Bicycle Quarterly Review of the Velo Routier Frame

Bicycle Quarterly Autumn 2014 toussaint_profile

Our Velo Routier frame was recently reviewed in the Bicycle Quarterly’s Autumn 2014 Vol. 13 No.1 issue . The test bicycle was generously provided by our Seattle dealer Free Range Cycles.

I am a subscriber and avid reader of BQ. Jan Heine’s product reviews are not shallow puff pieces but thorough, detailed and thoughtful reports of the good, bad and ugly. There was some trepidation on our part to hear that our frame was to be reviewed and subsequent relief that the review was very positive in general, but you will have buy an issue to get the whole story 🙂

There are a couple of points that came up in the review I would like to add to. Jan noted that our frame was very similar to the first generation Kogswell Porteur/Randonneur. I was aware of the Kogswell bicycle story up here in the Great White North but we did not know any of the details of the bicycle design except snippets gleamed from the internet. Our initial prototypes were designed from several vintage low-trail 650B bicycles and 650B conversion bicycles that I either owned or had access to and from information from various sources including Jan’s highly informative articles in BQ.

Jan noted a few details such rack tabs that were pressed and that front rack sat high on the front wheel. We were trying to create a introductory product that filled the entry level randonneur bicycle niche and as such we made design decisions on construction details such as pressed tabs to keep prices down. As for the high rack, we are working on improvements for the future and are certainly taking that observation into consideration.

Our down tube was deliberately specified with a stouter diameter and wall thickness on our 57cm and 60cm frames. We debated whether we should go lighter but decided to play it safe out of concern for high speed shimmy. The 51 and 54 cm frames have a lighter 0.8-0.5.-0.8 28.6mm diameter downtube and the 54cm moderately planes in my experience. I am a big supporter the concept of planing and designing a low volume production frame with this in mind is still a work in progress.







7 thoughts on “Bicycle Quarterly Review of the Velo Routier Frame

  1. Thanks for considering the criticism. Jan is trying to help make it better! A lower rack allows for fender attachment and lowers the center of gravity. thinner tubing would be appropriate on the 57cm frame but the 60 might work well as is except perhaps for a thinner top tube. I prefer a 57 but i might try the 60 because of this. I especially like the center pull pivots way more than cantis! Would u be able to sell the forks separately?

    • Radriver: Totally respect Jan’s advice and I agree that lower is better. It is a long story, but the high rack end up as a compromise as we had long-distance communication and design issues with the rack manufacturer and ran out of time against our shipping deadlines. Unfortunately we don’t have any forks at this time to sell separately. We have had a quite a few inquiries recently about 1″ threaded forks for conversion so we will consider have extras made up for our next frame run.

      Ernest: Changes will be minor (colour, fender attachment point, front rack to crown attachment) but delivery of our 2015 run is still up in the air as our manufacturer has bumped us down the priority list and have not made us a firm delivery commitment as our order quantity is so small. I am running Raids on my personal VR frame so the new Compass brakes should work perfectly. Based on your inseam and height, our 57cm frame might a bit small overall but I think the 60cm will have too long of a top tube. Hard to advise on fit over the internet 🙂

  2. I’ve been considering this frame for some time and wondered if you are planning any changes for 2015. I’d hate to order one now and miss out on any updates. Jan spoke about the brakes not being so great, but I just received a newsletter about the their new Compass centerpull brakes. They are based on Mafac Raids and I hoping they would fit the Velo Routier. He also has a nice rack in the mix. I am 5’11” tall with a 35″ inseam and fit 58cm c-c frames and wondered which size you’d recommend. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Ernie

  3. I ended up modding my front constructeur rack in order to mount it to the fender. I cut off the crown struts and then used a $10 tubing bender to reshape the fork struts. I’m a little concerned about putting too much weight on it now, but it seems solid enough for my front bag which is also partially supported by the handlebars.

    If you redesign it and happen to get rid of the fork crown struts, I’d like to suggest that you keep the frame’s fork crown bolt bosses. I like to use a spare fender strut clip there as a tail light wire guide. If I used a computer, I’d probably run the cable through another clip on the other side.

  4. Thanks for taking a shot at an affordable 650b frame with mounts for center pulls. I thought the review was great and am interested in purchasing a frame. Only have one concern.

    The BQ review mentions that spacing for 42mm tires with fenders looked like it might be too tight, especially at the chainstays. Can your frame safely take something like a 42mm Hetre + 58mm Honjo or 50mm Berthoud?


  5. Thanks for taking a shot at an affordable 650b frameset. I thought the BQ review was great and makes me interested in ordering one. The review brings up one concern, though.

    It review says it looks like it might be too tight to safely fit a 42mm tire and fender, especially at the chainstay bridge. Is this the case? Or is it possible to safely fit a 42mm Hetre tire plus a 58mm Honjo or 50mm Berthoud fender?


    • I think the 58mm Honjo is too wide to fit. We have run a 42mm Hetre with a 50mm wide fender and it is tight around the rear chainstays. Our stock bicycles run 38mm Pacenti ries with 46mm fenders with clearance well over 15mm.

      Safety is a concern with fenders especially around front fender clearance. Jan Heine has a good article on fenders and as well speaks to fenders safety in Bicycle Quarterly Vol.13 No.1. I have run Hertes on my personal build which follow the fender line beautifully but after reading Jan’s article on fender safety have decided to go back to slightly narrow Pacenti tires which don’t look nearly as nice but have more clearance.

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