Monday, April 7, 2008

A. Homer Hilsen

A new bike is on the way. I've spent many months trying to find the perfect bicycle. For me, that means a relaxed steel-framed road-ish bike that has clearance for fatter tires and has eyelets for racks and fenders - a bicycle that I can take on roads or trails, on a fast ride or a slow tour - an all-arounder. The Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen fits that bill perfectly, but it's only produced in 57cm and larger. That size is just a bit too big for me, so I've been considering alternatives like the Gunnar Sport, Rivendell Rambouillet or Saluki. All are fine bicycles and achieve their intended purposes well, but none meets my criteria entirely. In my experience, Gunnar makes a terrific bike and is probably the best bang for the buck, but the Sport just isn't versatile in the right way. The Gunnar Sport can really only take a 28c tire with a fender. The Rambouillet has the same problem and probably won't be available until the end of 2008. The Saluki is nice, but I'd rather not add the 650B wheel size to my collection of 700c wheeled bikes. So I searched. Recently I called Rivendell to ask some questions about their sizing methods. They off-handedly mentioned they had a few AHH's made in the 55cm size this time around, and still with 700c wheels!!! Could this be a sign? More importantly, was I prepared to plunk down 1500 for a frame and as much again for components and everything else? To add to that, there is definitely a certain sentiment about riding an expensive retro-grouch bicycle made of lugs and fairy dust that stands firmly against modern and popular cycling trends. That's a lot to consider.

Despite the price-tags and cynics, I like the Rivendell practically and aesthetic; it's suits me well. I talked to my LBS and put down a deposit on an AHH in their next shipment. It should be ready in a couple of weeks. I only need to go and pick out components, and then it should be on the road. Just in time for some long spring rides.

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