Randonneur for Mike L.

It's not every day I get asked to make a traditional randonneuring bike. But if I'm going to make one for somebody Reno local Mike L. is a good man to choose. He's participated in many randonneuring events, including the grand daddy of them all, the 1200-kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris.

Randonneuring bike

If you're a Bicycle Quarterly reader, you'll be familiar with these types of bikes. The low trail front end keeps the handling nimble with a loaded handlebar bag meant to carry all of your belongings on a multi-day ride. The smaller diameter, thin-walled tubes, provide a nice springy feel that some would argue helps propel you forward if your pedalling can get in synce with its rhythm. The large offset and generous curves of the fork blades give some extra suspension, smoothing out the ride on rougher roads. Add in the 650bx42 tires, centerpull rim brakes, downtube shifters, leather saddle, threaded headset, quill stem, dynamo lighting, and fenders and you have a rolling anachronism that glides like a magic carpet as you pedal for days with minimal sleep. No joke. These bikes are a joy to ride.

To top it off, Mike asked me to design the bike for rinko travel. Rinko is the Japanese method of disassembling your bike so it can be stowed on a train. In his case, Mike plans to go on rides where he can disassemble his bike and hop on at any Amtrak station without using a bike box.

To set up the bike for rinko, I had to cut the rear fender near the seat stay bridge and splice it back together using the bridge bolt as a quick release system. Since you have to remove the handlebars, it's easier to go with downtube shifters. The Rene Herse centerpull brakes are specifically designed for rinko. You can remove the straddle cables from the brake arms without messing with your brake adjustment. And finally, I designed a small headset wrench to loosen and tighten the threaded headset nut with an 8mm allen wrench. Send Cut Send laser cut the aluminum part for that.

For the dynamo lighting, we used the fabulous Son SL hub. The wiring to the head light is integrated into the fork's dropouts so you can remove the front wheel without disconnecting any wires. The wiring for the tail light runs inside the frame and through a small holed I drilled into the seat post where it connects to the tail light that's bolted to a custom 3d-printed mount attached to the Berthoud saddle.

Mike and I discussed the best location for the tail light. The traditional placement on the back of the seat tube wouldn't work because the light would be blocked by the fender. Putting it on the fender would be a risk and possibly a hassle because of the spliced rear fender. Some builders put the light low on the seat stay near the non-driveside dropout. I don't like this position because the light is so low to the ground that drivers might not see it as well. Plus, when packed for rinko, the light would be in a volunerable spot to get damaged. Underneath the saddle is a good spot, but Mike often attaches a saddle bag. We settled on the back of the saddle because it won't interfere with a saddle bag.

Normally when customers ask to use a lowrider rack on their forks I design the mounting points for the tried and true Tubus Tara. But because this fork has so much offset (66mm), the Tara cannot be mounted with the pannier rail set horizontally. Mike asked if I'd be willing to make a custom rack.

I debated whether I really wanted to take on the project. Racks are a ton of work. But if any bike deserved a custom rack this was the bike.

The rack is made of three pieces so it can be packed flat for travel. A local business did the chrome work to match the rest of the silver components.

I applaud the frame builders who specialize in making randonneuring bikes. These take way more work than the hardtails and gravel bikes I typically make. But it's fun on occasion to work out of my comfort zone to make something unique.

Randonneuring bike Randonneuring bike downtube shifters rear Rene Herse rinko centerpull brake Son SL widebody dynamo hub MAP dropouts Battle Born graphic White Industries rear hub seat post drilled for dynamo wiring Tail light bolted to custom 3d-printed mount Nitto quill stem Rene Herse 46-30 crank Randonneuring bike