Whenever the name Ritchey comes to my mind, I always think back to the 80s when I first started mountain biking. In fact, Tom Ritchey started out producing components and frames in the 70s . He’s one of the few people we can truly call a mountain biking pioneer.
One of my first cherished mountain bikes that I owned was a Ritchey P-21 Team. Ahh, that was a great ride for the time. Well fast forward to today, and Ritchey has not stopped innovating. Two great examples are the new Trail Carbon bar and Trail WCS stem.
I first spotted these bars at Interbike, and I was pleased to see that Ritchey is finally making wider bars for the non-cross country racer crowd. Yes, Ritchey has the racer covered head to toe in lightweight go-fast carbon goodness. But up until now, they were missing the trail rider who wanted bars that were just a tad wider and lighter.
This WCS carbon bar comes in at 193 grams with a 740mm width and a 15mm rise (a 5mm rise is also available, and great for a 29er, BTW). Along with the rise, a 9° back sweep finishes off the curve of the bar. Sold with a 31.8mm clamp diameter, this bar also has a roughened clamp surface for improved clamping with less torque. A matte finish of unidirectional carbon and printed graphics round out the look of the Ritchey Trail bar.
The C220 WCS Trail stem is a great addition to the C220 / 260 line of WCS stems that have proven themselves over the years. One of the great things about this trail stem lineup is the addition of shorter stem lengths that many riders are looking for.
On review is the 45mm version of the WCS trail stem. A few years back I reviewed the Syncros FRIC 260° stem, which at the time worked well, but did have a few issues fitting some higher rise bars. The 220° wrap of this stem allows for a better fit on more bars.
The bar is 3D forged and is machined from 2014 aluminum, ensuring a strong, stiff structure.
Below, you can see that the clamp is not flat but rather angled, which distributes the load on the bar better.
A single faceplate, 40mm wide, clamps down on the bars securely.
The WCS trail stem comes in 45, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, and 110mm lengths, and a zero rise. This covers pretty much everyone out there.
With a weight of about 100g in the 45mm length, this stem is also pretty light.
As with all carbon products it is of the utmost importance to not over torque the bar. A torque wrench or Ritchey’s own Torqkey is needed to install this bar safely. The instructions are pretty simple. Whether you’re replacing an existing bar or installing the trail bar and stem, a few key steps are required.
When installing the stem onto your bike the key factor is to ensure a minimum of 2mm between the top edge of the stem and the steering tube. Going lower than that opens up the risk of damage to the stem or steering tube. If you decide to stack a few spacers above the stem, you can go to a maximum of 30mm of spacers. The real trick with the WCS 220 Trail stem is to carefully install the bar following Ritchey’s instructions.
The 220° wrap of the stem requires you to slide the stem carefully around the bend of the bar, then rotate the bar to your desired bar position. Again, most mid-rise bars should fit. The Carbon Trail bar fit with no issues at all. After the bar is centered, evenly torque the stem front cap in place in a cross pattern to 5nm. Using a friction modifier like Ritchey’s own Liquid Torque or Motorex Carbon grease compound will allow you to reduce the torque about 30%.
Once the bar is in position and the stem is installed, a quick run with the torque wrench on the brakes, shifters, and stem bolts is in order. You will just need 4, 5, and 6mm hex keys for that. Lock on grips usually need a 2.5 or 3mm hex key.
Personally I did find it took a bit of effort to carefully install the bar without scratching it. The installation instructions’ font size was just too small for me. Luckily, the online instructions can be blown up.
Out on the Trail
I had a great time shredding with these bars! The shorter stem added to the control of the bike, keeping me centered over the bottom bracket. On harder square-edged rocks, the combination of the big tires and the carbon made for a nice sting-free ride. As with other carbon bars, ride quality is vastly improved over their alloy counterparts. There is a bit of flex in the bars, but it was hardly noticeable. Other than that, the 15mm rise combined with the 9° bend makes for a very wrist-friendly grip on the bars.
Over the course of the review, I had no issues with the stem coming loose or creaking. Separating the bar apart from the stem for inspection, I had no issue with any damage to the carbon (thanks to torquing the bolts to spec).
Off hand, compared to the factory gear that was installed on my Norco Sasquatch, I saved a decent amount of weight by installing the Ritchey gear: 145 grams, to be exact. Not bad considering the only things I changed were the bar and stem.
Carbon WCS Trail Bar MSRP: $169
WCS Trail Stem MSRP: $89.95
Thanks to Ritchey for providing the Trail WCS Carbon Bar and C220 Stem for review.