Reverence: Ritchey WCS 4 Axis stems

Reverence: Ritchey WCS 4 Axis stems

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Maybe it’s my mountain bike background.  It could be the brand’s long association with Thomas Frischknecht, one of my all-time favourite riders.  It’s more likely that they are light, look great and don’t cost the earth.  Whatever the reason, there’s something about Ritchey 4 Axis stems that just does it for me when it comes to attaching my bars to my steerer.

My first Ritchey was acquired around 2001, when an original WCS 120mm model, accompanied by a matching bar and seatpost, found its way onto my magnesium Merida (notorious for their strange choice of frame material, prone to cracking, but that’s another story).  Those parts found their way onto my next two bikes, but after a few years of service, the graphics were starting to look a bit dated, and they were sold off.  When my next build was undertaken, there really was only one choice for the cockpit components.

Over the last two years, my collection of Ritchey stems has grown to cover the gamut of sizes;  I ran a 100mm on my mountain bike, but it has been replaced by an 80mm (not a Ritchey, but that will no doubt be rectified soon).  My road bike and my ‘cross bike have seen service from 110, 120 and 130mm units.  The two longest examples are presented in the sweet ‘Wet Black’ finish, and currently a ‘Wet Red’ 130 graces my Roubaix.  I’ve also got a hankering for a ‘Wet White’ option, and teaming it with the white seatpost tickles my fancy too.  My indulgence knows no bounds.

How many 4 Axis stems is enough?  One more…

// Accessories and Gear // Reverence

  1. Thanks – but in the interests of honesty, that bike isn’t mine. It is the boss of that blog – who is a stinkin’ kiwi. Whilst the Merckx is a nice bike, the paintjob is putrid. It is a really difficult bike to ride next to.

    Will do something about the Baum pictures. washed it on saturday and of course Sunday involved riding on a wet dirt road…

  2. @Marcus

    Oh well, if it belongs to a Kiwi, I hate it!

    Who am I kidding, this place (and that bike) is pretty fucking cool (except for all the Kiwis)…

  3. Ah Ritchey. One of my all-time favourite brands. Count me as another fan of Frischknecht as well.

  4. @Brett…Hey Brett, are they ALL your stems or camera trickery!?

  5. @Marcus
    Despite the complaining of various readers claiming the uploader doesn’t work, I think I found the fix for it and believe it is working. I say that without having tested the solution.

    @Guy
    Frischie was a fuckin’ stud. Tomac, Frischie, Overend…Man, those were exciting days. Not just the era, but the whole notion of watching and being part of a developing sport.

    Tomac on drop bars with a disk wheel! RAD!!

    For a while there, I actually wore those Shimano ATB shoes around as regular footwear. Those were super sweet.

  6. I postulate that anyone who doesn’t look at that picture and think, “THAT THERE BE RAD” does not have a pulse.

  7. How do we feel about the Specialized adjustable stem adorning the Saxo bikes?

  8. @frank: the wet white stem would actually be absolutely right, given you match the post. My journeyman mechanic that taught me all things right in cycling taught me a rule that many overlook…and that is the stem must match the post color. Wet white stem and post both Ritchey WCS…very very nice.

    those pics of Overend, Tomac, Fisher and all are soooooo freaking great!!! Those guys just nailed cycling and there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do, nor couldn’t do. Cycling is a measure of heart really when you get down to it…and they all had huge ones.

  9. @ brett: how many wet stems are enough?

    Stems in general I have are like bikes: n+1

    stems for me are so critical to proper bike fit and usually overlooked by the novice. Last year I calculated what the difference in drop would be for the same stem (110mm) from 6* to 10*, which came out ~1cm drop, so I bit and bought a 3T 10*stem since the WCS are only 6 & 17*. There are so many numerable lengths, drops, that one really needs to think about the fit and buy one specifically.

  10. RIthcey WCS (Non-Carbon) are truly the perfect ratio of price vs weight. I own three WCS 4-Axis stems. 1 90mm, and two 100mm. I use the 100mm about half way through the season on my road bike, when my back become limber enough to stretch that extra centimeter.

    The WCS products that finally went with the five-color WCS stripes are subtle, and classy at the same time. They don’t pop like a pair of electroplated-bioluminescent SIDI road shoes, but they still are able to pull people’s attention to the product by name and reputation.

    If my bike wasn’t a solid black ninja bike, I would totally blow some cash on the silver WCS parts coming out. Put that and a nice, polished Campy Athena gruppo on a bike, and it will look timeless for years to come.

    As much of a supporter as I am of this company, I am not sure I feed into so many variations of colors and finish. Matte Black, Matte White, Polished Silver; what else do you need????

  11. @Dave Harding

    They are all mine Dave. Only the middle one (red) is in use at the moment. I took the 100 off my mtb (gone to 80mm) and the 110 off my Tricross as I am selling it.

  12. What I find interesting is that you idealize a brand/part because a certain MOUNTAIN BIKE professional used them. BUT you’re putting them on your ROAD bike?

  13. Agreed, very nice stems. But I really dislike the world champ color scheme on the WCS logo. I’ve not earned it, doesn’t go on my bike.

  14. @Gillis

    And the problem is? They are a road and/or mtb stem. Ritchey also make road bikes, road wheels, road bars, seatposts, forks… Just because they came from an mtb background doesn’t mean shit. And of course Tom was a road racer before he helped in the inception of the mtb.

    Hey, maybe Cadel shouldn’t be allowed to have a road contract, because he was a mountain biker too.

  15. @Brett
    Yeah,

    “What you talkin’ ’bout Gillis?”

  16. frank :@Marcus
    Despite the complaining of various readers claiming the uploader doesn’t work, I think I found the fix for it and believe it is working. I say that without having tested the solution.
    @Guy
    Frischie was a fuckin’ stud. Tomac, Frischie, Overend…Man, those were exciting days. Not just the era, but the whole notion of watching and being part of a developing sport.
    Tomac on drop bars with a disk wheel! RAD!!

    For a while there, I actually wore those Shimano ATB shoes around as regular footwear. Those were super sweet.

    I saw an interview a year or two ago with Tomac saying he did that because he was in Europe all year, racing and training on drop bars. He didn’t want to change focus with flat bars, so he used drops and STI’s. During this interview, Tomac stated retrospectively, it was a foolish thing to do since the MTB worlds course was a lot rootier, and bumpier than today’s, and the brakes were a bitch to hold onto for long periods of time.

  17. Tomac riding drop bars and that disk wheel was the ultimate bad ass set up. That heyday of XC racing was my favorite era of all time – for sure – road or dirt action.

    I’ve read he ran those bars since he road racing as well, and wanted the same position. I’m not sure he ran STI – was that out yet? I could be wrong. I do know I’ve seen other pictures of Tomac running the drop bars with bar end shifters. Those pics also show a rigid fork and toe clips, so a bit earlier.

    I’ve thought about setting up my old ’91 Fat Chance Yo Eddy with drop bars as a goof. Would be a fun project. The frame is a hair small for that however, don’t think I could pull it off comfort wise.

  18. @Brett
    Settle down cowboy. I just thought the relation was odd. It’s not like I’m putting a Cinelli stem on my mtb (or RaceFace parts on my road bike–even though they make them now). And as far back as I can remember, Ritchey produced mtb parts long before they produced any road bike parts.

    And, (in a quick search) his only road palmares seem to be for the ’96 olympic road team, which he did on a cx bike.

  19. @Gillis

    So what exactly is your point, cowgirl?

  20. @Brett
    Just cos none of our women’ll go near ya…

  21. Brett :@Gillis
    And the problem is? They are a road and/or mtb stem. Ritchey also make road bikes, road wheels, road bars, seatposts, forks… Just because they came from an mtb background doesn’t mean shit. And of course Tom was a road racer before he helped in the inception of the mtb.
    Hey, maybe Cadel shouldn’t be allowed to have a road contract, because he was a mountain biker too.

    Ah piss. Thanks for reminding me about the world champ stripes. Anyone want a 130mm 6 degree richie stem?

  22. @frank
    Stems are nice, I’ve got 2 for different bars. The shims give away 200 odd grams, so weighty compared to some others but when your bike has to go north to make a pre-decided weight, it’s a practical use of weight that has benefits over putting lead inside the frame.

  23. minion :

    Brett :@Gillis
    And the problem is? They are a road and/or mtb stem. Ritchey also make road bikes, road wheels, road bars, seatposts, forks… Just because they came from an mtb background doesn’t mean shit. And of course Tom was a road racer before he helped in the inception of the mtb.
    Hey, maybe Cadel shouldn’t be allowed to have a road contract, because he was a mountain biker too.

    Ah piss. Thanks for reminding me about the world champ stripes. Anyone want a 130mm 6 degree richie stem?

    You might be able to remove them, I rubbed off the ugly parts of an Easton logo on my stem using one of those magic cleaning sponges.

  24. I get the WC stripe adornment concern. It’s crossed my mind in relation to my wheels. However, I’ll postulate that when the stripes are used subtly on a piece of gear the intent is to convey tradition or heritage, not accomplishment of the rider employing the gear. Accomplishment is reserved for jerseys, podium girls, trophies, and sparkling wine.

  25. frank :

    I postulate that anyone who doesn’t look at that picture and think, “THAT THERE BE RAD” does not have a pulse.

    Since I’m a BMXer at heart I have to pipe up. I remember when MTB racing started to become more than just plodding away on single track trying to not get lapped by Ned Overend. When all the downhilling started the BMXers got interested – you know these guys, the punk kids with unbelievable bike handling skills – anyway, Mike King was a Factory GT AA BMX pro and he shows up at a DH race in full factory regalia and people are looking at him like “Who are you?” and he says “I race BMX for GT.” and he received snickers and looks down noses and the “He’s just a BMXer” attitude. Then he handed everybody their asses. That’s when the BMX floodgate opened and pretty much everybody in MTBing has a BMX background now – Lopes, Carter, Palmer, all the Europeans, etc.

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