My Sam Hillborne is from one of the first batches, circa 2009. I believe the frame was built by Maxway in Taiwan. At that time I was reviewing commuter bikes for my now defunct blog, EcoVelo, and this bike inspired one of the first long form reviews I ever wrote. I liked the Hillborne so much I bought it and still ride it today. All of my other bikes from that era have gone by the wayside.
Rivendell labeled this a “Country Bike”, which I suppose in today’s parlance most closely approximates “Gravel Bike”. Personally, I think of this bike as a “Town & Country Bike”, with an emphasis on “Town”. I have always used my other bikes for multi-modal commuting, hauling heavy loads, and dirt riding.
The Sam has been reserved for things like Sunday picnics, early morning trips to the coffee shop, slow rides in the country, and Friday night dinners out on the town.
The original 2009 parts list was a budget build, consequently, many of the components have been upgraded over the years. Here is the current parts list:
Frame: Rivendell Sam Hillborne 60cm
Saddle: Brooks B.17 Special Honey
Seat Post: Nitto S83
Handlebar: Nitto Losco
Stem: Nitto Technomic 225
Grips: Portuguese Cork
Bar Tape: Newbaum’s Yellow, Amber Shellac
Brake Levers: Paul Canti Levers
Brake Calipers: Paul Neo-Retro
Shifters: Silver Supermix Bar-end
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore Rapid Rise Long
Front Derailleur: Campagnolo Triple Clamp-on
Crank: Sugino XD2 170mm 46/36/24
Cassette: Shimano 8 speed 11-32
Pedals: MKS Touring
Hubs: Shimano Deore XT
Rims: 36H Velocity Dyad
Tires: 622×33 Rivendell Jack Brown Blue Label
Fenders: 43mm Honjo Hammered
Front Rack: Nitto Mini
Kickstand: Pletscher Double Center-Stand
For me, this bike is all about the ride quality. The geometry is neutral and there is nothing at all weird about the handling. The steering is predictable and easy, light in the hand without being twitchy. The frame is lively, and noticeably flexible in a good way. This forgiveness imparts a comfortable feeling that is one of the main reasons I still prefer classic, lightly built steel frames.
Alan is on Instagram @ecovelo.us
On a personal note, Ecovelo, the blog, was a big motivator for me to step up my bicycle portrait game from around 2008-2010 and I’m honored to host Alan’s work here! – John
We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!