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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 05-18-10, 09:29 PM   #1
viper_04649
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Randonneuring bike -- difficult decision

So I am in the market for a light touring / commuting bike. I currently have a Felt F35R alu racing bike, and living in boston, is not the bike for doing much of anything other than fast rides and crits. So here is what my thoughts on a bike are:

I want a perfect, "one bike to rule them all" type deal. I do not race, and i do not plan on doing touring past a weekend camping trip. I do want a bike that will be able to ride on group rides, and keep up with friends when doing fast rides around the city. One large thing is that I will be commuting several days a week on this, about 17 hilly miles each way (on crappy roads). and the alu frame i have now is just harsh and a backpack full of work clothes is annoying. I also would like to get into randonneuring, the idea of fast pace and long distance, but not competing sounds great. so in summary, I want:

-rack mounts (not for loaded touring, just for weekend travel or carrying a bag to work)
-ability to fit larger tires with fenders
-decent geometry for going fast (not the real slack touring)

So really, what are my options? There are a multitude of custom builders in the city (Geekhouse, Royal H, Icarus, Indie Fab, ....). All of these groups can build beautiful bikes for around $1600-2200. But really, that just seems like too much. What are some other viable options to fill this bike void in my life.

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Old 05-18-10, 10:47 PM   #2
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A nice cyclecross bike ought to provide you with this. i use mine for club rides (and have no trouble keeping up, if i'm not out in the lead), rando, hauling my kid around (100 extra pounds in a trailer), and daily commuting. taking off the rack (fenders stay on) is about all i do to change my bike from commute to club ride.

FWIW, i ride a Salsa La Cruz, but there are plenty of other available one-bike-to-rule-them-all bikes. Kona, Soma, Surly, Salsa, and bunches of others all offer CX bikes in your range.
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Old 05-19-10, 02:14 AM   #3
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So here is what my thoughts on a bike are:

I want a perfect, "one bike to rule them all" type deal.

All of these groups can build beautiful bikes for around $1600-2200. But really, that just seems like too much. What are some other viable options to fill this bike void in my life.
There's no such thing as a perfect "one bike to rule them all" type deal. You've got to have at least two bicycles, and there are a lot of bicycles that would fit the bill ... take a look at the Your Century Bicycle sticky thread. You're going to get all sorts of opinions on this, but have a look at Sport Touring/Audax/Randonneuring bicycles ... like the Marinoni Sportivo, for example.

And $1600-$2200 is fairly inexpensive.
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Old 05-19-10, 06:03 AM   #4
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There's no such thing as one bike that will perfectly fit what you're describing. Your Felt is going to be fairly racy, which makes it good for the group rides and fast riding you say you like to do. By comparison, anything made to take a decent amount of cargo is going to feel slower and more tank-like. It will not be as twitchy and responsive.

In theory, you can complete a century on just about any bike. So before you run out and buy a new bike, I'd try to make the bike (or bikes?) you have work. If you want to go bike camping, experiment while there's nice summer weather. You'll be able to get a lot more specific about what you need out of a new bike when you work your ass off with this one.
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Old 05-19-10, 06:46 AM   #5
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You need two bikes.

One go-fast bike for group rides and faster century rides. This bike should have a compact double crankset.

One light-touring bike for credit-card touring, rainy days and hilly or more relaxed century rides. This bike should have a triple crankset.

I have three bikes: A titanium road bike with a standard double, a steel Cyclocross bike with a road triple set-up for hilly century rides and a vintage light-touring bike set up for commuting with a modern 20 speed drivetrain.







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Old 05-19-10, 07:46 AM   #6
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I want a perfect, "one bike to rule them all" type deal
This was somewhat facetious, I know that it doesnt exist. I am not really going to be touring further than going camping for the weekend, with a tent and sleeping bag.
I was looking at the century thread, and it just seemed like such a range from full carbon to loaded tourer. What i want if like in the middle of steel road bike and tourer.

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And $1600-$2200 is fairly inexpensive.
In the overall scene, for custom bikes, not it is not too expensive, but i am not really sure that i need to spend that much for a frame. What is the direction for stock frames, new or from a time gone by?
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Old 05-19-10, 08:10 AM   #7
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Viper, I'll go against the grain and say that you actually can have a 'do-it-all' bike, given your requirements, which are fairly middle of the road. Since you say that you won't do anything more than a weekend tour, you don't need a beefy full touring bike; and it's perfectly fine to ride a sport tourer or club racer on a group ride.

In the Boston series, we see a lot of folks who finish these rides on steeds that do not easily fall into the standard 'racing' bike stereotype. Some of our fastest riders (including ones who notched first finishes for the Shenandoah 1200 and are Charly Miller level PBP riders) did their rides on Rivendell Rambouillets, Bob Jacksons and Schwinn World Travelers. Could they post better times if they were on a sportier bike with 'roadier' gearing? maybe. maybe not. There's more to your speed than the bike that you rode.

Generally speaking, if you don't want to spend a lot of money, I think you'd be fine with building up a Surly crosscheck or a Salsa Vaya or Casseroll. If you want to go custom, I would still lean towards veteran hands like IF over Geekhouse or Icarus.

I like Marty and I think he and his posse have a good attitude, but they are still young and learning on the job about what works for them and what doesn't. The new generation of Boston builders have gotten their start building track bikes and know that world well. The world of brevets and distance riding is a whole other game. IF's been in that game for many years, and they'll know how to take care of you. I'd also recommend ANT as Mike's apparently back to building touring and club racer bikes after being on a 'roadster'/'town bike only' kick for the last few years.
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Old 05-19-10, 09:10 AM   #8
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Forget all that other stuff. You want one of these:

http://www.renehersebicycles.com/Randonneur%20bikes.htm

http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com/i...der700full.jpg

Hand made in the USofA (by "W..." Precision Cycles in "W..." WI). Geometry and tubing optimized for long distance comfort AND performance. Room for decent sized (700x30c) tires AND fenders. AND it got a rave review in Bicycle Quarterly.

Available for 700c or 650b. And only $1380. What more could you want? There's one on my Xmas list...

SP
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Old 05-19-10, 12:30 PM   #9
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Take a look at the VO polyvalent on www.velo-orange.com , or the Rvendell Sam Hillbourne, at www.rivbike.com . Harris has Hillbournes in stock, as well as the Surly Crosscheck.
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Old 05-19-10, 01:49 PM   #10
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My "one bike to rule them all" is a Surly Cross Check, but here's the trade-off:

It's pretty good at everything, but perfect for nothing.

It's a comfortable brevet bike, but it's on the heavy side and not designed for carrying a front bag so it can be a little wobbly above certain speeds depending on the load I'm carrying. For really long distances, the higher center of gravity can start to feel "tippy" when you're tired.

It's a comfortable century bike, but definitely overweight when it comes to climbing against the speedy people on carbon dream machines.

It's a good commuter, but the stays are short for carrying full panniers and there's no off-the-shelf option for a front low-rider rack.

It's a decent light-tourer, but again, see the pannier comment.
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Old 05-19-10, 03:50 PM   #11
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Take a look at the VO polyvalent on www.velo-orange.com , or the Rvendell Sam Hillbourne, at www.rivbike.com . Harris has Hillbournes in stock, as well as the Surly Crosscheck.
Why the Polyvalent over the rando for VO, why the sam hillbourne over the a. homer hilsen?

Problem i have with the Cross check is the bb being so high, and the weight.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:13 PM   #12
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Personally I think something along the lines of the Soma ES should fit your requirements pretty well.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:43 PM   #13
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My dream "one bike to rule them all" would have to be either the surly Pacer (for quicker rides), or the Masi Speciale Randonneur. Both would go with 28 or 32c tires and fenders, racks, and bar end shifters. with the Masi, I'd ride it as-is. With the Pacer, I'd probably build it up as a mountain triple (175mm cranks with a 28X38X48 triple), 7 or 8 speed freewheel or cassette, bar end shifters, Campy brakes and levers, and 36 spoke wheels. I'd also go with the widest Nitto Noodle bar I could, and a 100mm quill stem. For either, I'd consider rebuilding the front wheel with a dynohub.

It would be good as a commuter, club bike, and distance bike. Were I to get only one, it'd probably be the custom built Pacer.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:46 PM   #14
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Why the Polyvalent over the rando for VO, why the sam hillbourne over the a. homer hilsen?

Problem i have with the Cross check is the bb being so high, and the weight.
What's the problem with a high BB and 30 lbs? Both of my distance/fast/drop bar bikes run around 32 lbs with plastic fenders and a medium Minnehaha saddlebag (unloaded). I don't seem to find much of a problem keeping up with lighter bikes.

Something else to consider is that it seems that the more laid back the geometry, the more weight you're naturally going to get. Also, building a bike with more robust parts naturally lends to more weight.
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Old 05-19-10, 10:07 PM   #15
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Viper, I was going to suggest the VO rando frame. I think it is exactly what you need. I personally would be absolutely content with it as my one bike for the situations you describe.

You might also consider the Ebisu frames available through Jitensha Studio.

Good luck!
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Old 05-19-10, 10:14 PM   #16
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*you* don't need two bikes, and you don't need to spend that much for a frame. there are plenty of worthy less-expensive frames that will do the same job just as well. i can't tell you how many extra-fancy bikes i see on the road during club rides or centuries with their extra-fancy riders; it's just bluffery. as for fast(er) club rides, i've ridden my ~30lb bike alongside carbon weight-weenies without a problem; sure, every group has its Lance-wannabees, but we just let them zip on ahead.

if you're unhappy with your Felt, there are plenty of options, as pointed out. A CX bike fits your demands: rack mounts, wide tyres with fenders, and a geometry that is not TT but also not touring. You can find CX frames in weight-weenie Ti, AL, and even steel. Or you can get the same frame in heavy "heirloom"-quality steel. Moots, Co-Motion, Salsa and Soma fit the former, while Surly (among others) the latter.

On the other hand, there may be ways to refit your Felt. A more comfy saddle, a more forgiving fork (if you're running a straight AL fork), changing stem height, or changing handlebar type. You can even find p-clamps to mount a rack, albeit not for heavy loads (then again, you're in it for weekend CC touring, and not pan-Asian tours, so it'll probably be fine).

Lastly, you could get a touring frame, and outfit it with weight-weenie parts, and possibly build a sub-20lb tourer, which would be plenty plenty fast for club rides (but why waste the cash on a gruppo that's designed for weight and not longevity?). Let's face it, in the end it isn't about your bike, it's about *you* (i.e., your thighs, lungs, saddle time, etc.); a bike should only help you do it as best as you can.
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Old 05-19-10, 10:39 PM   #17
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Problem i have with the Cross check is the bb being so high, and the weight.
It's really not a concern. The high BB main issue becomes swinging your leg back over the saddle when you're tired and your legs are like lead.
The weight? Pfff. It's negligible, and for the price I'm certainly not going to complain.
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Old 05-19-10, 11:58 PM   #18
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My "one bike to rule them all" is a Surly Cross Check, but here's the trade-off:

It's pretty good at everything, but perfect for nothing.
actually, i'd like to point out that it's absolutely perfect at being pretty good at everything! the Surly has a steady following, which it has earned in every respect. a great bike for all occasions that require a great bike for all occasions!
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Old 05-20-10, 01:19 AM   #19
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I vote for the Specialized TriCross Comp, but get the shop to put a triple crankset on it for you. It'll handle commuting duty no problem, is comfortable for long rides, and the geometry is still more responsive than an all-out tourer, though not as nimble as a real race bike. I love mine, although I've modified it almost beyond recognition .
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Old 05-20-10, 02:34 AM   #20
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I vote for the Specialized TriCross Comp, but get the shop to put a triple crankset on it for you. It'll handle commuting duty no problem, is comfortable for long rides, and the geometry is still more responsive than an all-out tourer, though not as nimble as a real race bike. I love mine, although I've modified it almost beyond recognition .
Not looking for an ALU bike. Steel!
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Old 05-20-10, 02:40 AM   #21
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Looking at the Soma ES, Soma Stanyan, and the VO Rando. thoughts?
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Old 05-20-10, 04:21 AM   #22
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Those are all nice bikes and I'd be glad to have any one of them, but thanks to the weak pound you can get a Bob Jackson for around $600. That's $150 or so less than the VO, for a much nicer frame.

I'd also say that if you can afford it, you should seriously think about a custom. I've certainly never heard anyone who had one say they thought it was a bad use of money.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:16 AM   #23
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Looking at the Soma ES, Soma Stanyan, and the VO Rando. thoughts?

While the Stanyan is a great loaded touring bike, it will will feel sluggish in a group ride. I'd stick with the ES.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:37 AM   #24
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Looking at the Soma ES, Soma Stanyan, and the VO Rando. thoughts?
I'd go with the Soma ES. I use my Bianchi Imola as a good steel all-in-one.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:48 AM   #25
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Salsa Casseroll.
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