Marinoni – The Fire In the Frame

 

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This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the documentary “Marinoni” and chatting with it’s writer and director Tony Girardin. Cycles Marinoni supplies us with Campy and other Italian bits for our customer builds but I also have a tiny personal connection to Giuseppe Marinoni. Growing up in Canada, Marinoni frames were a mainstay of the racing community. I always coveted a Marinoni and  when I moved to Montreal in the early nineties, I made the short trek up from my home in NDG in Montreal to his shop in Terrebonne to get sized up for a custom road and a custom track bike. It was a cold, fall weekday and it was quiet at his shop. I was greeted by his wife Simone who brought me back to Giuseppe who was busy brazing up 20 rear triangles for a production run. We waited for him to finish up before he came over and shook my hand. He was in good spirits as he took my measurements and my order details. He laughed as he did a double take on some of my measurements – apparently I have arms of a gorilla and given my thick sprinter’s build he insisted on a stouter downtube and chainstays. We chatted in mixed English and French about the activities of some of the Canadian racers, I put down my deposit and off I went home.  A few months later the bikes showed up. They both rode beautifully as only classic steel frames can. I raced a couple of years on the track bike somewhat competitively before hanging up my cleats. The track bike is still active after all these year and is now a street fixie ridden by my son.

Tony is taking the film on a west coast tour complete with a directors Q&A this month (September) then overseas to Japan, France and Spain so if you get a chance I highly recommend you catch it if it is screening at theatre near you. I don’t want to spoil the movie so I will spare the details but it is delightfully quirky and charming with some unexpected twists that captivated the audience whether their interest’s in all things on two wheels was non-existent and or bordered on the obsessive.

 

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Pave Prototype Update and a Super Clydesdale Journey on the PAVE

Work on the stainless steel prototypes have been moving along slowly. The bikes, the Pave and Velo Routier Stainless Steel have been out in the Pacific Northwest and are presently at  P.T. Cyclery  in Port Townsend, WA. where you can test ride them and give us some feedback. We will be building a second set of prototypes this fall.

David Toman, a self-declared “Super Clydesdale” gave us full report on his extended ride:

It has been three days now since I last swung my leg over Cycle Toussaint prototype bike the PAVE’. I still can feel the yearning of both myself and the bike to see what is beyond the next mountain. Where would this road or trail go? Can we do that downhill part again but even faster? I know to some it is hard to think of a bike having a soul but this one does. For me I was immediately connected to the Pave’ on my first trip. Granted I had some concerns about the rear wheel being only 24 spoke.
Alas I am getting a head of myself. Let me tell you how this all came about. A few weeks ago I was in Port Townsend, WA with my wife. Naturally I stopped into PT CYCLERY to chat with Bob the owner. I had bought a road bike from him because my commute/mountain bike just could not give me the need for speed that I was desiring. Well, along the wall stood this bike. At first it reminded me of bikes I had seen built in some ones garage with whatever they could find and use for parts. I myself had taken my Stingray, to us we called them Cheater Slick bikes and extended the forks to give it more of a chopper look. Needless to say we had some interesting accidents. Then I realized this was nothing like those bikes. It was funky yet in a very cool way. I loved the plates on the seat stay and forks. That and the fact it was stainless steel caught my attention. Bob let me take it for a quick spin. Those few minutes was all it took for me to realize there was more to this bike beyond just the cool look and white tires.
After returning the bike I later wrote to the guys at Toussaint and let them know what I thought. Soon after Bob texts me and offers to let me take it out for a real ride. I asked if he was joking because he could end up losing the bike. He was serious. So we made plans for me to pick it up when spring break starts. That way I had most of the week to put the bike through its paces. Let me tell you after 186 plus miles and almost 7000 feet of elevation gain I just touched the tip of what this bike is capable of doing. This with me a Super Clydesdale riding it! For those who don’t know there is basically three type of rider sizes. You have normal. Clydesdale which is anyone over 200lbs to about 250lbs. Then the Super Clydesdales who are over 250lbs and we break things a lot. I am at around 270lbs and my local bike shop can attest to the fact I am hard on rear wheels among other things.
Thus the reason I was tentative on my first ride. I soon realized I had nothing to worry about. This bike would take me where ever I wanted to go and still be up for more adventures. I did group rides hanging with the lead riders. Went up dirt roads in the mountains just to come screaming down paved roads hitting speeds of over 40 mph a couple of times. Took on head and side winds like they were a slight breeze kissing my cheek as others struggled to keep their bikes steady. When I needed more speed I got it instantly like a guy using his heels to urge his horse to go faster. Again this with 32mm knobby tires.

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I am not going to get into all of the technical things on this bike, but I can tell you from the stand point of a Super Clydesdale if you wanted just one bike to do it all for you this is it. Rather than buy several bikes for road, CX, gravel, touring or whatever all you need to do is buy tires. The stainless steel frame and carbon fiber handlebars helped to make the ride very comfortable. Having disc brakes was also a huge plus. Oh, did I mention the bike weighed around 22lbs?
One last thing. This goes out to Bob of PT CYCLERY. You mentioned that every bike/steed should have a name. Well I gave it some thought and came up with the perfect name, Barnabas Sackett. For those who know anything about the western writer Louis L’Amour you will recognize and understand why. If not let me quickly explain. In a series of books L’Amour wrote about the Sackett family. They were strong dependable people who you could always count on when the going got tough. They were also adventurers always wanting to find out what lies past the next mountain, what awaits beyond the next bend in the river. They also took no BS from anyone. So Barnabas Sackett is the perfect name for the bike. Just call it BS for short because it won’t take any.
Thanks again for allowing me the privilege of riding a great bike and one I know will always hold a place in my heart and soul.
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David will be riding the Pave prototype again September 24th is the Big Hurt competition in Port Angeles and the bikes will heading back home to Calgary.

 

 

My Velo Routier 1.0 Build

I purchased this frame almost a year ago direct from you guys and have been slowly accumulating parts. I finished the build a few months ago and have been riding it hard since. 

For the past few years I have been looking for the one bicycle that would satisfy 90% of the riding I do: commuting, long distance riding/randonneuring, gravel and forest service road riding. One day I happened to see your Velo Routier in an issue of Bicycle Quarterly. It finally clicked that this was my ticket to the low-trail world of Alex Singer and Rene Herse without spending my life savings. Sure enough, its a bomb proof adventure machine with a surprising amount of speed. 

I built it up with the stock Cycles Toussaint crankset (I love that there is no branding) and headset, added some Nitto and Velo Orange components, eBay Ultegra derailleurs, Gevenalle cyclocross frankenshifters, and of course Mafac “Raid” center pull brakes. The 50mm VO Snakeskin fenders were a squeeze, but I have had no issues with tire-fender clearance on a multitude of gravel and dirt surfaces. I do wish I could put larger fenders on the frame so I had more wrap-around (I guess that is called the 2.0). The wheels are Velocity Synergy (O/C rear) laced to a Shutter Precision front and Ultegra rear shod with Compass Babyshoe Pass 42mm tires.

For the quintessential rando bag I ordered a custom bag from Treetop Bags in Chicago, Illinois. These bags are not very well known and are very affordable, while still being hand-crafted. I wanted a rack that sat lower than the stock Cycles Toussaint rack so I could direct-mount the fender. I didn’t want to have a custom rack made and took a risk on the Compass CP1 center-pull rack after some not-so-precise on screen measurements. The rack stays ended up being only 3mm off and I was able to get the fit with a cheap tubing bender. The decaleur is made from a P-clamp, U-bolt, and paint stir stick inside the bag for lateral support. At $10 it’s a fraction of the cost of a production decaleur and just as sturdy and light. 

I wanted dynamo powered lights front and back. But, I am not a fan of the zip tie method for wiring stock frames, especially with a taillight. It looks tacky and unfinished. To “hide” the wire, I glued it to the inside of the rear fender with automotive grade black silicone. I then ran it through the chainstay bridge hole on the fender and secured the wire to the BB cable guide with a washer. Next, I ran the front derailleur cable and the tailight wire through some shrink tubing up along the down tube (I stole the idea, works great) and then in and out of the front fender to the headlight. For the dynamo wiring I fished the wire through the rack boss on top of the fork crown, down through the blade, and out the vent hole. Unless you are looking for it, the wiring is all but invisible! 

I attached some pictures as well. Thanks for the awesome ride! 

Cheers,

Jay 

Tacoma, Washington

Fenders and Tire Clearance

We’ve had some questions about fenders and tire clearance so thought we would write a quick blog post. There is an ongoing debate “out there” about the balance between safety, tire clearance and aesthetics. Lower clearance between the tire and the fender looks slick but the chance of a piece of debris lodging between the two increases. We have set up the Velo Routier with a the higher clearance but with an eye to good aesthetics. Our current bikes come equipped with 38mm Pacenti Pari Moto 650B tires under 46mm wide fenders. The clearance between fender and tire is approximately 10mm. The tires also have no problems fitting between the chain stays. We have had enquiries about fitting 42mm Grand Bois Hetre 650B tires. These tires will fit. We have tested a set on the Velo Routier on the country back roads of Alberta Rockies without problems. The clearance will only be about 5mm under the 46mm fender. A 50mm fender would probably be better for clearance but it would be a very tight fit on our bikes. See the attached photos. Please feel free to send us your pictures if you ride our bikes with 50mm fenders. As we finalize our 2015 design in the next couple of weeks, we are considering “squishing” the chainstay a touch more. The final decision will be based on practicality, ridability and safety. Enjoy the journey, Angus.

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My first weekend with a Velo Routier

I headed to Walla Walla, Washington in late April with my son. My son was competing in the Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race. This annual race presented by Allegro Cycle draws hundreds of riders from the U.S. Northwest and Canada. Walla Wall is located a few hours drive south west of Spokane. As one gets closer, the green rolling terrain appears to be stripped directly from a Microsoft Desktop Background.   After all of those years of staring at my PC, it now seems crazy not to think that the background was based on an actual location. All the towns in the Walla Walla area are wonderfully cared. The downtown Walla Walla core is alive with café’s, restaurants, boutiques as well as Whitman College. Apparently, there are over 100 vineyards in the surrounding area. Walla Walla like many US towns has big box stores that encircle the town. But, Walla Walla has not been hollowed out by their presence and have kept the downtown core vibrant.

I had never ridden a Velo Routier before this weekend or taken it out in public. It really seemed to be a conversation starter at the Tour stages and stand out in the crowd.  The Velo Routier always brought smiles to people’s faces. I received compliments across the spectrum. Even a few of the pro riders asked to check it out. The bike seems to have a timeless quality as folks would ask “Is it new?” and “Is it old?”. Watching the Time Trial (TT) start, the character and lines of the Velo Routier seemed juxtaposed against the robotic, heartless, singular tasked carbon TT bikes waiting in a line for their start times.

Riding the bike feels casual and comfortable. But don’t be fooled as this bike can get you smartly to your destination whether running errands or touring across secondary roads. It is a smooth ride on gravel, rough pavement and even the occasional bumpy field for a short cut.

My one complaint is that the bike always seemed to keep drawing me closer to any establishment that provided food and/or drink. Here are some great places to try if you are in the area:

  • Breakfast at the Maple Counter Cafe
  • French Macarons along with Assame Black Tea at the Walla Walla Bread Company
  • Paris-Brest Pastry at the Colville Street Patisserie. (Never before have my eyes closed and rolled into the back of my head on a first bite)
  • Dinner at the Whoopemup Hollow Café in Waitsburg, Washington

Safe Travels, Angus Cowan

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Bike to Work Month Down South 2014

I always thought of July as the best cycling month of the year. It’s finally summer here in Calgary when July arrives, people are commuting by bike and the Tour de France is on. Well, that has now been replaced by the month of May! So long July, it was nice knowing ya!


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I’m really enjoying getting to know the greater cycling community in and around Western Canada but also our friends south of the border. The month of May represents “National Bike Month” in the US and there are many great event celebrations happening. National Bike to Work Week is May 12th to the 16th. Here’s a little snippet from the www.bikeleague.org site:

More than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. “

To me, that’s pretty substantial! Going along with that:

With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 47 percent.”

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May 7th is Bike to School day.
For more details see

www.walklbiketoschool.org

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May 11th is CycloFemme day. Go and celebrate women’s cycling on Mother’s Day.
For more details see

http://cyclofemme.com

That is so exciting to see. So, if you are looking for a great way to celebrate your biking lifestyle and are looking to show your support for bicycling, please look for local events in your community. Explore, educate and have fun on your bike this month and every month.

Best,
Jason

Ride your Journey.

 

2014 Calgary Bike to Work Day!

Well, it was a very soggy and cold Bike to Work Day event held on May 2nd but that didn’t stop hundreds of bike commuters from braving the elements and having a great time.  Image

Lonny Balbi did a great job of pulling off yet another successful event and raising awareness, with a great dose of fun, to commuting to work. This group puts in a tremendous amount of effort in ensuring people have a great time and provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know the Calgary bike community at large.

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I love the fact that there are people like Lonny who are passionate about cycling who create awareness that there are alternatives to getting to work. Calgary is fortunate to have an incredible bicycle path system that creates the ability to get around our great city on two wheels.

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Laura,  the store manager from our good friends at Rogue Clothier and Cyclery was there to partake in the event and we always love to get out and support these efforts along side a great shop like theirs who are connected to the Calgary cycling community.

It was wonderful to see so many commuters brave the cold and wet weather to join Lonny and team for the 8th Annual Bike to Work Day celebrations.

Cycles Toussaint were very fortunate to have one of our Citie bikes given away by Calgary’s Breakfast Television in conjunction with the Bike to Work Day event. Good luck to the 57th entrant, you’re going to receive a bike that’s going to make your friends jealous this summer! Thanks Breakfast Television!

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I had a great time catching up with old friends from the bike community and saying “Hi” to new acquaintences who were very curious on our bikes and who we are.

Thanks Calgary and Lonny for a great event. Looking forward to next year!

Best,
Jason