Thursday, March 6, 2014


The Richey Breakaway is maybe the coolest looking and certainly the most affordable real-bicycle-made-for-traveling on the market.
Steel Breakaway.  $1499 asking; available for $1200 without much effort; available for $1049 if you get last year's colors.

[OK, that's before I found this offer by Dahon -- literally just now -- which is obviously licensing Richey's patents.  The Dahon does not seem to come with the travel case, which is part of what makes the Richey such an attractive option.]
Dahon Tornado.  $799 at Bikewagon as we speak.
I test-rode Steve Dodds' titanium Breakaway (Sram Red build), climbing a 6% grade in the big ring in my best effort to find intolerable noodling -- and I was impressed.  It rides like a road bike, which it is.  The Breakaway is available in road or cross configuration and in titanium or steel.

The technology is elegant.  The bottom junction, just above the bottom bracket (look closely at either the Dahon or the Breakaway above), is simply a flange with a collar.  The top junction is at the seatpost.  The frame never literally rejoins itself there at all.  Instead, there are two seat-post clamps -- one on the top tube and one on the seat-tube.  When both are clamped the seatpost serves to join the frame.  I suppose all things equal I'd choose not to ride a carbon seat-post, although I'm sure the specs. suggest it would be just fine.

The cable junctions are equally elegant:  they screw apart and there are cable-stops on either side of the junction.

Other options for true road-worthy frames include small-wheel jobbies like Bike Friday's Pocket Rocket (and various other bikes in its line).

Pocket Rocket from Bike Friday.
Bike Friday is both (1) expensive and (2) sufficiently funky that I'd be slightly concerned about my ability to strip and build quickly.  And it looks a little silly compared to the clean lines of a good road or cross frameset.

Bicycle Doctor USA, based out of a warehouse on a country road 10 miles from Bloomington Indiana, is the world's largest dealer of Breakaways.  The shop is run by Steve and Eric Dodds, who appear to be father and son.  The shop feels like the website:  you walk in and there are racks, and racks, and racks of mid- to high-end bikes built up and ready to sell.  In the back room there is a loft with boxes and boxes of frames waiting to be built.  There is a bike stand and a bench with tools scattered about.  Frankly, the shop looks like Sam's garage must look with his 9 bikes in a row (but with many more bikes).

Steve and Eric sell Breakaways cheaper than anybody else I've found anywhere.  $1049 for a 2012 frameset; $699 for a 105 groupset; $90 for a build.  They even bought back the 105 crankset from me for an astounding $177, and the 105 cassette for $40, when I showed up with my own parts bin and unloaded it on their floor.  No problems building with my wheels, bars, seatposts, saddles and stems. I'd feel a little sheepish bringing in a full $450 105 Gruppo from Merlin, but I would bet they would take it in stride.

The bikes come with their own travel cases that do not literally meet airline maximum measurements but are close enough that I've never heard of anybody paying fees.  And Eric showed me how to trim the plastic on the inside so that I can deflate the tires and tighten it down to the 62" maximum.

Eric Dodds trimming the Breakaway travel case to meet airline maximum measurements.
Punch-line:  by next week Eric will have built two steel cross Breakaways -- one for P__ and one for me.  And that isn't all:  Steve rents out his Grand Cayman Islands beach-house and gives good advice on experiencing the island by bike, so in April P__ and I will be taking a short sojourn to test our new rides.


sam said...

Fantastic. I'm interested to hear how the packing/unpacking process is. Though the last thing I need is to be tempted to buy another bike.

That Dahon, by the way, is a nice looking paint job. But for the very modest price difference, the Ritchey is the obvious choice. Looks like the Dahon bag sells for $200.

sam said...

I wish Ritchey would offer a Ti Road frame without the CF rear triangle. Looks like you have to go with the cross frame to get that.

Max said...

Agreed, I suppose, but I'm not sure I would want this bike in a road frame. The cross frame gives you 90% of the performance and most travel riding I can envision has a slight possibility of adventure attached to it. Do you disagree?

Unknown said...

That's a great find. I'm jealous of your plans, both for the bike and for traveling. I could probably do without the knee surgery, of course. I will have to ask Patricia to film some video over her shoulder as she drops you with ease.