Leave it to Tom Ritchey to take the WCS stem which many thought was at the pinnacle of its design path and improve on it. A radical change in the thought process of how a stem holds the handlebar produced the C260. It is lighter (hard to believe, but true) and stronger, the two major hallmarks in which we measure a bicycle component.
In the past few seasons, one didn't need to ruminate about stem choice, just slap a on a WCS 4-Axis and off you went. The C260 now gives you another viable choice for a high-end Ritchey stem solution. The most noteworthy feature of the stem is the clamp and faceplate design. This is where the stem's namesake is derived. The C260 nomenclature effectively means Circumference 260 degrees. If you take e peak at the sideways profile of the stem, you can see the clamping area that is on the stem wraps around the bar 260°, while the faceplate is a mere 100° to complete the 360° wrap of the handlebar. In effect, the stem clamp holds around 2/3 of the bar in an over-center design and the faceplate holds only about 1/3 of the bar. A stark difference from the 50/50 support of the standard faceplate design. This design produces a more balanced and circumferential clamping force on the bar instead of the more two-dimensional vise-like force of a standard faceplate design. The faceplate fixing bolts now clamp from the back and create a smooth svelte look.
At the rear of the stem, the clamping mechanism to the fork has been altered from previous designs as well. The slanted slot is replaced with an arcing radius and 3 bolts with the middle bolt having an opposed direction from the top and bottom bolts. This helps further reduce the amount of stress on the steerer tube of today's super lightweight carbon forks.
The body of the stem and faceplate is constructed of 3D Net Forged 7050 alloy that is heat treated and anodized. The faceplate is polished black while the body has a ball burnished finish. All bolts are M3/M4 micro sized and coated black. Low-profile, but classy logos round out the package. 31.8mm clamp diameter only.
Ritchey C260 stems have been coming with T20 Torx bolts - not Allen (hex) bolts. Please verify and use the correct tool.
Always been a fan of Ritchey products. The C260 has 2 major flaws. First of all, Bolt size (3mm) is ridiculous. If you travel and remove the stem more than once, chances of stripping the heads is very high and finding new bolts is not always easy (just happened to me today!!!)
Second thing is having to remove the handlebar tape. Works OK if your top section of your bar is round. Just undo the tape until you get to the thinner section of your bar and slide the stem on. I have a new Superlogic Evo curve. Since the top section of that bar is not round but more ergo and aero type, i had to remove the tape up to the shifters, force (and scratch my brand new bar at the same time) to install the stem. RIDICULOUS!!! I just bought a new, reliable WCS 4 axis that has normal size, reusable TI bolts on it.
Ritchey stems use a Torx T20 bolt on the C260 Stem. A 3mm hex wrench loesly fits, but will strip the bolts.
Pros: price, weight.
Cons: bolts size, installation complicated on some bars