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mr.steevo 06-29-12 02:23 PM

Roundtail Hybrid Bicycle - July 2012
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About a year ago I stumbled across a web article covering a different bicycle design called a Tortola Roundtail. Flipping through the comments at the end of the article people were using words like ugly, terrible, fail, unnecessary, and other such contributions. All I thought was "cool", and then I promptly forgot about it.

In March of this year I was reminded that my employer is encouraging us all to be more active and will reimburse us for qualifying health equipment or activities. As a bicycle was on the approved list I decided to use the health benefit to buy something I would never consider... a Roundtail bicycle *gasp!* After contacting the company and discovering that a) they actually haven't shipped any bicycles, and b) the first mass production series will be a hybrid bicycle and not the road bike everyone has been commenting on, it was decided that they would air freight one of their first production bicycles straight from the factory to my home. I said "sure" and "here's my money".

The wait has been long and the teasing from my friends has been endless, but I am happy to say that I received an email today from Lou Tortola himself saying the bike is en route with a FedEx tracking number. He even sent a photo of the bike shortly before being put in its box. ETA is July 4, 2012.

So, my wait is almost over and I am becoming aware that I am going to be the first person to own one of these different looking bicycles. I figured this is a good opportunity for me to share my thoughts and initial impressions of the bike and answer questions as honest as I can. Keep in mind that I'm just a guy who rarely rides a bike except on weekends down city pathways. I don't race bikes, super-commute, write about bikes, or even have that much of a passion for them. I'm probably the last person to give a technical review about this bike but I'm also average enough that my impressions of the bike will eventually be the general consensus. I won't pull punches but I'm also not going to go all fan-boy about it either.

There you are. See you in a week.


mr.steevo 07-06-12 01:18 PM

The bicycle arrived by FedEx but requires assembly. I have taken the boxed bike to my local bike shop for them to build it and was told that it would not be until next Wednesday when it would be ready. I'm patient but I thought I would give an update as to what is happening.


bjjoondo 07-06-12 02:15 PM

Interesting for sure, keep us updated and a decent photo would be great, ENJOY! :)

Tom Bombadil 07-07-12 12:31 AM

That is one different looking bike. Any reason for that particular design beyond just looking different?

erg79 07-07-12 12:52 PM

Apparently the thought is that the rings absorb bumps and shocks better than the traditional seatstays and chainstays:

Terrierman 07-07-12 02:02 PM

I wonder what it weighs in comparison to a diamond frame. Their website doesn't provide any data on that fairly important aspect of bike frame design and construction.

mr.steevo 07-12-12 09:46 AM

The bike was completed and I picked it up yesterday after work. Due to prior engagements I wasn't able to ride it for much more than just the couple of blocks to get it home and then a short ride to work this morning. I can tell you from my brief ride that this is not a relaxed, comfy bike with thick tires and cushy seating. The bike feels to me to have a tighter road bike feel and seems to be quick down hills and around corners. The feel reminds me a lot of my Devinci Amsterdam road hybrid (before it got stolen...grrr) and completely different from my Gary Fisher Utopia (which I just sold). First impressions are good with this bike and it's hard not to notice the big O in the middle of the bike. I don't know what the weight is but it is certainly comparable to other Kona hybrids in the bike shop where I had it assembled and much lighter than the Gary Fisher with it's suspension fork and fatter tires.

For those interested in specs some of the components include:

700x32C Maxxis Overdrive Excel tires
Alex Rims DA22
Hubs stamped with
Shimano SM-RT51 disc rotors with BR-M375 calipers
Shimano Deore brake levers/shifters, Deore rear derailer and SLX front derailer
Shimano Alivio FC-M430 Crankset
UNO stem and seatpost with VELO Gemini seat
Non-branded pedals, handle bar and grips

The frame is 6061 Double Butted Aluminum with a carbon fork and only comes in one size. Made in China but invented by a Canadian in Hamilton, Ontario.


The inventor, Lou Tortola, has his last name on the bike in six places (on each ring, on the bottom and both sides of the down tube, and as the front badge) while the web domain of is located in four separate places on the rings. The model name of the hybrid is the Delia and is decaled on either side of the forks. I suppose the message is that although these are known as Roundtails that this bike is to be referred to as the Tortola Delia. I think the roundtail name will overshadow that.

As I get more time to ride I'll post some updates on my thoughts. I did notice that I quickly forgot about the unique rear once I was on the road as it just felt like riding a bike. I'm open to questions if there are any.


Ozonation 07-12-12 09:56 AM

Way to go! I've heard about these bikes as well, and from a technical point of view, there is probably quite a bit of merit in their approach. It'll be great to hear some updates about how you think the bike performs.

Doohickie 07-12-12 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by Ozonation (Post 14471737)
from a technical point of view, there is probably quite a bit of merit in their approach.

Care to elaborate? As a mechanical engineer, I see no apparent merit in this design over a conventional diamond frame.

dhunley1 07-12-12 11:44 AM

That's and interesting bike for sure!

Cyclepup 07-12-12 04:05 PM

It looks unique, that's for sure. How about locking it up to a bike rack, will a U-lock work through the back tire & frame? It just looks to me like that would be near impossible.

mr.steevo 07-13-12 03:24 PM

Before I start I have to apologize for not embedding the pictures. For some reason the images would not up load so I am using image shack to host the files. This means you'll have to do some extra mouse clicking.

After a day of riding this bicycle I have managed to come to a few conclusions. First, I am extremely out of shape. Second, the effect of this design is subtle. Third, no one has noticed that this bike is different.

The bike.

The first thing I noticed after taking this photograph is that the bike I have is not the same bike as the factory photo in my initial post. Not that it matters but I thought it was interesting.

What really stands out for me is that the rings which are touted in this RoundTail Strength Test video are quite different from the design of the hybrid bicycle. Looking at the side profile of the bike (as pictured above) the rear does appear to be round, however, an angle view of the bike shows differently. Looking at these photos you can see what I mean.

Compared to the bike being tested in the video these rings look completely different. As well the bike in the video is a road frame, is made from a different material (steel vs. aluminum) and is essentially a very different looking design. I bring this up because the company website claims that "the ring design absorbs 60 times more road vibration" which makes me wonder how changes in the core design affects the end result.

Speaking of design the obvious omission of this bike is the seat tube meaning that when a shorter person uses the bicycle the seat post drops down into ring space. The other side effect of no seat tube is "how the heck do you mount the front derailer?". Maybe this was a problem that had been solved years ago with other bikes but what the Delia has is a mounting bracket holding the front derailer which is then sandwiched between the crank and the bottom bracket. It works well enough that I didn't notice a problem.

The top tube is an upside down triangle with rounded edges while the down tube starts as a triangle at the bottom bracket and incredibly becomes eight-sided as it moves up to the head tube. Again, maybe this is typical bicycle construction for 2012 but my thinking is "how'd they do that?" and more pragmatically "why'd they do that??". The mystery of bicycle design...

The colour is white, black and blue. My neighbour looked at the bike yesterday and commented that the blue reminded him of the Tron movie. Great.

I suppose the big question is regarding the ride and that will take a while for me to sort that out. In a way a bike is a combination of objective science and subjective passion. Of course I love the bike because it's new, different, cool, mine, not yours, etc, etc. But how it actually rides in regards to the rings is going to be a lot tougher to measure. I don't have the luxury of being able to use the scientific method with two identical spec'd bikes that differ only in the round and triangle frame design nor do I have a sensitive instrument to measure vibration other than my butt. I'll have to ride it for a while and come to some sort of an opinion on it. And that's really the rub when it comes to something as personal as bikes. How do you measure a good ride? So far it feels like a good bike but I'd be lying if I said that it is a revolutionary ride. At this point I just can't tell.

So, if you want one of these you will have to either see if your local bike shop is interested in bringing them in or contacting the people at Roundtail directly. Be aware that this bike only comes in one size so you'll want to talk to them about your sizing before you fork over your money.


mr.steevo 07-13-12 03:26 PM


Originally Posted by Cyclepup (Post 14473528)
It looks unique, that's for sure. How about locking it up to a bike rack, will a U-lock work through the back tire & frame? It just looks to me like that would be near impossible.

I suppose I would thread my U-Lock through the frame and the tire at the 11:00 position of the ring (or 1:00 if you're facing the bike on the other side). At this point I park it in my office at work and in the dining room at home. Take no chances!

giantcfr1 07-13-12 06:11 PM

The original Japanese design maybe?

mr.steevo 07-20-12 10:22 AM

I have had the bike for over a week and have only been using it for riding between work and home. I still feel that the bike rides like any other bike and there are no surprises when riding it. As for the roundtail's ability to absorb road vibration I have no way of accurately measuring it. What I do notice is that I am riding more often and that I don't feel as sore as I used to. It would be typical for me to ride for one day and take the next day off because it was uncomfortable to sit on my bike. With this roundtail I found that I am riding daily and not having nearly as much discomfort as before. I think the round shape is making riding less jarring without the added weight and complexity of suspension. Honestly, I am surprised.

fietsbob 07-20-12 11:39 AM

Patent offices files are Chock-a-block full of new innovative designs.

Some Fly some sink.

mass market is a conservative place ,
unless you are driving the market .. like the Component giants Do.

[frames were often able to be cottage shops. until China drove the
labor-costs down, and shipping by containers
made ocean transportation pretty cheap.]

the Ex racer often went into the Framebuilding Biz.

ekso 04-17-13 08:17 AM

I'm seriously interested in getting one... BUT! Do you know if I could fit a child seat on the rear wheel?

I've never used a child seat, but my kid is over 1 year old and I'm really looking forward to taking him for a ride.

erg79 04-17-13 09:36 AM

Highly doubtful. You could probably use a trailer, though.

ekso 11-20-13 09:28 PM

Just for the record, I got the bike and loved it! Have been using for the last 5 months and it's great!

I haven't even tried adding a child seat to the rear wheel, but a center-mounted seat worked perfectly, this one:

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