Ever have the need or desire to travel with your ’cross bike? Tired of paying exorbitant fees to travel with your bike case? The Ritchey BreakAway Cross, available in steel or titanium, is a full-sized bike option that breaks into two pieces via a clamp at the down tube near the bottom bracket and double seatpost clamps, one for the rear triangle, one for the top tube. The Ritchey BreakAway Cross coupling system only adds 100 grams to the frame according to Ritchey.
Until the Ritchey BreakAway Cross was released, there were three travel bike options: Getting a custom bike with S and S connectors, retrofitting your bike with S and S connectors, or a small take-apart bike such as Bike Friday. These were fine for the tech-inclined, but a hassle for most. Enter the Ritchey BreakAway Steel Cross, made from a heat-treated chrome-molybdenum steel alloy drawn and butted, mitered and TIG-welded, just like a typical steel frame. The Ritchey BreakAway design utilizes a double seatpost clamp: one attached to the top tube, the other to the seat tube. When assembled, the seatpost becomes a structural member. The other junction is at the down tube, just in front of the bottom bracket. A collar fits around two flanges that meet, and the collar is tapered so that as it is tightened, it pulls the two flanges against each other, tightening the joint. This is a simple and brilliant design. Pundits might argue that it does not have the torque stability that an S&S connector has, but perhaps it is not that critical.
Frame geometry follows standard cyclocross bike design: 72- and 73- degree head and seat angles, respectively, a 55.5cm top tube for a 56cm frame, 6.5cm bottom bracket drop, and 42.5cm chainstays. Derailleur cable stops are on the down tube and just like an old steel road bike, the cables run under the standard threaded bottom bracket. The bike is set up for cantilever or mini-V brakes and cable splitters are included to make disassembly and reassembly of the bike pain-free. A Ritchey Comp Cross fork with carbon blades and crown bonded to an aluminum steerer is part of the package, as is a Ritchey WCS headset. Total weight is 5.8 pounds frame and fork, with frame alone at 4.5 pounds
The CXM pit crew scoured the pit area for parts to build the bike for CrossVegas. Luckily, we received a Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed group, PRO bar and stem, American Classic aluminum tubulars and Challenge Team Issue cotton Grifos. The 6800 Ultegra group included shifters, derailleurs and a crank with 172.5mm arms and road compact chainrings, along with a PRO PLT aluminum alloy bar and stem. I finished the build with miscellaneous parts from the pit area: a WTB Devo saddle atop an old American Classic seatpost. I thought since the seatpost is part of the frame’s integrity in this application, a carbon post may not be an ideal choice.
Speed modulation was handled by a new DiaCompe GranComp GC999 wide profile cantilever brake in front and the World Championship-winning Shimano CX70 cantilever on the rear.
The BreakAway comes with a soft sided, zippered bike bag that fits the complete bike including a pair of wheels. The bag itself has wheels on one end for easy transport through the airport. There is a video on YouTube that demonstrates how to pack the BreakAway into the bag, and it’s a good idea to practice at least once before your travels. It is amusing that Ritchey has to state on its website, “Ritchey does not guarantee airlines will not charge,” but the bag size seems to fit easily into most airlines check-in bag size limitations. Of course, meeting the weight restriction will depend on your build and what else you stuff into the bike bag.
If you have ridden steel frames, as I have most of my life, when you take the BreakAway for a spin, you can close your eyes and not know that this is a travel bike. Sure, the build is a bit heavy at 20.4 pounds, but that’s pretty good for a steel bike in general. The geometry leaves no handling surprises and the overall ride qualities are what you expect from a good steel bike: springy and lively with just enough stiffness to avoid front derailleur rub in a sprint, and enough damping to keep you in the saddle over washboard and bumpy grass.
To read the rest of the review, get your hands on a copy of Issue 23 of Cyclocross Magazine!
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- MSRP: $1500 (U.S.D), frame only, includes soft travel bag.
- More Info: RitcheyLogic.com
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