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.







Stonehog Velo Routier Build Review

Brian has posted a detailed review of his Velo Routier frame build on his Cycle Settle Stonehog blog. Here is a picture from his site to pique your interest.


Stonehog Velo Routier 1

Note the tasty Rene Herse crank and Acorn Boxy Rando front bag. And the green grass and open water in the background. On a more than slightly jealous note, here at the Toussaint world HQ we have been hunkered down to temperatures in the  -20 C to 30C range for the last 3 weeks and some side roads with ice ruts, I kid you not, a foot deep. But we are catching a break, it supposed to warm up to  a relatively balmy +6C today. Time for a pond hockey break!






New Year Progress Report

procrastinationYes, Cycles Toussaint is alive and well. The business risk of blogging, aside from getting trolled is that if you don’t post regularly, people may start to wonder if you are out of business! So finally I have got off my donut padded duff to make the first post for 2014 (yes in February).

What’s new?

For 2014 we are standing pat with the Velo Routier and Citie models. We have plenty of 60cm frames and bicycle in stock but are starting running low on 51 and 54 cm bicycles. We won’t be re-ordering until this fall and are considering a deep “French” blue this time around.

We have new stock of microShift 10 speed bar ends shifters that have been selling well. We are looking at getting Velocity to make us our own 650b wheel set for spring.

Three new shops have been added our dealer list:

We are working on 2 new frames for early 2015 delivery … they will be Reynolds 931 Stainless, one will be a 650B rando frame with similar geometry as the Velo Routier and the other will be a 700C road frame with slack angles, relative low BB for a smooth, stable ride and clearance for fenders with wide-ish tires (32mm). More on them on future posts.

Local David vs. Global Goliath … Conclusion

Thanks goodness sanity has prevailed … from 

Dec. 12, 2013

I hope this is the last we can comment on the whole ordeal, but I am more than happy with how it has been resolved. Mike was genuine. There are no issues between our companies anymore.

We are going through all of our online and phone orders, doing the best we can to process everybody’s generosity, love, and support. Obviously, we have benefited greatly from the attention and we are very grateful for your support! Over the next few days and weeks, I want to go back to my regular Facebook & Twitter traffic of sharing great photos from other people’s and companies’ posts, talking cycling, and maybe a little bit of goofy fun too. Yes, we will occasionally show you what we are up to and what’s new in the Foundry of Awesome – Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio!

Dec.11 , 2013


Mike Sinyard of Specialized came up for breakfast and to talk and apologize in person. Mike was truly sorry for the way things worked out, and wanted to resolve the issue face to face. All has been resolved.

Thank you to the cycling world for your support! 

Local David vs. Global Goliath

File:071A.David Slays Goliath.jpg

Dan Richter, owner of tiny Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio in Cochrane, AB and Canadian veteran of the Afghanistan war who operates a tiny bicycle shop in Cochrane is being threatened with a lawsuit by Specialized for the use of name Roubaix which they hold under Canadian trademark law (who knew!).

Read more here:

Ugh … Talk about overkill. Is anyone actually going to confuse Cafe Roubaix with the Speciallized branded anything? All Specialized had to do was to offer to license use of the name Roubaix to Dan for a $1 if they wanted to make a point. I’m a proud owner of ’93 Stumpjumper but I am going to think twice now about ever buying a Specialized product again.

Guest Post | Another Velo Routier Review

Jim's  60cm Velo Routier Build  Vancouver BC - 2

My journey to the Cycles Toussaint Velo Routier started with an impulsive act in October 2011. During Bike to Work Week Vancouver I ended up at an information session for The Ride to Conquer Cancer. Somehow I said to myself “I can do that” and signed up.
What was I thinking! I was moved by the stories I heard but up until then my idea of “cycling” meant going out on a sunny afternoon and tearing around town for a couple of hours. I spent the following winter living in terror that I wouldn’t raise enough money or get in good enough shape to complete the 120km/day, two day ride, embarrassing myself before all the people I hit on for donations. I rode religiously, read books on training and by December realized the vintage Italian race bikes I was riding were not the right type of bike for this ride.

Consequently I picked up a modern sport touring frame (Soma ES) and set it up with a triple crank with lots of low gearing, fenders and big fat 28mm tires. The day of the ride came and I had a ball. Lots of riders on fancy carbon bikes with skinny tires passed me but eventually I passed many of them on the side of the road fixing flats. It also rained for most of the first day and a half so I was grateful for the fenders. This led to more 120+km rides over the summer and a newly discovered love of distance cycling but also to an increasing feeling that this bike was just too much “touring” and not enough “sport”.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer terminated in Seattle and the following day I had visited Elliott Bay Cycles near Pike Market. The place is a museum of vintage bikes and in the store was this slightly odd looking custom bike with a $7,000 price tag. Bob Freeman, the owner explained “that’s a 650B wheeled bike, they have quite a following here in the Northwest”. This sparked my curiosity and I started researching what these bikes were about. From what I could find out, they offer the smoothness and comfort of a wider tire with less mass and greater speed than 700c wheeled bikes.

Well I’m not in the league to pony up $7,000 on a type of bike I’ve never ridden but I also discovered lots of people were taking regular frames and converting them to 650B wheels. As a result I spent the winter repainting a frame and building my own 650B conversion.
My goal was to get the bike completed in time for the Tour de Victoria where I was signed up for the 100km leg. I built the wheels and installed Dai Compe 750 center pull brakes. The long-reach brakes were necessary to reach the braking surfaces on the smaller 650B rims. Three hundred kilometers of test riding in flat, dry Delta where I live gave me the false impression I was ready.

The day of the ride dawned cold and damp and I knew the moment I rode up to the start line that my brakes were not handling the wet that well. No problem I said to myself, “I would take it easy, this is a ride not a race.” The first challenge was a long, steep climb up Munn Road. On the way to the top it began to rain in earnest. I reached the top OK but was not expecting the steep and narrow descent that followed. Within 200 meters I was fighting to control the bike and picking up speed. A third of the way down at about 50km per hour my wheels locked up throwing me to the ground. The next thing I knew I was looking at the sky trying to breathe. Medical support arrived quickly and I was transported to hospital where I spent a week with a broken collar bone, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

Lying around rehabbing gives you lots of time to think and I was already planning a safer 650B bike. I had checked out the Velo Routier the winter before and decided I liked the fact it was a Canadian company but most of all I liked the braze-on brake mounts. I had never cared for cantilever brakes and thought they looked out of place on a road bike. I ordered the bike and it was delivered within a week. During that week I picked up a new Ultegra 10 speed compact group on Craigslist and ordered online a set of matching hubs, Dura Ace 10-speed bar end shifters and Cane Creek SCR-5 Brake Levers. Most of the rest of the components would move over from the conversion. These included a Nitto Technomic 80mm Quill Stem and Nitto Rando Bars, Velocity Synergy Rims with an OC rear, Velo Orange Hammered Fenders, Brooks Pro Saddle and Soma Crane Brass Bell. Most ironic is the fact that the same brake calipers that landed me in the hospital, minus their wobbly center pieces, bolted straight onto the braze-ons on the Velo Routier. Finding nice, “look alike” 6mm chrome hex bolts to attach the calipers led me to an online motorcycle supply outfit in North Carolina, (great service, inexpensive and fast shipping!).
When the frame arrived I excitedly set about rust proofing it but when I assembled the headset I discovered that I had been sent a mis-matched frame and fork. The frame was 60cm and the fork for a 57cm bike. An email to Evan at Cycles Toussaint quickly remedied the situation and within a week I received a fork for the 60cm frame and a 57cm frame. This was a blessing in disguise as I had agonized over what size to order. I normally ride a bigger frame than my height might suggest but I was just not sure about a frame with low trail geometry. I built out the 60cm frame first and it turned out to be just right for me. The second frame will be sold off for charity.

The build was remarkably easy! The fenders which had been a real chore fitting to the non-650B frame went on to the Velo Routier like soft butter on hot toast. The matching rack from Velo Routier is a very attractive addition and went on like it was made for the frame (it was). The only unexpected issues were the stack height for the headset was a bit long even after adding a center-pull quick release hanger and the brake set I had chosen did not allow for releasing the rear brakes to clear the wider tires. The stack height was remedied by a quick visit to my LBS for an additional headset spacer and the rear brake clearance corrected by a couple of inexpensive Jagwire in-line adjusters.

As I am still rehabbing from my crash I have only had a couple of short runs to date but the ride is dreamy and fast. The brake power and modulation is excellent. I’m running 38mm Panaracer Col de la Vie 650B tires which are comfy and quick but would love to see how the bike handles with a set of Grand Bois Hetres. I am a born-again convert to 650B bikes and recommend them to anyone but if you are thinking of building a conversion, I say be very careful!

Jim Sutton
Tsawwassen British Columbia Canada

Festeggiamo ! L’Eroica

Evan L'Eroica 1975 CCM Tour Du Canada DSC_0353

This Sunday, October 6 will be the 17th Edition of L’Eroica ( the “Heroic”), held in Gaiole, Chianti Italy. I wish I could be there this year but I had the great fortune to participate in 2011 where I was recognized in article by VeloNews stringer. It is an absolutely amazing celebration of all things Italian, cycling and much more; a must do “once in your life” event . Several of you have asked me to write a bit more of my experience there and any advise I could share, so here it goes.  

The event runs over two days. Saturday is registration, cultural events and a bike jumble. The actual ride is Sunday and is capped at 5000 participants. Exceptions the day before the race at registration building can made granted by the organizers if you have a beautiful story, told in person, as my friend Fred can attest to 🙂  It is a lottery to get in now. 2013 is full up so don’t miss the signup for 2014.  For the 2013 edition of L’Eroica there were spots for:

  • 1500 Italian males born between January 1, 1954 and December 31, 1997 (under 60) are selected through a lottery.
  • 1000 foreigners under 60 years of age are selected through a lottery enter the draw by registering online on the website beginning January 21 to March 3.
  • Italians or foreigners males born before 31 December 1953 (over 60) and women regardless of age and number, are unlimited and can register online February 1 to June 20.
The Ride
There are two majors courses, 35/75km and 135/205km. I road the 135km course and can’t comment on the 35/75km course directly as while they start/finish in Gaola, they run on different roads.
The L’Eroica started as an event to preserve and celebrate Italian cycling traditions. Italy was once criss-crossed with white gravel road, the strade bianche or sterrati  but they are disappearing with modernization and are being rapidly paved over. In Chianti the remaining sections are now protected as heritage sites and the course are a mix of paved highway and strade bianche. The general consensus from finishers is that the 135/205 km ride as a combination of distance, heat, descents on gravel,  extreme grades of the climbs made the experience was much harder than most expected. There are some great photos here of roads. At about the 55 km mark the route splits into the 135 and 205 km loops. I noticed a LOT of Italians stopping, discussing and then choosing the 135 km.  Very few went the long route. Fred and I decided they knew something we did not and that discretion would the better part of valour. We also took the 135 km route. We were able to enjoy the wonderful food and drink at the rest stops leisurely instead of filling our pockets and rushing off. We got to finish in time to take in the festivities still in full swing mid-afternoon in town. After dinner we saw all but the fastest and fittest 205 km riders straggle in through the dark, early evening. Some were clearly suffering and were being met not by streets lined with cheering supporters but by people packing and leaving.  We knew we had made  right choice in hindsight. I’m still tempted to ride the 205 km but if I do I will make sure I get to town by 4 AM for an early start so I can be in by 4 PM to take it all in!

L'Eroica 2011

Evan LEroica 2011-10

Your Bicycle
The organizers, while they did not seem to care about the mechanical
fitness of the bikes, were trying their best to keep the riders on
“vintage” bikes pre 1987 senza clipless pedals, indexed shifting and with
exposed cables runs. Technically your bicycle must be pre-1987 but I spotted some modern replicas as well there were a few local bandit riders early in the day on
modern MTBs and road bikes but they seemed to disappear as the day
There is a lot of sections are REALLY steep so you can’t bring too low gearing. While I chatted to a Brit who rode/walked a fixed gear track bike with no brakes (!) and saw a fair number of straight blocks, I rode with 42X32 low gear with a Campy Rally that I put on my bike for the event. I was really glad that I did as I used my lowest gear a lot and finished the ride pleasantly tired and not thrashed as I witnessed with some of the riders who came in later.  A 30X32 would have been even better for my battered knees though.
 Evan LEroica 1975 CCM Tour Du Canada DSC_0329
What goes up goes down very quickly in Chianti and the downhill sections can REALLY be challenging on vintage brakes and tires. I witnessed a few near misses and there were several crashes as riders with dry old brake pads and squishy calipers lost control on narrow, soft gravel sections crowded with other riders. I put new modern pads on my Universal 68’s which improved the braking from terrible to merely crappy. My arms got quite sore at spots trying to slow my bulk to take the series of hairpins on rutted gravel at 15% grade while shoulder to shoulder with other riders trying to do the same. Next time I going to fit some good centre-pulls like Mafac or Weinmann with modern pads. As well the strade bianche was quite rutted and washboarded in sections so for comfort and control slack geometry is be recommended.
There were a lot of flat tires, dozen if not hundreds, most of them tubular tires from what  I could see that were either too light for the gravel or old and rotted out (some of the bikes looked liked they had just been fished out of grand-pappa Coppi’s attic on the morning of race). Some of the experience riders squeezed on cyclo-cross tubulars to great effect and some of the veteran Italian riders I chatted in broken English with rode fat 29-30mm tubulars of mysterious origin.  I used 32mm Grand Bois clincher tires which worked great; I think 25mm would be the absolute minimum width. The next time I will ride on a nice fat set of 38-42mm wide 650B tires! Inspect your spokes for nicks and cracks, those roads are tough on old, fatigued spokes and most of us do not have the svelte physique we
used have and are packing an extra 5, 10 or 50 pounds to punish our poor wheels on pot-holed gravel.Good lights are a must and they need to last for 2-3 hours. There is at least an hour riding in the dark in the morning and about an 1-2 hours in the evening if you do the 205km loop. The first 10-12% downhill at Brolio is packed with nervous riders, very sketchy and hard to judge in the early morning light!

You should bring spares and tools. I did not see any support on the road except for groups that had a team car (amazing vintage Fiat Cinquecento, 600 Multiplas and 2CV’s as well the modern rentals) as the road are open to traffic in most parts.

The Day Before (Saturday)

Make sure you get to Gaiole the day before to register and take it all in. The town is humming with activities and there is great bike jumble with all kinds of vendors selling and trading parts, clothing and memorabilia. You can get your bike officially photographed Saturday at the town hall for their archives.

Ride Day 

If you are going on the long loop, get to the start early at least 5:00 AM to miss the big crowds.  It took us at least half an hour to find the start in the dark and minimal signage, signed in and out on the course.

You do not need to carry much food if any as there is pastries, fresh fruit, vino, stew and bread in abundance at the rest stops. Make sure you stay hydrated and have two bottles for the mid-portion stretch before Monte Sante Marie which was blazingly hot in the afternoon for us with no shade and no water stops for what felt like an eternity.  There several DNF’s lying under trees in the early afternoon suffering from too much food, vino and heat prostration.

There is very limited/no support if you have a mechanical and be warned that timely medical support may be not be available if you crash. 

The town is one big festival all day Sunday with many of the 35 km riders dressed to the nine in turn of the century costumes parading and hamming up for photos. Celebrities were spotted in town with Moser, Saronni and other Italian luminaries presiding over ceremonies and ribbon cuttings while the rest of us were grinding up and down the hills.

Riding the strade bianche gave me a tiny insight into how hard the men who raced the post war Giro d’Italias were, pounding on those roads day after day, battling the giants of the day Coppi, Bartali, Maginni …