nice shop bike

nice shop bike
Boulder Bicycle Lugged

Friday, July 10, 2009

Do you even need a Randonneur Bike? Cinelli fun


For most riding, I do prefer a rando style machine. But many of my rides are shorter, just one to three hours. In Colorado, it is rare to get rained on (in general), so fenders are less critical. So for a change of pace (and to enjoy my vintage steed), I've set up my old Cinelli with a Berthoud 192 bag and Challenge Paris Roubaix tires. Now I'm still amazed at the speed and comfort of 650b, but the Cinelli is not going away anytime soon. You can see it is well loved.

Recently, my wife and I did a wonderful day of riding on the Katy trail in Missouri. The trail's website describe this ride as comfortable on wider road tires, or a mountain bike. The Katy trail is amazingly pleasant, with relatively luxurious restrooms and stops all along the way. We stayed in Boonville and did day rides from the area, and it was perfect. Now the trail is not challenging in terms of dirt or pitch; unlike the steep dirt roads outside Boulder.

The Berthoud 192 bag, though was a blessing. We didn't have too much stuff to carry, but did have a camera, extra water (not needed with the amenities), and some food and tools. Another shot of the Berthoud bag is shown below.


What is nifty about this bag is how nicely it attaches with the quick fix. It really comes off in just a moment.

So how does the vintage Cinelli do? Quite nicely. Since it has more trail then a machine designed for a front load, there is a bit of wheel flop. But the rake on some of these older race bikes is often quite generous for a given headangle, so all in all the handling is quite acceptable.

Now what about going "all out" in the rando conversion? The two things the bike lacks are lighting and fenders. Lighting actually can be easy. At some point, I may set up a B&M Cyo or a Schmidt Edelux on a Nitto skewer light attachment (and also use the B&M handlebar diameter adapter) with a Schmidt hub and I'll be grooving at night, at least up front.

For fenders, though, all is not well. It is really important to keep your foot from getting caught in the front fender and unleasing a catastrophe. For a size 8.5 or 9 shoe, a front center close to around 615mm is really needed. A few mm shy may be fine (and often Rene Herse built right to the edge we've found). But the Cinelli is about 590mm. That is an invitation for dissaster. So no fenders on this machine. Plus this one does not have eyelets.

Interestingly, some early Cinelli frames from the early 70's and before were made with fenders in mind. They had threaded points on the chainstay and brake bridges to accomodate fenders, as well as eyelets. I don't know the geometry on them, but memory indicates that they were more laid back with greater clearances so they would be fender safe.

So what is with the horrid handlebar tape (and electrical tape) on the Cinelli pictured? The bike had to spend some time in the roof rack, and sometimes gets locked up around town. So I figure the shabby tape makes the bike look like a beater bike and is a bit of theft insurance. Rather intentionally, I've waited to see how bad the tape can look (and how dirty the bike can get). But something inside me is saying its time to build a real beater bike and get this one spiffed up again.
So if one doesn't need fenders, and can also deal with a lack of "integration", it is quite possible to enjoy many machines in the "rando" style. Unfortunately, many modern bikes simply lack the clearance for wider tires, and have such high trail that a handlebar bag up front is somewhat dangerous.
So maybe the reason I've always loved the vintage steel bikes such as the Cinelli is that in many ways they are extreamely friendly to the style of riding many of us have adopted. I'll have on Cinelli in later posts - they were not just racing bikes!

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