John’s Keyesville Classic Bike: His 1980 No Serial Ritchey Mountain Bike

Next week, I’m loading up the Troopy and heading West to the Keyesville Classic. Every year, vintage mountain bike aficionados descend upon the Kern valley to race vintage bikes while the “real” race occurs. This vintage race is quite the spectacle, and if you’ve never seen it in person, you ought to check out Erik Hillard’s gallery he shot a few years ago for The Radavist.

At any rate, I just finished buttoning up my bike I’ll be bringing to Keyesville to ride and, yes, take part in the vintage race. Let’s check it out in detail below…

1980 Ritchey No Serial Part Deux

These “no serial” Ritchey frames have quite the story, or I should say, have quite the lore about them. Since posting the 22″ Ritchey frame, the collector who sold me that bike swapped out the frame for a 23″ bike that fit me way better. Thanks, David!

Much of this build stayed the same, and the frame has the same story as the 22″ bike. These frames are commonly called “Chicken Coop” bikes, but Tom Ritchey corrected me for why they are called that. It’s a little too early to get into the weeds with the history of the Chicken Coop bikes, as we’re working on a longer feature about that, but for now, here’s what I know for sure:

Tom made a batch of frames for the Cupertino shop but didn’t supply forks. The frames were void of cable stops as well. The idea was the shop owner would finish them himself to save some money. This was in the midst of the mountain bike boom of the 1980s, and everyone was slammed making klunkers, cruisers, and balloon tire bikes. As such, these frames sat unfinished, so the frames sat at the shop and eventually got sold off.

Over the years, these “Chicken Coop” bikes have been sold to collectors like David, who sold me this very frame. David sent this bike off to Ed Litton for finishing. This included building a fork identical to Tom’s forks of the era, brazing on “diver’s helmet” cable stops, and painting it with DuPont Imron. These Chicken Coop bikes are best distinguished by a slightly forward-sloping top tube and a fork that’s a little longer in the axle to crown measurement to correct this.

This blue is quite the departure from the champagne Ritchey, but it’s grown on me!

Some Changes to Build Spec

Don and Dave Koski ran a shop in the 70s and early 80s called Cove Bike Shop. It’s long been hailed as the first mountain bike shop. The doors of Cove were open from 1970 through 1986, and then the Koski brothers went on to other greatness.

I started writing more about this, but our friends at Freehub Magazine have an excellent feature on the Koski brothers that I highly recommend you read!

I’m bringing up the Koski brothers because of the bar spec I chose for this Ritchey. When I was hemming and hawing about which handlebar and stem combination to put on it, a friend, Shawn Wilkerson, suggested I look into some Inter-Am moto bars as they are more readily available than the crossbar Magura bars I’d been searching for. As you can see in this parts list from the Cove shop, they were specced on the shop’s klunker, and cruiser builds.

The Koski brothers are using the bars on their klunkers in this above photo! I found a seller on eBay with a set for sale and mounted them to the Cinelli 1a stem with a custom 22.2mm to 26.4mm shim a friend made me styled after the Breezer shims of that era. I also went with a shorter 90mm Cinelli 1A instead of the 120mm I had on the 22″ frame.

What’s so cool about these bars is they’re solid aluminum. Yep. Completely solid. And they flex! A lot. More than any moto bar I’ve used and by far more than my modern Doom bars. Worried I’d bend them, I reminded myself they were used on dirt bikes before they ever found their way onto a mountain bike. It’s amazing they’re still straight after forty-odd years.

Aside from the cockpit, I used the same parts from the previous No Serial frame, which are all period correct and bring this bike to life. I finally tracked down a set of modified Magura Pow-R grips too. These grips came with a flange, which people like Steve Potts, Tom Ritchey, Joe Breeze, and Charlie Cunningham would machine off allowing for the Suntour shifter paddle to pass the grip without interference.

Here it is, all buttoned up and ready for a weekend of vintage mountain bike LARPING in Keyesville. If you’re heading to the Keyesville Classic, come say hey. I’ll be in caping in the Troopy, and there will be a lot of fun vintage builds out and about!

Parts Spec:

Year: 1980
Serial number: N/A
Frame: Ritchey MountainBike
Fork: Ed Litton Bi-plane
Stem: 90mm Cinelli 1a ‘Milano’
Handlebars: 1978 Inter-Am
Grips: Magura Pow-R
Seatpost: SR Laprade
Seatpost QR: Campagnolo
Saddle: Brooks B72 with Breezer ‘Seat Sandwich’
Headset: Campagnolo Strada
Bottom Bracket: Phil Wood Cartridge Bearing “Press Fit”
Shifters:  Suntour Mighty Click
Front Derailleur: Comp V
Rear Derailleur:  Huret
Cables: Nissen Japan
Brake Levers: Magura Motorcycle “Shorty”
Cable Hanger: Mafac
Front Brake: Mafac Tandem
Rear Brake: Mafac Tandem
Crankset: TA Cyclotouriste
Chainrings: TA 26,46
Pedals: MKS BMX-7
Bottle Cage: TA
Hubs: Phil Wood
Skewers: Campagnolo ‘Flat’
Rims: Ukai
Tires: Ultradynamico Mars 2.3″
Cassette: Suntour 5-speed
Chain: Shimano

Many thanks to David, the seller of this frame, Tasshi from Vintage Mountain Bike Workshop, and Bailey at Sincere Cycles for the workspace.