Like an Old Friend

I took delivery of a Rivendell Sam Hillborne yesterday. I immediately assembled the bike and took it out for a spin last night. There are a lot of bikes out there trying to look retro for style’s sake, but the Sam is the real deal — it has the ride-quality and detailing of a well-made bike from the 70′s or 80′s. It instantly reminded me of some of my favorite lugged-steel bikes from that era that I miss so much these days. Very, very cool. More to come…

37 Responses to “Like an Old Friend”

  • Apertome says:

    Just awesome. Between your LHT (I have one as well), the IF and now this, you are really making me drool.

  • keith says:

    I just went down and ordered a Sam on Saturday. It will be interesting to read what you have to say. Is that a Sackville bag on the front?
    I think the orange frame is beautiful.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    Cool, you got the orange! How would you compare the ride to the Pashley? And what do you think of the slightly sloping top tube?

  • Dottie says:

    Exciting! Betty Foy is supposed to be the same other than the top tube, so I look forward to hearing about your experiences. Are those mustache bars?

  • Lush says:

    Congrats! I just ordered a Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen (in a custom dark green color). The build should start in the next few days, I believe. Can’t wait to read your review. I’m thinking that my Kogswell P/R is about to get some serious downtime.

  • Jeff says:

    You have a LHT an IF and now a Sam? That aint right.

  • Alan says:

    @Keith

    Yes, the bike is outfitted with the Sackville TrunkSack up front and a SaddleSack in back.

  • Alan says:

    @Lovely Bicycle

    I’ve only taken a couple of short rides, but the Riv immediately felt much more lively and responsive than the Pashley, and if I dare say, more comfortable as well.

    I like the sloping top tube in this application. This is not a compact frame; the top tube slopes up in front, not down in back. It may seem like semantics, but it’s not. In other words, the headtube is unusually tall for a 60cm frame. Compact frames maintain the usual relationship between saddle and bars, whereas an upsloping top tube raises the bars in relation to the saddle while keeping the same effective top tube length. It’s a clever design that makes it much easier to get the bars up into a comfortable position.

  • Alan says:

    @Dottie

    Yes, Moustache bars. I’ve always heard they’re a love or hate proposition; in my case it was love at first ride. I think with these bars it’s key that they’re set-up at or above saddle height with a relatively short reach stem or the reach to the brakes is going to feel too far for many people. With the 60cm frame and Dirt Drop stem, it was easy to get the bars in the perfect position. Kudos to Dave at Riv for getting me set-up correctly.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    Thanks Alan, that is very informative. My husband owns a Pashley Roadster Sovereign and was considering adding a Hilborne – but he was unsure about the top tube. Keep us updated!

  • Alan says:

    @Lush and Keith

    Congrats on your purchases – you won’t be disappointed. Send pics for the Gallery when you receive your bikes!

  • s0fa says:

    housingt looks a little short…

  • Alan says:

    @sofa

    It’s just the angle of the shot – it actually curves nicely forward with plenty of excess.

  • Don says:

    I have an orange Rivendell Rambouillet that is setup with moustache bars. I believe it it has similar geometry to the Sam Hillborne. It is without a doubt my favorite bike to ride if I’m going any distance, it’s so comfortable. It’s stable yet very lively, it corners like it’s on rails. Definitely a good choice on your part.

  • Dan says:

    Riv should hire you to do their photography… I was considering a Sam but wasn’t sure about the orange. Your photos make it look spectacular.

  • Alan says:

    @Dan

    It’s a lovely color in person…

  • Liz says:

    I took delivery of my green Hillborne last week. It will be my new everything bike, so had them set it up with a generator hub and a chain guard instead of the largest chainring. It rides so, so well…. Handlebars are Soma Arc bars. My only regret is that (i) I should have realized how wide the bars are and had them cut them down a bit (my hands on the handlebars are quite a bit wider than my shoulders) and (ii) dirt drop stem or periscopa instead of the normal technomic. (It’s a relatively upright ride, so the shorter reach would probably be better.) I’ll ride this for a while and see if I get used to the width of the bars; if I decide to change the width, I’ll change the stem at the same time.

    I’ve been commuting daily on my Pashley (the Princess Sovereign) for five years now, and of course there’s no comparison between the two at all. Both lovely, but they’re just completely different bicycles.

  • Perry says:

    I loved the m-bars at first…and then I hated them. But I think they can be good some applications and they sure do give a bike a cool look.

  • Alan says:

    Hey Perry,

    I’m curious, was it something in particular you grew to dislike about the Moustache bars?

    Alan

  • Perry says:

    Cons: Limited selection of hand positions. Every position seemed to put me low (tucked) on the bike. Unstable handling at the center near the stem.

    Pros: Cool looking. Great leverage for off road. Pretty good tuck position with hands near brake levers.

    Probably just a preference thing but I think I’d prefer a set of mountain drops (or a regular drops) or go all upright and use some a-bars. Big fan of the a-bars, as you know.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks for the information, Perry (you know how much I value your opinion). I too, love the Albatross Bar (or in my case it’s the North Road – same diff), but I’ve been wanting to try the Moustache bar for years now (all the way back to first seeing them in the Bridgestone catalog) and this bike was begging for them. :-)

    Speaking of mountain drops, I ran WTB Cunningham-style dirt drops on two of my bikes and loved them. It was those bars that made me wonder if I’d like the Moustache.

  • Perry says:

    Well, Alan, I’m all for experimentation. They may float your boat. I’d love to hear back from you after you put some mileage on them. I think you’ve added a wonderful bike to your already wonderful collection. Life is good! :)

  • Alan says:

    @Perry

    It’ll be fun. BTW, for the record, this bike is generously on loan for review from Riv, though I have a sinking feeling when the review period is up I may decide to hand over the CC and make it a permanent part of the stable – we’ll see.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » More on the Moustache says:

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  • NutrientDense says:

    Hi Alan..The orange Hillborne looks beautiful…
    I am expecting mine in the mail TOMORROW!…
    I actually went to Rivendell when I was in California on vacation about 3 weeks ago to test ride…(I live in NYC)
    I really wanted a green..but they had already replaced with orange..but alas…they has ONE green Hillborne frame left in a size 56…
    I will post some pics after I get it up a running and install my fenders….( I’m sure that will take awhile.)
    I’d love to know more about what you think as far as the ride…
    What will you be using if for?
    Did you post other pics of the bike?
    Thanks,
    Jason

  • Alan says:

    Hi Jason,

    “I am expecting mine in the mail TOMORROW!…”

    That’s exciting – have fun!

    The plan is to use the Sam H. as an all-purpose bike for getting around town, some light touring on the weekends, fill-in trips to the grocery store (I have another bike for the big trips), and the occasional commute. Its versatility is one of the big appeals of this bike in my opinion.

    I’ll be posting more photos, and eventually, a full review once I’ve had more time on the bike.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Jon Grinder says:

    I’m a huge fan of the mustache bars. I currently run them on my 29er geared mtb, 29er fixed mtb commuter, 1974 Peugeot UO8 fixed gear and (circa) 1988 Rockhopper-based XO-1 clone.

    I don’t miss the “hands next to the stem” position, because I rarely (if ever) use that position on drop bars, riding mostly on the hoods, anyway.

    Plus, they just look “right” to me.

  • Don says:

    I, too am a big fan of the moustache bar. I have my brake levers positioned more inboard than the catalog shows, about the tangent point before the curve. This gives me four useful hand positions, an aero position on the brake hoods, one in the throat of the curve, one at the outer tangent of the curve and one at the bar ends. These allow me to move my hands around and in turn my body position.

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  • tt says:

    Hi,

    Your Sam Hillborne is stunning, and your photography is amazing.

    In regard to this:

    >>I like the sloping top tube in this application. This is not a compact frame; the top tube slopes up in front, not down in back. It may seem like semantics, but it’s not. In other words, the headtube is unusually tall for a 60cm frame. Compact frames maintain the usual relationship between saddle and bars, whereas an upsloping top tube raises the bars in relation to the saddle while keeping the same effective top tube length. It’s a clever design that makes it much easier to get the bars up into a comfortable position.<<

    I must inform you that your bike is the equivalent of a frame with a 66.5 cm seat tube (C-T) and level top tube….whose top tube was then lowered in the back. No different than any other compact frame.

  • Alan says:

    @tt

    “Your Sam Hillborne is stunning, and your photography is amazing.”

    Thanks very much for the kind words.. :-)

    “I must inform you that your bike is the equivalent of a frame with a 66.5 cm seat tube (C-T) and level top tube….whose top tube was then lowered in the back. No different than any other compact frame.”

    It sounds as if you’re running on the assumption that the only difference between a 60cm and a 66.5 cm frame is the seat tube length. Of course, top tube length, chainstay length, BB drop and other factors have to be considered as well. When taken as a whole, a frame with an upsloping top tube is not necessarily the same as a larger “compact” frame with a downsloping top tube.

    Here’s an example. Say a frame designer designs a 60cm frame for a person who is 6’0″ with an average torso length. Then the same designer designs a 66.5cm frame for a person who is 6’5″ with an average (but longer) torso length. Then the designer upslopes (toward the head tube) the top tube on the 60, then downslopes (toward the seat tube) the top tube on the 66.5. What you end up with is two identically sloped top tubes that are the same height from the ground, but the 66.5cm frame has a longer front center than the 60cm frame.

    Alan

  • tt says:

    “It sounds as if you’re running on the assumption that the only difference between a 60cm and a 66.5 cm frame is the seat tube length.”

    No.

    “Of course, top tube length, chainstay length, BB drop and other factors have to be considered as well.”

    Any bike with a sloping top tube has a twin whose top tube is level. The twin has the exact same chain stay length, seat tube angle, head tube angle, bottom bracket drop, and front center as the sloping top tube bike, and therefore the handling is identical.

    If you sat on the twin and set the saddle height so that the distance from the top of the saddle to the middle of the bottom brracket was the same as on your Sam Hillborne, your butt would be in the same position relative to the bottom bracket, and your reach to the handlebars would be exactly the same.

    To calculate the seat tube length and top tube length of the twin requires knowledge of some basic high school trigonometry. The chain stay length, bottom bracket drop, seat tube angle, head tube angle, and rake are kept fixed, so that the twin has the exact same handling. Have you ever noticed how Rivendell lists the “theoretical top tube length” in their geometry charts? That is the top tube length of the twin. Rivendell also likes to point out that the actual top tube length of a sloping top tube is irrelevant, which is true.

    Your bike’s twin has a seat tube that is roughly 66.5 cm long (it’s actually slightly longer!) and a horizontal top tube that is 62 cm long. A bike that big has a long head tube! The twin’s chainstay length, bottom bracket drop, seat tube angle, and head tube angle are all the same as your Sam Hillborne’s.

    Of course, you could also build a bike that had a 66.5 cm seat tube that was not the same as your bike’s twin. It could be built with a different bottom bracket drop than your bike’s twin, or a different top tube length than your bike’s twin, and then the front center would be different than your bike’s twin, and therefore the handling would be different. But…that is completely irrelevant. It is patently obvious that not all bikes with a 66.5 cm seat tube have to have to be built with the same geometry and therefore the same front center.

    However, there is one bike with a 66.5 seat tube that has the exact some front center as your Sam Hillborne. It has the same chain stay length, the same seat tube angle, the same bottom bracket drop, the same rake, the same head tube angle, and therefore the same front center, and so it handles exactly the same as your Sam Hillborne. That is an undeniable fact. Any frame builder can confirm that.

    I read that you use photoshop. It should be very easy for you to construct your bike’s twin, so that you can visually see what I am talking about. All you have to do is use some lines to construct a stick figure side view of your bike. Put each line in a different layer. Start by drawing a bike with a sloping top tube. When you are done, and all the lines connect to form a bike, rotate the top tube line so that it is horizontal. Then change the seat tube line so that it is a little longer. Then make the top tube line a little longer so that it connects to the seat tube. Next, you can redraw the seat stay lines if you want, but they are irrelevant. Notice how you can create a bike with a horizontal top tube from your original stick figure without moving either of the drop outs or the bottom bracket?

  • Alan says:

    @tt

    Thanks for the explanation; I understand what you’re saying. I suppose it comes down to semantics. In the case of the Sam, the question is whether Grant Petersen designed a 60cm bike and lengthened the head tube, or designed a 66.5cm bike and shortened the seat tube. I guess we’ll have to ask him… :-) Either way, it’s the same bike with a different label (“60cm upsloping” or “66.5 cm compact”).

    Cheers!
    Alan

  • tt says:

    “Either way, it’s the same bike with a different label (“60cm upsloping” or “66.5 cm compact”).”

    Yes, exactly.

    I have a question for you, if you don’t mind. I am thinking about purchasing a 60 cm Sam Hillborne, but I want to use it for fully loaded touring, and I’m not sure it is up to the task. I have two concerns: are the seat stays long enough at 45.5 cm for a rack and panniers on back for someone with a size 14 shoe? Would my heel hit the panniers? Some of Rivendell’s bikes have 46 cm chainstays, and I would think that the longer the chainstays, the better; but in reality an additional .5 centimeters is not much.

    I also wonder if the frame is stiff enough to handle panniers on the front and back. What are your impressions? Any insights are much appreciated.

  • Alan says:

    My advice is to call Rivendell to go over these questions. They outfit people on these bikes on a daily basis and they’re much more qualified to answer the questions than I am.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Chris says:

    Alan-

    Curious to get your opinion, maybe compare and contrast the Hillborne with a traditional diamond config. and the other version with two top tubes found on the larger frames (56cm and up).

    I’m interested in a Sam but don’t have enough informaation to act.

    Thanks,
    Chris

 
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