I built up my first steel frame recently - an LHT with a Brooks B17, fenders, Schwalbe Kojaks and a Shimano SLX groupset - and it has been a complete revelation. So much so, that I am now looking to replace my far more expensive and fancy racing bike with something I might actually be inclined to ride.
What I want is a randonneuring bike.
As I understand that idea, it refers to a bike capable of carrying a modest front load, but with springy lightweight tubing and responsive geometry, and clearance for big tyres and fenders. Basically, something very different to the luxurious cruise-ship that is the LHT; but also very different to the twitchy, aggressive, rock-hard carbon fibre monstrosity.
I’m tossing up between the Soma Grand Randonneur (a French constructeur 650B style frame); or a more familiar “road sport” geometry such as the Soma Smoothie ES or the Velo Orange Passhunter.
Does anybody have any insights on which they might prefer, and why?
- How do road sport frames handle with a front bag (with rack and decaleur)? Is it better to stick with a (cheaper) Carradice style saddle bag?
- Is the Tange Prestige nicer steel than the unbranded 4130 used in the Passhunter? I'm aware that Prestige IS merely one subspecies of 4130 CroMo - heat-treated I think, but is has a reputation for being nice stuff whereas the generic stuff used by Velo Orange might be basically anything.
- What are the advantages of 650B for larger riders, if any? Is this just a fad?