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.

Evan

 

 

 

 

 

Never mind the bling, I’m a working bike

So I pull up to a stoplight, and there’s a rider on a $9 000 carbon road bike admiring his reflection in a shop window. He sees me pull up and does a double take but says nothing – just fixes his gaze forward. Whatever, I’m used to it.

My name is Jacques and I’m a Cycles Toussaint Velo Routier. I understand everyone’s confusion. My brothers and sisters and I all have the looks to be café poseurs – gumwall tires, cream paint, retro drop bars, polished stainless racks front and rear. But, my gumwalls are covered in road grime, my rear rack has a mixed luggage set of a laptop bag and an ancient serratus pannier full of office clothes. My front rack has a $10 Rona tool bag bungeed to it (this was added when Mike, my rider, realized I like to have my load balanced front to rear so tools, raingear, tubes and lock now ride up front).

See, while I have the looks, in fact, I’m a working bike. Sure, I’d like to go on epic rides through rolling green fields of Provence, Tuscany, or anyplace that is evocative of Provence or Tuscany. I’d like to climb the Alps, Rockies, or Green Mountains. But, for now, I cruise the mean streets and bike paths of the Toronto as a commuter.

Sorry of this seems immodest, but I’m pretty good at it. My frame and racks can carry the gear, my fenders keep rider and stuff clean when it rains. A compliant frame and big cushy tires soak up the cracked pavement. In many ways, I have more in common with the slick shod mountain bikes with whom I share the paths than the carbon road bikes and hipster fixies (note – nothing wrong with either, I’d share a garage with any bike). What I have over the mountain bikes is legs – I’m leaner, lower, smoother. While my heavier frame and tires means I can’t accelerate like those fancy road bikes, I give up little or nothing in terms of rolling resistance and aerodynamics. So, when there’s a clear path ahead, I can stretch out and pick up a gear or two.

Speaking of gears, one thing my rider did that hurt the show but helped with the go was to install a set of Microshift integrated shifter/levers. I know, not retro and the black hoods meant the crème bar tape had to go. But, dodging potholes, cars, pedestrians and slower bikes in the city, keeping hands on the bars while shifting matters. They work well and I overhead Mike telling another rider they shift almost as smoothly as the Ultegra STI levers he had on his old race bike.

Smooth matters. You can read about the theory that a more comfortable (bigger, less inflation pressure) tire saves the rider energy on bumpy surfaces. There is something to that. But, there’s also something psychological. Let’s face it, much as we hate to admit it, bikes make little difference – it is all about how much energy the rider can / chooses to expend. And, I’ve noticed that when things are smooth (tires inflated just right, clean chain, rolling along like some great flywheel), my rider puts in a little more effort. It is subtle, but, KM after KM, it adds up.

See, in addition to hauling the gear through frost heaved streets and distracted drivers, my job is to make it a joy to ride. The better it feels, the more my rider will make time to ride, the harder he will push, and the stronger he will get. Then, maybe, just maybe, he’ll take me on that vacation to Tuscany, or Provence, or someplace like that.

My name is Jacques. I’m a working bike, but I have dreams too.

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

IMG_20140419_082235IMG_20140420_095639IMG_20140420_162303IMG_20140420_164711On Campus @ Whitman College

 

 

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 Alberta Bicycle Swap, May 3rd

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It’s been a busy week in Calgary for cycling. Yesterday I was invited to the Bike to Work Day event, which had great attendance for such a soggy Calgary spring day. Today, I dropped by our new friends at the Alberta Bike Swap to checkout the hundreds of new and used bikes and volunteers who put on yet another great local Calgary event to support the Calgary cycling community at large.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Laura and Chris Grant, the brainchild’s behind the annual Alberta Bike Swap event. This is a hugely logistical event that enables those who have a bike that they wish to sell or donate in an ethical and supportive environment. Alberta Bike Swap donate 50% of the revenue back to charitable efforts in Calgary. I love meeting people like Laura and Chris who give back to the community in a way that provides so much value and provides the building blocks for a stronger local cycling community. We are fortunate to have people like them giving back to the community.

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As always, Laura was “flying the flag” from our good friends at Rogue Clothier and Cyclery, trying to stay warm in yet another soggy Calgary spring day.

This was the 4 annual Alberta Bike Swap and from us at Cycles Toussaint, we wish them great and continued success at giving new and used bikes new homes!

Best,

Jason

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

 

2014 Calgary Bike to Work Day

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I was recently invited to Calgary’s Breakfast Television to take part in the Bike to Work Day campaign. Lonny Balbi, event organizer for the Bike to Work Day event, has done a great job of creating awareness and an environment for a fun and safe commute for the past 8 years. The event takes place on May 2nd.

I had a great time with the BT crew and other local bike shop people, especially the great folks at Rogue, who supplied me with some new hip cycling swag to model! It’s exciting being involved in the Calgary cycling community and to provide the support and awareness these events and shops deserve. I’ll be out on my bike with the rest of the Calgary commuters May 2nd.

Here are a few links for your browsing pleasure.

Breakfast Television spot: http://www.btcalgary.ca/videos/3503752119001/

Bike to Work Day: http://www.bikecalgary.ca/index.php

Rogue: http://rogueslife.com

Ride your Journey,
Jason

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 https://www.facebook.com/CafeRoubaix 

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

Everybody,

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! 
Cheers,
Dan