Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wanna Help Build the Randonneuring Bicycle of my Dreams?

Wanna help build a rando bicycle? Got ideas for mine?

I'm about to start working with Portland constructeur Tony Pereira to build up my randonneuring-dedicated bicycle. One part of me feels this is extravagant, and the other part figures that since the last time I bought a bicycle for myself was almost 35 years ago, I should just go for it. Guess which part won?

Yep, I spoke with Tony, and it's time to submit fit measurements and start thinking about what I want.

What I want? Well, I'm been making my list, so check out what I've been thinking and then chime in.

What kind of lighting?
What kind of front bag?
What would you do?

Here's the list I've been compiling:

  • 650B wheels

  • Grand Bois Hetre 42mm tires

  • What Rims? (I have a set of Rigida Sphynx rims. Any good for Hetres?)

  • Honjo 58mm Fenders 

  • Low trail geometry

  • Internal Brake Cables

  • Custom front rack

  • Tony's custom front derailleur lever (sans cable) or friction-shifting downtube shifter?

  • Downtube mounted friction shifter for rear derailleur

  • 6 - 7 seven rear cogs

  • Chain Rest

  • Double or Triple chainrings

  • TA Pro 5 vis Cranks

  • Paul Racer Brakes

  • Three Water Bottle Braze-ons

  • Level Top Tube

  • Lugged

  • SON 20R Generator Hub (w/delux SL dropouts for wireless connection?)

  • Rear Hub?

  • Schmidt Edulux Headlight (mounted low on the left fork or rack?)

  • Mount for additional battery headlight?

  • Tailights: Generator or Battery?

  • Rear dropout spacing?

  • Bottom bracket? Ideas?

  • Headset? Ideas?

  • Other touches?

I'll be chronicling the the frame construction and build up here over the next several months. For now I'd really appreciate any and all ideas, opinions, or arguments you'd like to make for this or that way of approaching it.

I'd be grateful for any comments, and your shared wisdom would be helpful to anyone who reads it. Thanks in advance!!

The photo at the top is Jon Muellner's Pereira. It was his bike that first got me thinking about Tony Pereira as a possible builder for my ride. Thanks for your help, Jon.

UPDATE: The previous picture I had at the top was actually Tony Pereira's own bicycle. The one you see above is Jon Muellner's. Thanks, Jon!

Keep it building,



  1. This is some advice that I got from experienced riders on the list and applied to my ranonneur:

    -30mm trail for not more than 5 or so pounds in the front bag gives the best handling and hands-free riding.

    - internal brake cables could let water in

    - big difference between 6 and 7 cogs in terms of overall comfort - probably not the best way to put it, but I can say, having done both, that I was very glad to get that 7 th gear.

    - rear hub - Phil Wood, either the standard one or the Riv one which is "pre-dished" so to speak.

    - if you're going for wide-range gearing avoid the mega-range type since that extra low gear proves itself useful many times over.

    - personally, I really prefer the IRD freewheels to Shimano - very quiet.

    - tailight from generator. you can always clip a blinkie on somewhere.

    - assuming your Racers will be braze-on?

    - rear dropout spacing depends on the tubing in that the tubing determines the purpose of the bike. If you're using 747 top and down tubes, it won't be a camping bike so 130 seems more appropriate. Just a thought, but maybe it doesn't really matter. If you want really low gearing, say 13-32, you can use an XT or XTR ish derailleur on either spacing.

    -bb can be a simple ID sealed bearing item with the lighter stainless spindle, unless it's important to be able to say I have an SKS bb :-)

    - headset type is in one of two camps - needle bearing or cartridge/ball bearing. Silver Stronglight A9 can be gotten inexpensively at Just email them for the shipped price.

    - if Tony will go for it consider having no decals except a headbadge of some sort. a very nice understaded touch.

    Have fun. I look forward to seeing the results

  2. Can you back up and say more about what, to you, a "randonneuring bike" IS? Are you building a bike to use solely on brevets? Brevets plus light touring? Brevets plus fast-ish club rides? Brevets plus commuting?

  3. Congrads on the new adventure of bike building/buying!

  4. If it were me and it isn't, I would go with a compact crank, double 48:34, and a wide range 9 speed cassette 11:34. I would avoid the limitations of a freewheel hub and stick with cassette hubs. Not that classic but works really well, less stuff and you still get low gears. Triples are good but I find on a road bike I do not need the small chainring when I run a 32 or 34 in back. If the gigundo 11:34 isn't your bag visually then 12:27 or Campy now has 12:29 I think with a triple could be good. With a 12 small in back I would want a 50 tooth large chainring as you run out of gears downhill with a 48/12. YMMV

  5. Thanks to all for quick feedback!

    Good question on purpose of bike. It is for brevets and training for brevets. I'll convert my Fuji back to fixie and commute with it. I won't be doing "fast-ish" club rides since I'm not so "fast-ish", but I would do light touring. Main purpose is for brevets, hoping to get me to Paris!

    Thought about going the way Jon Muellner did with easy-off low rider rack for camping, but most likely I'll not go that way.

    I've only ever ridden friction shifting, and largest number of rear cogs has been six.

  6. My $0.02:

    - The front derailleur levers that Tony builds are cool, but I'd go with the downtube shifter. The sight of just a lone downtube shifter for the rear just looks a Hard to describe.

    - Ditto on the cassette hub. Simple, ubiquitous, and easy to swap cogs to perfect the range you're looking for. I just modified one of my cassettes last weekend to give me a little greater overall range.

    Are you going threaded or threadless on the stem? People have pretty strong opinions on both types, but I think it's really more of personal preference.

    I'm going to want to see this beauty when you get your hands on it!!


  7. Careful with a low fork mounted Edelux
    What for navigation?

  8. How exciting to be planning a new custom!

    The photo is actually Tony's 650b from the NAHMBS in 2007. Mine is here: and here

    I love internal cable routing, makes the frame look cleaner to me. Went with 9sp cassette to make replacements in places easier. Indexed DA downtube shifters work very well. May change to a triple, the double is not quite right for my needs.

    Light mounted to rack on right, plus additional mount on left for backup. I will be switching to an Edelux LED sometime.

    Tony was very gracious in making the logo very subtle on the juniper green I choose and it looks fantastic. He's great to work with and I can't wait to see what you come up with. Email me if you have any questions.

  9. I have a 9 spd triple 26/39/49 x 11-28, have come to depend on the variety of gears and would want to try out other combinations if I was going to make a change. For rando rides with a light load, long distances and long hours I think more gear combinations would be better than fewer. That being said, a triple with 9 gears needs more attention than an 8 or 7 spd. A compact crank is gearing for road racing. I would look at the Sugino triple ($110) sold by Rivendell or Velo Orange which is more suited for the type of riding you will be doing.

    I had trouble reaching the downtube shifters and went with dura ace bar ends mounted on Paul's thumbies which more closely matched the mtn bike I was used to. More comfortable to have the shifter closer to your hands.

    Everyone I know who has gone w/a generator hub has loved it. It makes lighting set-up much easier and better.

    As far as brakes go I would go with the Rivendell Silvers which are gorgeous, fit large fenders and come w/koolstop pads. The Paul's look may not fit with such a beautiful bike.

    Post the photos when it is done. I can't wait to see it.