Tom Ritchey’s unique Scott Spark setup

By Josh Patterson


Today was my first day at the Scott Bicycles press camp, in Sun Valley, Idaho. Accompanying our merry band of journalists was none other than Mountain Bike Hall of Fame’er, frame builder, and founder/component designer of Ritchey Designs, Tom Ritchey.

For most of the day’s ride I attempted (and failed) to hold Ritchey’s wheel as he grinded out the climbs, and quite literally ate his dust as he sped down the dusty, kitty-litter-over-hardpack Sun Valley trails.

You would think Ritchey, whose company has a strong partnership with Scott Bicycles, would be riding the latest and greatest in bicycle technology. Think again. He’s still proudly riding a first generation Scott Spark. And the components? Some of them date back much further, but are just as functional today as the day they were manufactured.

Much like the man himself, Ritchey’s bike is one of a kind.

Old school meets new school. Ritchey introduced these 2×9 cranks in 1996. These low Q-factor Ritchey cranks with 42-28 tooth chainrings are paired to a modern SRAM XX drivetrain.

Tom Ritchey likes to spin 180mm cranks, and these were manufactured to Ritchey’s specifications by Japanese component manufacturer Sugino. Note the material removed from the end of the crank arm in order for the low Q-factor cranks to clear the Spark’s chainstays.


The autograph of Ritchey-sponsored racer, multiple world champion, and Olympian, Thomas “Frischi“ Frischknecht’s autograph graces the top tube.

That’s one way to carry your multi-tool… Ritchey’s CPR-9 is held attacked to his fork with a cut section of an old inner tube. And you won’t see any saddle bag here. Good old electrical tape keeps his tube in place. Ritchey’s pump is held in place by a zip-tie electrical tape combo.

Ritchey is famous for riding without a helmet. On today’s ride he was sporting a very old-school “hairnet.” 

While Tom Ritchey may be content to ride an older, and obviously very functional, version of the Scale, Scott Bicycles has devoted extensive resources to develop updated carbon and alloy versions of their XC race full suspension bike, in both 26” and 29” platforms. Stay tuned for Dirt Rag’s coverage of the 2012 Scott Spark, hairnets not included.