IB13: Ritchey Unveils Road Tubeless Wheels, Carbon Disc Cyclocross Fork Prototype & Rail Saddles

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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…

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

At the heart of the wheels are all-new hubs.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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.

2014-Ritchey WCS Zeta II lightweight alloy tubeless road bike wheels

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).

2014-Ritchey-Vector-Evo-rail-saddle-system

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.

2014-Ritchey-Vector-Evo-rail-saddle-system

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.

2014-Ritchey-Vector-Evo-rail-saddle-system

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.

2014 Ritchey original prototype monolink rail saddle

Think this is a new concept? Tom Ritchey has been working on it for quite some time, as evidenced by this decades old prototype.

2014-Ritchey-Vector-Evo-Rail-system-Streem-Contrail-saddles

Saddles range from 175g to 220g, available in their Streem (left) and Contrail shapes. $149.99

2014-Ritchey-Vector-Evo-Rail-system-Streem-Contrail-saddles

As seen from above: Streem on bottom, Contrail up top.

2014-Ritchey-prototype-carbon-disc-brake-cyclocross-fork01

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.

2014 Ritchey prototype carbon disc brake cyclocross fork with straight 1.125 inch steerer tube
Price is TBD. Sadly, it won’t be ready in time for this year’s ‘cross season.

2014-Ritchey-WCS-Streem-II-and-NeoClassic-road-handlebars

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
Reach 84mm 77mm
Drop 144mm 128mm
Weight (42cm) 230g 275g
Classic NeoClassic
Reach 80mm 73mm
Drop 135mm 128mm
Weight (42cm) 220g 253g

RitcheyLogic.com

Comments

gravity - 10/01/13 - 5:32pm

That cyclocross disc fork fills a huge gap in the market and should be very popular. Hopefully, this means a disc-equipped Swiss Cross soon.

Also, the Neoclassic handlebar is the bar I’ve been waiting for a long time for.

As usual, good job, Ritchey.

hohum - 10/01/13 - 6:28pm

Downward pointing dropouts on a disc fork?

It’s got to be an open tool, those guys at Ritchey are smarter than that.

Jason - 10/01/13 - 8:35pm

I wouldn’t be surprised if the dropouts stay just as pictured. Their current carbon MTB fork has the dropouts aligned in the same fashion:
http://ritcheylogic.com/mountain/forks/wcs-carbon-mountain-fork.html

With the recessed faces where the quick release nuts go into in the dropouts, these forks have more than lawyers lips, they have lawyers cheeks.

greg - 10/02/13 - 12:22am

i doubt there would be enough leverage to pull the wheel out when using a 140mm rotor and skinny tires.

crabonfever - 10/02/13 - 3:40am

A nice 1-1/8 carbon disc cx fork. Hallelujah. Hopefully it is widely available and doesn’t cost a mint.

lalahsghost - 10/02/13 - 11:58am

The new hub reminds me of the hub on my Flits, or even the American classics.

greg - 10/02/13 - 12:41pm

Hopefully the SwissCross will be reintroduced as a disc equipped frameset soon. My current 2012 SwissCross has horrible brake chatter at the fork and it is now also for sale.

ellis - 10/02/13 - 12:55pm

Well, I saw the Ritchey hubs at IB and they are nothing like American Classic or Flit.

Chainwhipped - 10/02/13 - 9:48pm

The fork is sure to be a hit. Too bad they couldn’t change that dropout angle. Put the death grip into your QR, it’ll probably be fine. The wheels, though . . . giant ‘who cares?’. what use is a quasi-awesome alloy wheel set if the rear hub – the source of 90% of potential mechanical issues – is of questionable design. I miss their DTSwiss-made hubs.

McClain - 10/03/13 - 4:02pm

Curious that the new bars, presumably with better alloys, and at smaller dimensions, are significantly heavier than their earlier counterparts….

Cool dimensions on the neoclassic though

reggiegasket - 10/08/13 - 9:13am

Nice fork. I run a full carbon Trigon disc fork at the moment, with dropouts at a similar angle, and the wheel stays put no problem (XTR QR) so I wouldn’t worry about the Ritchey design.

Robert - 10/15/13 - 11:50am

Will be the rescue for my Rocky Solo. Come on Tom, do it!

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