Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

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Samuel D
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Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 6:05pm

Grant Petersen has been in the background of my cycling consciousness for a long time, but I’ve never subscribed to his complete philosophy of cycling.

I know that since leaving Bridgestone and starting Rivendell in 1994 he tried a bunch of ideas while staying true to some basic preferences:

  • lugged steel frames
  • threaded forks
  • high and unusually shaped handlebars
  • low bottom brackets
  • as few sprockets as he can get away with
  • flat pedals
  • rim brakes
  • plenty of tyre clearance
  • etc.
In 2019 that list reads as the zenith of bicycle tech, hopelessly anachronistic, or back in fashion depending on your perspective.

Anyway, his Leo Roadini intrigues me, first of all because at $900 it’s a lot cheaper than Rivendell’s earlier Rambouillet or Roadeo frames. That’s because it’s built in Taiwan with fewer lugs and cheaper tubes. Still, it looks high quality in pictures.

Here’s a description in PDF format, starting with a rabble-rousing assessment of the present-day road bike:

“When the ‘80s mtn bike & its lite variants took over comfortable & practical riding, the road bike retreated to extremism and hasn’t recovered. Today’s typical road bike is suitable only for head-down/follow-the-butt riding on dry and smooth roads. Years of tech-chasing and weight wars have sucked the sense out of it.”

Comparing the geometry of the 54 cm Roadini with my 54 cm Spa Audax:

  • the 75 mm bottom bracket drop is fully 12.5 mm more than the Spa
  • despite this, the head tube is much longer at 190.5 mm versus 135 mm. The head tube is for 1-inch forks rather than 1-1/8". The supplied fork is threaded rather than threadless
  • same seat tube angle of 72.5 degrees
  • same head tube angle of 72 degrees, but the Rivendell has 5 mm more fork rake for a somewhat lower trail
  • 450 mm chainstays, considerably longer than the Spa’s already generous 425 mm
  • 26.8 mm seatpost versus Spa’s 27.2 mm. Presumably the Spa uses thinner-walled tubes
  • an unusual seat cluster lug with ball and socket joints for the seatstays versus TIG welding (the Roadini is welded elsewhere)
  • and many other small differences.
The ensemble intrigues me despite my preference for threadless headsets.

What think ye of Petersen’s design? How would you buy it in Europe anyway?

reohn2
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby reohn2 » 6 Jan 2019, 7:17pm

I'd say nice but niche,the big downside IMO is the quill stem/threaded headset.
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Samuel D
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 7:21pm

Do you happen to know why Petersen prefers quill stems?

amediasatex
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby amediasatex » 6 Jan 2019, 7:40pm

I was looking at the roadini last year but the head tube was too long for me to get the fit I wanted, in almost every other regard it ticked my boxes and I would have liked to have tried one. They will ship internationally, I did enquire, it wasn’t cheap but not outrageous either.

It’s been done to death on many threads but personally I prefer 1 inch and threaded headsets for road bikes (that are not used for racing) for comfort, ease of adjustability and headset sealing. But for racing and for MTB I prefer 1 1/8th (and 1 1/2 tapered on MTB) and thread-less.

reohn2
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby reohn2 » 6 Jan 2019, 7:46pm

Samuel D wrote:Do you happen to know why Petersen prefers quill stems?

Not a clue,I much prefer Ahead and I suspect the majority do too.
I know that opens up a quill v Ahead debate which I don't wish to enter into,only to say Ahead are simple to work with and adjust and as I don't ride small section high pressure tyres,my comfort is derived from large section supple low pressure and disc brakes which means a stiffer fork :)
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JakobW
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby JakobW » 6 Jan 2019, 8:18pm

I don't know what Petersen's reasons are, but like amediasatex I'd have said the obvious reasons are comfort/compliance (some of which is technically available with a 1" threadless steerer I suppose, but that's pretty much an obsolete standard these days) and the weather sealing. I imagine that in Rivendell's case the ease of adjusting the bar height is considered a big advantage, and the aesthetics may also be a factor.

As regards the original question, I admire Petersen for putting his money where his mouth is and doing his own thing; I don't always agree with him, but think his ideas are much more practical for real-world cyclists and cycling than most of what the wider industry tries to sell us. I think his uncompromising stance probably costs him money a lot of the time; the Riv frames are generally things of beauty, but they're pretty expensive for OTP offerings. OTOH all those custom lugs and headbadges can't be cheap to make, and from what Petersen's said Riv doesn't make huge profits (Edit - and they came pretty close to the brink earlier this year with cashflow problems, though that seems to have been surmounted); I think it's probably more a labour of love than anything else.

I don't think there are any RBW dealers outside the US and Japan, so you'll probably have to order direct.
Last edited by JakobW on 6 Jan 2019, 8:45pm, edited 1 time in total.

Samuel D
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 8:21pm

amediasatex wrote:I was looking at the roadini last year but the head tube was too long for me to get the fit I wanted

It would just about work for me in the 54 cm, albeit with a slammed quill stem. Hard to find a picture of one in that configuration to see what it looks like.

amediasatex wrote:They will ship internationally, I did enquire, it wasn’t cheap but not outrageous either.

Thanks for confirming that. I guess we’d be hit with customs fees and VAT, though.

amediasatex wrote:It’s been done to death on many threads but personally I prefer 1 inch and threaded headsets for road bikes (that are not used for racing) for comfort, ease of adjustability and headset sealing.

I have had better experiences with threadless but based on your preference and that of other knowledgeable cyclists, I wouldn’t rule out a good threaded arrangement.

Brucey
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Brucey » 6 Jan 2019, 9:10pm

I very much prefer quill stems on pretty steel road bikes and would need a good reason for using anything else. Honestly I have never spent much time messing about with threaded headsets; once set up correctly they just work (often for the life of the bike); by contrast A-head headsets seem always to be on the verge of going wrong in some new and interesting way; I have only had one or two properly reliable installations and even they needed lots of routine maintenance.

A-head setups look absolutely minging too.

cheers
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531colin
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby 531colin » 6 Jan 2019, 9:25pm

Re. the seat tube/seatpost…..Reynolds 725 "inch and eighth" seat tubes are "externally butted" at the top end....most of the tube is 28.6mm externally, the bore is 27.2 (ish) all the way down until you get to the butted section next to the bottom bracket. So the external diameter at the top is over 29mm as I recall....you can feel the bulge on the outside of the seat tube. From unreliable memory, the wall thickness goes 1.2mm at the top to 0.6mm in the middle back up to 0.8mm for the bottom butt. So there is plenty of metal at the top end for the welding of the seat cluster and subsequent reaming to take the seatpost..
Rivendell's seat lug is an elegant and expensive solution to something that doesn't seem to be a problem in real life.
That "54" you linked will come up pretty big. For a start, measuring the UK way (BB centre to top of seat tube) its 55cm.
190mm head tube is big....I would have to look very carefully to see if I could get the bars low enough with threadless headset, with a threaded headset and quill stem its a no-go, I would have to "size down" ….at 71 years old!
I like the way they have drilled the fork crown, its a way to get maximum clearance out of dual pivot sidepulls. But dual pivot sidepulls is something to avoid if you want big tyres...their rear brake bridge is only a couple of millimetres higher than ours on the Audax...limited by the brakes.
I'm just now playing with a steel version of our "Elan". Disc brakes so I'm free from the tyranny of dual pivot sidepulls and the restricted tyre sizes they bring. Oddly enough, I'm working with 56mm tyre clearance at the chainstays with 440mm chainstays and no flattening of the tubes, although I'm only going for 50/34 double, not the big one ….photo here of the titanium chainstays… https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/22414563126/in/album-72157624571269648/
That bike will take 40mm tyres with 10mm of daylight under the guards, but the 54 has front centre of 615mm and my toes would only clear a 40mm tyre without a mudguard. Trying to fit big tyres to the Rivendell I think would be a frustrating experience of fag-paper clearances and toe overlap.
I don't understand the low bottom bracket. I ride tracks, which is why I don't have a bike with dual pivot sidepulls, I can't fit big enough tyres with mudguard clearance. Low bracket equals pedal strike. I know people say low bracket equals stability.....I think you are a lot more stable with your weight on the pedals rather than the saddle; I don't think half an inch difference in the height of the pedals will alter your stability at all.
Edit...I had more to say about chainstays. Rivendell have had some fun, expensively manipulating the tubes this way and that, but they still end up flattening the tubes to get clearance for the rear tyre and chainwheels. It isn't necessary....you can get the same tyre clearance without flattening the tubes. Do you need 56mm clearance for a 30mm tyre?

Samuel D
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 9:48pm

JakobW wrote:(Edit - and they came pretty close to the brink earlier this year with cashflow problems, though that seems to have been surmounted)

The business still looks marginal from the outside. If there’s any justice in the world it will survive. This Roadini seems like a new try, being much cheaper than the Waterford-made equivalents Rivendell had before.

At the same time Petersen is pushing a bizarre reinvention of the Dutch omafiets that would only make sense as a third or fourth bicycle. But I don’t doubt he knows what he’s doing. Pity he doesn’t have a European dealer, but he probably has a good reason for that.

I agree with all of what you say about Petersen. I like people with their own opinions, and all the better if they’re doers rather than talkers. Petersen is a doer and that exposes him to a lot of criticism (some of it valid).

He, in turn, is critical of talkers in this 2007 interview (where he also predicts the Silca Impero Ultimate frame pump).

Back in 1992 he gave another good interview. It is fascinating to see how similar his concerns then (A better question would be "how do [the magazines] get the nerve to evaluate bicycles?") were to ours today.

The decline of Mavic and rise of Shimano – even becoming Petersen’s Westinghouse! – puts things in perspective:

So when we go to electronic shifting, which will happen within about two years, somebody like Westinghouse will get into making them, too. That will make it hard for Mavic and Suntour to compete with a company that large. So we'll have electronics companies making bike parts.

Of course now we have PowerTap and Bosch and the mighty Garmin, not to mention Strava, so we got there in the end.

Yes, I’ve been reading up about this Petersen lately.

MikeF
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby MikeF » 6 Jan 2019, 10:16pm

Samuel D wrote:Do you happen to know why Petersen prefers quill stems?
https://forum.cyclinguk.org/posting.php?mode=quote&f=5&p=1040492??
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

reohn2
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby reohn2 » 6 Jan 2019, 10:53pm

531colin wrote:Re. the seat tube/seatpost…..Reynolds 725 "inch and eighth" seat tubes are "externally butted" at the top end....most of the tube is 28.6mm externally, the bore is 27.2 (ish) all the way down until you get to the butted section next to the bottom bracket. So the external diameter at the top is over 29mm as I recall....you can feel the bulge on the outside of the seat tube. From unreliable memory, the wall thickness goes 1.2mm at the top to 0.6mm in the middle back up to 0.8mm for the bottom butt. So there is plenty of metal at the top end for the welding of the seat cluster and subsequent reaming to take the seatpost..
Rivendell's seat lug is an elegant and expensive solution to something that doesn't seem to be a problem in real life.
That "54" you linked will come up pretty big. For a start, measuring the UK way (BB centre to top of seat tube) its 55cm.
190mm head tube is big....I would have to look very carefully to see if I could get the bars low enough with threadless headset, with a threaded headset and quill stem its a no-go, I would have to "size down" ….at 71 years old!
I like the way they have drilled the fork crown, its a way to get maximum clearance out of dual pivot sidepulls. But dual pivot sidepulls is something to avoid if you want big tyres...their rear brake bridge is only a couple of millimetres higher than ours on the Audax...limited by the brakes.
I'm just now playing with a steel version of our "Elan". Disc brakes so I'm free from the tyranny of dual pivot sidepulls and the restricted tyre sizes they bring. Oddly enough, I'm working with 56mm tyre clearance at the chainstays with 440mm chainstays and no flattening of the tubes, although I'm only going for 50/34 double, not the big one ….photo here of the titanium chainstays… https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/22414563126/in/album-72157624571269648/
That bike will take 40mm tyres with 10mm of daylight under the guards, but the 54 has front centre of 615mm and my toes would only clear a 40mm tyre without a mudguard. Trying to fit big tyres to the Rivendell I think would be a frustrating experience of fag-paper clearances and toe overlap.
I don't understand the low bottom bracket. I ride tracks, which is why I don't have a bike with dual pivot sidepulls, I can't fit big enough tyres with mudguard clearance. Low bracket equals pedal strike. I know people say low bracket equals stability.....I think you are a lot more stable with your weight on the pedals rather than the saddle; I don't think half an inch difference in the height of the pedals will alter your stability at all.
Edit...I had more to say about chainstays. Rivendell have had some fun, expensively manipulating the tubes this way and that, but they still end up flattening the tubes to get clearance for the rear tyre and chainwheels. It isn't necessary....you can get the same tyre clearance without flattening the tubes. Do you need 56mm clearance for a 30mm tyre?

I agree with all of that except that I find a low BB quite helpful both on and off road,pedal strike isn't a problem IME but the ability to dab a foot whilst in the saddle can be helpful.
The other thing is a long head tube isn't a problem,my Salsa Vaya has a 185mm head tube but with the stem slammed down on the headset it's well below saddle height.
Disc brakes :)
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Samuel D
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 10:55pm

531colin wrote:190mm head tube is big....I would have to look very carefully to see if I could get the bars low enough with threadless headset, with a threaded headset and quill stem its a no-go, I would have to "size down" ….at 71 years old!

I like my handlebars pretty high. Doesn’t mean I sit high, but I like to have something closer to the height of my centre of gravity to brace against when braking hard, which I deliberately do often on descents I know. I also like cruising on the drops and riding at jogging speed on the tops. So my 54 cm Spa Audax has a 50 mm spacer with a 110 mm / 7-degree stem flipped down (which is still angled up versus the horizon).

I thought all of that would make the Roadini’s 190 mm head tube work out, but maybe I’m forgetting to account for something about quill stems.

Put it this way: if I got another Spa Audax I’d probably choose the 56 cm.

The low bottom bracket effectively makes the handlebar higher, which I suppose is part of its appeal to Petersen. Like 531colin, I doubt half an inch is going to have a discernable effect on stability (and anyway higher is more stable, i.e. requires less frequent steering inputs). But half an inch can be felt in handlebar height.

531colin wrote:Rivendell have had some fun, expensively manipulating the tubes this way and that, but they still end up flattening the tubes to get clearance for the rear tyre and chainwheels. It isn't necessary....you can get the same tyre clearance without flattening the tubes. Do you need 56mm clearance for a 30mm tyre?

I wouldn’t, but they’re talking about 35 mm tyres (which would introduce other problems you mention, e.g. toe clearance).

I like the simple elegance of dead straight, crimp-free chain and seatstays, but no-one seems to do those. Have you any idea what tyre size those would limit me to if I got a custom builder to make me something? I’d go with long stays if that helped clearance (and probably anyway). I use 172.5 mm cranks that should clear most stays.

MikeDee
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby MikeDee » 6 Jan 2019, 11:12pm

The 1" threaded headset would keep me from buying that bike. The selection of stems and modern handlebars is minimal these days. I had to go to a quill adapter to get a decent handlebar that I liked. Shimano doesn't even make threaded headsets anymore, which is what I have on my old bike. Instead of replacing the cartridge bearings in it when they wear out, I'll have to buy and fit a whole new headset.

Samuel D
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Re: Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Roadini

Postby Samuel D » 6 Jan 2019, 11:23pm

reohn2 wrote:The other thing is a long head tube isn't a problem,my Salsa Vaya has a 185mm head tube but with the stem slammed down on the headset it's well below saddle height.

Aye, but your saddle is probably higher than the saddles of most people buying “54 cm” frames. The Roadini does have a deliberately high front end. The example builds have a tall quill stem on top of that.

Full geos:

47 cm

50 cm

54 cm

57 cm

61cm

So the 57 cm, for example, has a 217.7 mm head tube.