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  1. #1
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Critique my Rando Bike thoughts......

    So, I'm starting to want some physical targets to chase, to go along with the creative and career ones I tend to set myself. At 37, I'm probably not going to start racing, but long distance riding does appeal to me. I haven't found the time to get to an appropriate level of fitness before, but I'm selling my car and trying to cycle as much as possible (not quite car free - keeping the wife's car), and that should get my base miles up sufficiently. What I'd really like is to ride the PBP, but I'm definitely not going to be ready for that in 2011. As I understand it, the next running will be in 2016, and I certainly feel I could be ready for that, though I'll be 44 that year. I'll ride as much as I can this summer, commute etc all winter, and aim to ride my first century next spring (or perhaps this summer, we'll see how things go), but frankly, I can use my vintage 531 roadie for that, and pretty much any one day ride. It's when I start to move up and ride some real Brevets that I think I'll need a dedicated machine.

    So, my thoughts start with vintage steel. The bike needs to be relatively inexpensive, and I have to want to ride it. I love lugged steel, plus there's no reason to assume it'll be degraded, and it should ride cushy. I'd be looking for a 531 frame from my local master builder, Rotrax. Something like this, but 24".

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...=STRK:MEWAX:IT

    Comfy frame geometry, style, and fender eyelets.

    I'm thinking that my aims componentry wise would be that it should be cheapish to build, tough, easy to self repair, and use parts that are available anywhere. Therefore, I think I'd look at 7 speed cassette stuff, probably Shimano 105 rear hub and derailleurs, but with non-indexed bar-end shifters rather than brifters (I don't want to deal with a broken brifter in the middle of nowhere, whereas there's always a way to fix friction shifting). Triple up front should give me granny gears in case I find myself low on energy, and probably Shimano 105 dual pivot calipers and hooded levers (unless the reach is an issue - the frame will undoubtedly be designed for 27"ers, so I might need to find a longer reach brake). A Brooks of some sort is a must, and I might be tempted to try an Imperial. I don't have perinieal issues with my existing Brooks, but my current biggest mileage is 50, so if I start to suffer as I do longer distances, then perhaps in building this bike I'd consider the Imperial.

    Fenders are obviously a must, and I guess that with 700c wheels, I'll buy even more clearance (older bikes had more anyway) for fitting larger tyres with those fenders. This is a big question mark for me; riding home through central London today in the rain on my single speed with Vitorria Rubinos, and feeling the skittishness made me realise I don't want to be making a descent at night in the wet on tyres that don't stick, but the Marathon Supremes on my tourer/commuter sap a lot of energy. What can you recommend that's cushy, sticky, and still fast?

    It seems like lighting would be a big consideration, and I guess a dynohub is the way forward. The Schmidt hubs don't fit my "relatively low cost" thinking, whereas £35 for a Shimano hub does, but do they cut the mustard? I've loved the double front light rigs I've seen (yes, I'd like to have a little of the constructeur look), but what lamps are you all using for that? I'd back it up with my Dinotte lights, since AAs are readily available, although I have better rechargeable lights. I'm thinking that a small front rack as a bag support and light carrier would be wise, but no rear rack, just a Carradice bag support. I'd probably go with a Carradice Camper, because it seems to me that the space would be useful, and I don't imagine the extra weight over the smaller models is significant when you don't fill it right up. I guess some sort of big bar bag is wise, but how big do you need? If I went for one of the really big ones, would I have any reason to regret that?

    The reason I'm asking all this now, before I even start training, is twofold. Firstly, to build the bike at a sensible price, I'll be trying to acquire stuff slowly and at bargain prices, so the more time the better. The second is that I sense I would be very glad to have this bike even if I don't really get into the Brevet thing. It seems like a bike like this would be tremendous fun for big day rides, regardless.

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Do you have a bike now?

    It is normally much cheaper to buy a complete bike than to build-a-bike from parts. I would consider a basic used road bike that fits well and accepts fenders, as you have outlined. Ride that bike for several months to a year and then decide what your needs are.

    I have a $170 Trek that I purchased of CL. You don't need to spend much to get a viable Rando bike.



    Michael
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 06-01-10 at 03:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't know why you're writing off PBP 2011 so easily unless you don't have the funds. Even if you don't have a bike yet you could still easily get yourself trained up in time for PBP if you put some effort into it. As Michael said, inexpensive used bikes are a dime a dozen. You can get a really good quality frame/fork for fairly cheap then put on the components you want. As far as new bikes go, you'd be better off getting a complete bike. That would be cheaper unless you have the components lying around. Why limit yourself to 7speed? The newer 9speed stuff is just as easy to come by, maybe more so that the old 7sp stuff. I wouldn't go lower in quality level that 105. Ultegra is what I prefer as a nice balance between performance and cost. If you go with more gears you won't have the huge jumps between gears back there. The rest of the stuff is all fluff. Get what works for you and have some fun.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  4. #4
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    Just a quick question: I run Rubino Pro 2s (700x28) on my bike and have noticed nothing but great handling. Are you running your tires are pressures appropriate for your weight, or just pumping it up to the max? Higher pressures will reduce grip and increase ride harshness. Even at my current 240, I only run 90F/100R on my tires, even though they can handle 120psi or so.
    2009 Motobecane Fantom CX
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  5. #5
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    If you buy a nice bike now, half the stuff on it is going to be worn out by 2016 anyway. And, whatever seems perfect to you now, by the time you've ridden another 20,000 miles, your opinion is liable to change. And you may decide you don't like long distance riding in the first place. So my suggestion is buy for what you want right now, don't worry about 2016, and figure if you really get into this, you'll probably have some better bike by then anyway.

    For a year or so, I used a $15 handlebar bag I bought at Walmart. It was perfectly functional, maybe not stylish. But that's how you find out how big it needs to be. You'll have extra clothing in the winter, extra liquid in the summer (at least here in Texas). Anyway, get a cheap bag, try it out, and you'll figure out pretty quick if it's too small, puts weight in the wrong place, or what, and then get a better bag accordingly. (I was using the handlebar bag plus a trunk bag, by the way.)

    Can't help much on the fenders. The fenders on my Raleigh Sojourn don't protect my feet, I discovered, but that's about all the wisdom I can come up with there.

    Consider also that if security is lacking where you ride your bike to, that you may not want a high-dollar bike with fancy hubs and all on it. That is, you may want a second bike for randonneuring.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  6. #6
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Ok, I'll take these one by one. Regarding PBP, I don't really have the funding this time, I'd need to save, plus I'd have to ride a 200, 300, 400 and 600k Brevet in the next 6 months. My day job has generally a 65+ hour week, and I do a bunch of extra curricular work besides, so I don't have collosal time for training; I need to build gradually. By 2016, I can realistically hope to have got myself to were I can train properly as well as commute. I suppose it might be feasible to achieve by 2011, but it would feel (to me) like a chore then, rather than something to look forward to.

    Existing bike - yes, I have lots, and it's no problem for me to start riding centuries on the gear I have. I've got an 80's Gazelle road bike which will do nicely for that sort of stuff, but I suspect to be rando-ready it would need lots of things adding to it that I don't really want to add to what is a nice pure road bike. My tourer, also my main commuter, has a Nexus 7 hub, which is great, but again not what I think I want to ride on this sort of event. I'm good at picking parts up cheaply from eBay (I used to deal vintage bike parts as a sideline, most of the bikes I have now were assembled/purchased for cheap or essentially free, when I'd buy a bike, sell the parts on for a profit, but keep the bits I wanted), so I'm not worried about the building of it, and would enjoy having something which I had built for the purpose.

    Regarding 7 speed, it's partly my retro grouch luddite side, and partly durability. Thin walled chains fail quicker, and frankly, the only bike I have 9 speed on is a bit finicky. It's a folder, which I've set up with friction bar end shifting, and it's tougher to get it dead on in gear than any 6/7 speed bike I've had. I like the idea of being able to fit any derailleur which I find available, which this would give me, but maybe I should reconsider. Rubinos - I run them at 11 psi, and these are the cheapie Rubinos, not the same tyre as yours. A bit of harsh ride and squirreliness I expect, and I'm happy enough with for my normal purposes (I want the bike to be fast and uncompromising). The issue is more that I find on my Rubino equipped bikes, the rear wheel locks up incredibly easily in the wet, which makes me a little nervous about the adhesion in corners, too.

    StephenH, you make a lot of sense. I should just get to riding on my current gear, build myself the bike I'm clearly excited about building, and have some fun; there's plenty of time to tweak, and deciding I want a different ANYthing over the next 6 years is not really an issue. I have a pre-existing smallish and cheap bar bag, which serves me just fine for day rides, but I'm assuming on a 1200k ride, I'll want more space (plus, my little plastic cool bag/bar bag wouldn't really fit the aesthetic!), but again, I could start by building the bike, and see what I need as I go. Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    ...
    StephenH, you make a lot of sense. I should just get to riding on my current gear, build myself the bike I'm clearly excited about building, and have some fun; there's plenty of time to tweak, and deciding I want a different ANYthing over the next 6 years is not really an issue. I have a pre-existing smallish and cheap bar bag, which serves me just fine for day rides, but I'm assuming on a 1200k ride, I'll want more space (plus, my little plastic cool bag/bar bag wouldn't really fit the aesthetic!), but again, I could start by building the bike, and see what I need as I go. Thanks!
    Can your existing Reynolds 123 bike take fenders? Since you already have a Brooks, you can just hang a Carradice on the bag loops for more luggage space. Voila, instant brevet bike! After a couple years of riding brevets, you'll have a much better idea what you need.

    I'm pretty sure the next PBP is in 2015.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Sammyboy, your tastes in rando machinery are much the same as mine. Steel? check. Fenders? check. Wide-ish tires? check. Minimal investment required? check.

    And as others have suggested, I'd start out riding what you have, decide what you'd change about that, and build your new machine based on that. So far, all of my rando bikes save 2 have been used/vintage: a Motobecane Grand Record (too harsh riding), a Mercian King (beautiful, but too small and "wobbly" at speed), an Eisentraut Rainbow touring bike (super nice, but sluggish), a (new) Gunnar Crosshairs (getting closer, but too small again and too stiff), a RANS Force 5 recumbent (also new:fast, lively, but poor weight distribution and scary at speed), an Actionbent Midracer recumbent (dangerously close to perfect, but slow up hills, and I'm having achilles problems with it). I also have a Kogswell P/R in the works, and just scored a gorgeous blue Mondia Super frameset on Craigslist. Maybe I'm just an incurable tinkerer, but that "perfect" bike always seems to be just "that far" away. Buy hey, I almost always buy used, so it's cheap, and resale is better than w/ a new bike.

    SP
    Bend, OR

    ps - AFAIK, the next PBP after 2011 is in 2015: every FOUR years.

  9. #9
    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    I'm with StephenH and others who say, ride what you've got now. You'll figure out what you want. Just about any bike can be a brevet bike depending on what you want.

    Also, you in your original post you said,
    As I understand it, the next running will be in 2016, and I certainly feel I could be ready for that, though I'll be 44 that year.
    as if 44 is old. Did you know that's about 5 years younger than the average PBP rider?
    "You can buy status, but sucking is immutable. After a certain point, upgrading only makes you suck more ostentatiously."
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  10. #10
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    Don't assume you know what you'll need for long distances before you even start riding them. Ride a 200k or century on what you've already got, and decide what you'd like to change. My brevet bike happens to be a vintage Reynolds 531 frame, which I absolutely adore, even though it has steep angles (better for me ergonomically anyway) and no fender eyelets. And if you've got that long to look, you can probably find a frame that was originally meant for 700c wheels. Most of the ones meant for 27" wheels will give you real brake reach issues which you may not be able to resolve without resorting to old, cheap, flexy brakes that won't give you enough stopping power. And keep in mind that what conventional wisdom says is appropriate for long distances may or may not be what's best for you personally.
    As for tires, I've been happy with 25mm Michelin Axial Pro/ProRace/Pro2Race/Pro3Race/whatever they call 'em these days. In New England, lots of people use wider tires than that, although certainly not everyone.
    For that matter, you can make just about any bike brevet-worthy if you want to. I've been riding brevets in Germany the last two years, and what's really struck me is that they mostly use normal off-the-shelf modern road bikes, with various kinds of bags and packs and lights mounted to seatposts and handlebars and forks. Most of them don't even use fenders, and most of them use 23mm tires (their roads are generally in better shape than ours are back in Massachusetts though). I've even had German randonneurs ask me why I rode such an old frame, and wasn't steel too heavy for this?
    Regarding gearing, I'd be more inclined to look first at what kind of gear range you need, what levers are most comfortable in your hands, whether the q-factor of your cranks is an issue, and then figure out what systems will get you what you want. You might have better luck with 8 speed than 7 speed in terms of cassette choice and availability, and it's still more durable and more robust than 9 and 10 speed. But to be honest, most people ride brevets these days with 9 and 10 speed and it works out just fine.
    As for bags to carry with you, I've known people who ride unsupported 600k's with no more than they can fit in their jersey pockets, and I've known people who ride fully supported 200k's with two full panniers. You'll just have to see how it goes when you get out there.
    The point is, just start riding and see what you need to change.

    BTW, another good way to get parts, especially if it's 7sp or 8sp stuff you're after, is by buying full bikes off of Craigslist and stripping them for parts. $200 for a bike in good working order with the parts you want that doesn't fit in the slightest is a good deal if you have another frame to put the parts onto.

  11. #11
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    This is all good advice. I will absolutely start riding centuries asap on my existing bike. And yes, I could stick my existing Brooks on there, and might do so (I don't like moving saddles from bike to bike, but needs must). I'll probably hunt down my Rotrax frame anyway, because frankly, I'll want it for something even if not a Rando bike, and start building, but yeah, I'm bound to know more once I've ridden more. I'm not over worried about the brake reach; there are a couple of manufacturers of long reach dual pivot brakes; Alesa made some, and so do a company called Alhonga, and I have a set. There might be other options, but worst case scenario, they would do the job. I figure a Carradice bag is something I'm gonna want regardless, so I'll add that to the list, and if it doesn't work for this purpose, well, I'll still have a nice bag.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post

    Regarding 7 speed, it's partly my retro grouch luddite side, and partly durability. Thin walled chains fail quicker, and frankly, the only bike I have 9 speed on is a bit finicky. It's a folder, which I've set up with friction bar end shifting, and it's tougher to get it dead on in gear than any 6/7 speed bike I've had. I like the idea of being able to fit any derailleur which I find available, ...
    Regarding 7-speed, I too really appreciate the DIY pack in your spares side of it all, but availability of those parts seems to be decreasing every week. If you build a drivetrain around a widely distributed gearing, such as the Shimano 13-28, copied by Sunrace and IRD, I'd say you have a robust plan. But not in too many other cases. But, I think that particular cluster can make a good very wide range system with a 26 tooth granny, and a very decent close-ratio half step, if you like.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
    Don't assume you know what you'll need for long distances before you even start riding them. Ride a 200k or century on what you've already got, and decide what you'd like to change. My brevet bike happens to be a vintage Reynolds 531 frame, which I absolutely adore, even though it has steep angles (better for me ergonomically anyway) and no fender eyelets. And if you've got that long to look, you can probably find a frame that was originally meant for 700c wheels. Most of the ones meant for 27" wheels will give you real brake reach issues which you may not be able to resolve without resorting to old, cheap, flexy brakes that won't give you enough stopping power. And keep in mind that what conventional wisdom says is appropriate for long distances may or may not be what's best for you personally.
    As for tires, I've been happy with 25mm Michelin Axial Pro/ProRace/Pro2Race/Pro3Race/whatever they call 'em these days. In New England, lots of people use wider tires than that, although certainly not everyone.
    For that matter, you can make just about any bike brevet-worthy if you want to. I've been riding brevets in Germany the last two years, and what's really struck me is that they mostly use normal off-the-shelf modern road bikes, with various kinds of bags and packs and lights mounted to seatposts and handlebars and forks. Most of them don't even use fenders, and most of them use 23mm tires (their roads are generally in better shape than ours are back in Massachusetts though). I've even had German randonneurs ask me why I rode such an old frame, and wasn't steel too heavy for this?
    Regarding gearing, I'd be more inclined to look first at what kind of gear range you need, what levers are most comfortable in your hands, whether the q-factor of your cranks is an issue, and then figure out what systems will get you what you want. You might have better luck with 8 speed than 7 speed in terms of cassette choice and availability, and it's still more durable and more robust than 9 and 10 speed. But to be honest, most people ride brevets these days with 9 and 10 speed and it works out just fine.
    As for bags to carry with you, I've known people who ride unsupported 600k's with no more than they can fit in their jersey pockets, and I've known people who ride fully supported 200k's with two full panniers. You'll just have to see how it goes when you get out there.
    The point is, just start riding and see what you need to change.

    BTW, another good way to get parts, especially if it's 7sp or 8sp stuff you're after, is by buying full bikes off of Craigslist and stripping them for parts. $200 for a bike in good working order with the parts you want that doesn't fit in the slightest is a good deal if you have another frame to put the parts onto.
    Attack the brake reach issues on a case by case basis - not all possible changes to 700 are impossible with original calipers. To accommodate 700c you need to be able to move the brake shoes down 4 mm -- that's all! And if you do need longer calipers, there are the Tektro long reach dual pivots, which are a functional upgrade to nearly all vintage single pivots.

  14. #14
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Does Sammyboy have a bike already? (ok - so the rest of you don't know him from C&V)

    He has a gift for finding really nice, older bicycles.

    Sammy, triples are nice, but don't discount a touring double, or compact double. I have greater useful range of gearing with my old Fuji and the 34 - 48 crankset and six speed freewheel (14 - 32), than I did with the Surly LHT I traded last year (30-40-50 with nine speed 12 - 26 cassette). The overall package is about 4-5 pounds less too (which does matter here with numerous short, steep climbs). People succeed with just about any conceivable configuration, so a lot of it comes down to personal preference. I suggest that, when in doubt, go with what seems right to you.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  15. #15
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Sorry, Sammy, Zorro's right, I didn't recognize you! I hope my comments would be useful to you anyway.

  16. #16
    N+1 redxj's Avatar
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    I think your overall plan is a decent one. Start with what you currently own, amass parts for a future build or eventually change a bike you already own. I did that and turned my former commuter bike into my Rando bike. I had a stock 83' Nishiki Seral that is a full on vintage touring bike that I changed components until I found what I liked. For me that is a compact double up front (48/34) with a wider range cassette in the back (11-30 or 11-32 9 speed), and using bar end shifters. The bike is of low trail design so it has a Nitto rack up front for support for the Berthoud bag. I also have a lighting setup of a Shimano Dynohub with a Cyo light. I use a battery light in the back. It runs full fenders and bigger tires (700c x 32 Paselas). The bike was originally 27" and has enough room for 35mm tires, but not with the fenders. Now the only stock parts on it is the frame and fork.

    A few things from my perspective. I would go with an 8 speed cassette as they are still easily available and slip right on to a current 8-10 speed Shimano splined rear hub. A 7 will work with a spacer, but there seems to be more choices in 8 (SRAM and Shimano make them in a variety of tooth counts). I did a 200K on my Nishiki and the handlebar bag was more than enough. I did use a small seat wedge that held my tools. I don't think you would need a massive saddle bag for most events. A saddle bag even with a support sways when you get out of the saddle. The handlebar bag with a decaleur is rock solid.

    My Nishiki as an example:

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