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Old 01-19-12, 03:11 PM   #1
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Ritchey Break-Away. Cross or Road?

Probably not the most appropriate sub-forum to ask this question, but I value the maturity, experience, and opinions here.

Background: When I spent a week in Rome last spring, I rented a "mountain" bike and absolutely loved using it, (that is "loving" using a bike). I was able to go places that would be too expensive by taxi, go when I wanted, where I wanted, etc. The freedom of movement was highly valued. I ended up going places that I really wanted to go, which would be too difficult or expensive otherwise.

I'd like to go to Europe again this spring, and rent or take my own bike along; but that's expensive. Also, in the summer, the job is sending me to Thailand for three/four weeks in support of instrument ground operations for a flight campaign. The aircraft is only flying every other or every third day, so there will be a lot of free time to explore southern Thailand, (by bike).

Also, I'm in that phase of my life where I have enough disposable income that I can take "exotic" trips somewhere every year. And, we all know that you get so see a lot more and a different side of a culture when you are on a bike and not as part of a tour group.


I'm looking at purchasing a Ritchey Break-Away bike. Seemingly easy to transport via checked air luggage, fairly simple to assemble at your destination, and pretty close to a "normal" bike in operation.

What I'm wondering about is which frame to get. They sell a cross frame and a road frame. I'm not exactly sure of the differences between them, other than the style of brakes. Is there a difference between a "cross" bike and a cyclo-cross bike? Are cross, (and cyclo-cross), bikes "slower" than road bikes?

I'm thinking that I want to take along a rear rack. Probably one of those types that attach to a seat post. Those are compact, so easily packable with the bike. The only things I'd be carrying is appropriate repair equipment for adjustments and flat tires, a camera with a few extra lenses, food for the day, and maybe a change of clothing and shoes, (for wherever I stop and want to spend a little bit of time).

I'm also thinking that 23mm or 25mm tires are not that practical for cobblestone roads. Probably something thicker is better for those environs.

If you were to purchase a Ritchey Break-Away for travel purposes ... which would you get, cross or road? And if you want to elaborate ... why?

Thanks for any help or insight you can offer.
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Old 01-19-12, 06:54 PM   #2
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Until you mentioned wanting to mount wider tires, I was going to suggest the road frame for ever so slightly better road handling due to the slightly lower bottom bracket height and ever so slightly better brake performance. But the cross bike would easily handle wider tires, outweighing the other minor issues.
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Old 01-19-12, 07:11 PM   #3
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Just an FYI the Breakaway has a fair bit of flex in the frame, I could get my 54 to shift the front ring when I was out of the saddle. Agreed that the wider tires say "cross".

If you plan on keeping it and doing a lot of travel you might want to look at an S & S coupler bike. They are more money but break down a bit smaller and are much stiffer when assembled.
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Old 01-19-12, 07:34 PM   #4
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The pros ride the pavé on 25s, and I do too on the short stretches we have around here. I wouldn't want to ride it for miles and miles on 25s though.

You'll probably want to go with the cross bike and 32s. I'd also advise a tire that's more supple as opposed to some of the really stiff puncture resistant ones, like the Schwalbe Marathons or Specialized Armadillos. Those ride hard on fresh asphalt. And even so, mind the pressure. The pros run alarmingly low pressure on the pavé. I run 60F/70R in my 25s on the pavé.

My primary commuter is based on cross geometry. My other three bikes are variations of road geometry (one classic stage race, one critirium, and the third somewhere in between.) I've never felt like my commuter was "less than". It's different. I sit a little higher on it due to the higher BB, but after the first quarter mile, I'm all settled in and I don't notice any significant differences. FWIW, when I run my 34mm cross tires on it, I run 45F/55R and it rides nicely off-road.

However, I've been considering a Break-Away frameset only. I'm leaning towards the roadie since the places I go don't have pavé, its geometry is nearly identical to one of my other bikes, and I can move road components from one of my other bikes to it temporarily for travel.

Last edited by tsl; 01-19-12 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 01-20-12, 12:28 AM   #5
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Thanks for the advice, guys. Since posting this query, I did a bit of internet searching, reading old blogs and forum threads; stuff like that. It looks like the main difference between the cross and road frames is that the cross frame has a longer wheelbase, resulting in a more comfortable ride. Last year in Rome, I did get one flat on the cobbles. And, that was on a mountain bike. Don't know the tire size, but it had small-ish knobbies. Worked well enough for the two trips I took. Not quite as fast as a road bike would be, but worked well enough.

I'll look more into the S & S bikes. If I don't go with that, I'll probably go with a titanium cross Ritchey Breakaway. The TI road bike has a carbon rear triangle. The TI cross bike has a TI rear triangle. People have complained about the paint job on the steel bikes and corrosion of them. Not a problem with the TI bikes. One worthwhile suggestion is to get a S & S bag in addition to using the Ritchey bag. Put the wheels and water bottles in the Ritchey bag, along with shoes, helmet, and clothing. Then put the rest of the bike in the S & S bag, which has better protection, and affix a label outside for the TSA guys stating the contents are an "unassembled bicycle". Some have complained that the TSA has opened their Ritchey bags, moved things around looking for the "bad" stuff, and just closed the bag back up. The result is scratched paint on the frame. Using two bags mitigates this.

I'll be sure to post a picture from Andalusia with my breakaway. But, the cost of flights has to come down a couple hundred bucks first.
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Old 01-20-12, 01:28 AM   #6
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Well, if I were going to buy a bike for travel, I'd head over to the Folding Bikes subforum and ask there. There's an amazing wealth of knowledge and some very nice people on it.
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Old 01-20-12, 08:13 AM   #7
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Get the cross, in titanium if you can. No dents and dings in the paint from shipping. The cross has fittings for a back rack, and you're going to want one if you travel unsupported in new territory.
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