Tom Ritchey was with us for Scottweek, riding all of us into the ground day after day. Turns out he wasn’t just on hand to embarrass us, he also had a new toy to show off.
In his words, his product design is born from either him or his sponsored riders needing a better product. His new C260 stem comes from market pressures, everyone saying “Tom, you need a carbon stem!”
“The problem is, no one’s truly doing a carbon fiber stem properly,” said Ritchey. “As people were trying to make carbon stems and not making any real improvements, people were making aluminum ones that were testing 3x and 4x stronger than anything made before.
“The old single-bolt stem is still the best because it holds the bar the best (by cradling the bar inside a single piece). The new ones with removable faceplates are great for swapping out your bar, but they’re never as good as the original single bolt design. As I was heading down the path of creating a carbon stem, I found that putting four bolts in the front of a carbon stem and you’re inviting disaster.”
UPDATED 7/15 @ 5:26EST – Installation info at bottom of post
Turns out, the “C” in C260 doesn’t actually stand for “Carbon” and the new stem is, in fact, alloy. Hit ‘more’ and get the scoop and tons of photos…
“Now, with everyone moving to the larger 31.8 diameter bars, it’s allowed us to create a pseudo-single bolt design because we can do an overlapping mounting section and use only a 4mm bolt because so much of the pressure is taken off the bolts.”
The new C260 and is a 100g stem that’s testing 3x to 4x stronger than any previous Ritchey stem because they’re using a new generation Alcoa alloy and because of the new design. Not only is it stronger, it’s stiffer, giving you more control. The rear uses a three-bolt, radius slot clamp design, meaning the slit is crescent moon shaped.
Because the bar clamp area overlaps the bar more than 180º, you simply remove the faceplate and put the narrower part of the bar near the grips in first, then slide the handlebar into the center. Line things up and clamp down the faceplate and you’re all set.
The purpose of the crescent-shaped slit on the steerer tube clamp is that it distributes the stresses across a broader area rather than focusing all of it on one single section of the steerer tube, particularly important on carbon steerers.
The stem is approved for both road and mountain bike use. Presumably cyclocross, too.
Lastly, we just got some more numbers from the Ritchey team: Not only is it way stronger, it’s 30% stiffer than their 4-Axis stems that have been used for years on Tour-winning bikes and my own personal (non-Tour winning) bike.