Interbike 2012: Original Ritchey 650b hardtail

Plus new Z-Max cyclo-cross tires

This article originally published on BikeRadar

Though the mountain bike world is currently in the grips of a 27.5"/650b revolution, onlookers should remind themselves that it's hardly a wheel size that was merely created out of thin air. Rather, it's actually a resurrection of a format that was in place in the early days of the sport before the wider availability of 26" tires made it the dominant standard.

Ritchey recently debuted its new P-27.5 at this year's DealerCamp event with appealing stats such as a 2.02kg (4.47lb) butted, TIG-welded steel frame and an attainable retail price of US$1,100. On display right next to it at Interbike, however, was another 27.5"-wheeled bike that Tom Ritchey built for himself more than thirty years ago.

That fillet brazed bike is now owned by a collector in the San Francisco Bay Area but he's admirably kept it in mostly vintage form – including Campagnolo and Huret friction front and rear derailleurs, giant Sachs four-finger brake levers, and a well worn-in Brooks leather saddle. Frame geometry has obviously changed significantly since those early days but perhaps what that bike demonstrates is that we're not necessarily taking a blind step forward but instead returning back to our roots.

Ritchey wasn't just about paying homage to the past at its booth, though. We covered most of the new items at DealerCamp but additional bits included a new Torqkey preset 4Nm torque wrench with interchangeable bits, a new 29x2.1" Z-Max Evolution tire size, and a 700x35mm Z-Max Shield clincher for 'cross use.

Savvy readers will undoubtedly notice that that 35mm width puts it outside the UCI's maximum allowable tire size but no matter. Ritchey global marketing director Sean Coffey rightfully contends that the vast majority of amateur racers will never compete in a UCI-sanctioned event but will certainly benefit from the extra casing volume.

The Z-Max Shield is intentionally non-UCI legal

The Z-Max Shield is intentionally non-UCI legal

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