The Ritchey Force Directional Bar is made of 6061 T-6 aluminum, in Taiwan by Hsin Lung, for Ritchey. This handlebar's advertising was misleading. It is said to employ the Ritchey "Force Directional" principle, butting the bar and adding thickness in the direction of stress. Mr. Ritchey has correctly reasoned that one or more sides of a bicycle part's tubing wall need to be reinforced with added thickness of metal, while the sides of the tubing that aren't under constant pressure can have their thickness reduced, and therefore weigh less. These handlebars are said have an added thickness on three sides and thinner walls on one, where the stress is less. In this way both strong and light are said to be achieved. Unfortunately when we cut one of these bars in half lengthwise, and sanded the cut surface and to make measurements using a Mitutoyo 342-741-10 digital caliper micrometer, we found all this to be untrue. The forward and rearward wall thickness in the area of the bulge both measured within 5/100ths of 2.25mm. Throughout the remaining length of the tubing, on both sides of the bulge, the wall thickness stayed within 3/100ths of 2.50mm, meaning the bulge where all the stress is placed has a thinner wall than the rest of the bar, this is exactly the opposite of any logical design. The bulge was created by finding a way to merely explode the diameter of the center, introducing a potential weakness at the bulge ends, where the bar will shear on failure. (The cut bar is on display in our retail store.) The Original FD is an ATB flat bar, has a knurled bulge, with a 25.4mm bar center diameter and 22.2mm diameter at the ends, where the tubing is 2.2mm thick. It weighs 232.5 grams, and comes in either a 9 degree bend. The bar is 560mm (22 1/16") long, with a brushed surface treated that fine patterned lines around (circumferencially) the tubing, and anodized usually in Black, though occasionally Silver is available. The FD is the only one of the Ritchey handlebars to have Hsin Lung original manufacturing labels on it. Though it has the Ritchey name printed on it, we believe that this is an off-the-shelf HL bar, which has the Ritchey logo printed on it for them to market. The FD is not being imported for sale as an after market replacement at this time. We sold it for $16.99
The ForceLite is also made for Ritchey in Taiwan by Hsin Lung, using 2014-T6 aluminum alloy (which, if you've looked at the Metals, you realize has near double the strength characteristics of the 6061-T6, again bigger numbers mean little in aluminum alloys, the number just identifies the composition family). The ForceLite is an ATB flat bar, has a no knurls on its bulged center, with a 25.4mm bar center diameter and 22.2mm diameter at the ends, where the tubing is 1.5mm thick. We cut one in half lengthwise to make measurements of the wall thickness. In the area of the bulge, we found the forward wall had a thickness of 1.6mm, the rearward wall had a thickness of 1.64mm. At the end of the bulge where the bar bends, the forward thickness is 1.72mm, the rearward is 1.81mm. For the remaining 7" (180mm) length, the forward and rearward measurement remain at 1.7mm Ritchey ad material says that "all Ritchey bars are butted for maximum strength and lightweight", also "wall is thicker in the areas of the highest stress". Not only is this bar not butted, the wall thickness of the 3 1/2" (90mm) bulged area is somewhat thinner, not thicker, than the rest of the bar. Maybe Ritchey knows something about where the "highest stress" occurs that the rest of the industry doesn't. (The cut bar is on display in our retail store.) The Forcelite weighs 183 grams, and comes in either a 5 degree bend. The bar is 560mm (22 1/16") long, with a brushed surface treatment making fine patterned lines the length (longitudinally) of the tubing. The ForceLite has an anodized finish in Black or Silver.
Color- BK-S $ Price in Catalog
The Ritchey CompLite is made in Taiwan by Hsin Lung. Like the ForceLite, the CompLite is made of 2014-T6 which again though more brittle has a very high ultimate tensile (70.1K PSI) and yield strength (60.2K PSI). The CompLite is an ATB flat bar, with no knurls on its bulged center. Instead the CompLite has knurls running lengthwise for 4 inches from both ends. These 50 knurls cut into the grip area to provide a textured surface for grip adhesion. It has a 25.4mm handlebar center diameter and has a 22.2mm diameter at the ends where the tubing has a 1.5mm wall thickness. The inner diameter of the bar at the end is 19.4mm. We cut a Complite bar in half lengthwise to make wall thickness measurements. We found the front wall of the bulge was 1.76mm thick and the rear wall was 1.86mm thick. At the bend, the front wall is 1.57mm thick, the rear wall is 1.63mm Over the remaining 7 1/2" (190mm) length to the tubing end, the wall thickness reduces to 1.28mm for the front wall and 1.42mm for the rear wall. The CompLite weighs 159.5 grams, and comes in a 4 degree or 6 degree bend. It is 560mm (22 1/8") long with the outer surface "brushed" giving it fine patterned lines running the length (longitudinally) of the tubing. The CompLite is then anodized in Silver (clear).
Bend-4-6 / Color-S $ Price in Catalog
Tom Ritchey and Easton Aluminum working together have developed the Ritchey Prolite bar. It is made by Easton of their EA70 aluminum alloy, with a tapered wall to reduce weight, and swaged in the middle, to form the bulge. The EA70 series alloy's composition and properties are discussed in the Answer Hyperlite review. Weighing only 146 grams, this uses some of the same processes as the Answer HyperLite, but is slightly heavier because it has a slightly thicker tubing wall. We cut a Prolite in half lengthwise to measure the wall thickness at various points. We found the forward wall of the 2" wide bulge area had a 1.79mm wall thickness, the rearward wall was 1.76mm. At the bend 3 1/2" from bar center, the front wall thickness measured 1.57mm, while the rear wall was 1.64mm Over the remaining 7 3/8" of the bar on each side, the front wall thickness tapered to 1.09mm, the rear wall had tapered to 1.07mm. (The cut bar is on display in our retail store.) The bar diameter is 7/8" (22.2mm) at the ends, where the tubing is .9mm thick, and 1" (25.4mm) at the un-knurled bulge in the center. This bar is 560mm (22 1/16") long, with a brushed surface treatment making fine patterned lines the length (longitudinally) of the tubing. This ATB flat bar is made in a 4 degree bend, and anodized in Blue, Black, Red, or Silver. Made in USA.
Bend - 4 / Color-BK-R-S $ Price in Catalog
The Ritchey/Easton project also yields the ProLite WCS bar, made of EA70 butted aluminum alloy, (the EA70 alloy is discussed in the Answer Hyperlite review), which seems to be the lightest aluminum only bar yet made. The ProLite WCS is understood by many to be the same handlebar as the Answer HyperLite with a different degree of bend, and a different surface treatment. The ProLite WCS surface has a brushed finish that leaves fine patterned lines running the length (longitudinally) of the tubing. The Ritchey WCS bar at just 123 grams weighs less than the HyperLite, though it is likely drawn from the same bar blank. This weight savings is achieved through a slight of hand. The Answer bar is 23" (584mm) long, while the Ritchey bar is just 22 1/8" (560mm). With a slight amount of the tubing length missing from each end, the weight is marginally less. We cut a Prolite WCS in half lengthwise to make some wall thickness measurements. The forward wall of the bulge area is 1.66mm thick, the rear wall of the bulge is 1.59mm thick. At the bend, the forward wall thickness has reduced to 1.26mm, while the rear wall is 1.31mm thick. Over the remaining 7 1/4" (185mm) the wall thickness reduces to .86mm in both the front and rear walls. (The cut bar is on display in our retail store.) The bar diameter is 7/8" (22.2mm) at the ends, where the tubing is .8mm thick. and 1" (25.4mm) at the un-knurled bulge in the center. This ATB flat bar is made in a 4 degree or 6 degree bend, and anodized to a pale Gold (Platinum) color. Made in USA.
Bend - 4-6 $ Price in Catalog