Paris-Brest-Paris is a crucible, a pilgrimage, a quest. Paris-Brest-Paris is a cycling event. It runs 1200km (768 Miles) from Paris to Brest on the coast and back. Out and back. 6,000 people participate. They start in waves, pulsing towards the French Coast in a chrome-fendered murmuration of wool jerseys, Berthoud bags, and dyno lights. Racers have to finish their migration to the coast and back in 90 hours. 90 hours, on a bike – that’s little to very little sleep. That’s riding pretty much straight through.
Lilac Dreams and the Velo Orange Polyvalent
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor
Looks can be deceiving. The Velo Orange Polyvalent looks like a classic randonneuring bike, particularly when dressed in an all-silver build kit. But, after many miles and various tire and bag changes, a different story emerged for me. While its handling characteristics are markedly different, the Polyvalent is a peer – and interesting alternative – to the popular all-steel drop bar adventure bikes out there like the Soma Wolverine, Surly Straggler, Kona Rove, and so on.
Now in its fourth iteration, the Polyvalent for the first time gets disc brakes, and that’s exactly what prompted me to reach out to Velo Orange about doing a review. Over the past few years I’ve been exploring how the widely varying combinations of steel frames and wide tires manifest in ride quality. Yes, I’m still on the hunt for the elusive smooth-riding production disc brake bike. Could the Polyvalent Mk4 be the one?
BQ takes their bike reviews very seriously:
“How do you test a bike like Mitch Pryor’s latest MAP All-Road? With its 48 mm-wide tires, fenders, racks and full lights, this is a bike designed for epic rides. How about taking it on a 30-hour, non-stop ride that traverses four mountain passes and crosses the crest of the Cascade Mountains twice?”
Sara, a participant at the Rando Imperator, describes how she approached ultra cycling, thanks to her friend.
Philly Bike Expo 2018: Coast Cycles Randonneur
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Brooklyn’s Johnny Coast knows a thing or two about traditional randonneuring frames, as evident in this year’s Philly Bike Expo bike. Thin lugs, light tubing, custom stem, and all the appropriate accouterment. Built from Tange lightweight tubing, Johnny designed this bike to be light and responsive, offering a lively feel.
Coast Cycles offers bikes like this, as well as touring bikes, city bikes, mixte, road bikes, and even track bikes.
I met Norther Cycles owner StarMichael back in 2015 here in Portland at the Bike and Beer festival where I shot one of his creations, a beautiful randonneuring frame. As with most of 2015’s content, when our server crashed, we lost the images. Bummer! So when Rie and the Sim Works crew said they were going to a few shops to deliver tires and racks, I tagged along, especially once I heard they were going to Norther Cycles.
“Where did all the mermaids go?” asks the new Crust Bikes Bombora and if you pay attention to the beautiful graphics, designed by Rick Hayward, and head badge on this touring bike, you might be able to decipher the story. The Bombora is the latest bike to pop onto the plump Crust Bikes lineup, designed around a 27.5 x 2.4″ tire and road cranks. Is it a light tourer? Or a randonneur? Or a dirt tourer? Bikepacking rig? City bike? Who knows. As Matt from Crust Bikes puts it;
“Named the Bombora, this machine is pretty groundbreaking, in that it is the first two-wheeled unicycle, designed around 2.3-24 650b tires and road cranks. Man, I cant hype shit up. Its just a bike that is fun to ride and in my opinion looks nice. The pictures show what it’s about I guess.”
Rightfully so. There’s more information to follow on the Bombora, but for now, let’s try to decypher this bike’s meaning – it’s place in the universe – by investigating more photos below.
In 1971, Panasonic Bicycles first began exporting bicycles to the USA and while their bikes in Japan are mostly consumer-level mamachari and other commuter cycles, this year at NAHBS, their hand-made division brought this beautiful randonneur with Shimano Ultegra, various Nitto products, and one of the wildest finishes I saw at the show.
Down on Rando Alley at NAHBS this year, a few booths from the J.P. Weigle randonneur and the Chapman randonneur, was this Johnny Coast. It’d been a while since I’ve seen Johnny, or his work but I began my Saturday morning documenting this bike before the crowds descended upon the show. Everything about this bike was a pleasure to photograph and it’s one of my favorite drive-side shots from the entire weekend.
You know what I love about this bike? It’s been out there, getting dirty and living it up in the randonneuring trenches. It was built for the Concours de Machines, which you can read all about at Jan Heine’s blog. This competition is used to determine the best lightweight randonneuring bike and adheres to very strict rules. While this feat may sound intimidating, for Peter Weigle, it’s just another day in the shop. You see, Weigle is a master of his craft and it’s the details you can’t see that make his bikes so extraordinary. His construction techniques are second to none and his bikes are meant to get ridden, not to be hung on a wall in someone’s personal bicycle gallery. A Weigle wants to live its life to the fullest and luckily for the owners of his bicycles, the pleasure is shared between the two. To top it off, this bike, as shown here weighs 20lbs (9.1kg) on the nose and can be broken down easily to “Rinko Parts,” or the Japanese method of breaking down bikes for train travel.
Two years ago, I flew to Sweden to document the Sverigetempot, the longest randonneur event in the world. ERTZUI FILM was there too, covering the event with their pristine eye for video. Now, after a long, long wait, the film is live on VOD. Head to VOD to watch, check out some of my favorite photos below and see the coverage in the Related sidebar.
The vibes of randonneuring transcend all languages and this video is full of heavy rando vibes!
The Standard Rando is a great option for those looking for an all-weather commuter, or a bike to take on this year’s brevet calendar and at under $2,000 for a complete, it throws its cap in the ring as one of the more financially viable options out there. New for 2018 is this ultra high vis color, sure to keep you safe while you pedal from dawn til dusk.
See more at Twin Six!
420.69th annual Nutmeg Nor’easter
I’ve lived in the same area of shoreline Connecticut my entire life. My home is a garage artist’s studio that I just so happen to share with my mom’s gardening tools. Paris, Milan, Clinton, CT. As weather permits, I return home about 4 months out of the year; always being sure not to miss the splendor of autumn; the beauty of death as the colors fall, ushering in the grim shadows of wintär.
Twin Six takes a good thing and makes it better, for those who prefer their bicycles blue anyway. The Standard Rando is available as a frameset or a complete, with builds starting at just $1,900. I know some of you have these bikes and have sung praises in the past, so share some of your thoughts in the comments.
As you might have noticed in the previous two galleries, not a lot of riders in the Sverigetempot are on traditional randonneur bikes, or even touring bikes. Rather, many of the participants are on carbon fiber road bikes, with a few select modifications to their components and of course, bikepacking bags. While there have been many excellent examples of bikes on this trip, I managed to photograph three in particular from the riders in our troop: Johan’s Focus, Daniel’s Roubaix and Johan’s Venge. Each have very similar specifications in terms of gear range and tires, but as you’ll see, are built to be lightweight, long-distance rigs.
At a certain point in brevets like this, it becomes a game of catch up. You’re either catching up on sleep or mileage. Think of it as a scale. On one end is hours slept and the other, mileage ridden, with events on the road either adding to, or subtracting from the balance. In our rider’s case, mechanicals on the third day made for a long night in the saddle.
Words and photos by Morgan Taylor
Carrying stuff on bikes can be complicated – especially when you’re a notorious over-packer who likes to have a DSLR on hand. The Wolverine is my first ground-up drop bar build in a while, and I wanted to ensure that both transporting and accessing my camera would be well thought out.
Since we got married last October, Stephanie and I have been putting the pieces together to take off on a multi-month trip beginning in July. Wanting to produce galleries and stories on the road means having a bike-camping friendly way to carry my camera gear. I decided on a Swift Ozette rando bag – and the Hinterland Collection made with X-Pac VX21 had classic rando utility with a technical, modern twist.
I got talking with Martina at Swift over email, and ended up heading down to Seattle to visit their studio and pick up my bag in person. While Martina does get out on a lot of adventures herself, she also loves to live vicariously through others. Finding out that Stephanie and I were headed in the direction of the Great Divide route and planning on sticking to dirt as much as possible, she recommended finding a robust decaleur solution for my Ozette.