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1985-1988 Ritchey MTB Ascent?

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1985-1988 Ritchey MTB Ascent?

Old 04-18-19, 11:12 AM
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purebikes 
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1985-1988 Ritchey MTB Ascent?

I picked this up locally and am curious about the model/year. It looks like an 85-88 Ascent but it has a few details that aren't lining up with what I can find online. The serial number is the first mystery as it is only three numbers (705) and doesn't follow the sequencing that I have found on (ritchey.vintagebicycledatabase.com). It is a 17" frame so maybe the 7 is for the size and 05 is the number frame but it is supposed to have a letter first to identify the model. The other oddity is that the bottom bracket looks somewhat fillet brazed where as the other Ascent frames I can find all look tig welded along with the top tube joints. The sticker on the top tube is also the more sought after "Handmade by Tom Ritchey" and not the "Handmade by Ritchey Bikes" that I have seen on some of the others. As a side note it does have a Pedersen SE U-Brake which have heard is one of the nicer versions of the type of brake and somewhat sought after. The other components are Shimano Mountain LX with a newer crankset added.

So what do I have? Any help would be appreciated.













Any info would be appreciated.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:27 AM
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Appears more as a Ritchey handwork vs volume Asian produced Ascents. Then there's the high end Tange Prestige tubing decal. If legit Prestige, its certainly more special than the common Ascent having 4130. Did some have rack bosses, no hole in the stay bridge, perhaps an early Ascent? Check online database?

Fillet and TIG joinery.

Difficult to see all the components, but I dig the decal on that Shimano rear derailleur. Seems the stem and bar were changed out. Same goes for the saddle and post.

Very neat find!

Last edited by crank_addict; 04-18-19 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:43 AM
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Bought one new in 1988, (I think it was languishing stock) The "handmade" graphic is in the wrong location for what I have seen.
I still ave mine, albeit repainted as the paint failed at the braze-ons in the later 90's.
Good bike.
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Old 04-18-19, 12:35 PM
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It's been a long time, but the shop where I worked in 1985 sold these. If I remember correctly, these were a sort of semi production model. Price was less than the full fillet brazed custom Tom Ritchey - made by Ritchey himself - bikes, which we also sold. Quality was still top shelf. I don't remember the specifics of the story. Perhaps someone does.
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Old 04-18-19, 12:50 PM
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@repackrider maybe could help?

Since the decal on the top tube says "Handmade by Tom Ritchey", could indeed be handmade by the man himself. If so, color me very jealous!
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Old 04-18-19, 01:54 PM
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That fits the 'if I could have only one mtn bike' category. Super.
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Old 04-18-19, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by tricky View Post
@repackrider maybe could help?

Since the decal on the top tube says "Handmade by Tom Ritchey", could indeed be handmade by the man himself. If so, color me very jealous!
The best I can remember, it was somewhere in between. Like he had the main frames TIG'ed, and added the stays and the braze-ons himself, or something like that. Also, he had some helpers around this time.

I remember them as having bullmoose bars, but that may have only been for the first year or two.
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Old 04-18-19, 02:23 PM
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Thanks for the info! It's super cool that Tom might have actually had a hand in making this frame. Were these semi-handbuilt frames anywhere in the catalog? I looked but didn't see anything.
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Old 04-18-19, 03:01 PM
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The Ultra was the model that was half tig, half fillet brazed. Also available with a u brake so it's not out of the question this is some kind of Ultra. The red frame/black fork is definitely an Ascent paint scheme though.

EDIT: According to this thread on MTBR the early 1985 Ascents had some fillet brazing

Last edited by coolkat; 04-18-19 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 04-18-19, 05:32 PM
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This looks like it's going to be a good one. Love the drillium chainstay brakes.
Can't wait to find out what it really is.
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Old 04-19-19, 09:20 AM
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It looks like it might be an early Ascent Comp, which was a step up from the regular Ascent. Does anyone have information on this model? It seems that they mixed the fillet brazing and the tig welding with the red black color scheme so it all seems to fit. This model shows up in the 88 catalog but I have found pics of earlier ones (84-86) that fit this color scheme so maybe this explains the upgraded frame construction.
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Old 04-19-19, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by purebikes View Post
It looks like it might be an early Ascent Comp, which was a step up from the regular Ascent. Does anyone have information on this model? It seems that they mixed the fillet brazing and the tig welding with the red black color scheme so it all seems to fit. This model shows up in the 88 catalog but I have found pics of earlier ones (84-86) that fit this color scheme so maybe this explains the upgraded frame construction.
Do all of those model years show a chainstay u-brake? That helps to narrow down the date range for a lot of vintage mountain bikes. They seemed to only exist around the 87 model year for mainstream manufacturers, but not sure on smaller production brands like this.
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Old 04-19-19, 10:23 PM
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I have a Late 1985 Ascent, the no hole in the brake bridge and rack mounts are correct. As far as i read, on the Ascents, the frames were made to Ritcheys specs with his tubing specs. overseas and then shipped back to Ritchey and he finished the frames by adding all of the braze-ons. and then painting them.

I agree the Handmade by Ritchey sticker i have never seen up on the top tube , and given that i think the Ascent in Red / Black was only in Late 1985 and 1986. If it is a Ascent then the Prestige sticker would not be correct. only the Ultra and Team Comp had Prestige. But the Ascent i have has a Tig Welded bottom Bracket Shell , not filet brazed.

Heres mine as i got it.



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Old 04-20-19, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for the post! What is the serial number for yours? I agree it is mostly an ascent but the difference in some of the small details is making me wonder. It could be that it was just an early version and they were trying to figure out the best cost to quality ratio for the Ascent. Either way it is a cool find. Another difference I see from yours to mine is that my rear shifter cable is routed through the u-brake mount and not on the side like in your pic. I have sent an email to Ritchey in the off chance that they might have some sort of record for these early mountain bikes that donít follow the normal serial number sequencing. If I hear anything back I will post it here.
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Old 04-20-19, 07:54 AM
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Ritchey lays this to rest in an interview somewhere online. On the tig bikes, he did everything BUT tig weld the main tubes. He would not divulge who tigged, but said they were very good and local to him. He even tacked them up. He did the brazes, aligning, any finishing work, and then painted. He never outsourced frames in the 80's, and until I don't know when, possibly some of the "breakaway" may be different.
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Old 04-21-19, 03:07 PM
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I thought the frames were tig welded overseas? Or were they outsourced but only locally? Either way its a cool frame with a history in the early days of mountain biking. I wish it were a couple sizes up as the 17Ē frame is too small for me.
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Old 05-03-19, 08:18 AM
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I received this response from Ritchey.

Joshua,



Tom said it would have been made up at his house 84-85. That’s all he relayed.




Which is pretty awesome!
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Old 05-03-19, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by purebikes View Post
I received this response from Ritchey.

Joshua,



Tom said it would have been made up at his house 84-85. Thatís all he relayed.




Which is pretty awesome!
Sweet!
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Old 05-03-19, 08:53 PM
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Cool bike, for sure, and even cooler to have the man himself confirm that he made it. 😎👍😎
It's all in the timing, I just grabbed some old '80s wheels today, with Ritchey rims & Exage hubs. 🙂
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