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6 Reasons Seven Cycles Randonneur Bikes Go the Distance

Paris-Brest-Paris is the most famous of all of the randonneur rides in the world. It is a 1200km ride starting near Paris, France, the furthest point riders go is Brest, then they return to Paris. The clock begins when riders begin in Paris and ends when they return. Therefore, the time they spend sleeping is part of their overall time. Riders also self-support so they bring tools and anything they may need in case of a flat tire or mechanical. They are able to stop for food periodically so they tend to bring front and rear saddle bags, but don’t have the load that one who is touring would carry.

There were quite a few Seven Cycles bikes at Paris-Brest-Paris this year. Seven Cycles recently posted about the ride and of Henry van den Broek‘s adventure there. We worked with Henry to design his bike which is a Seven Evergreen SL.

We’ve worked on numerous randonneur bikes. Sometimes we don’t stop to consider just how many bikes and riders we have on the road. After many hundreds of bikes that we’ve personally worked on in collaboration with riders and Seven Cycles, we’ve got quite a few to talk about and share with you.

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Henry and David Bayley happened to meet up during PBP and they rode together for some distance. We worked with Dave, an Irishman, on his Evergreen when he was in town. We shipped him the final product. This made us happy to see two good people with their bikes working together during PBP!

What considerations are there when we work with someone to build him or her the ideal randonneur bike?

Note that many of these considerations are taken when we work with anyone on any kind of bike.

  • Comfort. Long distances are only possible if the rider is in the right position, sitting on the right saddle, being jarred by the road as little as possible. Between working with our professional bike fitter to achieve the perfect bike fit to selecting the proper ride qualities desired for Seven’s tube set selection, this extreme comfort is quite achievable.
Matt Roy riding

Matt Roy loaded his Evergreen Pro and rode it from Oregon to Colorado last year. He sped through his ride though he carried everything he needed for sleeping at night and self-supporting through the day. Matt had completed many randonneuring and ultra-distance events. He is the picture of combined comfort, speed, and happiness on a bike.

  • Durability. It would be a disaster if something were to happen to the bike’s frame or parts when a rider is out for a randonneur event. To a lesser extent, imagine if a bottom bracket were to develop a creak. Anything that drives the rider to insanity is just about as bad as having the bike break. Bikes built from the best source of titanium have frames that are extremely dependable. Standard threaded bottom brackets simply don’t have the squeaks, creaks, and other issues associated with other bottom brackets. (We’ve seen and serviced so many squeaky bottom brackets, we can recommend standard threaded BBs without hesitation.)
Seven ExPat

This Seven ExPat has a Waterford steel fork, Gates Belt drive and Rohloff internal hub. The titanium frame coupled with high volume tires dampen road vibration in a tremendously effective way. There are many features of this bike that make it worthy of randonneuring.

  • Maintainability. When calling for roadside assistance isn’t an option, it’s important a rider is able to easily swap in a new spoke for a broken one, or fix a broken chain. For this reason, we usually hand-build randonneurs’ wheelsets. We start with a higher spoke count to reduce the chances of a broken spoke. If one were to break, the wheel is often able to stay true enough to ride on safely. Using non-proprietary spokes makes replacing them that much easier.
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RSC hand-built wheels are made to last. They also look good. This front wheel is built with a SON28 front generator hub, HED Belgium rim and 32 spokes.

  • Light weight. The lighter the bike, the less effort it takes to propel it. Every bit of energy that can be saved is worth a lot. There has to be a careful balance struck between light-weight, comfort, and durability. There are a lot of ways to save weight that are worth considering. This is also quite person-dependent. Frame choice, rim choice, saddle choice are all places where many grams of difference can exist and can make a big difference.
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Another client of ours, Jan Kraemer flew on the tarmac on his Elium SLX at PBP. He wrote, “Thanks Seven Cycles!!! You guys are the Masters in the business; your bike was a PERFECT for the Paris Brest Paris!!!!!! Patria Lanfranchi thanks !!!!” Turns out Jan logged the fastest time among Puerto Ricans who participated in PBP.

  • Functionality. Aside from getting a rider from point A to B, the bike can help a rider see and navigate by generating electricity in a front generator hub. When a rider is pedaling through the night, a generator hub and light wired to it is essential for seeing through the night. Lights such as the Busch & Muller Luxos U incorporate a USB port in a handlebar-mounted jack so as to charge small electronic devices such as a Garmin computer or cell phone. A rear light can be wired to the generator hub so the rider doesn’t have to concern him or herself with being seen from the rear.
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Side view of the Luxos U front headlight mounted on a Seven light mount between the crown race and the fork. The custom-painted fender was useful for rainy PBP training rides, though was removed to reduce weight and increase riding efficiency for PBP.

When a rider is riding through the night and sleep-deprived, it is important to have the bike and its systems as simple and easy to operate as possible. The less the rider has to think about the better.

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This bike and its rider are frequently seen at New England Randonneur (NER) events. The Seven ExPat bike is equipped with bar-end shifters, very low gears for climbing ease, 3 bottle cages, generator and lights. It’s got S&S couplers so it can travel easily. It’s a big bike and tall rider, but it packs away in a suitcase not much larger than the diameter of the wheels.

  • Aesthetics.  Henry shows in photo after photo that aesthetics are important. What’s right for one person is just that: right for that person. If someone is going to be riding for hours, days, weeks, and years on this machine, it’d better look appealing to get on! There’s nothing like parking a bike by the side of the road and capturing scenic views with the bike in the foreground.
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Henry was interviewed by local media in France when he was preparing for PBP. His bike tends to be front and center in many of his photos.

Every detail from the feel of the bar tape to the width of the tire is important. We have many years of experience with randonneur riders and randonneur bikes. Simply stated: we help riders get on bikes that go the distance 24 hours a day, seven days a week…without limitations.

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This ExPat is equipped to ride anywhere and with anything. This bike proves what can be done when someone wants to go from rando bike to full touring bike.