Old Moutain Bikes

Tom Ritchey: Frame Building History

Tom Ritchey began building bicycle frames at the young age of 15. During his senior year of high school he had progressed to building 200-250 frames. He continued building at the rate of about 250 frames per year until 1980 when he moved into mountain bike frame construction. By 1980, with approximately 1,500 road frames under his belt, Tom quickly became the number one builder of hand-built mountain bike frames.

In 1981, Tom's first full year of mountain bike production, he produced between 400 and 450 frames. In the coming years his production level remained constantly between 400 and 500 hand-built (by Tom) frames. Finally, in the early 1990's Tom began reducing his frame output, building 100 to 150 frames per year in the early 1990's and tapering from there.

Together, Tom Ritchey, plus the combination of Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly, sold frames mostly labeled "Ritchey" until 1984. MountainBikes the name of the original company formed by Fisher and Kelly went on to become Fisher MountainBikes. Tom's work can be seen with Ritchey, MountainBikes, and Fisher logos.

The bikes pictures on this page represent his work prior to 1980 when frame production increased around the mountain bike demand. In his life Tom estimates that he personally has built 7-8,000 bicycle frames. The ones listed below are among the earliest.

Pictures and information on this page were provided courtesy of Tom Ritchey.



  Early Road Bike
This early road frame was built by Tom for his dad. The bike has several unusual features, and is an excellent example of Tom's early work.
"Origin of the Species"
Tom built began building mountain bikes in the late 1970's. Pictured here is "mountain bike number 1" - Tom's first mountain bike frame. The bike currently located at the Ritchey warehouse in California, but may be destined for the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in the near future.
 
  Early Track Bike
This early track bike hangs from the rafters in the Ritchey warehouse.
Bike Number 3
This road frame was the third frame built by Tom Ritchey. The frame was completed in 1973.
 



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