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Soma’s Grand Randonneur is a true low trail geometry randonneuring frame set, which means it rides better with a front load than other touring and road bikes. Co-designed with Mike Kone of Rene Herse/Boulder Bicycles. It will fit all the gadgets a good rando bike should have. The traditional diameter tubes lend a smooth comfortable ride.
Cycle Seattle’s Quick Impression on the Grand Randonneur
The Soma Grand Randonneur designed by Mike Kone of Boulder Bicycle and Rene Herse fame, is a very compelling deal.
In my short ride, I felt immediately at home on the bike, and really felt some of the benefits of the different front-end geometry. It was quick handling, but forgiving – not twitchy. As I slowed, I noticed there was none of the flopping I have on my higher trail bikes if I let go of the handlebars. OK – that’s nice. The thing I liked more is that on a slow climb, I didn’t have the bars slightly twisting back and forth with my pedal strokes. It tracked well at low speeds. On turns, at medium and higher speeds, there was no uncertainty of where I was going. Perhaps it didn’t feel like it was “on rails” like my Rivendells, but there was no bad effects I could ascertain.
Handlebard’s Grand Randonneur Review
It’s a beautiful bike with clean welds, and light tubing. The colour, which I expected to be an aesthetic problem immediately grew on me. It’s unique, classic and even a sophisticated looking. Pump pegs, bosses for a third bottle cage, integrated rear brake stop are all nice features that add to the fit and finish.
The ride is more reminiscent of my Trek 560ex than my touring bike, yet it is at least as comfortable to ride. My other bikes have been collecting dust since the GR arrived. (Ah, new love!)
It’s my first 650b bike, so I am loath to make too many comparisons. I’m just having fun on it. Fun riding up the volcano, a blast riding my favourite fast flat, a hoot getting my coffee in the morning. It’s even fun to look at while I drink my coffee.
One caveat. If you’re sniffing around Grand Randonneur as a touring bike, you might look elsewhere. The GR is purpose built for randoneurring. Further, the rider is farther back towards the rear axle than on an intended touring bike.
Climbing was actually fun, each pedal stroke was like getting a push from an unseen force at the rear of the bike. I wasn’t just going up this hill, I was accelerating up it. Jan Heine calls it ‘planing’ and it’s a result of a symbiotic rider and frame geometry. .
Things to Know About Riding A Low Trail Randonneuring Bike
There are growing ranks of cyclists who prefer a low trail bike, primarily because of the way it handles with a medium front load like a handlebar bag. The Grand Randonneur has a fork offset 20mm or more than the average road bike. When carry a load up front the bike responds less to the weight of the bag while steering. The Grand Randonneur uses lighter tubing than our other road bikes and a fork with a more pronounced bend to create a more comfortable ride over long distances. Because of that and the low trail design, we don’t recommend it for fully loaded touring. It is a performance bike designed for carrying a light to medium front load in relative comfort over long distances.
These observations from Bicycle Quarterly and others may help you determine if you want to try it out and help fine tune the ride of your bike.
1) Low trail bikes ride best with tires at least 36mm wide and preferably at lower tire pressure (55-60psi). Some claim 42mm is ideal
2) These bikes handle differently than most bikes you’ve tried. It may take one long ride to get used to it or weeks or months – depends on the rider.
3) Without a load in front the steering feels light especially at low speeds. You can put on panniers or a loaded saddle bag on it, but the ride quality won’t be as good.
Don’t low trail bicycles suffer from “fork shimmy”?
A few riders with low trail bikes do experience varying levels of fork shimmy (aka speed wobble) during speedy descents. There isn’t a consensus on what causes it or how to get rid of it. Some riders seem more prone to it than others. Others say that shivering on a cold day or gripping the bars too tightly can set it off. Installing a roller bearing (aka needle bearing) headset may help get reduce it. Some say to avoid putting your seat too back or raising the bars higher than the saddle. Others say resting your knee on the side of the top tube during can help, too.
Specifications and Recommendations:
– Headset: 1″ threaded, external cup, 26.4mm crown
– Seatpost: 27.2mm
– Front derailleur: 28.6mm, bottom pull
– Rear hub spacing: 132.5mm (fits both 130mm and 135mm OLD hubs
– Tires: 650b x 38 to 42mm
– Fork rake: 69mm – Max chainring fit: 52-42-32t 45mm chainline. 53-39t, 48.5mm chainline
– Bottom bracket shell: 68mm wide, English threads
– Brake compatibility: Cantilevers or V-brakes
– Compatible with downtube shifters
– This type of bike rides best with a front load. You can ride it unloaded, but it will take time to get used to the steering qualities of a low trail geometry.
Better than a 700c bike with a front load
The low trail geometry makes the bike very sensitive to steering input. This would normally be too much, but paired with the 42mm 650B tire, it feels PERFECT, even with a front load. When I used to have a mid-trail 700C 38mm-tire bike with a front load, the steering was heavy and sluggish. It was very good at going straight, but not very good at subtle manoeuvres. What I have now feels perfect for my taste. I also have a beater that is a low trail 700C 35mm, and that also feels very nice. I’m sure a 700c low trail bike with 38mm tires would be quite good for me. But if you add to this how comfortable the 42mm tires are at low pressure, and they’re fast, I can’t imagine wanting anything different as I prepare and train for the PBP 2019.
Paul’s 1000 Mile Review
Paul wrote a lengthy thoughtful review. Below is just an excerpt. Read the full review here. And the verdict is It’s a great bike and I’m really enjoying it. As far as the things that are unique about this bike, I’ll take them one at a time.
Steel Frame This is a no brainer for me now. I’ve had aluminium and carbon fiber bikes in the past and now I know I prefer steel. The ride is always great, the performance is great, and I know I can trust it.
650b wide tires
I’m sold on this now. I feel like I’m not giving up anything as far as speed and agility while gaining comfort, stability, and the ability to ride on any surface. This is really a win-win for me.
Low trail geometry The jury’s still out on this one. I like the responsiveness and how well it holds true around a curve. I don’t like the possibility of shimmy at speed, or the twitchy feeling when going too slow. Once advantage of low trail is that you can carry more weight in the front. This is great but I can also load up my touring bikes with a front load and never have any problems. If the main advantage of low trail is that it handles better around the turns on really fast downhills, then this is something I don’t need. I’d be perfectly happy going slower for more stability. So this may be one feature that I don’t care for. The more I ride this bike the better I like it. It may be that I’ll come to appreciate the low trail more.
Soma Grand Randonneur
27.2 x 400
B17 honey ladies
Grand Cru 110
Headset: 1″ threaded, external cup, 26.4mm crown
Front Cable Stop with Adjuster
Gran Compe 202
10s Downtube shifters
Brake cable housing
Shifter cable housing
Grand Gru Drillum, 34, 48T
68mm, JIS square taper, English thread, 118 Spindle length
Soma's Grand Randonneur is a true low trail geometry randonneuring frame set, which means it rides better with a front load than other touring and road bikes. Co-designed with Mike Kone of Rene Herse/Boulder Bicycles. It will fit all the gadgets a good rando bike should have. The traditional diameter tubes lend a smooth comfortable ride.
Allow up to 4 weeks for your order to be shipped.
The "ES" means 'extra smooth.' It might not be as quick handling as the Sour Smoothie or other dedicated race frames, but it is still quite fast and you'll actually gain valuable stability on speedy descents and the ability to fit wider tires. An ideal choice for multi-day charity rides, centuries, credit card touring and fast commuting. For 2016, we have shaved the number of sizes a little, but have kept the hard to find 66cm size..
Allow up to 4 weeks for your order to be shipped.
The original inspiration for the Wolverine was "monster cross", but it is seriously so much more. Its geometry is stable enough for off road touring, but sporty enough for all-around adventure. With its Tange/IRD Sliding Dropouts, you can turn it into a single-speed CX bike. With a split seatstay, it is compatible with the Gates Carbon Belt Drive.
Allow up to 4 weeks for your order to be shipped.
Across the globe, its electric bike converts will tell you the same thing, the eZee Sprint is simply world class! It's a serious commuter vehicle of the highest performance and value. Featuring an upright sitting position and user-friendly features, making riding through the city hassle free. The eZee Sprint is an all-rounder city bike for both Men and Women. The robust Shimano Nexus 7 Internal hub gears and Schwalbe puncture-resistant tyres makes for long lasting high performance, yet light and easy to maintain. Equipped with a centre mount double leg kick stand, mud guards, rear rack, speedometer and front and rear lights, the eZee comes with all the accessories to make commuting a breeze.
eZee Sprint 7L NZ review click here
Colours subject to availability.
A lovely beige backpack with the likeness of snake leather. An ideal addition to your S/S season that compliments any look. The fabric is washable and can be worn on your back or attached to your bike. Additionally, this model features an internal pocket for your I-Pad to be snug and safe. Hooks attach the bag to your bike are nicely hidden in a secret pocket. Bring happiness wherever you go by bike!
This bike will do everything a pedal powered cargo bike can do but easier. The Expedir revolutionises heavy hauling on a bike. eZee leads the way in providing you with a business or personal hauling vehicle that is easy on the ecosystem as it is on auto bills. The Low Step Through design is a serious design bonus you won't find on other Long Tail cargo bikes and make mounting and dismounting easy even when carrying kids or cargo. The specially designed kickstand engages even with the payload and wheel skirts and running boards make carrying children easier and safer.
The high torque motor powers the front while the rear Shimano Alfine gears change speedily and silently, ensuring an easy ride on any terrain. It's equipped with superb components from the best suppliers in the world. Schwalbe puncture-resistant tyres, Scandinavian spokes, 8-speed Shimano Alfine external gearing, Shimano disc brakes, front and rear LED lights, tough mudguards, a suspended Velo seat and a Cateye computer. Making it a very robust e-bike at the top of its game. Yes, it's still a bike but oh what a bike the Expedir is.
The eZee Expedir is likely the most popular family cargo bike in Sydney and is becoming very popular in Auckland too. Take the Expedir for a week long trial to see how straight forward it is to integrate into your lifestyle.
Designed for the toughest conditions, its riders have taken their Torqs across every continent (except Antarctica). The Torq is the perfect touring electric bike in the world today. Torqs also make excellent commuter bikes for taller riders. The Torq Alfine is fitted with a genuine Shimano Alfine groupset including front and rear Shimano Alfine hydraulic disc brakes, Alfine hydraulic brake levers, Alfine chain tensioner and of course, the beautifully smooth Shimano Alfine 8-speed internally geared hub for pedaling bliss.
The eZee Torq Alfine comes standard with the Roxim super bright front light powered by the electric bicycle’s battery. Other goodies include the AXA Defender wheel lock and the Pletscher dual leg kickstand. And like all e-bikes from the eZee range, the battery sizes are in a class of their own with options up to the massive 36V 34Ah, 1225Wh long range battery. This model is priced with the 36V 19Ah 680Wh battery. One ride and you’ll be hooked.
Colours subject to availability. Free test rides and trials.