Gallery: Daniel’s Rivendell Sam Hillborne

This is Daniel’s brand new Rivendell Sam Hillborne. He took delivery on Thursday night and proceeded to take it on a 150 mile, dawn-to-dusk ride from Berkeley to Monterey on Saturday. Specs are as follows:

I went with the Dirtdrop stem and the Noodle bars, with Tektro V-brake levers and interrupters, as well as Paul’s thumbies so the bar-end Shimanos are instead mounted like old school thumbshifters. I turned the indexing off and haven’t looked back. I am having a LOT of trouble getting used to the reverse-rise rear derailer; 25 years of muscle memory is hard to overcome! I also opted for Rivendell’s lowest priced handbuilt 36 spoke wheels; Deore LX hubs with Velocity Synergy rims. I’m using a Cardiff saddle and my SPD pedals with a platform on one side which tends to get used 95% of the time.

Thanks for sharing, Daniel!

17 Responses to “Gallery: Daniel’s Rivendell Sam Hillborne”

  • David says:

    Could someone clue me in to the joys of friction shifting?

    Let me say that I’m not trying to pick a fight here. For example, I much prefer a car with a manual transmission to an automatic; I appreciate the added control and efficiency of the manual. I also grew up with bikes having friction shifters but I gotta say that once I got indexed shifting, I never looked back. It’s faster, it’s less prone to problems with cable friction, and it causes less wear on the drivetrain. In short, it seems like a complete win. My current indexed shifting setup has been going strong for 17 years without a hitch, so it seems like it’s reliable too.

  • Alan says:


    “Could someone clue me in to the joys of friction shifting?”

    You make valid points regarding the practical advantages of indexed shifting.

    Mostly, I just enjoy the way friction shifting feels because that’s how I rolled in my formative years as a bike rider. To me, it’s just more tactile and direct. Of course, for internal gear hubs, indexing is pretty much required, regardless of personal preference.


  • Bob says:

    Friction does have its advantages. It’s almost entirely maintenance free since you don’t have to readjust it as the cable stretches– you effectively adjust every time you shift. It’s far more tolerant to dirty or sticky cables for the same reason. And, crucially for some, all friction shifters are compatible with all derailleurs, no matter what. You don’t have to worry about matching stuff. If you’ve ever had to replace a derailleur at the last minute or on the road, you understand how much of a godsend that is.

    This isn’t to knock indexing; everyone has their preference. Many, like myself, run different setups on different bikes.

  • Doug R. says:

    I love my Sam too! Good on you Daniel! Great bike!

  • Janice in GA says:

    There’s a term there that’s new to me: “reverse rise rear derailleur”. Of course I know what the rear derailleur is, but what does “reverse rise” mean in this context?

    Sorry if that’s a n00b question.

  • Alan says:

    “…what does “reverse rise” mean in this context?”

    The term refers to a rear derailleur that is spring-loaded in the opposite direction from normal. Most derailleurs today move toward the high gear when cable tension is released. Reverse-rise (aka “Rapid Rise” and “Low Normal”) move toward the low (larger, inboard) rear cog when the lever is released. This causes the lever to move in the opposite direction to what most people are accustomed to. Here’s an explanation from Sheldon Brown:


    “Modern derailers are spring loaded, pulled one way by the spring and the other way by the control cable. A “low-normal” derailer is one in which the spring pulls it toward the lower gear(s). If you release the tension on the cable, it will shift to the lowest gear.
    Up until the late 1950s, all spring loaded derailers were low-normal. Campagnolo’s pioneering parallelogram-type rear derailer was high-normal, and most rear derailers made since then have been of the high-normal type.

    The major advantage of high-normal rear derailers is that, when used with a low-normal front, both levers move in the same direction for double shifts. This makes it easier to perform a double shift with down-tube shift levers.

    The major advantage of low-normal derailers is that they generally downshift a bit better than high-normal units.

    Since the late 1990s, Shimano has attempted to revive the low-normal rear derailer design, using the trademark “RapidRise.” This has met with increasing acceptance by cyclists.

    Sun Tour used to make high-normal front derailers. The principal advantage of this was that the front and rear shift levers moved in the same direction to either raise or lower the gear, less confusing for beginner cyclists.”



    PS – I’m a big fan of low-normal (RapidRise) rear derailleurs and have them on two of my bikes.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    I never get tired of looking at Sam Hillborne pictures as I wait for mine to be built up. It is amazing how different this bicycle can look depending on the owner’s choices!

  • Janice in GA says:

    Alan: Many thanks! I understand it now.

  • Joe says:

    Great looking bike. Props for the SPD/platform combo. Great for around town in street shoes, but have the SPD option for when you want it. I run these when I tour, and carry a pair of sandals or sneakers from when I want to let my feet “relax,” or riding around a town after I bunker down for the night.

    On the Rapid Rise comment. Great for road/townie bikes, but I have not been able to get used to them on my MTB. I have a DIY Shimano 600 reverse rise on my Cross Check, and love it. Thinking of getting one for my roadie if I continue to use barcons.

    On another note, love the cardiff saddle. I LOVE mine. Very underrated saddle IMO. I have close to 10k on mine, and is the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden. If its new, a little Mink oil or linseed oil on the underside will help with the break in process and keep the backing material strong. I do this every other time I apply the mink oil to the top. No, I don’t use proofhide. If mink oil has kept my horse saddles perfect for years, why not in a bike saddle, right… Smells good too.

    On friction… I feel it gives a more connected feel to the shifts. I like being able to “trim” it in, so cross chaining is less of an issue in terms of rubbing and noise. Indexing has its purpose, like on a racing bike or fast club rides, but I feel if you are going to use DT, or bar end shifters, friction is the way to go. The indexing click of barcons and DT shifters is also just way to loud and “clunky” for my tastes. Like being back to the basics of what a bicycle is. I like being in control of my shifts, and friction is the key. I even use friction on my SRAM equipped Tri bike.

  • David says:

    Thanks everyone for the feedback on friction shifting.

    Regarding trimming when riding with the chain crossed over, it seems to me that the standard friction front derailler is all you need to achieve trim, regardless of the indexed status of the rear. In my experience, indexing is also more tolerant of cable friction because you’re making a relatively fast, large, and sudden move of the cable when you index, versus a slower move with friction. This overcomes the static friction component quickly so all you have in play is sliding friction, which is both lower and more consistent from shift to shift. I will concede that cable stretch is less of a problem for friction shifters but in my experience, a new cable more or less finishes stretching after a few weeks riding and is easily accommodated with a twist of the barrel adjuster. After that, you’re done.

    Anyway, thanks again and as I said, horses for courses, I was just wondering why.

  • Androo says:

    I don’t see the appeal at all in going with friction for rear shifters – I have an old road bike with downtube shifters and a 7-speed, and even with that many gears it starts to get a bit fiddly for my tastes.

    That said, just yesterday I went out and bought a cheapy SunRace thumb shifter to go with friction in the front on my commuter/tourer. Try as I might, I can’t get the indexing to cooperate with the middle chainring in the smaller rear cogs, so I’m just going to trim it manually, which doesn’t seem like any imposition to me.

  • Daniel says:

    Hey everyone, thanks for the feedback!

    As for the friction shifting, I find that indexing is great when a bike is brand new, and then the quality degrades despite frequent/incessant tuning until you finally replace the whole unit. I think the fact that the indexing mechanics live in the levers and not the derailer have a lot to do with this; there’s a few feet of cable stretch and friction between the lever where the stops are and the derailer where the actual gears are. In addition, I have run into situations where I needed to replace a cassette or a lever and the industry had moved on from my now hopelessly obsolete number of gears and I had to replace both. With friction, almost any levers work with almost any derailer/cassette and the adjustment basically comes down to the limit screws. I’m not against indexing in principle – I have a Rohloff hub on my old mountain bike.

    In my case, I just wasn’t quite satisfied with the indexing adjustment as I rode the bike out of the shop, so I turned the screw to the friction setting and left it there. I’m beginning to feel that a well-executed friction shift is smoother than an index shift: the friction shift “catches” where the index shift “thunks”. My friction habits being rusty, however, not all of my shifts have been so well-executed!

    As for the RapidRise derailer, I know I will get used to it, and logically it makes sense; forward is now an upshift on BOTH levers and vice-versa. It’s just that fours days of riding has yet to reprogram me; when I think about it I know what to do, but my instincts are still to do the opposite.

  • Daniel says:

    @Joe: I love the SPD/platform combo for the same reasons; 90% of the time I just want to wear the shoes I have on! But for long rides, I still love the sense of connectedness to the bike and the ability to pull up on the pedals with the SPDs. I do find that the SPD cleat tends to concentrate all of the pedaling pressure into the ball of my foot, which sometimes makes my foot go numb. The solution is simply to unclip and ride on the platform side for a while.

    When I bike tour and naturally want to pack light, I do get a little frustrated with the need for a second pair of shoes; I am considering a set of Powergrips and platform pedals for touring so I can get away with a single pair of shoes.

    As for the Cardiff saddle, it is my first leather saddle so I am not much of a judge. I have had it for a couple of months (previously on another bike) and I am surprised at how quickly it broke in. I removed the bottom laces because I didn’t like how they were creaking over the saddle rails and seat clamp while I rode, but I think I’m going to put them back on and lace them tighter. I’m told that messing with the tension screw often leads to ruin. Interestingly enough, I also treated the saddle with mink oil, left over from the days when my dad used to sell undyed leather bags at craft fairs.

  • doug in seattle. says:

    Friction’s advantage for me is cost. A pair of used STI levers is easily over $100, and new ones are in the multiple hundreds range for even the cheapest variety. Friction shifters can be had for $10 or less if you know where to look, and decent brake levers can be had new for little more. I’d rather drop the big money on a nice set of wheels.

    The other advantage is nearly 100% compatibility. For me, this ties into the value aspect: I can go to the local used bike shop, find a used derailleur for $5 and not worry for a second if it will work. I do enjoy using one of my 1982 vintage Suntour Cyclone MKII derailleurs (175g!) on eight and nine speed drivetrains with zero issues. I’ve also used nine-speed mechs on six and seven speed wheels with no issue.

    I’m not convinced that friction is that much slower than index with a bit of familiarity. Of course, I’m a bit slower on my road bike, but that’s because it’s equipped with Suntour Symmetric downtube shifters, and my body is trained for barcons. On my barcon-equipped camping bike, I feel like the shifts are as fast as any index shift.

    Of course,I bet the real reason everybody likes friction is because it makes you feel special to use them. Same deal as a manual transmission on a automobile.

  • Andrew says:

    @Daniel re: clipless pedals, I’m in a similar boat. I really liked going on my long pleasure rides with my Crank Bros pedals, but they were occasionally a little bit scary when commuting in downtown traffic, so I recently picked up some beefy downhill-style flats (Axiom Road Gaps) and made myself some DIY Powergrips from 1.5″ accessory webbing that I grommeted and then bolted through the reflector holes (00 gauge grommets and M5 bolts work beautifully). It’s occasionally tricky to get your foot in (can’t imagine it would be much easier with The Real Thing, though) but it works pretty well, and for $4 in materials, you can’t really beat it.

  • Fergie348 says:

    V-brakes with road levers? How’s that working out for you?

    I never liked the rapid rise derailleurs. I think that’s when Shimano really lost me. I’m all SRAM now and the only thing I’m contemplating the big ‘S’ for is one of those Alfine 11 speed hubs when they come out next year. Yummy..

  • Joe says:

    @Fergie – he is using Drop V levers. Road levers designed to work with V brakes. Also work with MTB mechanical disks.

    @Daniel – A little wax in the laces will help with the squeaking. I have actually added a few more holes on each side and added more lacing to bring the sides in. It started to splay out as the saddle broke in. On the tensioner, I have only had to tension it once. And that was after around a 500 mile tour straight in bad rain (I don’t like the feel of saddle covers.) Of course, I wanted till it dried out, after a week or so. Mink oil is great stuff, IMO better then the much more expensive proofhide or brooks branded stuff. I like linseed oil on the underside though. I have cut a “imperial” style cutout in mine, and is even more comfortable then before. That was after around 5k miles though. I’d say leave the tensioner nut alone till you absolutely need it. You can stretch the leather to much very easy and stretch it beyond the point it will “snap” back. My father has a brooks saddle on his roadie that is from the late 50’s, and has only adjusted the tension twice. He rides 35 miles daily, and the saddle regularly gets wet. Also, has only been treated with mink oil. Looks as good as most “newer” brooks I have seen, if not better.

    I have a different issue with SPD’s on long rides. I start to get a hot spot in the ball of my foot after two or so hours. I went with a SPD with more “platform” support on my MTB to resolve this, and new stiffer shoes. I like being able to move my foot around on the platforms. Why I use toe clips, but no straps with my Suntour XC pro flats. A little more flexibility. The clip just keeps my foot from sliding too far forward when wet or in slicker shoes.

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