Sneak Peak Number 2

I am guessing is you have followed my story you may be looking to get a bike that bridges transportation and sport, i.e transportation does not  have to be a mini van.  You like bikes that have a traditional look and styling.  Possibly a preference for traditional french styling from the 40’s and 50’s, with your daily load up front where you can keep an eye on it and get to it without climbing off the bike.  Your previous attempts at this with the commonly available bikes may have left you with a less than optimal handling experience.  Either a bike that was heavier than it needed to be, if it was a light weight had no provisions to carry the load on the bike or if it did the handling was compromised when loaded.

With years of personal research and design study I have addressed these issues with a bike steeped in the lineage of the traditional french touring bikes.  Using modern production techniques and partnering with a U.S. fabrication team to  deliver the look and function you are after with a few bells and whistles thrown in.  The ride will be light and sporty, yet stable with loads for you commute, day rides or the occasional quick load of groceries up front.  It goes without saying there will be provisions for full coverage fenders to keep you and the bike clean during year round riding.  This is the bike you will want for rambles through the countryside, distance rides and randonees, and still able to be your daily steed.  All of this at a price that is competitive in the current market.

The sport touring frame set project is moving along as planned.  The Design spec and engineering is settled in at to 95% point and I am comfortable releasing my Geometry and Tubing Spec:

The line has a range of even sizes from 50 through 62 measures Center of bottom bracket to the center of the intersection with the top tube.  When comparing this to traditional road frames or the size you may ride in your regular bike, consider that the size in the chart will be about 1 to 2 cm smaller due to the distance from the center of the top tube to the top and the generous bottom bracket drop.  For example I ride a 63 or 64 on my Roadeo and Eisentraut, but the 62 above is designed around my needs.

Other things to consider with the spec:

  • Clearance for42mm tires and fenders on all sizes
  • These are designed with the provision for Paul Racer brakes mounted with Brazed on bosses.  These provide ample clearance while retaining outstanding performance.  The bridges and brake holes will be located such that a 68-70mm reach brake could be used if the brake bosses were omitted by customer choice.
  • Frame construction will be Tig welded double butted 4130 steel.
  • The fork will have an investment cast crown and braze-on provisions for small upper and low rider racks as well as lighting wires.
  • Down tube shifter bosses
  • Double water bottle with reenforcing star mounts on all sizes
  • Columbine Quickchainger brazed on for clean and easy rear wheel changes.
  • Brazed on fender mounting points placed such that installation will be easy and result in even fender line.
  • 130mm rear spacing to work easily with modern road bike components.
  • Color options of American flag blue and  red.  (and possibly a sunflower yellow or orange still up in the air).

Production samples will be complete in a few weeks, the pre-orders system will be available by the end of February and a final availability date projected for early Spring 2012.  Pricing will be settled in the coming week as we move through our final production costing and design.  As always I appreciate you continued readership and support.  Project news will be updated here as soon as it is available.

Oh, and the name is still leaning towards “Rambler”, although I like fish names


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22 Responses to Sneak Peak Number 2

  1. Joe Broach says:

    Wow, really smart specs. A few points and questions:

    1) Don’t see how the trail stays constant in the smaller sizes with the slacker head angles and same fork offset

    2) I thought the Pacenti PBP crown was only available for a 1″ steerer. Did you change your mind on that?

    3) Most all of the pre-built 650b wheels I’ve seen are spaced 135. Is this a reason to space the rear to that? Not sure.

    4) Any provisions for rear light wires? It seems like a simple reinforced hole on the bottom of the downtube and another in the bottom bracket or chainstay would do the trick. Running rear light wires really uglies up a bike fast.

    Thanks for sharing your progress! What’s your saddle height? Maybe a 62 would work for me after all. Best, Joe

    • Rob says:

      Joe, thanks for the complement on the spec, answers one at a time:

      1) You are right, in my haste to get from Excel to JPG for the blog I printed the wrong file, this will be corrected tonight, thanks for pointing that out. Once fixed you will notice that the trail is not as consistent through the size range. In my experience building up these style bike the trail can vary through a range and still retain much of the riding characteristics sought with this style of bike. The sharp of eye might even notice that the design of the 50 and 52 are similar to some of the smaller Miyata offerings of the mid 80’s if they are converted to 650b. As the bikes shrink or grow to the extremes there is more than just the trail that plays into the handling. For that mater there is always more going on than the trail, to paraphrase Mr. Sachs – The bike is the bike. I am certain that the overall design is solid, so it is my hope that the readers not fixate on the variation in the trail numbers.

      2) The PBP crown was listed on the bike lugs web page in a 1 1/8″ size a month or so ago, and is now gone again. My builder and I are working on a solution to this and hope to have a more clear answer next week. I still hope to work with the 1 1/8″ head set size, and will keep you posted on the final outcome. If push comes to shove I will move to 1″ threadless and beef up the tubes wall thickness to achieve my design goals. I like the PBP crown for its width. It suits both the target fender clearance and brake boss positioning well. The slightly narrower crowns on the market require the bosses to be located outside on the fork leg center line, this looks poor IMO, there are wider crowns, but then the fender floats in space a bit. I will work this out.

      3) I think the pre-built wheels are built up at 135 because the 650b size is gaining traction in the MTB market faster than the road scene. The 130mm spacing helped to balance the clearances for the tire and chain rings without resorting to deep dimples. Deep chain stay indentations are a personal hang up, I am working with my production engineer to get an round oval round stay with a bend and possibly subtle dimple. If I go to 135mm in the rear it is not the end of the world, but just pushed things a little further than I had hoped.

      Another reason is that these will primarily be perceived as “Road” bikes and while a great many will be bought by customers with the ability to mix and match parts, I felt that bowing to the industry standard for a road group was not a bad concession to make.

      4) To facilitate lighting wires I will have a water bottle boss with reenforcing star at 4 or 5 o’clock on the top of the down tube. I am still thinking about where to put the hole for the exit wire that is not too cumbersome in a production setting. I like the chain stay, but fear it is a labor challenging spot. I am leaning heavily to a water bottle boss and star on the lower seat tube an inch or so above the bottom bracket and offset to the left side. This could cleanly facilitate a variety of wiring schemes, including a BB mounted generator with the wire back to front.

      I run my saddle right around 79-80 depending on how much give is in the saddle. My berthoud has just enough give that I set it a little higher than my brooks.

      • Joe Broach says:

        Thanks for the responses, Rob! I really appreciate the time you’ve put into this. That’s great news on the light wire routing. All of your other responses make sense to me.

        It’s a bummer there aren’t more “medium clearance” fork crowns out there. I like the PBP design a lot. The common Long Shen 50mm crown really is too tight for 42s. I have one on a Kogswell P/R. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get a run of 1 1/8 PBPs if you’re buying a decent quantity.

        Forgot to comment on the braze-on Pauls. I like this choice. Really distinguishes the bike, fits the design’s heritage, and supports more US craftsmen. An sidepull option makes sense, too, for those that don’t push their brakes to the limit.

        Good luck getting these things into production!!

  2. anyidea says:

    How about considering a pre-production price for those who sign up for unit /s in advance of the product release for general consumpution. Launch Crew Specials

    • Rob says:

      I can assure you and all other readers that once pricing has settled in general, there will be a definite price break for the early adopters. Maybe even two tiered, to encourage those who are willing to help with cash flow early on in the program, and the second round, a week or two before production is rolling.

  3. Errin says:

    Very interested in this. Thanks for the updates Rob.

  4. Errin says:


    I was thinking about this yesterday. Why no bottle mount on the underside of the downtube? I know that for long distance rides it’s nice to have the option to carry more water. If I’m not carrying water then my tool kit can be carried nice and low. Would it be an option to have a 3rd mount added?


    • Rob says:

      I thought about it, and put it into the maybe section of things. I have had bikes with the bosses for a third bottle, but ever used them. I have always carried two bottles and a supplemental reservoir for rides over 50 miles, e.g. platypus or large sigg bottles to refill, the two bottles at breaks. I also carry the astronaut powdered food of choice to mix in one of the bottles, the other always reserved for clean water. With a saddle and bar bag space has never been an issue for the water tools layers etc. particularly if you add a frame bag to the mix.

      That being said, I will ask my contractor what the added cost will be for something like this. Cost is not the only driving factor, but a definite consideration.

      Thanks for your input

  5. Michael_S says:

    Looks very good Rob. I would not worry about getting the PBP crown in 28.6. I’m sure Kirk has them in work. I waited 2 months for the 25.4 version when all they had was the larger size.
    The BB drop seems to be at the extreme low end of the acceptable range. If one runs a 28mm tire on the 700C model it may be too low IMO. Oh… and orange bikes are the fastest too.

    • Rob says:

      I figured everything will work out with the crown. In the long run I would like to design my own that is a little wider. After talking with Paul Price a while back, we both measured everything twice and came to the conclusion that you could get a little more tire into the racer brake if the crown was wider yet. The next crown options up are too big IMO, and something between the MTB crown and the PB crown would be perfect for both the Racer and monstercross builds.

      The bottom bracket drop is on the low side as I really designed this around a tire with 33mm minimum, 38mm sweet spot and 42mm max for both the 650b and 700c sizes. The could be achieved in the 700c with a Jack Brown, Vittoria Rando Hyper and the soon to be re-released tire from Bruce Gordon. I am planning to do a 42 and 38 mm tire as well in the coming year or two. I have started the leg work, with suppliers and costing and such. Once I have things worked out on the frames and a couple other smaller projects I will be sinking my teeth into those. I like the stability of the larger hoops on bigger bikes, I just need to take it upon myself to get the tires made. I think the work Jan at BQ did with gyroscopic stability was great and big piece of the wheel/tire design pie. What he left out was the extrapolation to the bigger and smaller sizes and weights when creating his ideal tire/wheel size combo charts. I believe that for riders at or around 200lbs that the optimum tire range is a little bigger than Jan predicted. Likewise for the tiny bikes and 120lb riders a 650b by 32 or 38 may ride a little better than a hetre. I a basing this on a bit of experience and trial and error.

      And that is the long answer of why I put the bottom bracket where I did.

      I thought red bikes were the fastest, but that may have change in the last couple of years. I like orange too, but all the big boys, salsa, raleigh, surly etc seem to have at least one orange bike in their pack at the moment. I am thinking a darkish yellow like the font on my blog and or a road sign might be just that little bit faster especially with a touch of pearl (just a touch)

  6. Andre says:

    Hi Rob,

    This is an interesting bike. Based on tire size I think it could take the place of my LHT but biased for front loads. Often I have only 2 small panniers in the rear for long rambling rides but the super stout LHT frame can be come tiring to pedal.

    An existing tire you might want to test in your prototype frames is the Resist Nomad (700x45c) I stumbled on them last year and ordered a pair of the black wall tires, they measured 41.5mm mounted for me so they may work as the upper limit with fenders in your frame. They now come in a skin wall version too. I have a couple pictures of them mounted on my LHT here.

    • Rob says:

      you are spot on with the ideal usage. You are not the only one I know who bought into a trucker, but really only load it up all the way once in a great while. I have worked backwards through the years on a cross check, then Rawland dSogn and now come to the realization that my older standard tubed Trek caries all the load I need just fine, and treats my legs much better.

      Thanks for he pics on the tires. I took a look into the resist tires back when they first came out, and forgot to get back to them. I will definitely bee grabbing a pair to test knowing that they measure in at just under 42mm. How many miles have you put on yours? and how do you like them? IIRC, you posted these to the iBoB list with lukewarm commentary from others.

      • Andre says:

        I wrote to the Resist folk just to say thanks for making a cool product, I’m using it and liking it even though I’m not their first intended user (700c/BMX/urban riders are the initial market). They posted my comments about this tire filling a hole for wide/high volume, slick, not too thick 700c tires.

        As mentioned I have about 500 + miles, only one flat that occured about a month ago from a piece of glass on a rainy ride at night in the city.

        I did post about them on ibob to a lukewarm or colder reception but that’s ok. I’ve not a very active member. The LHT is one of few touring/urban/adventure bikes that can fit 42mm tires. The other 29er adventure bikes seem to be too MTBesque for ibobs who also read Bicycle Quarterly and might be interested in thinner slicks. Plus many maybe riding 650B bikes now for this type of riding.

  7. alex wetmore says:

    1″ steerer will save some weight and has no downsides on a steel frame. It also looks a lot better with a 25.4mm top tube.

    Normally lowering the bottom bracket increases the frame size that one fits on (for instance if I can fit a 58cm frame with 70mm drop then 80mm drop will give me the same standover with a 59cm frame). Your sizes are c-c where most steel road frames are measured c to top of top tube. That sort of balances out and I only mention it because you had some confusing text on this in the blog entry.

    52mm fender maximum is really tight for a 42mm tire, especially if one uses metal fenders. Could you spec it for 58mm fender maximum? What chainstays are you using? Single bend MTB chainstays make 58mm fender clearance and 42mm tire clearance easy, especially with 45cm chainstays.

    I’m glad to see more options in this bicycle style.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks for chiming in here. The work you have done in your shop and with your blog has been a great inspiration for this project, and your input is appreciated.

      I like the general look of the 1″ steerer as well. But in my appeal to the masses with this product I am still leaning towards the more standard 1 1/8″. I know that both are strong enough, but hope to gain a bit more stiffness in between the headset cups by sizing things up a bit.

      I will clarify my sizing descriptions in the next info release or two. I went with center to center measurements because the extensions of the head and seat tube above the top tube would likely be a bit misleading as well if measured to the top. I am specifying a removable seatpost clamp, and thus the frame tube dimensions are a little long by a cm or so. In general the sizing on these should be very similar to a Rivendell or Surly Long Haul Trucker.

      I am still working on the chain stay spec and modeling with my production engineer. I want to avoid dimpled stays if I can, it is a personal preference. My initial direction is a 22.2 ROR chain stay with a custom bend around 340mm from the axle. If this does not give the needed room we will be exploring the MTB chain stays with stock 7 and 12 degree bends. After that plan c is to move on to dimples. I have worked with a few different fender setups and like the Berthoud. Not that I dislike the other options, but it has gone together well for me, floats around a 38mm tire, and with enough vertical or axial space will clear a 42. I do like all the room around the 58mm honjo fenders, and they should fit fine at the seat stays and fork. Do you know by experience if they will fit through a Paul racer brake? Measuring the Paul brake I have there is only 54mm of space between the pivots approximately 2 cm below the top limit of the arms.

      I know you like this style of bike as do I and many others out there. Over the years I have toyed with having a custom built. In the long run I have decided to pour my energy into widening the pond and disrupting the industry status quo a bit by making it available to a wider audience.

      • alex wetmore says:

        If you add 13mm to your c-c measurements you’ll get a c-t measurement that is the same as a traditional lugged frame. Is your top tube flat?

        I have no experience with the Paul Racer or it’s clearances. I personally prefer canti brakes for this kind of a frame. I love braze on centerpulls, but like them better for 35mm and smaller tires.

        A 45mm ROR chainstay isn’t going to clear 42mm tires in my experience. A 7 degree bend ovalized chainstay should do the trick.

        A lightweight 1″ threadless steerer saves you a lot of weight compared to a standard 1-1/8″ steerer (check for details) and is plenty stiff. The only advantage of 1-1/8″ is that it is slightly easier to find headsets. The same stems work on both.

        Berthoud fenders are nice, but the 50mm wide ones aren’t wide enough for Hetres unless they sit high over the tire (and those fenders often measure 47mm wide). 58mm fenders that wrap around work and look nicer. I don’t dislike the Berthoud fenders, but they just aren’t the best for wider tires.

  8. dencard says:

    looks like the perfect randonneur! I want one-
    please place me on your “early adapter” list.

    • Rob says:

      Thank you for your encouragement and support, it helps keep me focused and driving this project along.

  9. art strum says:

    Hi Rob:

    great looking frame. Just a comment that I think you’re right about large frames and 650B wheels. I have two converted 68cm frames, both of which work great as conversions. (both run Hetres) But for frames that large, 35mm or larger 700C tires seem to give a better feel (roll over obstacles better; more stable, as you suggest?). It’s just hard to find a large tire as nice as the Hetre.
    That 64cm frame looks pretty interesting to me, because it’s got a fairly long top tube. Since you’re making forks for this bike, would you consider producing some 1″, 700C forks with long steerers? (Rawlands is making 650 forks available, if they get enough pre-orders)

    Good luck with this…

  10. mwebb says:

    hey rob,

    Great project you have going on here. A few questions, what sort of front rack do you see working with the paul racer brakes? Nitto m-12 and m-13 racks bolt onto canti bosses, is there a different rack you have in mind? I’m also curious about standover height, you mention that the geometry chart may be 2 cm smaller than what we’re used to. I think that a standover measurement (with a 42mm tire?) might make this point a little more clear.

    • Rob says:

      I am working on a rack design that will be purpose built, and available either through me or the rack builder directly, we are still sorting that part out. The crown will have rack mounts on the top shoulders. There is always the option of mounting the Paul brakes with the double ended bolts. The lower mount will be facilitated with mid fork braze-ons. The best fitting off the shelf rack would likely be the Nitto Mark’s rack with some creative upper struts. There is always the options of the touring racks with high and low bag mount points as well. I plan to work out the options on the production samples, and there will be plenty of pictures when we get to that point.

      With regard to the sizing and stand over, I am finishing up a better chart, drawings and explanation. Base don the number of comments, I was apparently not very clear on the sizing. In a general way the sizing is more traditional, or what you may ride in a rivendell, but measured to the center of the tube, not the top. I hope my next information release makes this more clear.

      Thanks for taking a look.

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