Victoire Concours de Machines 2017 randonneuse
Victoire Concours de Machines 2017 randonneuse
The aim for 2017 was to present you with a machine reflecting our vision of the most advanced light randonneuse. To do so favoured technical solutions which were essential to us rather than follow the scoring grid point by point. To us, a modern randonneuse is a reliable, light and comfortable bike, able to ride hundreds of kilometres, night and day, on roads and paths, whatever the conditions are, and in a complete autonomy. It therefore needs to be able to carry bags.
Our thinking for the machine for the Concours 2017 has been a long process. It started right after the end of the Concours de Machines 2016, from the experience we acquired following the production of the frame of our first light randonneuse. We then rode the 2016 machine many times on long-distances such as a Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier, the Chilkoot Tour du Vaucluse Historique and a Clermont-Ferrand-Marseilles as well as an intensive use during winter.
These kilometres achieved by different people in different conditions enabled us to get many feedbacks which then constituted the basis to define the improvements for 2017. A first specifications note was elaborated, from which we produced two 650B prototypes helping us refine our technical choices.
- 650B wheels
Combining a rider less than 1m80 tall, the 700c wheels with 35mm tires and fenders parameters made it really difficult for us to obtain a good geometry without the toe overlap. The best solution to overcome this issue was to go for 650B wheels.
- Loading capacity augmented
The fork, manufactured in our workshop, also have eyelets to put bottle cages or a rack such as the Salsa Anyting Cage system which allows for extra weight on the fork blades.
- Optimisation of the fork to have disc brake without sacrificing comfort
Our 2016 fork had fork blades prototypes developed by Reynolds specifically to support disc brakes though, but a prolonged utilisation of the machine made us to reach this system’s limits. The unicrown fork with 12mm axle which were on our prototypes 650B were satisfying during the tests (3000km ridden including a Diagonale Brest-Menton and the BTR 2017) so we decided to keep this system for our machine.
- Facilitate the bike transportation
Travelling being fully a part of the cycling philosophy, it seemed important to us to offer solutions to facilitate its transport, either by car, train or plane.
- Increase the versatility
Even though our 2016 Machines wasn’t bad on unpaved roads (ranked 3rd on the gravel trial), we still wanted to improve our 2017 bike handling on paths, notably with the use of 650B and 42mm tires.
The geometry of our light randonneuse 2017 is similar to the one of our prototypes. The positioning of the contact points -bottom bracket, saddle and handlebar- is optimised for our rider. The frame has a more modern shape, with a strong sloping. The tubing sizing is also a result of these two prototypes, being satisfied with the handling we got from the frames.
Every tube we used on our randonneuse are from the 853 range by Reynolds, the most high-end steel on the market. We chose to do a steel frame instead of a stainless one to not make the project to expensive. The oval top tube vertically absorbs the shocks really well while keeping its stiffness on the sides. The 35mm downtube integrate a S&S Machine coupling system to allow the frame disassembly. The coupling system had been machined on the lathe to adjust perfectly to the tube diameter.
The second part of the disassembly template we chose is a mix of a coupling system on the down tube, near the bottom bracket, and a derivative of the Ritchey’s BreakAway system. The top tube is welded to a lug with a saddle clamp. The seatpost acts as a coupling as it is tightened by both parts of the frame. The difference with the Ritchey’s system is that we decided to hide the second seat clamp inside the seatstays. In the end, we only have one visible clamp, resulting in a better aesthetic.
The seattube is the one usually found on MTB bikes, our big sizes’ ones, and we have an additional external reinforcement at the saddle level, so the diameter goes from 28.6mm to 29.8mm. As the frame can be disassemble at this place, it helps improving the solidity and reliability.
The rear triangle has been bended according to our measures by Reynolds in order to get enough space for the bottom bracket and the tires, making the bike responsive and reactive. The seatstays are 17mm at the top and 12.5 at the bottom. Associated with 42mm tires, they bring comfort, flexibility and a good shock absorption. They are independent from the braking, the caliper being fixed on the chainstay. The brakes bosses have been machined in house, to reduce their congestion and weight, about half the weight of the Paragon ones.
The bottom-bracket is at the new standard T47. This standard has the advantages of the classic threaded box in terms of assembly and maintenance, and it easily accepts every kind of modern crankset, with 30mm aluminium axles. We had the chance to get one of the first new Spécialités crankset T.A with a 30mm axle, which is the reason why we went for this new standard.
The headtube is at the standard 44mm, which is to us the more versatile and mechanic currently. The bearings are made of aluminium cups squeezed in the frame. We prefer this solution rather than the bearings directly in the frame in which they would suffer all the distortions of it.
The 44mm diameter makes it possible to fit a conical pivot, which reinforces the fork at the junction of the pivot and the fork blades. Those are 28.6mm wide and bent on one side to link the pivot. They are conical on the other side, welded on 3D dropouts for thru axle. Big part of the work was done in this area to make our fork compatible with the new standard Mavic Speed Release, that enables a quick dissassembly of the thru axle. Dropouts are just available at Paragon, on ly for the rear. So, we ordered two pairs including a modified one for the front. The first step was to cut the derailleur hanger before lathing the dropouts again to be able to splice it up in a 28.6mm diameter tube and therefore have a sufficient surface. This modification took one whole day to be done. In the end, we have a fork with a 12mm axle, that can support disc brakes and that can be disassembled.
The disc-brakes fixation is also made to measure, with diverse machined parts and tubes.
THE STEM AND THE DECALEUR
The stem is an improved version of the one from last year, made from 3 tubes with small diameters and inspired by René Herse’s famous one. This year, our stem is shorter and has Columbus seat stays made oval for the 3 main tubes. Contrary to last year, the 31.8mm is compatible with most of the handlebars on the market. The downtube, horizontally welded, gets threaded eyelets to fasten the decaleur.
It’s been almost a year that we seek to improve the finish levels on our bikes, especially the painting ones. We settled for a sober varnish on our 2016 machine, mostly due to the lack of time. That’s why we wanted to make up for it this year. With our recent collaboration with Matthieu Lifschitz, we presented a strong new graphic identity, and this bike needed to reflect this.
Frame, fork, stem and decaleur have been made to measure in our workshop as explained in the previous part. The other components are either well-established ones or prototypes specifically developed for the event:
- The group
At first, we opted for a SRAM Apex 1 group, the 1x11 group entry level, which offers the best value on the market. Unfortunately, due to the lack of availability, we had to go for the Force 1. We’ve been convinced since the beginning by the 1X11 drive train, for its simplicity and its reliability, so we decided to trust this for the Concours 2017. The bottom bracket is from France, as we had the chance to be the first ones to test the new TA bottom bracket with an integrated axle specifically designed for the occasion. In terms of braking, we went for hydraulic SRAM Force disc brakes
- The wheels
The wheels have been laced by hand in our workshop, to have an optimal control on quality. The rims are MTB Tune models in 650B, compatible with a Tubeless assembly. The rear one is assembled around a Kong MTB hub from the same brand, produced in Germany. This is a benchmark for us as we use it equally on MTB or gravel bikes for many years now, and we are still impressed by its weight/price/reliability ratio. For the front one, we chose a Shutter Precision dynamo hub to be completely autonomous concerning the electricity.
We selected 650B x 42 Compass tires for their comfort, quality, and lightness. Plus, they are as efficient on roads and on paths. We made the choice to assemble them Tubeless, so as to increase comfort and reduce the puncture risk
- The fenders
The fenders were specifically produced for the Concours. Indeed, we couldn’t find fenders matching our specifications. As we were really satisfied with the Swarf ones we used last year, we were looking for carbon models combining stiffness, lightness and a modern look. We therefore asked a craftsman located next to our workshop to fabricate one according to our specifications, based on a Berthoud stainless model.
- The lightning
Our 2016 randonneuse wasn’t electrically autonomous. For purposes of a multiple days’ travel, it was important for us to enhance this on the 2017 machine. We utilised a dynamo hub, associated with a SON Edelux front light and a Supernova Tail Light for the rear one, two standards on the market. This helps boost the rider’s safety and we obtain a constant lightning, no matter what the conditions are.
Studio photos by Nicolas Joly