Ritchey BreakAway Tandem… A Unicorn To Be Sure!

With a tip of the hat to Chris from the Hobbes list who turned us on to a really nice interview of Tom Ritchey by Chris Kostman posted on Rough Riders that featured a photo of Tom and his wife Martha riding a very rare (I believe there were two) Richey BreakAway Tandems.

Back in October of 2003 there was a lot of buzz about a pair of Ritchey BreakAway Tandems that were shown at Interbike. Tom Ritchey’s BreakAway coupling system had been around a few years by that point, but had only been seen on single bikes.  Jack Goertz from Tandems Limited made mention of them in his annual Interbike post to Tandem@Hobbes:

5) Ritchey had two tandems in their booth, using a new (non-S&S) coupling
system that Tom has developed. The couplers are available for licensing to
qualified builders, so expect to see them soon elsewhere. I understand
Glenn Erickson has already built at least one bicycle with these couplers,
but I don't  whether it was a single or a tandem. This new coupler system
is almost invisible, but limits where a bicycle or tandem can come apart.
No word at the booth whether the tandems will be a production offering next

Note: We confirmed with our friend and builder Glenn Erickson that he had built only  a single bike using the Ritchey system, not a tandem.

Dick Powell who, at that time, was still the owner of The Bicycle Outfitter in Los Gatos, California, confirmed that the bikes were built-up by  his shop and shared some other details of production plans that didn’t exactly pan-out.

The Ritchey coupled tandem shown at Interbike was assembled at our shop.
We also did the prep of the frame which was shown broken down. Our insider
information is that Ritchey will bring it to market.  The show bike was
filet brazed and the production model will be tig welded.  I did not
personally get to test ride it but my Service Manager, Dave Prion did, and
was quite impressed.  We will try to get a price and delivery estimate and
will post it when we do.  the show bike had 130 spacing in the rear and
the production will be 145mm I am told.

The couplings have been quite successful in singles.  We are now stocking
the single Ritchey model.  The key difference in S&S and Ritchey is
strength of the joint and weight.  The S&S is far stronger.  I doubt very
much if the Ritchey clamp coupler would pass the S&S machine pull & twist
tests.  The couplers are larger on the tandem than the single, but could
be a failure point in a crash where the S&S will never fail.  The tube
will always go first.  That said, the lighter weight and lower price of
the Ritchey system is very attractive.  They also showed a Ti Ritchey
single with the Ritchey coupler. significantly cheaper than a Merlin or Seven.

The Ritchey tandem breaks down like a Co-Motion, meaning wheels and center
section in one case and the  F & R in the other case.  Ritchey makes a
very nice single case, maybe they will make a tandem version.  So stand
by, more to come later . . . .

Again, to my knowledge the BreakAway tandem never developed beyond the two prototype tandems that were shown at Interbike ’03.  However, it was really neat seeing a photo of Tom and his wife riding one of those two very rare tandems at the top of the Rough Riders interview.

One of Debbie’s two single bikes is a very nice Tom Ritchey-made, fillet-brazed Logic Pro and it’s an amazing piece of workmanship.  It was purportedly built for a friend of Tom’s here in Atlanta who was also small in stature but proved to be an extra bike that he didn’t need.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
This entry was posted in News items from the web, Tandem Folks, Technology & Equip., Whimsical Or Entertaining. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ritchey BreakAway Tandem… A Unicorn To Be Sure!

  1. Fred says:

    Nice story. When I saw the picture on T&H of the break away Tandem, I wondered what it was all about? You have cleared it up with a very interesting piece.

    I enjoy your tandem (and other) posts immensely.

    El Paso

  2. Pingback: Mountain Tandems @ NAHBS! « The TandemGeek's Blog

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