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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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

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.