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  1. #1
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Unveiling Rodriguez UTB - The Ultimate Touring Bike!

    BACKGROUND
    For the past year or so I have been looking into building a new touring bike. The frame (the heart of a bike) needed to be capable of:

    • Being comfortable at the top of the list - A bike that suited me like a glove!
    • Reynolds 725 frame
    • Loaded Touring/Randonneuring - PBP 2015?
    • Using 26” wheels for worldwide use. I live in Mexico, so this requirement was a true necessity even more.
    • Fitting wide rims and tires. I felt I was looking for a “Gravel Grinder” - a bike that could perform really well on tarmac but that would also be at complete ease on dirt roads such as those found in the San Juan Huts trail in Colorado or the Carretera Austral in Chile.
    • S&S couplers - What seemed like a pricey option in the beginning turned out (after some research) to be something that would pay off easily after just a few flights given how much airlines have increased their sports equipment fees. My Ultimate Touring Bike needed to be capable of flying anywhere in the world with no constraints or high-fees.
    • Disc brakes - Researched this very thoroughly and at the end decided that, for off-road purposes, mechanical disc brakes (Avid BB7) would be the way to go for me. The frame should not have me stuck with only a disc option, however. Therefore, the frame would be ready for V-brakes or even cantis if ever needed. A disc option also gives me the ability to go with 650b wheels for randonneuring if I ever want this.
    • Being able to grow with my needs. How often do we find ourselves wanting a different bike because our current (touring) bike no longer fits our needs?... Oh, I wish it had this or I wish it had that. A new touring frame had to tackle both my current and future needs. Flexibility with brake and wheel options mentioned above were two of them. Another important factor was its drivetrain. My current needs/budget call for a nice ole derailleur system. But I also wanted a frame for the point below...
    • A Rohloff IGH which is something I see myself having in the future. Will I want a chain or belt drive? Don’t know, yet! The frame needed to be ready for both with its appropriate eccentric bottom bracket for chain tensioning, cable routing braze-ons and frame (seatstay) splitter, just in case. Off-the-rack bikes will give you one option (even from high-end manufacturers), but never two and forget about three - Standard Derailleur, Chain Rohloff or Belt-drive system? Believe me, I searched but encountered the following replies:
      A. Simply cannot do all three! - The vast majority.
      B. Can do it but have little expertise with Rohloff, especially with belt-drives (i.e., often the case with very small one-person custom builders.) Will cost you beaucoup money!
      C. Can do it, have credible expertise - Will still cost you a LOT of $ (more than what I was willing to pay.)
    • 460mm chainstays for absolutely no heel strike. Obviously, no toe strike with 175mm cranks and 11 (45) size shoes.
    • Other small but important things: kickstand plate, incorportated chainstay protector, 3 water bottle cages, uncut steering tube to raise/lower handlebar as I please.


    FINDING THE RIGHT BUILDER
    I was thrilled when I found Rodríguez (AKA R+E Cycles) and their UTB model: ULTIMATE TOURING BIKE. They’re based in Seattle, WA. and have been doing business since 1973. They are known for their tandems and touring bikes handmade right in their facilities. In the last several years, however, these guys have also become renowned for their Rohloff bikes in the Northwest. After some extensive research I can see why:

    • They own the patent to the Bushnell Eccentric Bottom Bracket for chain or belt tensioning which they distribute worldwide. If you do your homework on Rohloff, you’ll learn why this is so important.
    • Deep understanding of how the Rohloff system works and all the requirements to make it work smoothly on a given frame.
    • They have a dedicated Rohloff frame builder who trained extensively at the Rohloff facility in Germany.
    • The above points crowned them as the #1 Rohloff dealer in the U.S. in 2011 (I wonder how many people know this little fact.)


    At that point, I felt I was completely in good hands. BTW, Rodríguez does little advertisement and does not participate in fancy national tradeshows. It’s mainly all word of mouth or web search! Their website doesn’t mention several options indicated above, but they are available to anyone as very reasonable extras. They are the only ones who satisfied my needs with a “Yes, we can!” to ALL of my requirements. Their pricing structure is such that I felt the overall package was quite reasonable and within my budget. These guys have also the expertise of working long-distance with their customers across the nation or internationally. Since I live in Mexico, we exchanged tons of email and phone correspondence. They provided a step-by-step video for fitting (body measurements) and processed all data into a computerized fitting system to catch any errors. They also provided me with a free DVD to disassemble and assemble my S&S coupled bike which made everything so easy when I had to use it for the first time last week. The final product was delivered as requested. Nothing was missed!

    UNVEILING FINAL PRODUCT - My 40th B-Day present, BTW
    So, without further delay, here is my RODRÍGUEZ UTB:

    Main shot! - Yes, I still have to get a rear rack for it.


    26" wheels w/ wide tires - up to 2.1" w/ fenders and up 2.4" w/o fenders (1.75" shown):


    Disc Brakes:


    Splitter in seatstay for Belt Rohloff / Chainstay Protector à la Miyata 1000:


    Eccentric Bottom Bracket for chain tensioning on a Rohloff:


    S&S Couplers + Brake/Derailleur cable splitters + 3 water bottle cages
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 05-01-12 at 11:58 AM.

  2. #2
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    Wow! I love it.
    I cannot think of anything I would do differently if I had similar requirements.
    How does the weight compare to similar touring bikes?


  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Having 2 Rohloff bikes It is interesting to see the under the BB cable guide
    sized just for bare wire and then housing stops on the back end of the chainstay..

    since mine run the shift housing all the way from the Grip to the External
    shift box on the hub.

  4. #4
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    That is really amazing, congrats!
    "You didn't see him on the road did you?
    "I passed the felly of it on a bike...going like flames."
    'We'll pass him before he gets to the main road" said Sholto.
    But Sholto had underestimated the speed of his man, who was safe in Taylor's public-house in Swords, drinking in a way that Mr Taylor did not like...
    --Samuel Beckett

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skyers View Post
    Wow! I love it.
    I cannot think of anything I would do differently if I had similar requirements.
    How does the weight compare to similar touring bikes?

    Thank you! As far as weight goes, I must not be too concerned since I haven't weighed it, yet. It's also a heavy duty tourer not built with the lightest components. Having said this, however, I flew back from San Diego last week. The S&S soft case (with bike inside) weighed 43 lbs. at the airport scale. The empty case weighs about 8 lbs, but I also had S-S frame protectors, fenders, a few small tools and dirty laundry on the external pockets of the case for extra protection . So, I guess around 31-32 lb., but no rear rack, yet.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 04-30-12 at 07:21 PM.

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    You did a great job putting your requirements together for that bike. I am sure this is one happy birthday for you! I particularly like the way you determined both current and all possible future needs or desires so that you will not encounter that feeling of "I need another bike" because you want something the current one doesn't do. That bike is a long term investment and a beautiful touring bike that will last long term.
    Be the person your dog thinks you are.
    T.J.

  7. #7
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    You lost me at the Gates Drive. That thing is not really practical, and runs counter to other decisions like 26" wheels for wide parts availability. But your other decisions make a lot of sense and it looks like you have a really nice bike there.

    Personally I would like to run two front brakes anyway. I have have brakes fail moderately on several tours. And I run the very best stuff, so I think it makes sense to have two front brakes for safety. More likely to save you than a helmet.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    You lost me at the Gates Drive. That thing is not really practical, and runs counter to other decisions like 26" wheels for wide parts availability. But your other decisions make a lot of sense and it looks like you have a really nice bike there.
    You're right about belt drive possibly not being practical if I ever want to tour around the world in the near future (no immediate plans for that, btw.) I don't see, however, how it counters the decision to have a future-proof, multifunctional frame. Things could change very quickly in the future. There are already several touring bikes with belt drives. At NAHBS (which showcase trends that are to come), tons of builders have been making a splash with it over the last few years. Technology changes at a rapid pace. Disc brakes , for example, have now become really common down here. Another one is wheel size... even though 26" wheels still rule, the LBS here tells me 29ers are now really outselling 26" with high-end MTB customers. So, as far as Gates Belt Drive goes, it might be too early to tell if it's worth the investment, but does it hurt to have a frame ready for it?

    Personally I would like to run two front brakes anyway. I have have brakes fail moderately on several tours. And I run the very best stuff, so I think it makes sense to have two front brakes for safety. More likely to save you than a helmet.
    Interesting! But I have never seen a bike running two front brakes. What kind of brakes failed on you which led to install two front brakes? I guess the case scenario you mention would become eminent if two disc brakes failed (front & rear) on a major downhill. You get tons of stopping power even with just one of them. It's better to be safe than sorry. My frame is ready for V-brake or Canti brakes (front and rear) which are economical options in case of emergency or if I ever see myself wanting to switch to them.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 04-30-12 at 10:24 PM.

  9. #9
    Bike rider alexaschwanden's Avatar
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    Great bike.
    2013 Felt 960 29er MTB. 1,336.2 miles
    2013 Raleigh Revenio 2.0. 855.7 miles

  10. #10
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    Heh,

    Uncut steering tubes and lots of spacers. I waited 6 months before cutting mine.

    That fork is mmm mmm beefy. The cable routing on the DT looked a bit different then I realized it's because of the rear disc breaks.

  11. #11
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    Hey Chris, awesome looking bike! happy riding.

  12. #12
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Rodriguez builds a really nice bicycle... we are fans up here.

    Funny as I was starting to sort out some details for a new 26 inch wheeled touring build and many of the aspects you included were things I had on my list.

    We do all those things like build with S&S couplers and fabricate our own eccentric bottom brackets and as I am leaning toward a long tail design, having it coupled would be an excellent feature to have.

    Have no desire to build a touring bike with a belt drive although a frame that would handle an IGH or derailleur drive was another essential point as was a set up to run disc or rim brakes.

    We built an SS coupled long tail touring bike for a customer last year and it is a wonderful bike although it did not have an eccentric or dual brake mounts as those were not requested.

  13. #13
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    No carbon front fork?!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
    You did a great job putting your requirements together for that bike. I am sure this is one happy birthday for you! I particularly like the way you determined both current and all possible future needs or desires so that you will not encounter that feeling of "I need another bike" because you want something the current one doesn't do. That bike is a long term investment and a beautiful touring bike that will last long term.
    Thank you, Ciufalon! You nailed my thoughts and plans exactly!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Rodriguez builds a really nice bicycle... we are fans up here.

    Funny as I was starting to sort out some details for a new 26 inch wheeled touring build and many of the aspects you included were things I had on my list.

    We do all those things like build with S&S couplers and fabricate our own eccentric bottom brackets and as I am leaning toward a long tail design, having it coupled would be an excellent feature to have.

    Have no desire to build a touring bike with a belt drive although a frame that would handle an IGH or derailleur drive was another essential point as was a set up to run disc or rim brakes.

    We built an SS coupled long tail touring bike for a customer last year and it is a wonderful bike although it did not have an eccentric or dual brake mounts as those were not requested.
    Hi Sixty Fiver! I'm very glad to hear my post and subsequent discussions might help current and future tourists determine what they want/need from a touring bike. As I said, I really took my time (almost a year) reading tons of posts on this forum, posing questions, etc. I'm sure there are things I missed, but I feel completely satisfied with the final outcome.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 05-01-12 at 10:01 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    No carbon front fork?!
    Shoot! I knew there was something I missed to include!

  17. #17
    Hot in China azesty's Avatar
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    Bummer. I cant see your pics here in China. I would really like to see this bike. Any chance somebody could dump them on imgur.com?

    z

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    wow that is one hell of a bike very very clever indeed.
    happy birthday btw you lucky lucky lucky ...........
    Enjoy.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    You're right about belt drive possibly not being practical if I ever want to tour around the world in the near future (no immediate plans for that, btw.) I don't see, however, how it counters the decision to have a future-proof, multifunctional frame.
    I don't think it counters that decision, just the one about easy resupply. I think that there are two problems with having a bike based on future proofing: One is that it really isn't possible, new stuff always comes up, and it is tough to figure out what it will be. Somewhat a "perfect being the enemy of the good" thing. You are guessing what you might need vs, making a clean decision about what is best now. I think it would make more sense to make the ultimate bike of one kind rather than keeping all options open. Unless these options are going to actually make a difference on the road.

    Take the MSR stove. The dual fuel stove idea means the one stove has the possibility of using different fuels if you get into a jam. That is the kind of back up I can see. Though overall most experienced travelers can probably figure out a lighter option, or even do without a stove.

    I don't see a situation where a Gates drive, or even an IGF alternative ona bike running deraileurs, provides a contingency benefit. One is just taking on a weight, cost, durability, complexity, burden, in the hope that the features added will have a someday advantage. That seems to me a bit like packing the kitchen sink rather than making a simpler list that will handle the job anyway.

    So as I say, too difficult to guess. It is hard enough to make the perfect today bike, let along figure out the future, and unless one limits those additions to stuff that actually makes the bike better per tour, one is degrading current performance.

    I also think that cost wise, with the list of features here, one could almost make two frames/bikes, one IGH, and one not, if one dropped the Gates part of the equation. Probably not possible if both have to have S&S though. That is becoming a costly necessity with air travel shaping up as it is.

    Things could change very quickly in the future. There are already several touring bikes with belt drives. At NAHBS (which showcase trends that are to come), tons of builders have been making a splash with it over the last few years.
    Most recent time I saw a "survey" Gates was regarded with distain among frame builders. A lot of seasoned builder are really anti NAHBS show bikes. Personally I think they are fine, but the pulling out the stops thing belong at NAHBS, not on the road. At this point someone usually jumps in and points out that around the world cycling records have been set with Gates "touring" bikes. That doesn't really change my mind, but it does show that Gates is rugged in certain uses.

    Technology changes at a rapid pace. Disc brakes , for example, have now become really common down here. Another one is wheel size... even though 26" wheels still rule, the LBS here tells me 29ers are now really outselling 26" with high-end MTB customers. So, as far as Gates Belt Drive goes, it might be too early to tell if it's worth the investment, but does it hurt to have a frame ready for it?
    Not if you say it doesn't. I am adverse to the belt and suspenders approach, I prefer to make a judgment about what I need and stick to it. As I say, I would mostly accept redundancy weight, complexity, etc... if it had an in-tour advantage. 26" wheels are a great idea, and I haven't thought deeply on it, but the idea of being able to handle 650 strikes me as a pretty near to no harm one.

    The problem I have is that for a lot of touring, "loaded" is already the belt and suspenders model. Most people with all the gear, heavy tourers, already have too much stuff. To make an I-couldn't-make-up-my-mind version is to double down on indecision. Not in your case, I am talking now about what this would mean if everyone's bike looked like yours. I like your bike, and only said it went over the top with the Gates stuff, though if you pressed, for me, IGH interchangeability is also going there.

    One thing I notice about lightweight outdoor gear is that with a few exceptions, most notably the ultralite backlash movement, most new gear is a lot heavier than it used to be. Secondary aspect is that a lot of the excess weight has to do with indecision. Thirdly some of the problem is an excess desire for durability. Fourth it is relatively too expensive.


    Interesting! But I have never seen a bike running two front brakes. What kind of brakes failed on you which led to install two front brakes? I guess the case scenario you mention would become eminent if two disc brakes failed (front & rear) on a major downhill. You get tons of stopping power even with just one of them. It's better to be safe than sorry. My frame is ready for V-brake or Canti brakes (front and rear) which are economical options in case of emergency or if I ever see myself wanting to switch to them.
    I like the idea of different brake mounting options. This one adds little weight; Does not really compromise the bike in any way etc... I feel it does provide in-tour advantages like if something bad happened with Avid BB7, you could mount a cheap canti picked up on the road and run the same levers and cables, etc...

    I have never had a braking failure where the brakes simply did not work. Though I had one just the other day with my city bike. I start from the premise that a) the idea of brake redundancy is universally accepted, where I live it is actually the law. b) With tandems, which is actually the weight range I operate in, the idea of 3 brakes is pretty universal. c) If I was limited to 2 brakes, I would actually prefer both to be on the front.

    The touring failures I refer to have mostly been weather related. The brakes simply didn't work well enough to stop the bike withint he distance I regard essential. But there are a wide range of possible failure scenarios, related to maintenance, overheating, water, mud, grit, fouling/interference, mechanical failure, damage, hand position, etc... The brakes absolutely have to work, and my feeling is that to some degree while the cycling breaking systems are elegant, they are not all that robust.

    My actual prefered option is as follows, and yeah, this is me going a little crazy: Petersen self-energizing canti on the rear. This brake is great front or rear, and I have run them as a front brake only, but I really only need them on the rear, where they get a better bite than I can comfortably get with road levers. I like to run the Paul neo retro as my main brake, up front. I would also run just a pair of Pauls if I wanted a cleaner looks. But hidden under the bags, the Petersens are my secret weapon. I run an Avid BB7 MTB brake on the front wheel. This is my emergency, and wet weather friend. It also allows me to have a lever on the tops, where I spend a lot of time if the wind is favourable. My feeling is weirdness aside, that is probably a more practical set-up than double discs.

    There are V brakes that will space for 26 or 650, so you do not need to mount a rear BB7 or other disc just to get dual wheel use.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 05-01-12 at 10:19 AM.

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    By the way, I really like the choice you made for EBB. That almost makes it worth having on a tank style bike if one wasn't planing on running IGF. Makes the whole BB a replaceable part that isn't part of the frame. It also has some fitting functionality, and it does not compromise the frame strength.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    ran Petersen SE on my touring cargo bike , what made them work better
    was thicker tube walls where they, their bosses are mounted on.

    Happened to be a flying saucer like Boss with a flange all the way around
    in the builders parts bin, to mount the brake against when they were fitted. ..

    the SE uses a helical driver around the frame boss, there is no spring anchor pin..

    the fitting used star washers ,I got to dig into the surround ing boss flange.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    I don't see a situation where a Gates drive, or even an IGF alternative ona bike running deraileurs, provides a contingency benefit. One is just taking on a weight, cost, durability, complexity, burden, in the hope that the features added will have a someday advantage. That seems to me a bit like packing the kitchen sink rather than making a simpler list that will handle the job anyway.
    ??? It doesn't seem he's considering the Rholhoff as a "contingency benefit". He just wants the option to try/use one.


    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    I also think that cost wise, with the list of features here, one could almost make two frames/bikes, one IGH, and one not, if one dropped the Gates part of the equation. Probably not possible if both have to have S&S though. That is becoming a costly necessity with air travel shaping up as it is.
    Even ignoring the S&S couplers, it's much cheaper adding a few extra bits to one custom frame than to have to buy two custom frames.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Hi Sixty Fiver! I'm very glad to hear my post and subsequent discussions might help current and future tourists determine what they want/need from a touring bike. As I said, I really took my time (almost a year) reading tons of posts on this forum, posing questions, etc. I'm sure there are things I missed, but I feel completely satisfied with the final outcome.
    We build touring bikes here.. not that we can't build anything but it our passion and what we do best.

    Am always looking at other bicycles whether they are production or custom and paying attention to what other people are doing and suppose people do the same when they see an Arvon longtail coming down the road as there are only a few builders who do this as a matter of course.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by azesty View Post
    Bummer. I cant see your pics here in China. I would really like to see this bike. Any chance somebody could dump them on imgur.com?

    z
    Z,

    PM me w/ your email and I'll send them to you as JPEG.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    ??? It doesn't seem he's considering the Rholhoff as a "contingency benefit". He just wants the option to try/use one.
    That's correct! One of those "wants" that us crazy cyclists sometimes see ourselves having. LOL. I'm not in any rush to get a Rohloff whether chain or belt. I'm also interested to see what NuVinci develops over the next couple of years. I know 4 people currently touring in South America with chain Rohloffs. All positive experiences from the POV of little maintenance, wide gear ratio and no worries about bent/damaged derailleurs when going off-road. As far a belt drive goes, making a frame ready for one is a minimal addition when the frame is being built. There are also no drawbacks adding the EBB and seatstay splitter as they don't compromise the frame in any way. It is, however, more complicated and expensive to add these things later and then try to make everything work smoothly. Apparently belts can be a finicky to set up. Rohloff, for instance, will not sell belt drives to just anyone. Gotta go through a dealer certified to install their belt systems. I often see posts here in the BF of people considering going belt and a common answer is that they should consider getting a new frame expressly made for one.


    Even ignoring the S&S couplers, it's much cheaper adding a few extra bits to one custom frame than to have to buy two custom frames.
    Ditto.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 05-02-12 at 10:46 AM.

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