Goodbye Bleriot. Hello Long Haul Trucker.

The news has been the lists for a few days, and now Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bicycles has confirmed his plan to discontinue the Bleriot 650b frameset.

As you know, faithful readers, I had an excellent ride at PBP last year on my coupled and repainted Bleriot. It felt light, handled well, the wheels rolled wonderfully with 32mm Grand Bois tires, and I was comfortable the entire way. Grant explained his decision on the Rivendell Owners Bunch list.

My BleriotMy Bleriot

The Bleriot deal was too good to last long: a Rivendell production frameset, lugged, at an MSRP of $750. The problem was that internet dealers were selling them for less. That was the downside of marketing the bike through wholesaler Quality Bicycle Products, which made them available to any shop with a QBP account. I bought mine for less than MSRP so I probably contributed in my own small way to its demise. Grant says Riv will continue to have some frames in stock for awhile. Interestingly, of the traffic on TDR, the My PBP Bleriot post is the top viewed page, followed by my Kogswell P/R page.

In with the new: MG went ahead and bought the 54cm Surly Long Haul Trucker she was checking out on Sunday. It is a great deal though it has one tiny flaw, which I’ll discuss in a minute. She loves it so much more than her Novara Randonnee for commuting and riding around town.

MG on her new Long Haul TruckerMG on her new Long Haul Trucker

It’s a pretty sweet build with lots of silver: Shimano XT hubs and rear derailler, Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano 9-speed bar ends and 11-34 cogset, Sugino crankset with touring-friendly 110/74 b.c.d. pattern rings, and normal non-ergo handlebars. I did the math and I couldn’t part it up for any less than the $980 list price. I would switch out the Tektro Oryx brakes but that’s more an aesthetic thing. They work fine so far.

Prospective buyers should note that the 54cm size runs a size large; MG normally rides a 56cm or 57cm in Rivendell sizing, and found the 54cm LHT fits perfectly.

The only flaw we’ve found is that the seat tube, which is supposed to be 27.2mm, is a little oversized. The post kept slipping down. The shop tried a 27.4 today and it fit. MG is going to live with it for now.

UPDATE: MG corresponded with Surly as did her shop, City Bikes in D.C. about the seat tube, and Surly is sending a replacement frame. Well done, Surly.

The Post would not stay putA Post that would not stay put

We had to pull over to try to adjust it on the bike’s maiden voyage Tuesday, amidst all the racers flying up and down West Potomac Park because Hains Point was flooded at its southern end.

Momentarily dropped!Momentarily dropped

Ok, you’re probably saying, “what’s up with all the bikes?” MG really likes the whole LHT vibe and felt she should grab it before Surly drops it or raises the price due to the tanking dollar. She’s going to sell the Novara to keep the stable in check. Even though it’s not lugged, the LHT is a pretty cool bike and a great deal. If I had to recommend an affordable do-all bike for commuting, touring and brevets, it would be the LHT.


Thursday Commuteblogging: MG’s Bike Friday Tikit and Keen Cycling Sandals

Some of us just have more style on the bike. I make no claims. I ride Sidi shoes and Pearl Izumi shorts, just like everybody else, though I’ve settled on wool jersies over poly.

MG, on the other hand, long ago figured out how to find clothes that look great on and off the bike. She will find a pair of capri pants at REI on sale and they’ll work perfectly. She can also pull off the cool look on a folder, in this case her brand new Bike Friday Tikit folding bicycle.

MG on her New TikitMG on the Custis Trail

MG loves this bike because she can fold it up and roll it into her building, which does not allow full size bicycles into the offices. Rather than leave it locked in the parking garage, she puts it under her desk! While riding, it feels normal. That’s high praise for a folder with 16-inch wheels.

MG and Tikit at the World War II MemorialMG and Tikit at the World War II Memorial

MG is also happy with her new Keen cycling sandals. Unlike Shimano and Lake, they look and feel less bulky and still manage to include a stiff cycling sole and front toe protection. MG reports that she has yet to take them on a century, but around town they feel good.

Styling new Keen Cycling SandalsStyling new Keen Cycling Sandals

Keen sandal soleKeen sandal sole

I’ve put together a Flickr set of Tikit and Keen photos. See them Here or see the Slideshow.

My Rivendell Bleriot, MG\'s TikitMy Rivendell Bleriot, MG’s Tikit

Wednesday Commuteblogging: The Awakening, Gone

The randonneur commuter is always looking for extra miles here and there during the week, and MG and I are have put in countless laps on Hains Point, bordered by the Potomac River and Boundary Channel and home to flowering cherry trees in early April. It’s a playground where all of Washington comes together.

One of the highlights of the 3-mile lap around the point was The Awakening, the massive sculpture by J. Seward Johnson depicting a giant struggling to free himself from the earth. It was a magnet for kids, who loved to play on the massive feet, legs and hands.

Here’s Super D at The Awakening last summer, with MG’s Rivendell Quickbeam:

Super D at the AwakeningSuper D at The Awakening

Last week the privately owned sculpture was moved to the new National Harbor development down river in Prince George’s County. The Washington Post has a blog post Here.

Now we’re left with a blank space. That’s not all bad in Washington, where empty space attracts a memorial of some kind. But this was just pure sculpture for the sake of art, not to commemorate anything. We’ll miss it.

The Awakening, GoneThe Awakening, Gone (with my Rivendell Bleriot)

Velo Orange Randonneur price bump

As if I didn’t have enough bikes already, I’ve ordered a Velo Orange Randonneur frameset for delivery sometime late next year from VO in Annapolis. Unlike my wonderful Rivendell Rambouillet and Bleriot, the VO will be custom-sized to me and will have the geometry to handle a loaded front bag. It will accomodate wider tires, generator hub wiring, integrated racks and fenders, and powerful Paul caliper brakes.

I mention all this because VO owner Chris Kulczycki has announced a price increase of $200 effective Saturday. If you’ve considered a custom-sized bike designed specifically for randonneuring, his $1,650 price until then is a screaming deal. It is the about the same cost as a Waterford, with more rando-specific details, and more than $1,000 less than the ornate, custom Rivendell. Bicycle Quarterly recently issued a glowing review of the Randonneur’s handling and construction.

MG has ordered the VO Camper touring bike for herself. Even if you’re not in the market for a new frame, it’s definitely worth the time to check out the VO site or visit the VO showroom in Annapolis. Chris is working hard to offer more affordable bags, racks, and components for touring and randonneuring. VO bikes are not cheap, I admit, but the comfort of a properly fitted bike made for our kind of riding is worth every dime.

Bleriot S&S Packing

I rode my longer brevets, fleche and PBP this year on my S&S coupled 650b Rivendell Bleriot,  and thought it might be helpful to post photos of the packing process. See the photos on my Flickr set.

Bleriot S&S PackingBleriot S&S Packing

The value of an S&S frameset (or Bike Friday) is not just that you avoid punative airline fees, but also in the ease of travel overall. Moving a suitcase through an airport is a whole lot easier than a full size travel bike case, or a box. Fellow randonneur Alex Miller of Tennessee had a great idea. He uses two S&S cases. Pack half the bike in each case and fill in with clothes — it speeds up the packing and lets him say that neither case contains a bike, in the case of some airlines that charge you even if the bike fits within luggage size and weight limits.