Tom Ritchey is one-of-a-kind. He continues to juggle his duties as president and lead designer of our company, now distributed in over 40 countries, while still logging 10,000 miles a year all over the world. His latest passion is Project Rwanda, which strives to further economic development in Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle. Inspiration often comes to him while out on a ride, generating ideas that he then processes as three-dimensional design images – in his head. This is followed by the creation of initial concept models, many of which he creates by fillet brazing pieces or scraps of frame tubing. It all comes naturally to a guy who taught himself to build frames as a teenager, and who designed some of the burgeoning mountain bike industry’s first frames and components back in the 1970’s. Every year Tom guides our R&D efforts in pursuit of both subtle improvements to existing products, or large-scale advances leading to new ones.
Drawings and finite element analysis are great tools, but we are always eager to prove our new designs in the real world. Starting with fatigue cycle testing, we strive for at least 2x the standard laid out by CEN (the European Committee which determines minimum safety standards for bicycles and components sold in Europe). We apply the same stringent standards to impact testing, meaning that before a proposed design finds its way onto a tester’s bike, it has already been proven structurally and then some. In 2006, we aligned ourselves with a respected German test lab in order to verify our own testing results. This outside authentication keeps us honest and ensures product releases meet the highest standards. Once a product clears machine testing, prototype samples endure rigorous use by both amateur and professional riders alike, including our sponsored athletes around the world. By the time you put it on your bike, it has passed a global testing and approval process second to none.
Tom Ritchey is a former national level racer, passionate rider and resourceful product designer with a unique, common sense approach to building the best road and mountain components available.
Tom was on the scene with other pioneers in the early days of mountain biking and he saw numerous ways to improve the equipment they were using. But his desire to build better parts wasn't rooted in some grand business plan - many parts simply didn't exist and the ones that did required substantial improvement. Tom saw an opportunity to develop lighter, stronger, better components.
Starting in high school, Tom was focused on saving weight without compromising the strength of the racing bicycles he built for himself. Over the years Tom's focus has shifted from frame building to component design, but his obsession with functional, lightweight and reliable equipment has not waivered.
Tom's interest in adventurous travel while having his own bike available, led him to create the perfect solution - the Break-Away travel bike, which easily checks through as personal luggage.