23 April, 2009

Production Rando Frame Update


We built up the production Rando frame prototype with an old Campy 10 speed drive train and some, mostly European, racing parts. Please don't read anything into the build; it's just used stuff I had on hand that needed a home.


First the good stuff, the bike rides flawlessly. It can be ridden no-handed at very low speed. It neither dives nor wanders in fast corners. The frame is flexible enough for comfort, but does not feel at all noodley. And it planes like a Boeing 747 ;<). The lugwork is generally pretty good as is brass penetration around the BB shell. No heat distortion is evident. These are signs of a well made frame.

Now the bad stuff, The fork legs are 7-10mm too short and the bend is not right. I also think the fork may be a tiny bit too stiff. A new fork is being made even as I write this. The paint color is nice, but the quality is marginal. It can be very difficult to spray light silver and I don't think the paint shop in Taiwan has the skill to do it really well. At my old boat company we often had problems with paints that had relatively little pigment, like light yellow and light silver. The blue on the city frame is very nice and I've decided to use that color for the Rando frame. The city bike will be dark gray which should be easier to spray. The seat stay caps and the slap guard fittings will be replaced with more attractive versions. Samples are being sent.


Finally, the neutral stuff:

  • This frame is designed for long reach (47 to 57mm) brakes set near the bottom of their slots.
  • The ideal tires would be high quality supple 27-30mm tires such as Paselas 28mm, Grand Bois 28 or 30mm, or Challenge 27mm (which are really 29mm). 45mm fenders fit.
  • The above tires will provide a comfortable ride and low rolling resistance, making this bike suitable for fast club rides as well as brevets or weekend credit card tours. It is not, however, a good loaded touring bike.
  • The tubing is all double butted CR-MO in traditional, not modern oversize, diameters. Tubing specs are virtually identical to those used on our semi-custom Pass Hunter and Rando frames.
  • The low trail design is prefect for a handlebar bag. There are braze-ons for a VO rando rack.
As soon as the new fork arrives we'll put fenders on and finish testing. Then we OK production.

48 comments:

Dylan said...

Any idea when you'll begin accepting pre-orders/deposits/reservations (assuming all the changes to the fork and paint scheme get worked out)?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I'm a big fan of that rear dropout.

Out of sheer curiosity: why the extra braze-on for the rear derailleur housing? I would have thought moving the housing stop back would save the factory some trouble.

madhatter said...

yes, those rear dropouts are beautiful...

glad to see that the frame is working out nicely

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bike Chris. If it's at all possible, please keep the silver color option alive.

Jeremy said...

Looks awesome Chris. Out of curiosity, is that one of the new Croissant Bags on there?

Chris Kulczycki said...

We need to see the new fork and other changes before we can accept pre-orders. And I don't know when everything will be ready yet.

I simply think that's a nice way to do the derailleur housing. It helps keep the housing neat.

That's an old French bag, but it's very similar to the Croissant.

Dylan said...

Thanks Chris. And I agree with the other comments, it looks great so far. Can't wait to get my hands on one!

Ty said...

First - looks/sounds great!

Second - (I'm not trying to be a trouble maker, but...) I read with interest the comments to yesterday's post regarding the pros/cons of post-production forks. Then I was a little surprised by today's post that said the bike rides flawlessly even though the fork is 7-10mm too short.

patates frites said...

Beautiful. I love the slack angles, all that room between the rear tire and the seat tube, the bottom bracket. I agree the fork looks bad, the curvature is wrong. All in all awesome bike.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Ty, The fork is right for the head tube length, so the bike rides perfectly. The new fork will be 10mm longer, but the head tube on future frames will be 10mm shorter to compensate.

Technically the new sample fork will not be right for this particular sample frame, but future frames will fit it. Since I now know that the geometry works, all I'm concerned with is perfecting the fork bend and tire clearance. I can check that without a new sample frame.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used fork ;<)

mgl said...

This looks really nice. I'm considering one for my wife, who has been pointedly noting the weight and stiffness of her (massively overbuilt) 54cm G1 Kogswell P/R. (9/6/9 OS tubing throughout).

Chris, can you tell us the main-tube specs for the smaller Rando frames, or is that something you'd like to keep to yourself? Do they go down to 8/5/8 or so? (Even non-OS 9/6/9 would be a huge improvement over the OS stuff.)

Anonymous said...

A question from one who is certainly a non-expert and hoping to learn:

How does a low-trail design translate into normal riding and handling? For me, "normal" is a speed range of 12-18mph over the course of a 15-20 mile ride on smooth-ish roads with moderate hills. Going fast is not my concern ... but riding a comfortable and stable bike is important. The comment in the post for the Rando Frame regarding how it can be "ridden no-handed at very low speed" is the sort of feeling I suppose I'd like to find.

The new City Bike frame looks a beautiful design for the kind of riding I do ... the seat tube angle makes sense, but I have no idea how the fork geometry translates. Your thoughts and experience are welcome and appreciated!

Rory said...

will there be seat stay braze-ons, for rack, or what i use them for, a light?

Aili said...

Hi Chris,

Is the rear dropout 135?

Thanks!

mgl said...

Anonyme,

All else being equal, lowering trail has the following (relatively mild) effects:

- Less effort required to turn the handlebars
- Lower sensitivity to minor steering inputs.

As a result, the bike is slightly less likely to veer under unintentional steering inputs (crosswinds, bumps, shoulder-checking, etc.) and so holds a line a little better. Lower trail bikes are slightly easier on tired or heavily front-loaded riders--again, all else equal.

Hope this helps!

Jim G said...

Some thoughts on low trail vs. high trail handling:

http://sfcyclotouring.blogspot.com/2008/01/apples-to-apples-or-frank-discussion-of.html

Ty said...

Thanks Chris - got it. So if I understand correctly, the fork/headtube adjustment will increase clearance for the tire and fender but leave handling un-altered.

I do like the rear derailleur cable braze-ons and routing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very helpful info on trail/handling! It sounds like the actual experience is quite different than the theory, and really more what I've been looking for in terms of how I'd like things to work.

Looking forward to City Bike arrival!

BTW ... isn't it nice when people are helpful and pleasant, rather than snobby and arrogant? I mean, you all could have just said "Go ride some bikes and find out for yourself" or "If you don't know, then just go buy a cruiser, since you ride too slow for a real bike, anyway". Thanks for being polite and helpful!

Wayne Myer said...

AGH! Breezer dropouts! Why?! It's impossible to pick any dropout that could better ruin your frame's general functionality.

Seriously, I don't get the appeal of these dropouts and wish they would just go away. My current touring bike has them and I have been kicking myself continuously.

Teddy's Dad said...

I am sadly disappointed by your decision to go with the unattractive blue of the city bike. I don't mind blue, but that particular blue is dark and dull. If you must go with blue, how about more of a classic french blue or a rich teal blue.

I could not purchase a bike in that shade of blue, but would have gone on the list for a silver one.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the breezer dropouts?

Matt

Anonymous said...

the dropouts are good. the only nonissue I ever had is that you can't just close the lever any old way; it fits in snug as a bug in a certain alignment.

I used the same exact drop for many years. they are strong. the wheel never slips, which is very much unlike horizontals. true, it doesn't have double eyelets, but this is more a frontloader bike anyway, and not a true tourer, so that doesn't really matter.

I'm really happy to see these bikes come to market.

best,
michael white

patates frites said...

So what exactly is wrong with the dropouts? I hear bitchin', but no splainin', mon.

Gary said...

I'm not crazy about the "webbed" lugs. Also, is there any alternative to a socket style dropout? to my eye, they aren't very elegant. Love the tubing spec and most other details.
All in all, extremely good work.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The rear wheel spacing is 130mm. I think that's still best for a road bike.

Long Shen dropouts!

Chris Kulczycki said...

Also, those webbed lugs contribute to aerodynamic stability at high speeds.

Larry Riddle said...

Surly Pacer :
http://sweetbike.org/gallery/d/19514-2/pacer+003.JPG

Mike M said...

That Pacer frame is a nice inexpensive low-end road frame, but it's not a competitor to the VO frame. Its not lugged, has high-med trail geometry, has no dedicated front rack, it uses stiff oversize tubing, has no fender braze-ons,etc. That's the sort of frame riders like me will sell to get a rando frame.

Joel said...

Mike, of course. But it is mandatory now whenever someone shows a bike for sale on line that at least one person show a Surley.

If I did not know better, I would think the folks at QBP have someone on the payroll doing this.

Otherwise, I guess there are a lot of people here on the internet who if they had their druthers would prefer a common denominator monopoly over healthy competition.

howtostretch said...

Like the frame! I missed the price tho, could someone fill me in?

Wayne Myer said...

Breezer dropouts make it difficult, if not impossible, to use a trainer. Sure, you might not use a trainer for training, but every pro fitter I have been to uses a trainer to hold the bike. Also, the only trailer hitch that will even vaguely work on a Breezer dropout is the BOB.

What's that you say? You don't need a trailer? How about the fact that the head of the QR skewer needs to fit inside the dropout. Doesn't that go against the point of a rando bike? If the skewewr breaks in the middle of 1200K, I don't want to have to hunt around for just the right skewer to fit.

Larry Riddle said...

Mike M,

I am sure you were trying to be accurate in your criticism but the Pacer does not have oversized tubing and the 'lugs' are purely cosmetic on the Rando.

mgl said...

Larry,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Surly does indeed have "standard" OS steel tubing; that is, 28.6mm seat tube and top tube, 31.8mm down tube.

Pre-1990s non-OS tubing was 28.6mm seat tube and down tube, 25.4mm top tube.

The differences may not appear great, but since resistance to bending is proportional to the cube of diameter, the OS bike is noticeably stiffer--an effect I (and many others) find detracts from the ride.

Not sure what you mean by the lugs being cosmetic. They do hold the bike together, after all.

Howtostretch, I believe the rando price is coming in around $800.

Larry Riddle said...

mgl, you are wrong.

mgl said...

Huh, that's interesting. The CrossCheck and LHT are certainly OS, as is the KM, of course. Not sure about the Steamroller, though.

robatsu said...

In the previous post on this frame, there was a lot of chatter about the headtube extension. Was there ever a final decision on whether to keep or remove this?

Joel said...

Larry: Don't just say someone is wrong. You have the bike, provide the tube diameters.

Dismissing lugs as cosmetic smacks of trite envy to me.

Lawrence riddle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
david_nj said...

Noting that this bike has the little prongs on the chainstay for holding the rubber slap guard: will those items be re-introduced? Seems like a neat detail although I've never seen such a rig in person.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bike, Chris. You mentioned that this bike is not suitable for loaded touring, but what would you peg as the upper weight limit? e.i. is this bike suitable for clydes?

Chris Kulczycki said...

There is no official weight limit and if there was it would depend on the frame size. The smaller sizes use lighter tubing. But I would suggest a frame with oversize tubing for particularly heavy folks.

We do have slapguards in stock for these frames.

Anonymous said...

SLap guards would be relatively easy to make out of leather, right?
MB

jerome said...

What crank is that?

leaf slayer said...

What sizes will these come in? Please say there'll be one in 63cm.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The crank is a modern TA.

The sizes will be 51-63cm.

leaf slayer said...

63cm! Thank you! But man, you just complicated my life... in a good way.

jimmy said...

Surly does not use OS tubing on their Pacer. Their site states this and I just finished building one this week for my partner.

Standard 28.6 fer sher.

I think that Surly makes pretty good stuff for everyday action but they are not the measure of all things cycling :)

Anonymous said...

Josef says,

Very nice bike - I am waiting until the fotos with fenders are in the blog.
What size of Grand Bois tires are mounted on the pictured bike? Thanx