I recently ordered this lovely 2018 Rivendell Appaloosa frame. It is designed for 650b wheels (a 51 cm frame) and has 135 mm rear spacing.
Why? I have many wonderful bikes that I thoroughly enjoy riding. But one thing I have never had since 1999 is a bicycle soul mate – that’s the year I crashed my 1976 Centurion Pro Tour. Since then, while I have ridden many excellent bikes, I have never found that one bike that speaks to me, a bike that will take me into the next decades of riding, with comfort, competence, and a spiritual connection that is hard to explain.
In 2012 I built a 650b frameset while attending UBI’s frame building class here in Portland. That experience helped me realize two things: experienced frame builders have much knowledge and lore that newbies should respect and value. And, many cycling “experts” don’t know a thing about frame geometry, especially as it applies to riders under 5’6″. One of the (few?) nice things about being an accountant by trade is that math comes naturally to me. So, understanding the complexity of frame geometry has always been a high priority.
The 650b frame I built back in 2012 is currently being repaired with additional brazing on one of the lug joints that I didn’t do so well at filling with silver the first time out. When that frame has been sand blasted and painted, I’ll build it up.
Meanwhile, I received shipment of the Rivendell Appaloosa and 650b Velocity wheelset I had ordered earlier this winter. When the frame arrived I was amazed to see that Rivendell had protected and packaged the frame in a way that only bike geeks can appreciate. As a buyer of bike frames, I have received countless frames shipped with no tubing or drop out protection. Some eBay sellers simply do not have a clue as to how to properly ship a bike frame, so: Caveat Emptor.
As expected, this bike’s paint scheme is lovely, in fact, extraordinary for this price point. The fork crown has ornate patterns, with mounting holes on top to accept stays for a front rack. The Appaloosa head badge is fun and interesting (it’s a Rivendell!), and all the lugs have been filed and well brazed. For a frameset that costs the consumer a mere $1,300, the value is clearly reflected in these features. A Rivendell frame is one step away from custom, but inexpensive compared to custom options.
One thing to note about Rivendell frames is that they can have a longer wheelbase and longer chainstays than expected. This Appaloosa has 51 cm chainstays. That means it is in cargo bike territory for its wheelbase. For this frame (advertised as 51 cm size), I measured the seat tube as 50 cm and the top tube as 55.5 cm. These measurements differ from the specs shown on Rivendell’s website. My measurements are center to center.
There are a few condition issues with the frame. The seat stay cluster was filed very thin, but the upper portion extends outward, and with a little paint loss, is not ideal. Also the rear canti stud braze-ons are not well executed. They look unprofessional, but after examination I think they will be safe to ride. The head badge was not glued evenly to the head tube, as shown above. Naturally, I am documenting these issues in case anything arises with the performance of the bike.
Because the frame is heavier than other frames that I ride, I expect to replace the FSA headset and the low-end Shimano bottom bracket. I’ve got lots of interesting vintage options in my parts bin that are lighter weight and probably more likely to last through the ages, as well as provide better performance. Smaller riders can benefit from weight savings, and I intend to focus on that as I consider options for components.