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Tom Ritchey began building custom steel racing frames in the early 1970s, bringing many innovations to the craft such as oversized tubing, made possible through Ritchey's preference for fillet brazing. Ritchey built his first frame out of his parent's garage in 1972. In the early 1980s, he started building mountain bike frames as a partner with Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly in MountainBikes. In 1983, the partnership dissolved and MountainBikes was sold to Fisher, who renamed the company Fisher Mountain Bikes. Ritchey began building mountain bikes and other frames for his own company, Ritchey Design, expanding into bicycle components. Ritchey is an early innovator of parts designed or optimized for mountain bikes, including clipless pedals and threadless headsets, and has also designed a large assortment of road and cyclocross components. Ritchey components have been raced to victory in some of the biggest cycling competitions in the world including the UCI World Championships, the Tour De France and the Olympic XC Mountain Bike race. Ritchey is well-known for his mountain bikes, but he has also produced road and cyclo-cross frames, usually of butted chromoly steel tubing. He has produced frames made using titanium alloys, along with composite frames using carbon fiber and titanium tubes. In 1988, Ritchey was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. In 2012, Tom Ritchey was inducted to the United States Bicycle Hall of Fame in Davis, California.
Ritchey was married to his second wife, Martha, on his ranch in Northern California on October 24, 2009. He has a son, Jay, and two daughters, Sara and Annie.
Ritchey still offers a full line of frames and continues to make contributions in bicycle design and engineering. One recent design is the Break-Away Bike, performance- oriented road and cyclocross bikes that separate to pack in a suitcase for travel.
Tom Ritchey has been at the forefront of cycling innovation since the very beginning. - Tom's Vector Force Analysis (VFA) tread designs revolutionized mountain bike tires. - His 3D Net Forged WCS Stems led the way to a new generation of lighter, stiffer and stronger stems. - Off Center Rim Technology (OCR) raised the bar for lightweight wheels. - In the 1980's, Tom's Logic steel tubing changed the way tubing manufacturers thought about butting profiles, ushering in a new era of lighter, more lively yet tough as nails steel bikes.
Ritchey is known for his handlebar mustache.
In December 2005, Ritchey and Gary Boulanger were invited to tour Rwanda by bicycle. They were asked to develop a racing team, opening a bicycle assembly factory, designing a transportation/cargo-hauling bicycle, and establishing a mountain bike safari touring company. Three months later, Ritchey sent his friend Jared Miller to Rwanda to explore possibilities, and Project Rwanda was born.
On September 16, 2006, the first annual Rwandan Wooden Bike Classic was held in Karongi. More than 3,000 Rwandans filled Karongi Stadium and lined the streets to watch the country's first mountain bike race. North American Tour de France pioneers Jock Boyer and Alex Stieda raced alongside Ritchey. Ritchey continued to help Project Rwanda by participating in Ride 4 Rwanda, a fundraising event in Santa Barbara, CA, on February 2, 2008. Ritchey joined 100 participants, many students at Santa Barbara Middle School, in a coastal bike ride to raise funding for bike parts and mechanical support for Rwandan coffee workers. Ritchey helped the non-profit organization Bikes to Rwanda.