IB13: Ritchey Unveils Road Tubeless Wheels, Carbon Disc Cyclocross Fork Prototype & Rail Saddles
We saw quite a bit of new goodies from Ritchey at Eurobike, but they saved a few for us to see in Vegas as well.
The star of the show is the new tubeless-ready WCS Zeta II Clinchers. They’re a reasonably light, well priced option that brings a lot of new tech to the table…features we suspect will migrate to their other wheels over time.
The important part of it all is that they’re built with commonly available and durable parts with wider DH-inspired tubeless rims, yet come in at just 1465g for the pair. That’s with J-bend spokes, a 17mm internal rim width and brass nipples.
UPDATE: Spec chart and comparison for handlebars added at bottom.
So what’s special about them? Roll through the break and see…
Rims are a new extrusion shape that’s a good bit wider than some of their older road wheels. The material is borrowed from Spanks’ DH rims, which they say is really tough, letting them build the rims a bit lighter while still running high spoke tension. Rear wheel has an OCR (Off Center Rim) to even out the dish. Sidewalls are machined for better braking performance.
At the heart of the wheels are all-new hubs.
They can be completely pulled apart without tools, making repairs and service incredibly quick and easy. I did this complete diassembly with my bare hands in about five seconds. They say it also makes packing easier since you can basically just pull the entire freehub off with the cassette attached, giving your wheels a slimmer profile to fit into wheelbags or their Breakaway bike cases.
The pawls are located on the hubshell rather than the freehub body. Six two-tooth pawls are offset so three engage at any time, providing 12 total available points of engagement.
A Phantom Flange on non-drive side rear and the front hub hides the spoke head from view. The flattened head of the J-Bend simply catches inside the groove. A rubber cover slides over the spoke slots to clean up the aesthetics.
Rear hub has an offset drive side flange that keeps the spokes both facing out and keeps the spokes from rubbing on each other. The J-bend pushes the bracing angle out a bit, and according to Ritchey’s reps are easier to build (and rebuild), are commonly available and are more durable.
The stepped design of the driveside flange keeps the spokes separate from hub to rim. Click to enlarge and you’ll clearly see a gap between the spokes.
It all comes together into a tidy package that should prove plenty durable for gravel road bikes and cyclocross. Hub weights are 70g front / 207g rear, complete wheels are 1465g (claimed – 625g front/819g rear). MSRP $950, includes forged skewers. Available for Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo 10/11 speed. (Yes, we asked about a disc brake version, and it’s likely in the pipeline).
We covered a bit of these from Eurobike also, but got a closer look at the new Vector Evo rail saddle system. They’ve been teasing this for a while, and now we know why they’re saying it’s the best solution on the market.
First, the claimed downsides to competing systems: The SDG mounts directly to the saddle shell so there’s little compliance, and the Monolink’s rail shape and material does the same. In contrast, Ritchey’s new Vector Evo design is created with compliance in mind. The rail and wings are essentially a suspension system for the shell. The rail is a carbon reinforced thermoplastic. It attaches directly to the Vector Wing (essentially a leaf spring holding the rear up), which eliminates “hot spots” at your sit bones. Lastly, the rail is curved slightly, letting it, too, act like a leaf spring.
Converse to the intended suspension, the shell itself is designed to prevent eventual sag. It won’t change shape over the miles, so your seat height and position stays consistent. Basically, your compliance doesn’t have to be built solely into the shell anymore.
The other reason is consistency. With metal rails, they can vary in tension and length. Carbon is precise, but it has to be much stiffer. With the composite single rail, they can make it as compliant as they want.
Want more? There’s 45mm of fore/aft adjustment, up from the usual 30-35mm with standard rails. Small tabs prevent the saddle from being set too far back.
The Link seatpost design, which is used on their better road and mountain bike seatposts, can take the new Vector clamp, letting you upgrade the saddle without having to buy a whole new post. Check our preview of the MTB Trail group to see how it can all come together.
Think this is a new concept? Tom Ritchey has been working on it for quite some time, as evidenced by this decades old prototype.
Saddles range from 175g to 220g, available in their Streem (left) and Contrail shapes. $149.99
As seen from above: Streem on bottom, Contrail up top.
Ritchey’s long had a straight steerer carbon fork, but it was built for mountain bikes’ geometry. Now, they’re about to make a lot of people really happy. This prototype carbon disc brake fork is planned only as a straight 1-1/8″ steerer with a cyclocross friendly 395mm axle to crown height.
Finally, they took two of their more popular alloy road handlebars and updated them. The Streem II (left) gets a short/shallow design with a new flattened aero top section. The dimensions are within UCI’s guidelines (38×22.5mm) and provide a nice perch while climbing. Available in 40/42/44 widths. MSRP is $109.95.
The Neoclassic keeps the rounded shape favored by many pros and gave it a shorter, shallower reach and drop. The round center section is aerobar compatible. Retail is $89.95.
Here’s how the two bars compare to the originals:
|WCS Carbon Streem||WCS Streem II|