Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ritchey Ti Breakaway Cross - The New Hottness

It's finally  gone from dream to reality. The do everything, go anywhere, just plain fun bike I've been trying to create for myself arrived last week at the shop. I hurried down to look at it.
Inside this box was a frame set I've been waiting on for 6 months. And it isn't even the frame I originally ordered. Sound funny? Think there might be a story behind it? Well, you would be correct.

8 months ago, at Habersham Bicycles, I hatched a plan while I stared at a used Giant Cyclocross bike that Joe had been trying to sell for about a year. This kind of plan is very common among roadies. In general it goes like this; "I can buy this bike for the components and then sell the frame. Then I can buy the frame I really want and put these components on it. And I'll have the bike I want for less than I would have spent on a new one!" Sometimes we actually go through with the plan. Sometimes the plan is more like a fiendish plot that never comes to fruition. Mostly we end up with boxes full of unrealized biking dreams and the realization that it's ultimately cheaper to buy a complete new bike.

I'm not tooting my own horn or anything, but I usually finish what I start. The "result" is the only thing that may change during the process. That's the case with this new bike.
So I bought the cross bike from Joe, sold the frame and fork along with the stem and seat post, and bought a new stem and seat post in anticipation of my new Ritchey Breakaway frame. That right there took me about a month to do. This isn't exactly my job or anything, just my hobby.

The frame I wanted was a White 2012 model steel breakaway cross I'd seen pictures of from the internet. I even downloaded the 2012 Ritchey Catalog to get the specs right. They've updated the frame with a bigger bottom bracket and braze-ons. Plus I loved the look of the color matched fork and new paint job. So I went to my good friend Joe and asked him to become a Ritchey dealer and order the frame. He ordered it in November '11 and was told they wouldn't release the new frames until January. So...I waited.

You might be wondering "why a cross frame?" Well, after reading many accounts from travelers around the world it just made the most sense. A cross frame is built to handle bigger tires which are good for handling any terrain you may find yourself on. In my case that could be vacation destinations with dirt paths or shell infused sidewalks. Then there's the dream of travel biking or multi-day events where the ability to add a pannier to the back for attaching bags would be ideal. All this type of riding is of the "non-competitive" nature and a cross geometry puts the rider more upright and stable. That part is needed in my case because it's already an act of contortion to ride and reach over to push a child at the same time. I need to sit up more and having the cyclocross brakes in the center of the handlebar are a plus for that reason too. Ultimately, for what I intended to use it for, the cross bike made sense. Not to mention the "breakaway" ability for airplane travel. And maybe a cross race. OK...for sure a cross race.

But the bike in the pictures isn't steel it's titanium?
That's true. And the story continues. January came and the promise of my new bike was delayed until March. It seems there are too many older models of steel out there in the market and Ritchey is not sufficiently motivated by my order to ship mine until more of the current stock is sold. Their suggestion...buy last years model. Unfortunately I was born with just enough vanity that I would rather wait for the pretty bike than settle for a bike that doesn't match my shoes. So I waited.

March arrives! Yes! That frame should be arriving soon! I got with Joe to get an ETA and... they pushed back the availability of the 2012's until June 2012. And there ain't nothin' you can do about it.

To this point I've been laid back about the whole thing. I mean this is just a bicycle. I'm an accountant in a car business. I understand how supply and demand works. I understand how tough it is in the retail world these days. I don't blame anyone for the decisions that are keeping my dream from becoming reality. However, the fact is I want to go on vacation in June with my new travel bike. And the box full of components are getting lonely. I imagine them as Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys in Toy Story. It's not right to leave them boxed up like that.

So I re-hatched my plan. You see the titanium version of the B/A Cross is available. Titanium is almost 2 pounds lighter than the steel frame. It's also almost double the price at retail. I've wanted to have a Ti bike back in the stable ever since I sold my Litespeed Vortex years ago. I loved riding it but could only afford so many bikes at the time. I asked Joe to call Ritchey and plead my case for a great price on the Ti. Needless to say after much debate, crying and gnashing of teeth we reached an agreement that changed my new bikes name. Why's that? Well you see students, in Biblical times when a man became a new person in Christ his Hebrew name would sometimes change to reflect his change in personality; ie Simon became Peter (The Rock). No, not the wrasler (intentionally misspelled). And with this in mind my bike went from being called the "New Bike" to the "New Hottness". I realize that statement is borderline sacrilegious but I'll leave it there to help express my delight with the New Hottness purchase. Don't judge me.

Joe Elam, Habersham Bicycles finishes the "New Hottness"
Once it arrived I started learning what every roadie who has hatched a plan learns. Some of my components won't work with my new frame. Namely the bottom bracket and the front derailleur. No problem. I took time to sell the old and then buy the new. My goal was an empty parts box. No lonely bike parts.
Watching the bike being put together was very exciting. I'm one of those guys who likes to enjoy every aspect of biking. Working on them is half the fun. Watching someone skilled work on them is even better. I can do most things on a bike but Joe makes it a work of art.

I also have to say how impressed I am with Ritchey. Everything I purchased from them is top quality and well thought out. The "One Bolt" seat post is the bomb. It's easily adjustable to the finest degree on the angle of the saddle. Tightens with one turn. Very nice. And the frame is beautiful. The bead blasted graphics were a hit with folks who looked at it during it's time at the shop. It's cut so well you can hardly tell there's a separation at the seat clamp. The Ti Breakaway purchase reminds me of going to Disney World...expensive but worth it.

New Hottness weighs in. 17.1 pounds (7756 grams)
Of course there's only one true way to enjoy a new to you bicycle...get out and ride! The maiden voyage happened to take place at a Tuesday Night Throwdown with some good friends. Under normal circumstances the Throwdown is race bike territory. It can be a nasty, rip your legs off type of ride if you want to stay with the leaders. But today I was on New Hottness and beyond testing her with a little sprinting I was happy to just ride with the main group.
I've been riding my Giant Advanced SL exclusively for about three years and so I knew there would be a big difference. And there was. The bike does everything differently. It's actually more rigid at the saddle than my Giant. It's hard to judge after just 1.5 hrs on the bike but I may consider upgrading to a carbon seat post. I was afraid the Ti would be to flexy in the sprints or wobble on the down hills but that wasn't the case. I tested it in every way possible including a fast decent down Tower Mountain in Cornelia and never once felt nervous. And I completely forgot it was a breakaway bike. Outstanding!

Chad and New Hotness at the top of Tower Mountain, Cornelia, GA
Stephen Sisk, Benny Bohanan, Craig Tinsley
And so begins the story of my new adventure bike. I say that because it will probably see as much action as my race bike but without the drama. It will go more places and do more things. I'd say "boldly go" but then I'd have to change it's name to The Enterprise. And I'm not that big of a Trekie. And it's not a Trek it's a Ritchey.

But I digress.

I'll be riding my new steed at the LAP Century the Hartwell Challenge of the Centuries and the Jackson Brevet so look for me and New Hottness to be happily stopping at every SAG to partake of the baked goodness.

This weekend was the Athens Twilight Races in Athens, Georgia. There's so much to tell with pictures and video that I can't put it all together in time so you'll all have to wait. But it's good stuff. Here's a teaser.
CAT5 AM Race, Robert Loomis took 3rd!


Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes


  1. Question for ya Chad...
    I'm strongly considering the Steel Cross BreakAway for Randonnuering (long distance, multi-day, self-supported rides). My biggest concern in comfort and I see that you're stem is low. Did you cut your steertube? Thanks

  2. Hey Chad are you still riding this guy? What size is it and how tall are you. I'm 5'11 & looking at 56-58 but figuring with the bigger tires I might need to go smaller.


    1. I will never sell this bike. I just rode it on Sunday. It is a 57cm and I am 6 feet tall. The cross frame is the best idea I've ever had. I currently use bigger tires on it for comfort and puncture protection. I have monkey arms to I had to get a longer stem. I would say you will be good on a 57 with a shorter stem. I have travelled to 4 Gran Fondos with it since I got it.
      Have a great day!