Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Funny named cool bike

The Rivendell Sam Hillborne

Rivendell is a great bike company. The company is Grant Petersen, who should pretty much get credit for the 650b American renaissance and for the keeping embers glowing on steel, lugged bikes for the last decade or so.

About 5 years ago I bought my first Rivendell frame, the Atlantis. It was by far the finest touring bike I've ever owned. I've never owned another touring-specific bike, but the Atlantis was a great versatile bike for rough stuff and touring. A year or so later I bought a Quickbeam, which I sort of regret selling. It too was a great rough stuff trail riding tough guy fixed gear bike.

I've got a thing for orange bikes.

I got rid of my Atlantis when I discovered that I prefer standard gauge/diameter tubing. Keeping a $2000+ bike hanging in my garage for the occasional loaded tour didn't pencil out for me. Same deal with the Quickbeam. I preferred the ride of my 720 and my Shogun, both standard diameter tubed bikes and both were silly cheap.

I should mention that many people could care two licks about tubing wall thickness or diameter. My not preferring this tubing doesn't mean jack to most. And that's the way it should be. I like the springy lively noodley feeling of flexy steel frames.

Your basic Rivendell build.

Anyway, this is all a preamble on the Sam Hillborne, which is a frameset that Rivendell is now selling. I like this bike. I think this is a great foundation for a great all rounder, high-trail bike: CX, commuting, touring, trail riding. This bike is smart. The size 56 can take 700 x 44 mm tires (39 mm with fenders). It's got braze-on's galore. And it's a great value: $1000 for the frameset. It's lugged and has a nice paint job.

This frameset, with a typical Rivendell - Noodle-bar -triple chainring build, would make a great road bike for mountain bikers and new commuters who are unsure about the "road bike" thing.

Reading this, I realize this reads like some kind of phony ad. But it's not. I get nothing from Rivendell. I rarely order stuff from them anymore, but I am very thankful to Grant Petersen for being around and making it ok to ride comfortable bikes with platform pedals, high bars, and steel tubing in an industry where high tech and racing rules all. Reading Grant's stuff was a huge part of my re-entry to bike riding as an adult. I will follow Rivendell and Petersen as long as they're around.


rory said...


I've been wanting one for a while now. the problem is it's essentially a clone to my Vanilla, right down to the 6 degree sloping top tube.

Oh, the money i could have saved...

rory said...

oh, and free range is a dealer of them, for the next time you are ins seattle.

Anonymous said...

agree with everything you've written here, well said.


ps. and someday, when a few more bills are paid up, the SH is the top of my list to replace my shimmy-prone Bstone.

Dylan said...

My girlfriend has a Hillborne, and it's great. It's got Nitto racks front and rear, and some nice hammered Honjos. The rest is pretty standard Rivendell fare, as in your photo.

It's a fantastic bike. I'd probably have one too if it had steeper angles and more fork offset. That, and couples that have matching bikes are creepy.

RJ said...

Please share more on this tubing business!

How is the Atlantis "non-standard"?

I'm not going to be swayed by your preference, just curious as to what you're talking about!

Do you mean straight-gauge vs. butted?


John Speare said...

Dylan: agree on the creepy matching bike thing.

RJ: "standard" tubing refers to steel tubing that is smaller diameter (25.4 mm) than what is now (ironically) standard on steel bikes (31.6?), which was referred to as "over sized," or OS at one point.

BTW: As diameter increases, stiffness increases exponetially.

I can't think of any big production bike makers that ship a bike with standard diamter tubing anymore (does the Raliegh one-way?), but lots of smaller builders build with standard tubing.

Nearly all of my bikes have standard-diameter steel tubing. My best riding bike, the one I refer to as the 747 has standard diameter tubing with a butted profile of 7/10 - 4/10 - 7/10 mm tubing.