It was time to add one more demo Rambler to the fleet. This is a 59 with a few fun details not yet seen on other builds. New Soma Cazadero 700×43 knobby tires, White Industries Double/Double drive train and ENO eccentric rear hub, Nitto Bosco bars, and a dropout mounted tail light. I made it out for a 30’ish mile shake down ride today and am really happy to have this one around. It will end up being the slightly more simple grab and go bike for around town. Even with the wider knobby tires there is still room for plastic fenders. The tires really need a 55mm fender, and at the moment there is no metal offering in that size that I know of. Now for the fun part.
This morning was fantastic for a quick ride to the beach to brew up a cup. Our regular summer weather is filling in, which means alternating days of fog and clear. Every time I get out and do this, then look at the pictures, I am reminded of why we work so hard to live here.
A word about the product placement in the pictures. All of the gear, clothing and stuff in the pictures are things that I use weekly or daily. Some of it we sell: Caldera cone stoves, Farm and Field Knives, Rambler, Bandanas, LTD Edition Caps etc.. Selling this stuff is what affords the ability to make these mornings happen, and we are grateful for your purchases and support. Some of the gear I buy just to use. Both the knickers and shirt in this ride are from SWRVE, and are top notch products that I will sell some day when we grow to a retail location. Choosing to support small innovative business will often get you better products as well as help keep the local economies rolling. My purchases are all heavily based on a bias for value and craft, consider what you see as recommendations. If you ever have a question about something you see and like, do not hesitate to ask for more info.
What is a Demi-Porteur bag?
Ever since moving to a bike optimized for a front load I started to push the envelope of how much went in the upper bag vs. panniers. The goal being that the upper bag would accommodate 90% of my daily bike trasportational needs, and the panniers only come out for groceries, camping trips, etc. I keep a regular rotation of tools and clothing layers with me all the time. Add to that things that vary per ride like camera gear, meals, coffee gear, post office runs, etc. I needed maximum volume and flexibility. Starting with the basic form of a traditional randonneuring bag, I pushed some of the dimensions and features without going so far that it became a full porteur bag.
While pushing the boundaries of size and volume I also wanted to shave some weight. The first place I made the weight cut was with material. The design is able to use all of the strong points of the Dimension Polyant XPac, and avoid most of the features that are considered the material’s downside. XPac is a three layer laminate, pack cloth on the outer faces, with a mylar center and a cross weave of polyester fiber on the bias for added load capacity and tear resistance. XPac does not like to be forced into compound curves or situation with high abrasion. The boxy shape takes care of the first. Abrasion is generally minor on the bag as it is surrounded by the bars and rack. The material is highly water proof and light for the amount of strength.
The bags being made by Swift Industries came the closest to what I was going for. I reached out to Martina during last year’s trip to Seattle. We hit it off well, and after a bit of back and forth communication, modifications of the overall dimensions and nailing dow the details, the first production sample hit my door. Honestly, it was everything I had envisioned. If the full Docena project never made it off of the ground I would still be using this as my primary bag for years to come. Soak in the picture set, and then I will hit you with the details:
By Rando Bag standards this is a huge bag. It is both tall and wide. Wide enough to fit 1 dozen eggs, and deep enough front to back to fit a second dozen as needed. Overall dimensions of the main compartment are 28cm tall x 21cm deep x 30 cm wide. There is 37cm of space between the inside faces of my break hoods, while I do not have any problems with finger rub, I would not use the bag if yours are any narrower.
The main compartment has a removable partition to keep your loads separate. Tall bags can quickly become cluttered and challenging to get stuff off the bottom. The everyday stuff like pumps, warmers and wind breakers stays on the bottom, things I want regular access too is on the top; snacks, camera gear etc. This could easily split a change of work clothes on the bottom, lunch up top etc. The partition can be removed much like an old hiking backpack to accommodate bigger items as needed. There is also a roll closure front for getting to the bottom load without having to enter through the top. .
Side pockets are standard rando bag style.
The front pocket is full width to fit all your odds and ends including full size road maps (AAA). The width caries over into the top map pocket, again easily accommodating full size maps and or your electronic device. Samsung Note 2 and meeting wallet shown for scale. the vinyl material on the top will also allow for the use of the device touch screen. The lid has two traditional inner flaps as well as top. The elastic closures have been moved from the center to corners. This allows for easier closure while riding. I generally leave one corner open for quick camera access.
The rear facing part of the bag has two traditional small pockets. In addition there is an external lock pocket. No more opening and unloading the bag to find your lock at the bottom.
There are internal stiffeners on the three vertical sides. The bottom stiffener pocket is external. In general I have never felt the need for a stiffener there, but use it as a cutting board slot on longer trips. There are also the four traditional straps Swift uses to secure their bags to a min rack. I have only needed these for rougher roads.
The bag can be secured to most traditional rando racks with the back stop strap and a decaleur system. Some type of upper support will be needed for a bag this size. Working out all of the options in this arena will be a separate post. My current system of an Ortlieb pannier hook and hacked Nitto lamp mount has been fantastic. We are refining the design, but it is not yet ready for market.
I may have skipped a couple of details, and there will be some subtle refinements as we move into production. That said the bag has exceeded all of my expectations, and is 98% perfect. Delivery time, final cost and total number made are still being worked out over the next week or so. Much of that will depend on initial interest. Stay tuned for a presale announcement, Newsletter subscribers will get fist crack at any discounts .
Another 650b Rambler is headed to Berkeley, CA this afternoon. This will make the 5th Rambler in the SF Bay area, slowly creeping towards world domination! It really hit me while working on these photographs, the Ramblers are my design, my vision made real by craftsmen in Portland, the whole pile of work it took, and continues to take. The best part though is getting them out into the world, under happy riders, now exceeding their hopes of what a bike could be. Performance and function that best meets the needs of people who would rather get to the day’s destinations by bike. Thank you to every Rambler rider out there, you are the ones keeping this ride rolling.
The most recent shipment of Rambler frame sets has arrived and I have made it through the initial QC on about half of them. Some are as close to perfect as I could hope. A few missed the mark. I consider the Rambler a premium product, as should all of our fans and customers, and hold the bar pretty high for finish work. One was beyond hope as seen in the previous post, but a few are mechanically perfect, and only minor flaws in the powder coat. I did not want to release these as firsts, but the risk is too high that they may end up in worse shape then better if we send them back again for re-paint. These end up as sale bikes that can be found here at $1350. Some examples of the minor flaws or scuffs in handling
I honestly believe most customers would not have seen the flaws, but I did, and that is what counts before they leave the shop. The frames are strong and true to design and function. This is a great chance to pick up a Rambler at a deal, ride the heck out of it, and forget which beausage was the original and which was yours.
At times it may appear dreamy getting to tinker with bike frames all day, making, designing and testing gear, but it is still work. And then there are the real bummers, lost packages, time delays and cost overruns that are part of the business. The thing I hate to most though is this
All of the man hours and resources that go into it, from the ore to make the steel all the way to powder coating. Then a moment of inattention renders it unsellable. It will end up an a corner for a while, possibly end up as a store display or fixture to salvage some aspect of it. But as a sellable bike it is a total loss, and that is really a bummer…..
In the ongoing quest for improving all possible Rambler build variants, as well as being able to answer customer questions with first hand knowledge, we recently acquired a set of Hunter Nugs from Rick at Hunter Cycles. Thank you Rick for the samples, as well as the generally awesome things you bring to the bike world. These cool little pieces of engineering move the cable adjustment point to the end of you brake straddle cable. A side benefit is using the cut off end of the standard double ended road brake cable as the straddle cable. Having the ability to adjust your brake cable length, and thus brake pad position is a critical part of building up the bike. The Nugs add an option to the list of possible adjustment point: the lever, inline, the stops or the Nugz. Once I had the Nug in hand it became apparent that these were not going to allow for proper clearances with the standard Racer brake. The height of the adjustable stop ends up in conflict with the pivot. These pictures show the brake in the open position. Even with the arms in mid swing as they would be in use the clearance is just not there with proper set up for a 23mm rim. As shown, the drive side pad is in contact with the A23 rim. The spacial conflict occurs with the Nug and pivot in two planes. I have a couple of other ideas that have sprung out of the test fitting, but until then, I can not recommend the Nugs for use on the Ramblers.
There is a chance that these might work with the Racer Mediums do to the upsweep in the upper brake arm. I can neither confirm or deny since I do not have the Racer Medium on hand at the moment.
I made it out more times than I would like to admit in the last 10 days in an attempt to get some “Summer” coffee outside pics for potential publication in a magazine. With that kind of potential on the horizon the fog set in, thick fog, every morning but one. The clear day I had the pleasure of a company, Tony was out from the east coast on vacation. In spite of the weather it is still one of my favorite ways to increase the bike fun in the mornings.
Update – We are letting the sale Roll through Monday 4/21 1:30 PM wets coast time in hopes of playing a major role in your Monday Morning Work Avoidance Program
We don’t do sale often, the prices on our goods are already at a low point that makes no good business sense, and the big idea was that volume would balance it out. So who do you call people to action, other than having awesome stuff? Free shipping all weekend with code EasterShipFree at checkout. This applies to all in stock items, kerchiefs, caps, wallets, etc….and Ramblers Too!
Thanks – Happy Easter – and Play Outside!