Stainless Steel Vélo Routier Prototype

We have been riding our second stainless prototype around Calgary for the last 2 months and were supposed to report back on it weeks ago but summer has been really nice here for a change and well, you know how it goes…

The protoype is a 650B frame based on the same low trail geometry as our cro-mo 650B Velo Routier frame. .Like the Pavé Prototype, it is made from Carpenter stainless steel with a twin plate crown fork, disc brakes and 1-1/8″ Aheadset.

 

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We stuck to the tried and true Velo Routier V1 geometry and made a few improvements to increase fender/tire clearance.

Top Tube 31.8mm Dia 0.7/.04/0.7
Seat Tube 31.8mm Dia 0.7/0.4/0.7
Down Tube 38.1mm Dia 0.8/05/0.8
Top Tube Length 550mm
Seat Tube Length 540mm

Chainstay length 430mm
Bottom Bracket Drop 64mm
Wheelbase 1028mm
Head Tube Angle 73 deg
Seat Tube Angle 73 deg
Trail 30mm
Rear Axle Width 135mm

It has clearances to accommodate 54-55mm wide fenders and braze-on fixtures to attach fenders and racks to. We fit up our prototype with 52mm Velo Orange Zeppelin fenders. A rfear fender attachment to the underside of the seat stay bridge was spec’d but missed on the fabrication of the prototype.

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We deigned an all stainless steel with a twin plate fork crown similar to the Pavé. Unfortunately, the prototype is also missing the top of the crown fittings.

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Bare frame weight is 1998 grams vs. 2177 grams for medium cro-mo VR 54 cm frame and the bare fork weight is 926 vs. 958 grams. Even accounting for the extra weigh of the disc brake fittings, it not a huge weight saving for you weight weenies but we think the ride is super smooth and frame is bomb proof ! With a bit of refinement, we think we might be able to shave another 50-70 grams off but not the at expense of durability.

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The Pavé protoype is at Free Range Cycles in Seattle for the next couple of months and the stainless steel VR prototype should there in 2-3 weeks. If you are in the area, drop by and say hi to Kathleen. Give our prototype a good test wring out – we really want to hear your comments and suggestions!

 

 

 

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The Velo Routier V.2 have arrived!

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The V.2 frames, after a long and winding journey (don’t ask!), have arrived safe and sound. We will have photos up, our on-line store updated by this weekend and stock shipped out to our dealers in 1-2 weeks time.

Velo Routier Frame V.2

We finally have some news!

Yes, there will be a version 2 of the Velo Routier frame. The low-trail geometry, braze-ons and the tubing specifications of V.1 remain the same. We are making the following minor changes:

  • increasing the rear axle dropout spacing from 130mm to 132.5mm to allow the more commonly available 135mm hubs and wheels sets to be fitted.
  • instead of vertical, the V.2 will have adjustable horizontal rear drop outs which will allow for internal hub and fixed-gear builds.
  • the front fork crown will now have an underside 5mm threaded fitting to allow fenders to be attached to the crown directly.
  • the indent diameter of the chainstay and the clearance of the seatstays wil be increased from 52mm to 56mm to allow for wider fenders and tires.
  • In a fit of madness, we also have decided to have few frames in each size made as a “no braze-on frame” – without pump, brake, brake cables, dérailleur cables or shifters bosses and with 2 sets of bottle cage braze-ons on the seat and down tubes and fender attachments.

You can have any colour as long as it is French Tricolour-esque blue. Price tentatively will be $525.00 USD. With a bit of luck we hoping to to have them available in our on-line store and in local dealers by May.

Cheers and Ride Your Journey!
Evan and Angus

BTW We still have a few (very few) 51cm and 60cm creme colour V.1 frames left in-stock.

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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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