Victoire Randonneur Prototypes
Victoire Randonneur Prototypes
We created two prototypes during spring keeping two goals in mind: firstly, validate some technical solutions for our Concours de Machines 2017 bike, and secondly, to make Olivier, our second builder trainee, manufacture his first frames.
The Concours de Machines 2016 was extremely instructive. Even though we ranked first, we were fully aware that the machine we presented wasn’t perfect. That’s why during the months that followed, we rode it many times. First, from Clermont-Ferrrand to Montpellier, then for the Chilkoot Tour du Vaucluse Historique. More recently, Matthieu Lifschitz crossed the Massif Central to connect Marseilles with it.
All along, we collected datas that then helped us establish the merits and the defects of this light randonneuse. Those then constituted the basis of a first specifications note for the machine we will present you with at the Concours 2017. The 650B wheels were out top requirement. Having only a little experience with this standard, we decided to design and fabricate two prototypes to better refine some of our technical choices.
This project was also an opportunity for Olivier to be trained in accordance with our quality exigency and our manufacturing methods. He was first formed by the Compagnons du Devoir, then by our colleague Matthieu Chollet from Pechtregon Cycles and he finally joined the Victoire team in February for a 3 months apprenticeship. He has been hired since and is responsible, with Romain, of the Victoire bespoke frames’ manufacturing.
Born with the recce ride for the Weekend Clients we hosted, this project has then been validated during a team meeting. The goal: create two gravel/adventure randonneuses with 650B wheels to test and compare diverse technical solutions.
The first test was about the trail. We have little experience with 650B wheels and loaded bike handling, and more precisely with “low-trail” geometry. That’s the reason why we made our two prototypes almost identical, their trails being the only difference. Two schools’ ideas differ:
- the “low-trail” school, democratised in the 30s-40s, when the Concours de Machines was hosted by Herse, Barra and others, associates a steep fork angle (around 73°) with an important offset. The combination of these parameters produces a low trail, ensuring an excellent handling. This geometry was, among others, developed to make the steering of a heavy bike way more pleasant. René Herse, strong supporter of low side bags, used this technique to make the steering lighter.
- the classic school, defends an open steering angle combined with a short offset, usually around 45mm. It is the offset we can generally find on most of the carbon forks on the market, the optimal trail for a classic road bike being fixed around 57mm. Experience showed us that this trail offers the best compromise between stability and handling for a non-loaded bike
We can therefore find the following values on our bikes: 33mm for the “low-trail” one and 57mm for the Classic one.
They’ve been produced with Paragon Rocker adjustable rear dropouts, so we can test the influence of a change on the chainstays from 420mm to 440mm but also to put wheels up to 650B*48 or 700C*35c.
The frames have been fabricated with Tange tubes for the front triangle and Columbus Zona ones for the rear triangle. The fork was constructed in house as well, with a conical pivot and unicrown fork blades from Reynolds.
The frame and the fork have every eyelets necessary to put racks or fenders. The bikes were assembled with similar components to conduct real comparison tests, changing only one factor at a time. We could, thanks to these prototypes, compare, besides the trail influence:
- tires’ size influence on the handling
- wheels’ size influence
- different loading system (low bags, front or rear bags, bike packing…)
- different lightning
- chainstays’ length influence
We favoured, for these two bikes, well-established components, known for their value.
At first, we opted for a SRAM Apex 1 groupset, 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.The hydraulic disc braking was an obvious choice for us as the bike is destined to be ridden in every kind of conditions, on roads and paths, loaded or not.
For the wheelset, we went for the MTB HopeTech XC wheels. MTB brought a fresh dynamic in the 650B environment, as it meets the new requirements from modern cyclists: lightness, disc brakes, Tubeless, wide tires… One of the prototypes is equipped with a SON Dynamo front hub, associated with an Edelux II light. The first one has Compass Switchback Hill 48mm tires and the other one has WTB Exposure 47mm tires, assembled Tubeless.
On the ground
These prototypes have been tested on thousands of kilometres. They both have been ridden by Alain Puiseux and Matthieu Lifschitz for a Brest-Menton diagonale (more than 1200km) (for an upcoming report in the magazine 200) and the latter also travelled 1200km for the Chilkoot Born to Ride 2017 with the Low-Trail prototype. We also rode the “Confluences”, organised by Luc Royer, 200km from Clermont to Lyon, on the Classic prototype, which has also been ridden for our Weekend Clients. Even though all these kilometres have been achieved on a short period of time, it really helped us for the development of the final Concours de Machines 2017 bike, starting this week.