Skip to main content

Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon bike review

Collapsible, no-compromise travel machine

Image 1 of 38

The Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti-Carbon proved to be a nice machine in and of itself but the fact that it travels so easily made it more than just a bike - it was a reclaiming of lost riding days.

The Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti-Carbon proved to be a nice machine in and of itself but the fact that it travels so easily made it more than just a bike - it was a reclaiming of lost riding days. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 2 of 38

We used the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon on several trips this spring, earning us the chance to ride in places we normally wouldn't have been able to such as Calico Basin just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

We used the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon on several trips this spring, earning us the chance to ride in places we normally wouldn't have been able to such as Calico Basin just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 3 of 38

We included a small bag of spare bolts just in case. We always made sure to snug down any loose bolts prior to zipping up the case so we never needed to tap into this cache but it was reassuring to have nonetheless.

We included a small bag of spare bolts just in case. We always made sure to snug down any loose bolts prior to zipping up the case so we never needed to tap into this cache but it was reassuring to have nonetheless. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 4 of 38

Wrapping up the loose cable ends is a good idea prior to packing.

Wrapping up the loose cable ends is a good idea prior to packing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 5 of 38

We removed the bottle cages (and stuffed them with bottles, which were then stuffed with energy gels and bars) for easier packing.

We removed the bottle cages (and stuffed them with bottles, which were then stuffed with energy gels and bars) for easier packing. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 6 of 38

We reattached the stem faceplate and snugged down the bolts before stuffing the parts inside the box in order to reduce the chance of a loose bolt working its way free.

We reattached the stem faceplate and snugged down the bolts before stuffing the parts inside the box in order to reduce the chance of a loose bolt working its way free. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 7 of 38

We followed Ritchey's procedure initially but quickly discovered that the S&S method of layering was more space-efficient. Alternating the frame sections and wheels also gave the case better weight balance so it was easier to roll around at the airport.

We followed Ritchey's procedure initially but quickly discovered that the S&S method of layering was more space-efficient. Alternating the frame sections and wheels also gave the case better weight balance so it was easier to roll around at the airport. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 8 of 38

Don't forgot to block the fork tips and rear dropouts to prevent crush damage. We started with these basic plastic blocks (commonly used with new bike shipments) but eventually upgraded to dummy axles and locknuts scavenged from old hubs and held in place by the wheel quick-releases (which also helped ensure we didn't forget them).

Don't forgot to block the fork tips and rear dropouts to prevent crush damage. We started with these basic plastic blocks (commonly used with new bike shipments) but eventually upgraded to dummy axles and locknuts scavenged from old hubs and held in place by the wheel quick-releases (which also helped ensure we didn't forget them). (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 9 of 38

Small paint dots helped us keep track of seatpost and handlebar positions for faster reassembly and a consistent fit. Removing the bar is also preferable to removing the stem from the steerer since you don't have to center it or adjust the headset each time, either.

Small paint dots helped us keep track of seatpost and handlebar positions for faster reassembly and a consistent fit. Removing the bar is also preferable to removing the stem from the steerer since you don't have to center it or adjust the headset each time, either. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 10 of 38

We used a similar mark on the seatpost. If you have a local Orbea dealer nearby, they likely have a small aluminum 27.2mm clamp-on collar laying about that would work ideally for this application, too.

We used a similar mark on the seatpost. If you have a local Orbea dealer nearby, they likely have a small aluminum 27.2mm clamp-on collar laying about that would work ideally for this application, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 11 of 38

Here's a tip: only use the tools you plan on packing into the case for breaking down and reassembling the bike. That way you always know you'll have what's required on hand and the necessary torque to do it. All small bits should be sealed in thick-gauge resealable bags.

Here's a tip: only use the tools you plan on packing into the case for breaking down and reassembling the bike. That way you always know you'll have what's required on hand and the necessary torque to do it. All small bits should be sealed in thick-gauge resealable bags. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 12 of 38

CO2 canisters aren't allowed on commercial flights so we've strapped a Lezyne pump to the down tube and keep a saddle bag packed with essentials that include a tube, patch kit, tire boot material, valve extender (with PTFE tape), and mini-tool.

CO2 canisters aren't allowed on commercial flights so we've strapped a Lezyne pump to the down tube and keep a saddle bag packed with essentials that include a tube, patch kit, tire boot material, valve extender (with PTFE tape), and mini-tool. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 13 of 38

Ritchey includes a replaceable derailleur hanger on the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame and it's a good idea to pack an extra one into the case.

Ritchey includes a replaceable derailleur hanger on the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame and it's a good idea to pack an extra one into the case. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 14 of 38

We rode our bike with a wide range of wheels for testing purposes but it's a good idea to use something relatively standard with easily sourced parts. The SRAM wheels pictured here were great on the road but it could be hard to find these spokes.

We rode our bike with a wide range of wheels for testing purposes but it's a good idea to use something relatively standard with easily sourced parts. The SRAM wheels pictured here were great on the road but it could be hard to find these spokes. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 15 of 38

The seat cluster joint is especially brilliant - though we'd recommend pairing it with an aluminum seatpost.

The seat cluster joint is especially brilliant - though we'd recommend pairing it with an aluminum seatpost. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 16 of 38

We would have preferred that Ritchey use a more conventionally located rear brake housing stop instead of the setup pictured here. Since the stop is slotted and the cable has a coupler, there's no reason it has to be located on the same frame half as the brake.

We would have preferred that Ritchey use a more conventionally located rear brake housing stop instead of the setup pictured here. Since the stop is slotted and the cable has a coupler, there's no reason it has to be located on the same frame half as the brake. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 17 of 38

We topped our test bike with a fi'zi:k Kurve saddle. The plastic edges are highly resistant to wear and conducive to being stuffed in a case repeatedly.

We topped our test bike with a fi'zi:k Kurve saddle. The plastic edges are highly resistant to wear and conducive to being stuffed in a case repeatedly. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 18 of 38

We initially had fears of running carbon stays on a travel bike but careful packing has kept them from being an issue.

We initially had fears of running carbon stays on a travel bike but careful packing has kept them from being an issue. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 19 of 38

We started with 23mm-wide tires at first but eventually settled on 25s instead for their greater cushioning on unfamiliar roads.

We started with 23mm-wide tires at first but eventually settled on 25s instead for their greater cushioning on unfamiliar roads. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 20 of 38

It looks like a mess in here but it's actually quite orderly. Covering everything in protective covers or foam pipe insulation helps a lot, too.

It looks like a mess in here but it's actually quite orderly. Covering everything in protective covers or foam pipe insulation helps a lot, too. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 21 of 38

The packing procedure is quite straightforward. We were able to break down or reassemble our test bike in under 20 minutes after a bit of practice using a few basic tools.

The packing procedure is quite straightforward. We were able to break down or reassemble our test bike in under 20 minutes after a bit of practice using a few basic tools. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 22 of 38

We fitted our test bike with a complete previous-generation SRAM Red group but upgraded the pads to SwissStop's latest aluminum-specific compound.

We fitted our test bike with a complete previous-generation SRAM Red group but upgraded the pads to SwissStop's latest aluminum-specific compound. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 23 of 38

The included soft-sided case isn't as protective as a hard-sided one but it's easier to pack and lighter. Plastic walls around the entire perimeter give the case some rigidity, though.

The included soft-sided case isn't as protective as a hard-sided one but it's easier to pack and lighter. Plastic walls around the entire perimeter give the case some rigidity, though. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 24 of 38

The handle on the case needs some improvement for sure. It's by no means comfortable in your hands and offers no leverage advantage. We'd like to see it moved further down the side of the case and equipped with a soft backing so as to cushion your knuckles from the hard plastic case liner.

The handle on the case needs some improvement for sure. It's by no means comfortable in your hands and offers no leverage advantage. We'd like to see it moved further down the side of the case and equipped with a soft backing so as to cushion your knuckles from the hard plastic case liner. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 25 of 38

We opted for an all-aluminum cockpit for our test bike since we were going to be regularly removing and reinstalling the bars.

We opted for an all-aluminum cockpit for our test bike since we were going to be regularly removing and reinstalling the bars. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 26 of 38

Ritchey uses a big box-section, wishbone-style chain stay setup for the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame. Drivetrain stiffness was good overall but no match for a high-quality, full-carbon setup.

Ritchey uses a big box-section, wishbone-style chain stay setup for the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame. Drivetrain stiffness was good overall but no match for a high-quality, full-carbon setup. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 27 of 38

The flange interface on the down tube is sufficiently stout yet remarkably simple. Just a tiny hinged clamp and 5Nm of bolt torque are all that's required to hold this area together.

The flange interface on the down tube is sufficiently stout yet remarkably simple. Just a tiny hinged clamp and 5Nm of bolt torque are all that's required to hold this area together. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 28 of 38

We had some issues with the derailleur cable couplers rattling on the down tube on very bumpy roads but otherwise they were trouble-free.

We had some issues with the derailleur cable couplers rattling on the down tube on very bumpy roads but otherwise they were trouble-free. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 29 of 38

The down tube coupler flanges don't just butt up against each other - there's also a section of tube that fits precisely into the bottom bracket end to provide additional reinforcement.

The down tube coupler flanges don't just butt up against each other - there's also a section of tube that fits precisely into the bottom bracket end to provide additional reinforcement. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 30 of 38

The bolt-together socket dropouts held tightly during testing and never creaked, either.

The bolt-together socket dropouts held tightly during testing and never creaked, either. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 31 of 38

Garmin's Edge 800 GPS computer was a perfect traveling companion as well, offering the ability to not just record and track your ride but guide you along your way, too - all without eating up precious data allotments on a cell phone plan.

Garmin's Edge 800 GPS computer was a perfect traveling companion as well, offering the ability to not just record and track your ride but guide you along your way, too - all without eating up precious data allotments on a cell phone plan. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 32 of 38

The head tube on the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon struck us as a bit short but in fairness, the frame sections fit more easily in the case this way.

The head tube on the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon struck us as a bit short but in fairness, the frame sections fit more easily in the case this way. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 33 of 38

It's critical to pack the bike carefully, including the full array of accoutrements like these plastic hub caps.

It's critical to pack the bike carefully, including the full array of accoutrements like these plastic hub caps. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 34 of 38

We chose a SRAM Red transmission for its impressive tolerance to cable adjustment. Aside from just disconnecting and reconnecting the cable couplers, we never had to make a single adjustment after the initial build.

We chose a SRAM Red transmission for its impressive tolerance to cable adjustment. Aside from just disconnecting and reconnecting the cable couplers, we never had to make a single adjustment after the initial build. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 35 of 38

Normally an adhesive chain stay protector would do the job just fine but when packed, the chain comes into close contact with both the top and bottom of the chain stay so we went with a more protective Lizard Skins cover instead.

Normally an adhesive chain stay protector would do the job just fine but when packed, the chain comes into close contact with both the top and bottom of the chain stay so we went with a more protective Lizard Skins cover instead. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 36 of 38

Etched logos won't wear off over time plus there's no paint to chip or scratch.

Etched logos won't wear off over time plus there's no paint to chip or scratch. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 37 of 38

Ritchey doesn't adorn the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame with any flashy logos. Save for the modest additional hardware and this etched-in logo, most onlookers would never guess you were riding a travel bike.

Ritchey doesn't adorn the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame with any flashy logos. Save for the modest additional hardware and this etched-in logo, most onlookers would never guess you were riding a travel bike. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)
Image 38 of 38

One of the neatest travel-related accessories we sampled during our experiment was Garmin's GTU 10 GPS tracking device, which provided real-time updates on where our bike was located in transit.

One of the neatest travel-related accessories we sampled during our experiment was Garmin's GTU 10 GPS tracking device, which provided real-time updates on where our bike was located in transit. (Image credit: Jonny Irick)

This article originally published on BikeRadar

Travel bikes are oftentimes an exercise in compromises but the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon is different, comprising a sleek, high performance titanium and carbon fiber frame that just happens to fit into a conveniently sized case. We've been traveling regularly with it all spring and logged nearly a dozen days on two continents that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise – and we haven’t paid a single dollar in baggage fees, either. Given a smart build, it's been good enough to use as our everyday machine at home, too.

Ride and handling: smooth and resilient

True to form, the Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon delivers a classic titanium ride with a resilient and springy feel under power and a distinctly smooth ride quality on rough roads. Despite the carbon rear stays and included all-carbon fork, it's quite a different feel from all-carbon chassis that dominate the current landscape.

There's noticeable flex in the drivetrain when you really put the power down and a subsequent delay between effort and output, particularly on steeper climbs when you've got no choice but to ruthlessly muscle away. There's a similar degree of flex from the rather traditionally proportioned front end when you're sprinting out of the saddle.

In most conditions that extra flex genuinely wasn't much of an issue since we generally used the Ritchey for more steady-state rides, not full-blown hill repeats. Likewise, we've certainly piloted bikes that handled more precisely but the Ritchey still felt confidently planted and never nervous even at speeds approaching 75km/h (47mph).

Naturally, the upside of the softer backbone is additional comfort, which the Ritchey offers in spades. Whereas most carbon bikes stiffen up on especially rough surfaces like washboarded dirt roads, the Ritchey eats them up with nary a whimper – something we especially appreciated while riding unfamiliar roads in far-off lands.

That being said, the Ritchey's titanium main frame also doesn't soak up small-amplitude, high-frequency buzz like carbon, either. Road texture comes through more prominently than most full composite chassis we've ridden, particularly up through the bars, but that was largely remedied by swapping to 25mm-wide tires – something we recommend for most riders for their faster roll and surer grip, anyway. If you're really after a cushy feel, it's worth noting that most 28mm-wide tires will squeeze through as well.

Handling leans toward the more stable end of the spectrum with a somewhat average 73.5-degree head tube angle on our 52cm tester but a rather low 72mm bottom bracket drop for excellent high-speed stability and an overall demeanor that lends itself to long, all-day rides in new surroundings.

Fit is quite aggressive, though, with a steep 75-degree seat tube angle (effectively producing a longer reach than the 54cm effective top tube would normally suggest) and positively puny 102mm-long head tube. Getting low over the front end is obviously no problem as a result but most riders will probably find themselves with a handful of headset spacers.

Frame: straightforward TIG-welded titanium with carbon stays and sleek low-profile couplers

The Ritchey Break-Away frame's defining feature, of course, is its ability to disassemble into two roughly wheel-sized halves (more on the packing process later). The down tube separates at the bottom bracket via a neat flanged interface and overlapping hinged clamp while the seat tube joint is especially slick with what is effectively a split seat tube and a separate seatpost clamp for each section. Fully assembled, the Break-Away is literally held together with just three bolts – and surprisingly, that's enough.

Otherwise, it's quite a conventional TIG-welded frame with round, straight-gauge 3/2.5 titanium tubes, a bonded-in carbon fiber rear end with socket-type dropouts and wishbone-style chain stays, a standard threaded bottom bracket, and a true integrated 1 1/8" straight head tube surrounding the included full-carbon Ritchey WCS fork.

Given the intended use, Ritchey is wise not to use any paint on the titanium portions of the frame, using just a brushed finish throughout plus a media-blasted treatment for the down tube and top tube logos so there's nothing to chip or scratch. Save for a bit of housing rub, our test frame is looking as good as new after four months of regular use and several flights – not bad at all.

The Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon chassis is admirably light, too, at 1,460g for the bare frame (52cm with coupler, derailleur hanger, clamp bolts, and water bottle bolts) and just 330g for the matching fork (full-length steerer, no compression plug) – not exactly a hefty penalty to pay for such convenience.

Built up with a SRAM Red group, SRAM S30 Al Gold wheels, an assortment of aluminum Ritchey cockpit components, a fi'zi:k Kurve saddle, and Continental GP4000 tires, the complete bike (without pedals) still comes in at just 7.1kg (15.65lb). Ritchey sells the Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon only as a frame kit, however, so buyers are free to build theirs up as they see fit and we're not going to bother commenting on our particular setup here.

Traveling the globe with the Ritchey Break-Away

We commissioned the Ritchey for the express purpose of traveling and to that end, the Break-Away design absolutely excelled.

Disassembling and packing the bike is surprisingly easy – at least once you get the hang of it. Taking the bike itself apart requires about five minutes, it's another five to ten minutes of padding and prep, then another five to ten of shoehorning everything into the included soft-sided case. Reassembly took us about the same amount of time. Smaller frame sizes will fit into an S&S Machine (the other major player in the full-sized travel bike arena) hard-sided case if you're after extra protection but we found the stock case to work sufficiently well if you take the necessary precautions.

Speaking of S&S, we ultimately found that company's packing process to be easier and more compact than what Ritchey prescribes. In addition, the S&S process also yields a better weight balance to the packed case for easier transport.

For best use of space, try layering the bike and its various parts

Ritchey includes a generous amount of wraparound tube covers and other accessories although we'd recommend upgrading to more protective foam pipe insulation for the frame and fork, proper dummy axles (we built ours from old hubs and used the wheels' quick release skewers to secure them), and plastic hub axle caps such as used on new bikes from the factory. We also typically wedged in a number of rags and other items such as shoes, water bottles, and the like to keep things further separated. We even found room for Lezyne's fantastic CNC Travel Floor Drive pump and a pair of SKS Raceblade fenders.

Total packed weight including a rather comprehensive collection of accessories was still just 16kg (35lb) – well under most airlines' maximum allowable weight for a single bag.

After two domestic and one international trip, we had only a slightly dinged rim sidewall to show for it – and that was only because airport security had annoying shuffled things around and didn't put things exactly as we had it. Speaking of which, another accessory we'd recommend is S&S Machine's Security Net, which allows airport security to remove the entire bundle as a single entity and easily inspect the contents without actually having to shift anything around.

Even though the packed case comes in under weight, it's worth noting that that doesn't guarantee you'll get through the check-in counter without any additional fees. Many airlines don't care about the size and weight at all – if they know it's a bike, they'll charge accordingly. However, some carriers such as United and Continental now specifically state that half-sized travel cases such as ones used by Ritchey and S&S will count as a standard piece of baggage. Regardless, the Ritchey is still technically oversized by about two centimeters in width so keep that in mind. If the ticket actually measures it, you're busted.

We managed to go through each time without any charges whatsoever, though, and we didn't even have to lie about it, saving us nearly US$1,000 in total on just three trips so far – and that's assuming you could manage to keep a bike and full-sized hard case under the usual 22kg (50lb) to avoid additional overweight charges.

Indeed, the world is for riding

The Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon is far from cheap at US$2,999.95 for the frame, fork, headset, case, and associated accessories although it's not outrageous compared with some other straight-gauge titanium bikes currently available that don't offer the same travel benefits. Regardless, Ritchey also offers the same functionality in steel for a substantially cheaper US$1,295.

Either way, cyclists who frequently travel for work – and frequently find themselves in appealing locales but with no bike to ride – should seriously consider budgeting for something like this. While it's not exactly spare change, there's also no price that can be put on being able to ride a real bike that actually fits you and genuinely performs well anywhere, any time. Of all the rides we've done this season, it's the ones that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise that stand out and those moments are truly invaluable.

Price: US$2,999.95 (Ritchey Break-Away Road Ti/Carbon frame, fork, headset, case, and accessories)
Weight: 1,460g (52cm frame with derailleur hanger, coupler, and water bottle bolts); 310g (fork only without compression plug); 7.1kg (15.65lb, as tested, without pedals)
Cyclingnews verdict: 4 ½ stars
More information: www.ritcheylogic.com

Complete bicycle specifications

Frame: Ritchey Breakaway Ti
Available sizes: 48, 50, 52 (tested), 54, 56, 58, 60cm
Fork: Ritchey WCS Carbon
Headset: Ritchey WCS Logic Zero, 1 1/8 drop-in integrated
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4-Axis
Handlebars: Ritchey WCS Curve
Tape/grips: Selle Italia Smootape
Front brake: SRAM Red w/ SwissStop GXP pads
Rear brake: SRAM Red w/ SwissStop GXP pads
Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Red
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM PG-1070, 11-26T
Chain: SRAM PC-1091R
Crankset: SRAM Red w/ Praxis 53/39T chainrings
Bottom bracket: SRAM GXP
Pedals: Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL PD-6700
Wheelset: SRAM S30 Al Gold
Front tire: Continental GP4000, 700x23mm
Rear tire: Continental GP4000, 700x23mm
Saddle: fi'zi:k Kurve
Seat post: Ritchey WCS Alloy 1-Bolt
Bottle cages: Blackburn Camber CF
Computer: Garmin Edge 800