The New Ritchey Swiss Cross: Everything you need to know

If you're reading this, we can safely assume you're looking for more info about the newest version of the Ritchey Swiss Cross. Actually, we should probably state that you're looking for more info about the TWO newest versions of the bike.

Two Special Versions. One Unique Bike.

Let's have a quick look at the two versions of the new Swiss Cross.

Ritchey Swiss Cross

The New Ritchey Swiss Cross in Black

Cloaked in a wonderful deep black paint job, featuring bold Ritchey graphics, this new Swiss Cross is sure to make you the envy of the masses at whatever off-road competition you enter this year. Infused with more than two decades of racing, experimenting and winning, the new Swiss Cross retains its legendary ride experience, while offering modern standards such as clearance for 40c tires, thru-axles in the front and back, and the ability to run flat-mount disc brakes. There are also some geometry tweaks added since the last version of the Swiss Cross - to modernize its race-ready fit. 

25th Anniversary Swiss Cross

The Limited-Edition 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross

Everything about the 25th Anniversary version of the Swiss Cross is the same as the aforementioned black frameset…with one very noticeable difference: the amazing red-to-white fade paint scheme. Limited to just 100 individually-numbered framesets, the 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross is an homage to the bike's namesake: Swiss cycling legend Thomas Frischknecht, for whom the original was made, and which he piloted to many elite wins and championships. To make the 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross even more special, the frameset ships with a unique mini-cowbell that fastens to the handlebar with Velcro…to tastefully let those in front of you know that you'll soon be passing them.

With only 100 framesets available worldwide, these are sure to sell quickly. Read on for more information about availability. 

The Original Swiss Cross

Thomas Frischknecht on the original Ritchey Swiss Cross

Ok, let's back up a bit. The Swiss Cross is easily the most recognizable bicycle in the Ritchey stable, and it's been part of the lineup since about 1994. It's gone through a lot of changes over time, but its steel roots are firmly planted in the original bike made many years ago.

As mentioned above, Tom Ritchey built the original Swiss Cross so that Frischknecht could have a bike that was up to snuff for all of Frischi's European Championships, Swiss Championships and other elite cyclocross wins. At the time, Frischi was racing in the world's highest level cyclocross series, the Superprestige in Belgium. Already part of the official Ritchey Mountain Bike team at the time, Frischi wanted a steel 'cross bike of the same caliber as the Ritchey mountain bikes he was riding to all manner of wins and championships all over the world.

Frischi approached Tom Ritchey to build the bikes and the rest is history. "You don't have to teach a guy like Tom Ritchey how to build a cyclocross bike. It was quite cool to have someone with his experience working on a cyclocross bike. The cyclocross scene was very traditional…not much innovation went into this segment of frame-building at the time. Having someone with the experience of Tom Ritchey looking at it from a different angle was actually quite good," recalls Frischi.

At the time, most cyclocross tires were 28mm tubulars…quite skinny when looking at things from today's perspective. One of the features that Tom and Frischi wanted with the Swiss Cross was the clearance to run wider tires. It's a feature that's now standard on 'cross bikes. Frischi says he also asked Tom to take all of his know-how from the Ritchey Road Logic road bike and the P-22 mountain bike and put it into the Swiss Cross.

Ritchey's Deep Cyclocross Heritage

There's more to the Ritchey cyclocross story than just the new Swiss Cross. Ritchey offers two more cyclocross frame options.

Swiss Cross Canti

Ritchey's cyclocross runs thick and deep…just like the mud at your local course. For those who enjoy a more traditional cyclocross experience, Ritchey still offers the Swiss Cross Canti. As you can guess by its name, this version of the iconic Swiss Cross delivers stopping power via cantilever brakes instead of discs. Aside from the canti brakes, the Swiss Cross Canti is very similar to its newer sibling - it's built from the same steel as its disc brake-wielding siblings and also enjoys a full carbon fiber fork.

Break-Away Steel Cross

In addition to the Swiss Cross, Ritchey is also well known for its Break-Away bikes. The saying goes, "The Break-Away is not a travel bike. It's a bike that travels." The frame on all Break-Away bikes is designed to quickly and easily separate so that fits in its own airline fee-avoiding travel case. The Break-Away Steel Cross is the cyclocross vesion of the Ritchey Break-Away. Designed to fit up to 35mm tires, the Break-Away Steel Cross is an ideal bike to go with you wherever you travel - put on some Shield 'cross tires to explore some dirt roads and trails during your travels, or hook up some Tom Slicks for your more tarmac-specific riding experiences. Either way, the Break-Away steel cross is one more example of Ritchey's deep cyclocross heritage.

Fun Fact

Thomas Frischknecht won a silver medal for Switzerland at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for cross-country mountain biking, the first year the sport was included in the Games. The 221-kilometer Olympic road race was to be held the next day. As Frischi crossed the finish line of the mountain bike race, he was told by a Swiss cycling official that one of the guys on the road team was unable to start the road race the next day. Frischi was asked if he could fill the spot. With the silver medal hanging in front of his sweat- and dirt-stained Swiss jersey, Frischi agreed to race on the road the next day.

But there was one problem – there was no road bike for Frischi to ride - in the Olympic road race.  Fortunately, he brought along his Swiss Cross for training in the weeks leading up to the mountain bike race. His mechanics worked through the night and were able to tweak the set-up on his Swiss Cross so that it would be more adapted to a long road race. Still…it had cantilever brakes.

About five hours after starting, Frischi finished the 1996 Olympic Men's Road Race on his Ritchey cyclocross bike only four minutes behind the gold medal winner – another Swiss rider by the name of Pascal Richard.

Features

Ok, back to the new Swiss Cross. Let's get into some of the details. The specs we'll discuss here apply to the new Swiss Cross and the 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross.

25th Anniversary Ritchey Swiss Cross Frame

The Swiss Cross frame is built with heat-treated, triple-butted Ritchey Logic II™ CrMo steel tubing. This proprietary steel, along with Tom Ritchey's exquisite building techniques, gives the Swiss Cross its legendary ride quality – razor sharp when it's needed and comfortable when necessary. The frame also features a forged and machined headtube with integrated cups for use with Ritchey drop-in headsets. This headset style is lighter than standard heatubes - and it's stronger.

The fork on the Swiss Cross is a Ritchey WCS monocoque thru-axle fork that accepts a 12mm thru-axle and fits a flat-mount disc brake caliper. Its straight carbon steerer enjoys an optimized layup that stays stiff under braking without rattling the teeth out of your head on rough cyclocross courses or washboard gravel descents. The fork, as well as the frame, accepts tires up to 40mm wide…or 35mm tires caked with three kilograms of a demoralizing mix of grass and mud.

Flat-mounts and thru-axle on the new Ritchey Swiss Cross

Other notable features of the frameset:

  • Full-length housing stops for use with cable or hydraulic brakes.
  • 140 or 160mm rotor compatibility for the rear, and 140mm at the front.
  • Ritchey forged 12mm thru-axle rear dropouts. 12mm thru-axle for the front.
  • 142mm rear spacing

The geometry of the frame was tweaked to give the rider a more modern racing fit than the last version of the bike. Available in six sizes, the geometry can be seen in this chart: insert chart here.

Availability

The new Swiss Cross and the 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross are sold as framesets only – this includes the fork, thru-axles and Ritchey WCS headset. Complete bikes are not offered at this time, but Ritchey has PLENTY of options for components to complete your build.

The (black) Swiss Cross frameset will be available at the end of May through your local Ritchey dealer, online shops around the world and at RitcheyLogic.com.

The limited-edition 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross is only available at select Ritchey dealers around the world and here in the United States.

We're going to be honest here: they're selling very quickly. Also…sorry, but you'll be unable to choose the exact numbered frame. Numbers were arbitrarily applied to frame sizes, and the frames are randomly placed into boxes and sealed at the factory. Nobody knows what number frame you'll get until you open the box.

Anyway, here's a list of where you can find the 25th Anniversary Swiss Cross framesets:

United States

Europe

Outside of the US and Europe: