Hi! This is your friendly neighborhood service manager Rob Breckenridge.
This part of the site is where I get to talk about the things that really interest me about cycling - bikes!
As machines they are some of the most elegant on the planet. As transportation they are the most efficient. As fetish items they are the most accessible, and better yet, they are almost infinitely upgradable.
So this is about practical excess and mechanical success. I will try to help you make decisions and solve problems.
Please remember that if you have any questions you can contact me by email or by phone and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Installation review of the Ritchey WCS
It was on a long ride recently that I came to believe that
the Thomson stem on my bike might be just a centimeter too long.
I am a huge fan of Thomson products and rarely stray when
making decisions about the cockpits of my bikes (even my wife’s bike). The only
exception to this being on my commuter bike, this having a hodge-podge of parts
bought at the swap or found lying around. On it is an older Ritchey WCS stem. I
have always liked the way it looks and I remember it being light, so I thought
that this might be the way to go this time. If it doesn’t work out I can always
order up another X-2 in 90mm. So the next day I checked out what QBP had to
offer and came across the C260 version of the WCS stem.
This is a new model and there isn’t much info out there
about it right now. The claimed weight was pretty extraordinary though; at 103g
it would make it lighter than almost any stem out there, and 20g lighter than
prior WCS versions. This model is also different in the way it clamps to your
bars (more on that later). The thing that sold me though was the price. While
on the high end for an aluminum stem at $110.00 it is $150.00 - $185.00 cheaper
than the two lighter alternatives from Enve and Zipp. So on the order it went
and after it arrived I installed it on the IF. This is what I have to say about
First things first: Does it weigh? It certainly felt light
when I pulled it out of the box.
It’s alright… I guess
The 90mm weighs in at 101g. That’s pretty freakin light. (This
also makes it lighter than both Zipp’s and Enve’s claimed weights) For comparison I threw the Thomson on the scale.
42g! I just lost an ounce and a half. Crucial. Now I can
relax and install it.
To start off with, you must know that I ride on dead
technology. My bike is not only made of steel, but its steerer is of the 1”
(dweedler) variety. This requires the
use of a shim. I was very happy to find out that the stack of the stem was the
same as the shim. This allowed me to lose two spacers that had been taking up
space because the shim- made by Thomson, was 5mm taller than the stem- made by
So it fit, awesome.
Clamping the C260 to the steerer is done with 3 m4 bolts
that use a 3mm hex head to tighten. I found the size of bolt heads to be kind
of difficult to deal with. It was hard to make sure you had full purchase. I
was constantly double-checking to make sure I didn’t strip out the head. Other
than that there were no problems. Ritchey has tried to alleviate the stress of
clamping onto carbon forks by using non-traditional cutouts on their stems.
Previous versions had a diagonal cutout. This one has an arched radius, which
allows clamping forces to be distributed over a wider surface area. I tightened
each bolt to 5nM with my trusty Pedro’s torque wrench. There were no cracking
Now, installing the handlebars is when things get
The second thing that you notice when you have this stem in
your hand (after the weight) is the interface for the handlebar clamp. The
faceplate seems really small and the bolts are on backwards and cocked at odd
angles. This is because the clamping surface of the stem wraps 260 degrees
around the bar (hence the name).
I bet if I just push real hard I can
make it fit…
Okay, so it doesn’t look like it will go over the clamping
surface of the bars (it won’t so don’t try) I guess I should check the
directions to see what they recommend. The only problem is the directions in
the box are generic to the Ritchey line and mention nothing of this stem’s
existence much less any recommendation on how to install it. Luckily they
provide them here.
The directions informed me that I would have to partially
remove my bar tape, which I found annoying only because every time I have to do
this my tape gets ripped up a little more pushing me closer to having to
replace it entirely. Done, I found the place on the flattened section on my
bars where it would slip over easily.
Luckily, I didn’t have to unwrap back to the levers like they show in the directions
Then according to the directions I had to “Carefully work
stem towards center of bar.” Though carefully I did work towards the center my
bars still managed to get a nick in the clear-coat. That was slightly more annoying.
Well, it was bound to happen some time I guess
Once everything was aligned
I just had to tighten down the faceplate bolts to the recommended 5nM. As you
can see from the picture Ritchey again uses these small m4 bolts. They are used
to reduce weight and clearly it worked, but I’m still not a fan. In this
situation difficulty is slightly compounded by the odd angles that the bolts go
into the faceplate.
The ones on top are fine, but the ones below are
kind of a pain
After being careful not to strip out the bolt heads and
getting everything torqued down it was done. The completed product looks good
and feels very secure. I haven’t had a chance to put it through its paces, but
Ritchey claims that while being significantly lighter than previous models it
is also 30% stiffer. I’m sure that will be more than enough for any stress I
might put on it.
The final product
So here’s the rundown:
Pros LIGHT! Stiff, and really well machined. It is
also competitively priced. There are 4 finishes (matte black, wet black, wet
white, and wet red) so it will match almost any color scheme. Size range from 70mm (matte black only) to
130mm will accommodate most riders. Bonus - can be used for road or mountain
Cons Not the easiest stem to install,
especially if you already have your bars wrapped. You have to be Very Careful
to no scratch your bars during installation, and small oddly placed bolts make
torqueing everything down an exercise in diligence so as to not round out the