle, don’t break, don’t flex, and don’t make noise. We truly live in a wonderful time.
When it came time to choose finishing kit for my test Singular Swift single speed, Tyler’s Interbike post on the company’s Classic range came right to mind. Looking suitably timeless in a polished, clear anodized finish, the Classic post and stem are (ahem) strikingly similar to Ritchey’s tried and true WCS 2-bolt and 4Axis (respectively) models. But they’re way cooler looking. Read on to see how they’ve fared this spring…
At 110g for the 90mm 4-Axis stem and 255g for the 27.2 x 350mm seatpost, the Classics are at the light end of the scale. That makes the seatpost($80) is competitive with the benchmark Thomson Elite and the stem ($80) as light as anything I’d feel comfortable riding in the dirt. As always, care needs to be taken when installing lightweight components. When installing the Classic stem and seatpost, I pulled out my torque wrench and… winged it. At least in part. Though the stem features nice laser-etched torque requirements for all six bolts, the seatpost (despite instruction manual admonishments to follow them) doesn’t. After looking at an older Ritchey WCS post in the workshop, I settled on 10Nm for the two bolts and haven’t had a problem since.
Despite their light weights, I certainly haven’t felt any excessive flex in either component. Mounted on a fully rigid 29er, I actually could have done with a bit more give in the seatpost- though anyone looking specifically for vibration damping will be better served by carbon posts. Even before swapping some wide, stiff Syntace bars for something flexier, I’ve never found myself looking for more rigidity at the bike’s front end.
The 2-bolt post seems to have struck a good balance between rail support and fore-aft adjustability. Though fine angle adjustments can be a bit finnicky and newer Ritchey posts have adopted a simpler design, the clamp works well. The stem’s diagonal steerer clamp and opposing bolts are claimed to be friendly to carbon fiber steerer tubes (but couldn’t have marred the Singular’s steel steerer if they’d tried). Similarly, the 4-Axis face plate is designed with plastic bars in mind, combining the security of 4 bolts while minimizing 4-bolt face plates’ ability to unevenly clamp bars. Obey the torque limits and everything should be peachy.
If there’s anything to take issue with, it would have to be the ability to rub off the parts’ painted-on graphics. The seatpost’s height markings disappeared after their first trip down the seat tube and a small amount of chipping is evident elsewhere. Happily, that works well with the winged Classic logo’s weathered design and will probably go unnoticed.
At $80 apiece, the Classic stem and seatpost are actually cheaper than their WCS counterparts. Their look is perfect for the Singular and those of us who’ve been pedaling for more than a few years seem to be drawn to the handsome polished finish and fluid forged shapes. As far as I’m concerned, Ritchey and company have nailed it with the Classic line. While they’d probably look out of place on a swoopy carbon wunderbike, anyone looking for some lightweight, reasonably priced, and classy parts to compliment a steel or titanium frame should give them a look.