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The Contenders

Now that I’ve made up my mind to get a custom frame the choices are seemingly endless but realistically limited by geography and time. Geography is a problem because I can’t go flying across the country to get a bike nor can I talk face to face about the nitty gritty of getting the bike put back together. Time is of concern because although I’m not leaving until May or so companies like Rivendell have a limited number of frames they are able to produce in a year. This isn’t a problem, I’m all for small production companies for almost everything, but I unfortunately don’t have a year or more to wait for a bike. If only I’d decided this months ago.

The person who sealed the deal to get a custom bike was this guy named Allen at Sid’s Bike Shop in NYC. Allen talked with me on the phone for at least 15 minutes about my options of frames and components. I was actually supposed to go in on Saturday, but I actually went out for a ride and then started running errands and ran out of time, but I will stop by later this week or the weekend. It was reassuring to talk with someone who didn’t dismiss me out-of-hand for being female, actually talked about fitting me correctly, and knew what he was talking about. Another bike shop that I called, which will remain nameless, thought that it was ok for me to just order a $2,7000 bike over the phone without test riding it or anything. I asked about having a chance to test ride the bike and the response was that there was one by the same makers but a different style (Traveler vs. WorldTraveler) but that it was being shipped out in a few days. Hmmmm. Bike may be there, may not? Also, the person wasn’t really savvy about touring bikes in general. I know that touring peeps are a pretty small minority, but still…

The two categories are: complete bikes vs. frames.

In the complete bikes category I’m looking at the Koga Miyata World Traveler and the Bruce Gordon Rock N’ Road-Ex. Both of these are designed for fully-loaded touring. The main difference is that Bruce Gordon looks more like a road bike and the Koga Miyata looks like a mountain bike. I am concerned about the road conditions in South America (I’ve been hearing horror stories) which is why I was considering a mountain bike style, but I really need the varied hand positions. Some frame differences aside, it seems that it is predominately the handlebars which are different. Maybe – I don’t know but I can’t imagine that a bike designed for touring which resembles a mountain bike would really be designed for single-track downhill style riding. The other main difference between the two is that the Koga Miyata comes with every bell and whistle available and the Bruce Gordon doesn’t. Take it for what it is.

As for the frame category I’m looking at a Independent Fabrication frame and a Rivendell Bicycles frame. When I mentioned my interest in the Rivendell Atlantis frame to a friend of mine in San Francisco to whom I was telling this riveting bike selection story, his response was something like, “The problem with that (getting a Rivendell frame) is that it will take years.” Yup, we’re back to the time issue coupled in this case with the distance issue. I will still call the nice people at Rivendell and chat, just to cover my bases, but it’s looking like the Independent Fabrication frame is in the forefront thanks to Allen.

He talked with me about cannibalizing my BG components to put on a new frame so I could essentially save some money. I have great Bruce Gordon racks and Robert Beckman panniers designed for the racks and would like to use them again. Then there’s the wheel discussion (700c vs. 26in) which I’m not sure about yet – it seems to be a Texas Instrument vs. HP or Apple vs. PC type argument. I’m a HP, PC type gal (with unavoidable forays into the TI, Apple world) so please, someone, what does that make me in touring bike wheels?


Why don't you get a 29" wheel mountain bike, and put some WTB drops on it. You'd be getting the best of all worlds, looking cool, and old-school, all at the same time!

Rad -

I think the argument for the 26" wheel has finally gotten me. Since it is wider and smaller it is sturdier and from the description of Ruta 40 that I just got from someone, I need sturdy. I'm kinda bummed but I will try to use the wheels off my old mountain bike which is still going strong. Keeping my BG handlebars.

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