Vermont touring bike

For the past two years Carrie and I have dreamed of touring in Vermont. When I pictured myself riding along the wonderful back roads of Vermont, I imagined myself aboard a beautiful lightweight touring bike. It would be nimble to tackle the punchy climbs, comfortable for riding all day, and it would carry a camping load without feeling like a drowned baguette.

Manzanita randonneuring bike with custom racks and decaleur

To accomplish this, I started with a classic touring bike design and tweaked it to meet my needs. I used slightly oversized, thin-wall tubes to stiffen up the frame. It’s stiff enough to carry a light rear load, but not too stiff. I didn’t want the bike to feel dead.

I made a rear rack to carry a 2-person tent and a pair of Ortlieb front roller panniers. It weighs about the same as the ultralight Tubus Airy. I also made a front rack to carry the randonneuring-style handlebar bag.

The front end of the bike sports more mechanical trail than a full-blown randonneuring bike but not as much as a typical road racer. Call it rando-lite geometry. This provides a good balance of stability for carrying a rear load while preventing the weight in the front bag from dominating the steering.

To attach the front bag securely, I used the clever Dock-It decaleur. I was able to make a tiny mount for the decaleur that attaches to the lower stem bolts. This is easily the best decaleur solution I’ve ever used.

When choosing the components for the bike, I sought light weight and dependability. A lot of the components offered by René Herse Cycles provide this mix. The tires, cranks, fenders, brakes, rims, and handlebar bag are all top notch.

I waffled on the drivetrain, but ultimately went with Shimano 10-speed down tube shifters. The shifters simplify boxing the bike for travel. The old XTR 9-speed rear derailleur is very light. It accommodates an XT 11-34T cassette, and it works with the 10-speed shifters.

The bike also sports internally routing dynamo lighting. I ran the B&M tail light through the seat post and connected it to a custom mount tucked away under the saddle. This allows me to put the tent on the top of the rear rack without it blocking the light. If the light was mounted in the traditional position on the back of the seat tube it wouldn’t be visible when touring.

The B&M head light sits a bit forward of the front rack but close to the fender to keep it tidy. The wiring runs through the front rack and then into the fork blade. It exits the top of the blade and enters the underside of the down tube. Most of the wiring is invisible, but it’s still easy to service.

Hit me up if you’d like me to make you a lightweight touring bike.

Custom rear rack
Son SL dynamo hub
Manzanita randonneuring bike with custom racks and decaleur
Manzanita randonneuring bike with custom racks and decaleur
Shimano XTR 9s rear derailleur
Bertoud tan saddle
Pacenti Brevet silver rim
Rene Herse centerpull brakes
Manzanita randonneuring bike with custom racks and decaleur
White Industries threadless polished headset
Custom front randonneur rack
Manzanita randonneuring bike with custom racks and decaleur
Manzanita painted head tube badge
Custom front randonneuring rack with light mount
Rene Herse cranks with 42t and 26t rings
Ritchey handlebars and chrome plated stem