26 February, 2021

Melissa's Sport Touring Low Kicker Has Some Very Special Hoops

by Igor

Hill got the conversation started about a new bike for his wife, Melissa. They were looking for something to replace her aging, skinny-tire'd road bike so that she could more comfortably participate in gravel and mixed terrain rides both by herself and with her riding club. She also wanted to make sure it could handle a bit of luggage for overnight, sport touring trips where minimal gear is needed while going between BnBs or hotels. The Low Kicker Polyvalent was a natural selection for the frameset. Needless to say, this sounded like it was going to be a very fun bike for Melissa and a very fun project for us.

One of the criteria for the build was a timeless appearance overall. So lots of silver, natural hues in the tape and saddle, and dynamo lighting. The hang up was the rims. Our Voyager Rims are polished, but a bit too heavy for Melissa's application. Carbon would be the most convenient choice, but you can't get polished carbon! After a conversation with Tommy over at Cutlass Velo (we use him for all of our custom wheel builds) we settled on the Astral Wanderlust Rims. But another hang up. They are only available in black. "I'll talk to them", said Tommy.

Quick background: Astral is Rolf Prima's aftermarket rim division and offers premium, Made in USA rims. Yes, that Rolf Prima that has been designing and manufacturing racing wheels since 1997. Astral is a great option for a MUSA rim that can be laced to traditional hubs (as opposed to Rolf's paired spoke tech).

While Astral doesn't currently offer silver rims, Tommy sweet-talked them into rolling a custom set of their lightweight and durable Wanderlust Rims in a very nice polished finish. Pairing the rims with a hi-engagment White Industries rear hub and a Son28 Deluxe dynamo front hub, this custom wheelset is 100% one-of-a-kind!

Furthermore, wrapping up this spectacular wheelset with a pair of ultra supple Ultradynamico Cava Race tires, the road and gravel chatter simply melts away.

The front wheel's dynamo powers a Schmidt Edelux mounted to the front Randonneur Rack. The Edelux is probably the best headlight out there, it has a good beam pattern and has excellent reliability. Plus it is very nice looking.

The rear light is a Busch & Muller ยต (Micro) affixed to the non-driveside seatstay. It also includes hardware for the ability to mount it to a rear fender, which is a nice touch. This light is hilariously tiny and ridiculously bright. Seriously, the package was magnitudes bigger than the actual light.

Full bike dynamo routing can be a bit tricky, so care should be taken to make sure the wires don't bind when the handlebars are turned, connections are waterproof, and everything is secure over varied terrain.

While we used strategically placed zipties, we used an r-clip on the non-driveside downtube adjustor as a splash of pizzazz. The coiled routing around the fork crown is important for turning the handlebars without significant excess dangling around. Here's a blog post documenting how to make the coil (about halfway down): https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2019/10/petes-dynamo-polyvalent-with-shimano.html 

Shifting and braking is done by SRAM's Rival 22 Hydro group, our 50.4 46/30 crankset, and 11-32t cassette. The cockpit is silver with the handlebar being from Whisky and the tape is natural leather from Berthoud.

Continuing the natural leather look is the Berthoud saddle with Titanium Rails on a 0 Setback Seatpost.

Have a great ride, Melissa!


Korina said...

Wow. What an amazing build; and gorgeous, too! I'll bet Melissa has trouble getting off it; I'd certainly not want to stop riding. Well done, folks, well done.

Anonymous said...

I have a randonneur rack and really like how the light's at the front of the rack. I couldn't figure out from the pics what was used, can you shed some light on that (no pun intended!)?

andy bezanilla said...

such a clean, beautiful build! and tommy IS da man, says we...