Introducing Bike #5, another very dear old friend, my Samuel Hillborne.
This was my first Rivendell, and it marked a significant inflection point
in my cycling career. I bought it in December 2009, and my cycling life
could easily be separated into BH (Before Hillborne) and AH (After
Hillborne). Before Hillborne, I was a TTLZ, a Top Tube Length Zealot. I
would look at one number on a geo-chart, the effective top tube length. If
it was 56.5cm, it fit me. If it was not 56.5cm, it did not fit me. That's
what I thought. After Hillborne, I realized that you can't say anything
about fit from top tube length alone and in isolation. The biggest thing
for Rivendells, in my opinion is seat tube angle. Before Hillborne, I
slammed the saddle all the way back, on every bike, all the time, because
every other bike had a steep seat tube angle. I believe that in December
2009 there was no other production 'road bike' on earth with a 71.5 degree
seat tube angle. There might still be no other non-Rivendell production
bikes on Earth with a 71.5 degree seat tube angle. Because the seat tube
angle is slack, you'll run the saddle 1-2cm further forward, right in the
middle of the rails, which looks great and fits. Voila! You're top tube is
2cm shorter that you thought when you were a TTLZ. Anyway, here's Sam, on
my morning 40 mile commute through the East Bay Hills, with Fog-gust in
Every time I contemplate on a Rivendell Custom, I invariably end up
defining a bike that is almost identical to my 56cm, single top tube,
cantilever Hillborne. For me in 2017, it is just about my perfect all-road
bike. 38mm tires + fenders is ample for a sensible road bike. After
Hillborne, that's my attitude. A road bike that only takes 32mm tires with
fenders is most definitely a "racing bike" in my AH categories.
News flash for everyone. This was my first 40 mile ride on Compass 38mm
knobbies, the Steilacoom, and they are freaking fast on the road. I could
hear a faint hum, but since I'm using strava for everything, I can say
these tires are not significantly slower than 650x42B Babyshoe Pass
Extralights, set up tubeless, on my Niner Seven Fiver. These Compass
knobbies are kind of a secret weapon, to me. They have great dirt and mud
behavior, and you sacrifice essentially nothing on the road. It's kind of
like cheating. I suspect they will also be much better for flat resistance
and cuts, because there is a thick chunk of tread between you and the stuff
on the ground. Unlike thick treaded tires, knobbies can still be supple,
because the casing between the knobs can flex. The knobs themselves are
wide and stout, so they don't squirm in hard cornering on pavement. There
is less rubber in contact with the ground, so I assume the limits of max
adhesion might be less, but on this foggy morning, I didn't push it.
> Bill Lindsay
> El Cerrito, CA
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