Velo Orange Porteur and Constructeur Racks

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When I built my Bob Jackson World Tour last year, I had a plan to fit racks at some point. I’d considered a number of options, but given the overall aesthetic of this bike – think French Randonneur – replica parts seemed the order of the day rather than fitting more purposeful Tubus or Surly load luggers.

Although it may never have been my intention to carry camping kit on this bike, my hand has been forced by next week’s Way of the Roses ride. Frames to replace my trusty but just–too–darn-small Surly Troll are either in transit or can’t be collected until May. I’d be pedalling coast to coast on the Bob Jackson then, and I needed racks to suit.

The hunt for the right replica parts normally means Velo Orange and I’ve been chewing over options from their range for a while. I eventually settled on a minimalist but rather elegant Constructuer rear rack and the more substantial Porteur front, which provides a sizeable platform for a large bag that I hope to acquire some time in the future. (There are some rather nice options from this cottage manufacturer in the Netherlands.)

The two VO racks arrived last month and I was immediately struck but how burly the Porteur is. By contrast, the Constructeur feels somewhat under gunned with its svelte lines and thin tubing. Both are made from stainless steel and rather nicely finished, though. Reading the VO specs they should be adequate to carry my slimmed down camping kit with control.

Fitting the racks was a bit of a faff… but isn’t it always? Both allow for the option to drill mudguards (if you have ‘proper’ alloy or steel mudguards that is) and it’s worth measuring, praying and drilling for the additional stability this provides – both for the racks and the guards.

You’ll note from the pictures I’m running the Constructeur rather tight to the mudguard while the Porteur is a little higher (and there’s a stack of M5 washers helping to keep the ‘guard put). In both cases I have to cut the tabs which attach to the drop out mounts – make sure you have a quality hacksaw for this job as the metal is reassuringly hardy.

This is a huge frame and having the Porteur rack a little higher gives me the perfect distance between its platform and handlebars for the aforementioned large ‘porteur’ bag. I’ve angled the rack back slightly too so the bag will be inline with the angle of the head tube. A personal quirk that may or may not work when the bag is ultimately in place.

Initial shake down rides now done and I am a big fan of the Porteur. I’ve carried reasonable weight up front with little discernable effect on the handling. If anything, the rack has made the Bob more settled if that’s possible for this most predictable of bikes. The rack will carry a drybag next week containing tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat along with lighter clothes and food.

The Constructuer, while looking dandy, is not so practical. It will just ferry a pair of small Caradice Super C panniers with some adjustment of the hooks. The platform will take a small drybag of some description too.

I’m hoping this three-bag solution will take care of my gear. I have the option to add an Alpkit framebag to spread the load a wee bit further. The Porteur will take front panniers too if needed but I’m trying to avoid the additional weight.

I’ll report back after next week’s trundle.

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Packing for bike touring – lightening the load

OldSkool? - Touring Iceland on a Surly Troll with 30kg of kit across four panniersa dn a drybag
OldSkool? – Touring Iceland on a Surly Troll with 30kg+ of kit across four panniers and a drybag

I’ve been experimenting with packing for my trip to Scotland later this month. Given I’ll be riding off road as much as weather conditions allow the traditional pannier set up has been ditched and I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my packing routine.

Adios panniers

A traditional cycle touring set up where the load is split across four panniers, bar bag and, maybe, a drybag on the rear rack offers the rider the chance to bring the kitchen sink – literally. For me, this results in luxuries such as books, a (relatively) large tent, hipflasks of whisky and bottles of ale, numerous electronic gizmos, extended camera kit, at least one full change of clothes including ‘evening wear’ for nights in the pub… you get the picture. Continue reading

Should you buy a custom bike frame? Some thoughts

I’ve had a quite a few emails from readers since I posted about my Woodrup Sportivo asking about the process of specifying a custom frame.

Now I have few hundred miles under my belt on this lovely machine, I feel it’s time to offer some thoughts on going custom which may be of help if you are considering a similar project.

Why do you want a custom frame?

Woodrup SportivoThis is an important question and one that requires some thought. In my case, my height, back trouble and aesthetic considerations were key factors in opting for a custom frame.

Your requirements may be different… Continue reading

Woodrup 853 Sportivo: done

Woodrup SportivoHere are some pics and build specs on my Woodrup. Assuming I can sell some more stuff, I hope to add an upgraded wheel set at some point but the hoops off the Thorn will do for now.

Frame: Woordup Sportivo 853 oversize tubing, custom.
Wheels: DRC rims on XT. Gatorskin 28mm tyes.
Mudguards: SKS
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra 57mm drop.
Pedals: Shimano Ultegra
Drivetrain: Sram Rival 20 spd, 50/34 crankset and WiFli rear mech. 11-32 rear cluster. 10spd Sram PC1051 chain. Chris King BB.
Bars: Pro Lt
Stem: Cinelli
Headset: Chris King
Seat post: Deda RSX 02
Saddle: Brooks B17
Accessories: King Cages, stainless steel. Carradice Zipped Roll.

Mountain Warehouse Extreme Brisk Mountain Jacket – a few miles down the trail

Mountain Warehouse Extreme Brisk JacketI’ve been wearing the Mountain Warehouse Extreme Brisk Mountain Jacket for a few months now in a range of conditions and it high time I offer some thoughts.

In common with the Adrenaline cycle jacket, which I posted about a while back, this jacket is manufactured from IsoDry, although a better performing version of the fabric according to the swing ticket.

The Brisk uses 10,000mm IsoDry, which has a claimed moisture vapour transfer (MVT) rate of 5,000g/24hrs/m2. Stats aside, the fabric of this jacket is considerable softer than that used for the Adrenaline and the jacket feels more comfortable as a result on the hill. Continue reading

Woodrup Sportivo 853

After nearly three years thinking about purchasing a custom frame I have, at last, taken the plunge. I took delivery of a Sportivo this week from Woodrup Cycles in Leeds, built with care and enthusiasm by Kevin Sayles.

woodrup-sportivo-8While three years may seem like a long time, I’m glad I deliberated. Trips to Bespoked Bristol planted the idea of a custom frame while also highlighting the challenges of building in steel a frame that would be big enough and satisfy my eye aesthetically.

This latter point was very important. I spoke to many builders who could deliver a frame that would fit but didn’t necessarily understand the ‘look’ I was after. I reviewed examples of large frames and, frankly, some looked like gates. I became despondent and rejected the whole project. This was not helped by personal financial ‘challenges’.

Then I visited Kevin at his workshop in Leeds armed with my Thorn Audax and we had a lengthy and fruitful chat about fit and form. Kevin is a real cycling enthusiast and has been building for more than 40 years. He used to work for Thorn and was pretty certain he’d set my Audax up.

While I had pretty fixed idea as to what I wanted, he suggested the 853 oversized tubeset which resulted in him having to fabricate a seat cluster lug (the frame had to have lugs!). The geometry was tweaked to accommodate my penchant for Brooks saddles and their relatively short rails. Other features included stainless strips for cable rub and a ‘proper’ head badge. A Chris King headset and bottom bracket completed the order.

I am delighted with the result. Not gate like to my eye, although remember I am 6’6″ with a 37.5″ cycle inseam. Can’t wait to get it built 🙂

 

Thorn Audax Mk3 size 600 frame set for sale (NOW SOLD)

Note: this frame has now been sold

My size 600 Thorn Audax Mk3 frame set in lovely cobalt pearl blue is for sale. Includes Cane Creek headset, Thorn 100mm 17 deg ahead stem, frame prep and stainless bolts throughout, Thorn seat pin and Shimano Tiagra bottom bracket.

Price £260. Buyer to pay shipping charges and I would prefer not to ship overseas.

This steel frame is extremely comfortable and would make a perfect century bike or winter trainer. It has braze ons for front and rear racks and direct fit mudguards.

While it has been very well cared for, there is the odd chip on the chain stay although not to the bare metal.

Full specs can be found on the Thorn website. Any questions, please email me.