Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

Amongst handmade builders, there are some legends in the industry. The Ballers. Folks like Richard Sachs who, despite all of the new standards, sizes and shapes popping up over the past decade, continues to build his road and cyclocross bikes exactly how he damn well pleases.

He and other well known and up and coming builders gather once a year in Virginia for the Baller’s Ride. It’s a chance for them to ride together, talk shop outside of a tradeshow setting and shoot the breeze with like minded folks and a small selection of their customers and friends. It’s invite only, and it’s a monster Saturday ride bookended by smaller “shakedown” rides and plenty of beer. I was fortunate enough to tag along, so the camera came out to capture the Baller’s personal bikes. Here’s what Richard Sachs rides…

Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

Despite the resistance to things like PressFit, disc brakes, internal cable routing and tapered head tubes, Sachs’ bikes are not stuck in the past. In 2005, he collaborated with Pegoretti to create an oversized, lightweight tubeset specifically for building with lugs. In other words, a modern tubeset for classic looking bikes. Columbus answered the call, and now they have their own PegoRichie tubes, which he also sells to a lot of other builders.

Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

What’s with all the electrical tape? This is his cyclocross race bike, so there are no water bottle bosses or pump mounts. The roads, when there were any, are rough, so he wanted to ride his ‘cross bike rather than a road bike. For Saturday’s 80-mile trek through the forests and hills, he simply made it work. He even overwrapped the frame pump with a little extra tape, which came in handy for minor repairs on another guy’s bike.

Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

Makes all his own lugs, and every feature on his bikes is a thoughtful design.

Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride


Richard Sachs personal cyclocross race bike for Ballers Ride

Little details in the lugs and dropouts are pervasive. You’ll rarely see his name machined into the dropout, but it’s there.

One of my running jokes in our NAHBS coverage is that we have yet to actually get any face time with Richard at the shows. He’s either slammed busy with a line of people talking with him or he’s MIA. So, for the past five years, we’ve simply photo’d his bikes and left it at that. The opportunity to actually ride with him and shoot the breeze was great, he’s super nice. He’s also opinionated, and here are the reasons why Richard Sachs won’t ever make a disc brake road or cyclocross bike. They are:

  • Heavier
  • Inelegant
  • Unnecessary
  • Driven by marketing of the big brands

…and he doesn’t care if you don’t agree, because he makes as many bikes as he cares to for customers that agree with his philosophy. Currently 50 to 100 frames per year. Which does not include his wife’s bike – apparently she does like disc brakes.


  1. Such a classy guy and bicycle. I like disc brakes, but couldn’t consider knocking on Sachs for holding the opposite opinion when he builds frames like that.

  2. That BB shell is the cat’s ass! what a beauty!
    …as far as his opinions on Disc Brakes:
    “Driven by marketing of the big brands”

    …nail on the head.

  3. I’m a huge fan of Richard Sachs bikes – such wonderful lugwork! Regarding discs, I wish my cross bike had disc brakes – It’s my do-it-all drop bar bike, and a couple weeks ago, I caught up rather suddenly to a school bus stopped on my favorite descent. My TRP rim brakes kept me from hitting the busline by about 2 feet. Add another car to the back of that line, and I’d’ve had to veer off the road or hit the car. Disc brakes add real power in real situations. For racing, maybe you don’t need them, but if you want max power, that’s the answer.

  4. retrogrouch talk. anybody who writes off disc brakes as 100% marketing is a nincompoop. but hey, its richard sachs. better not question anything he ever says, right? brb gonna tape a bunch of garbage to my bike. you know, because richard sachs.

  5. “Which does not include his wife’s bike – apparently she does like disc brakes.”

    I found that much funnier than necessary.

  6. The back of that BB lug is going to be constantly full of mud/road grime.
    As Saint-Exupery said: “perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away”

  7. So disc brakes are not elegant, but electrical tape is?

    Go buy a steam-powered car, dude.

    I’m with @Brian on this one.

  8. Can you really call yourself a custom frame builder when your that opposed to doing something different? Custom is what the rider wants, not what the builder is shoehorning them into.

  9. I simply can’t wrap my head around the no discs thing. Why is nice SRAM 10-speed okay? Why are fancy, custom ferrous tubes okay? Why threadless headset and stem? Never been able to understand why some technology is great and other tech is forbidden.

  10. Heavy- dude, you make steel frames. If weight’s the goal, let’s go carbon.
    Inelegant- is a bike’s primary function to look pretty?
    Unnecessary- is any 5000-dollar bike necessary?
    Driven by marketing of big brands- That doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. So was clipless, index shifting, and a lot of other good stuff.
    Disclosure: I don’t embrace all new technology. Just the stuff that I think works- like disc brakes on bikes which spend +50% of their time riding at top speed in the mud.

  11. Richard rools. He doesn’t have to follow any industry or consumer guidelines. As far as I know he doesn’t even take orders anymore, so wtf does anybody care if he makes a (edited) disc ready frame? Do people talking yang even know what a legend this guy is? How many frame builders he’s inspired? Half of the top custom frame builders came up watching this guy do it. If you don’t know who he is and what he stands for then don’t say shit and go buy a carbon grand fondo bike.

  12. Everyone’s a critic. the guy’s an artist. he gets a pass on eccentricity with just one look at those lugs. If you don’t get that you don’t get nuthin. That, and as previously mentioned, he is historically relevant as an inspiration to those of us who are also artists and thus, if you harass artists for eccentricity, bite me.

  13. Because 4x water bottle bosses make a huge difference in a cross race? But the other times you ride, taping cages on is a good solution. Wow… Im surprised the master frame maker himself didnt design his bike with more long term conditions in mind.

    Having raced cross for 4-5 seasons, I have never said to myself, I could have had better placing without all these bottle bosses!

  14. #1) Sachs is a BOSS

    #2) when he builds me a bike when I get rich it will have disc brakes because at my weight it’s not hype, I burn on the descents and when you get over 180lbs caliper brakes don’t get it done coming down a mountain and that’s a fact #atmo

  15. I’d be willing to bet a punctured Clement Elvizia that the people on this thread are divided into two camps. Those old enough to have raced cross on Lyotard pedals, who appreciate Richard’s historical significance and relevance, and those who fail to comprehend the meaning of the word classic. “Ya hadda be there”. His frames are stone cold gorgeous works of art which can be beat to death and come back for more, how many art pieces can you say that about?

  16. @JT

    For a race specific CX bike, leaving bottle bosses off of the bike can make sense. A steel bike getting power washed a few hundred times a season should have as few water entry points as possible. Now, if you intend to use the bike elsewhere (as a Baller might), some practicality and usability may be in order as well.

  17. He’s a victim of his own opinions. I’ll bet that front brake chatters, but he won’t go with a mini-v because it’s inelegant.

  18. eRichie is indeed opinionated, but with as successful a career in the custom frame building business as he’s had, he’s entitled to his opinions.

    Don’t like his kind of bike? Don’t buy one. Easy

    I’m still waiting for a ‘last year’s team issue’ bike to come up with a 54cm TT so I may be able to get one in this lifetime.


  19. ..and you know what is inelegant? Stupid canti hangers. Talk about butt ugly.

    No, they do not not work well enough in wet and mud for a reasonably sized man. They don’t. Never did. It was always a compromise because people did not know any other choices.

    If he does not want to change his tooling (so he has to commission a disk brake equipped road bike for his wife – apparently he cares about her well-being more than that of his customers) – that is one thing. But those “reasons” are clear cut nonsense.

  20. Sachs’ decision not to use discs is a branding decision, too. Sachs’ brand: steel, classic, unchanging, 1985. If Sachs goes to discs, he changes a 30+ year old brand and loses his mystique.

  21. I think part of the charm of this type of thing is that he does made to measure, not custom.

    Which is simply that you get a Richard Sachs bike, fit for you and your dimensions, but a ride that gives you the Sachs experience. In contrast to full custom for whatever your wishes are (and however they may be informed). So, that works for some, not as interesting to others.

    I’d happily ride one.


  22. I get that he is entititle to his own opinion regarding the bikes he makes but not having bottle bosses is just plain silly. The pressure washing augument is nothing more than minions protecting their king.

  23. an old guy sticking with tradition and not willing to embrace evolution. my dad is the same way with vacuum cleaners, it has to have a bag collection system or it isn’t any good!?

    disagree with both.

  24. He is not sticking with tradition. He is maintaining his brand, and judging by ardent supporters on display here, it works. Oooh.. and aahh… Artificially created scarcity and desirability. Kudos to that. But, seriously, he ordered a disk brake equipped bike for his wife. All you need to know about what he really thinks. And plenty of builders who can fit you a modern bike just fine.

  25. @mindless. that is yet another way to spin it. (as far as his wife getting a disc brake bike from 44 bikes, which has been splashed all over the internet, is not a valid argument. My mom uses a bag less vacuum, my dad was totally against, she got what she wanted.)

  26. Richard understands that disk brakes offer no real advantage in normal riding. Brakes do not stop you, tires stop you. Braking is limited by tire traction NOT brake power. Next time you are on a ride grab your rear brake and see how easy it is to skid the tire. Once the tire skids there is no benefit in more brake power. The same is true for the front brake, only it is limited in that too much force will throw the rider over the bars.
    Riders of identical skill in braking will have near exact braking distance with both rim and disc brakes. When wet/muddy conditions are present the same holds true because they impact tire grip even more than rim brake power. Only on long descents (over 5 miles) do disk brakes offer any sort of advantage.
    Long story short… Richard is 100% right. If you think otherwise, you are just falling for the marketing hoopla.

  27. @Tim – 05/27/14 – 12:53pm:

    Any material can be light or heavy depending on the quality and composition of the material. Carbon isn’t always the lightest option and steel isn’t always the heaviest. Columbus XCr and True Temper S3 is extraordinarily light and is steel so it is more durable and dependable. Carbon is a great material but is harder to repair and doesn’t give the same ride qualities as steel does. I have ridden carbon, aluminum and steel and I like steel the best, it is a better ride especially over long distances and rougher terrain.

    I can agree on the other points though.

  28. Disc doesn’t have better modulation than rim-brakes, how can one have more modulation in controlling a smaller circle than a largish one?

    I use Magura HS33 and they’re awesome, I have tried a few discbrakes, but they give me a numb feeling, as I don’t feel that I have a direct control with the wheel, I have a larger range of brake-adjustement compared to V-brake and disc. It’s really beautiful in heavy technical trails, even in heavy rain… 🙂

    Rim brakes takes some time to learn and I see that many peoples doesn’t really
    brakes correctly, so it can explain that most of the peoples prefer a natural insurance,
    it’s easier to be careless with a small brakecircle.

What do you think?