04 December, 2009

Polyvalent Ride Report, A Guest Blog


Greetings, Velo Orange-ers. Chris has asked me to write a quick ride report about the new VO Polyvalent, so bear with me as this is the first time I've attempted such a thing.

I've been riding one of the final prototypes of the Polyvolant since August. I don't own a car and the Polyvalent is my main ride, so it sees anywhere from 30-50 miles per week of commuting, grocery shopping, and general riding around Annapolis. In terms of functionality, versatility, and reliability, the Polyvalent beats out any bike I've owned. With the Porteur rack and some good bungees you can pretty much carry anything you need with relative ease. I've put upwards of 25 pounds on my Porteur rack and never had any problems. The Polyvolant is capable of carrying these kinds of loads because of its geometry - this bike wants to be a front loader.

Probably my favorite part about this bike are the 650b wheels. I grew up in Colorado riding mountain bikes and switched to road bikes in my teens, but I've always pined for the forgiving ride, less flat-prone, and general confidence you get on wide tires. 650b gives you all of this without sacrificing much in the way of speed or rolling resistance. No, you're not going to ride crits on a 650b bike, nor are you going to roll over logs and boulders at your local single track, but the 38mm Col De Vie tires can handle any amount of potholes, broken glass, gravel, or rain that I've managed to subject them to. And I have never gotten a flat since I started riding the bike.

The Polyvalent is really a Swiss Army knife of bikes. The geometry can accommodate anything you want it to be - city ride and commuter, light touring, even a cheap Rando bike. The steel tubing is comfortable and forgiving, and it handles precisely as it should - meaning you don't even think about the handling. For me, the Polyvolant is a bike that makes it possible to forget that you're riding a bike, allowing you to contemplate more important things when you're out riding.

KS

35 comments:

Lee said...

Thanks for the report! I have a couple of questions:

"In terms of functionality, versatility, and reliability, the Polyvolant beats out any bike I've owned."

What have you owned? Can you compare the PV to say, a Kogswell P/R?

"The geometry can accommodate anything you want it to be - city ride and commuter, light touring, even a cheap Rando bike."

Have you tried the PV in these configurations--in particular as a light tourer and as a long-distance bike? Any specific thoughts on the PV in these capacities?

Thanks again!
Lee

KC said...

@Lee I can't make a direct comparison to the Kogswell having never ridden one, but I can try to compare it to other bikes I've owned. I have a high end Peugeot touring bike from the late '70s and the biggest advantage of the Polyvolant over the Peugeot is the versatility of the PV. For example, on my commute to the VO warehouse I leisurely ride through neighborhoods for a while, cut across a gravel path, and jockey with heavy traffic - all in about a 3-mile ride. The Polyvolant seamlessly transitions through these varying riding styles without skipping a beat or ever feeling out of place. After the same ride on the Peugeot I feel a little more beaten up from potholes and the like.

I've only ever ridden the PV in the configuration you see in the picture (Belleville bars) because I've never felt all that compelled to change it. It works equally well on a 30-mile ride as it does on a 3-mile commute (at least for me). Another reason I haven't put drop bars or more touring-oriented bars on it is because the top tube is a touch long for me to be comfortable that stretched out, so I'm sticking with swept back bars. I would say if you intend to put drop bars on it, size down rather than up. It is, however, fully capable of being a great touring bike with all of the necessary braze-ons, canti brakes, etc.

Hope that helps,
Kyle

Jim G said...

Polyvalent.

heatherhodges@gmail.com said...

hi kyle, i know you from watercourse in denver. i was quite surprised to see you here riding bikes.

patates frites said...

Polyvolant? You mean this thing flies too?

Anonymous said...

Dude, why aren't you wearing a helmet? That's totally irresponsible to commute around Annapolis without a helmet. Get a helmet.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Patates, It may not fly, but it planes. Sorry; couldn't resist.

Annon, In Europe, and much of the world, wearing helmets for day-to-day riding is considered a silly American affectation. Though with Maryland drivers...

Lee said...

Thanks, Kyle. I appreciate your response.

Best,
Lee

Neil said...

Great picture, love your style.

Perry said...

i partake in the silly american affectation, got to protect that noggin or else the people cant get their bike parts!

Anonymous said...

At the frame specs, it says that the seat tube is measured including the extension. Does "extension" mean seat collar? Also, top tube is measured c-t-c. What does this mean?

Le Cagot said...

"Including extension" means to the top of the seat post collar. C-T-C is center-to-center. C-T-T is center-to-top (top of the top tube not including extension).

johnson said...

do you tell people who smoke to not smoke? tell people who go 10 over the speed limit to slow down? tell people who use candles in wood floored houses to use fake electric candles? helmets are a personal choice. i can't believe that people can't understand that. it's rude. also, really, correcting someone's spelling? tis the season to have too much time on one's hands, i guess.

Anonymous said...

Perry, the dude is wearing work boots and no gloves what do you expect ?

Anonymous said...

hrrmm,
I was thinking about getting one of these frames until I read more closely that they take 650B wheels... a new set of wheels and tires pushes the price beyond my limit because, for me, a new frame means removing parts from another of my bikes and building it up. Since I have no 650Bs lying around, this is a no-go.

dern!
Allan

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to why 650b wheels are used instead of 26"? A wide variety of tires are available for 26" rims and they're easy to find. I don't think I've ever seen the 650 size offered in bike shops where I live (Western Canada.)

Lee said...

"I'm curious as to why 650b wheels are used instead of 26"?"

Anon - The 584mm (650b) vs. 559mm (26") question is the source of a lot of debate. One answer may be that there are a few 584mm tires available that are particularly good for city riding in that they provide for a cushy, fast ride over crappy pavement. So, it's more a matter of the quality of the tire you have at 584mm rather than the breadth of selection.

I'm not a particularly religious person when it comes to tire size, although I have two 584mm-oriented bikes and one 590mm bike. I just wanted to standardize my bikes to some degree and I like how they look on the smaller frame sizes I ride.

ablejack said...

Patates, It may not fly, but it planes. Sorry; couldn't resist.

Annon, In Europe, and much of the world, wearing helmets for day-to-day riding is considered a silly American affectation. Though with Maryland drivers...


See? This is why Chris is (one of) the best. Snappy, clever bikes and comments!

As far as the helmet question goes; My brother always says: "You can either look like an idiot or become one."

Anonymous said...

oh, for the olden days when there was no media, and no fear of living http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/penncyclebuy/vint-smoke.jpg

david_nj said...

Hey guys,

Do they make knobby tires in 650b? I was thinking of making up an old-style mountain bike and one of these Polyvalent frames would probably work great for that. It would probably make a great wheel size, as I think 29ers are a bit unwieldy. I realize that there are of course lots of street tires for 650b, but what's available for off-road?

David

Joel said...

Dave: I believe the 650b Pacenti Neo-Moto tires are now available.

anon 12/5 9:08:

Yours is a curious question given it relates to a bike sold over the internet. Your LBS may not have 650b tires, but they are readily available on line.

The design and geometry of the Polyvalent would have been different had VO built it around a 26" tire.

johnson said...

as a manager at an LBS, we do not stock the tires. however, we can order them and have them in generally a day. so. not a big deal.

david_nj said...

Great. If you don't use fenders, what is the maximum width tire that would fit, without pushing it?

Chris Kulczycki said...

The Polyvalent will fit at least 50mm tires without fenders.

david_nj said...

The only ones I can find come in either 2.35" or 2.10" wide. I have no idea how accurately they measure, or whether that includes parts of the tread that hang off the sides, or whatever. Think the wider ones would work?

Also, for the 650b pre-made wheels you guys sell, are the rims wide enough for these fat tires?

Tom said...

there are a lot more knobby mtn bike tires for 650b than street tires. Kenda, Pacenti, WTB, Schwalbe, Panaracer, all have off raod worthy tires in that size:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?606712-New-VO-frameset-for-400&p=10110751&viewfull=1#post10110751

Protorio said...

That will take Quasi-Motos, but not the bigger Neo knobbies.

Anon of Florida said...

I know this is a bit of a heresy in this Francophillic space, but I need to mention that Cole de la Vie tires mentioned as ideal for the Polyvalent also come in the 650A size, which has prebuilt wheels available as replacements for old english 3-speeds at rather economic prices.

Those 650A Cole de la Vie tires are the largest available for 650a, so if you want to go a size or two larger, 650B is the way to go.

Otherwise, do not let the monikier of "650" prevent you from buying a Polyvalent, the "650" size does not necessarily mean very costly (although very good) 650B wheels, look around and you'll find some very inexpensive 650A options.

Anonymous said...

"forgiving ride, less flat-prone, and general confidence you get on wide tires"

If that's what 650B offers, I'm pretty sure I'm already getting all of those from my very old 27 inch wheels.

Give me a better reason for 650B.

johnson said...

less toe clip overlap. better. yes better. tire selection. better rims being made. smaller diameter rims are stronger, too.

cool factor.

if these reasons arnt enough, perhaps they arnt right for you and you can keep kicking your 1983 27 inch action till 2089.

Anonymous said...

Bikes today have toe clip overlap issues only because the wheelbases are so short to begin with. I'm not advocating 27 inch wheels, since they are obviously obsolete... I'm just fighting against gratuitous bike review type statements that don't mean anything. I expect more from the kind of cyclists who value bikes such as offered by Velo Orange.

I like the Polyvalent. If I wasn't chronically poor of pocket, I would gladly order one. As far as the bikes and most of the components and accessories go, I'm all for Velo Orange.

However, surprisingly, the preference for 650B was never universal even in France.

johnson said...

obviously, chris, he is advocating that you lend me one of these bikes, so i can offer an independant ridelugged review based on dirt road rides and s24os in the frederick watershed.

heck, i even have a bunch of parts for one.

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pierce Boaz said...

I really wish that the production frame looked like the prototype. I know it's suppose to be low-end for the sake of city riding, but man I wish I had Kyles prototype.

p.s. I ride in NYC everyday with no helmet, in work boots, and oh my goodness, no gloves.

Anonymous said...

I would have bought a polyv if it was designed for a 26" tire. Since this is most likely to be a second or third bike you'd have more customers with one of those two wheel sizes.