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Old 10-06-2004, 11:54 AM
tch tch is offline
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Ramboulliet review

I know that the Riv Ramboulliet has been lauded many times here on this board -- and, as a matter of fact, that is why I ended up with one recently. Also, Rivendell has come up on the "randonneuring" thread. So, for those of you who may have wondered, one man's experience (I have about 5 rides/150 miles on):

Mine is set up as a pretty standard road bike: 105 throughout, with a triple crank, Open Pro wheels with Ultegra hubs, nondescript Ritchey bars, and a no-name saddle. Rivendell Roly-Poly's as the tire. I will be adding fenders as soon as the weather turns for good. My first, and continuing, impression is of SOLIDITY. The bike is a 56, which is a bit larger than my Concours, and the feeling is of reassuring, settled bigness. This may be because it has a longer wheelbase than the Serotta and also a longer and higher front end. Though it weighs on the order of 3 pounds more than my Concours, the weight does not feel like a drag -- rather it comes across as strength. There may be a touch more flexibility in the BB (I get some chain rub, tho' that may be set-up), but the bike feels fast and does not have any disconcerting flexiness anywhere else at all. In automotive terms, it feels like a big European car, a 7-Series BMW or Audi 8. It is not as nimble as my Concours, and it is not light under me -- but I do not really feel like I give up any significant speed. On descents, it is rock-solid. On climbs, it settles in and rolls, and, when I stand, it responds -- not like a rocket but like a big car getting torqued up. There is a pleasing directness that is muted but there.

I have found that tire pressure is SIGNIFICANT. When the R-P's get pumped 110 and over, the ride turns harsh and the frame rattles and comes alive in a rather unpleasant way. At 100 lbs, the feel is of a steel glove in velvet -- strong, silky, and smooth. I was truly surprised at how little difference in pressure made so much difference in ride, but this is confirmed by my friend who tried it also. For reference, I am 170 nekkid.

My reactions may be different from others, but I thought -- individual as they are -- they might be helpful for those who are wondering. As I said, I have been reading about various other bikes on this board for quite a long time and I have been curious about whether I could/would notice or feel significant differences. The bottom line for me is -- I do. Not gigantic, but noticeable.

Bottom line: Concours = lighter, stiffer, sportier
Ramboulliet = calmer, bigger, more obviously beefy feel.
I like them both.
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Old 10-06-2004, 01:02 PM
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Orin Orin is offline
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When I had Ruffy-Tuffys on my Rambouillet, I never found an ideal pressure. It was either harsh as you describe or slow and soggy - felt like I was having a bad day! I put Michelin Axial Supercomps on and the bike was transformed... no more slow/soggy feel and the bike felt lively without the harshness of the Ruffy-Tuffys. It may be that the Rivendell tires work well for those less mass challenged than myself - I'm around 155 lbs. I traded mine with someone for some Michelin Axial Pros which ride at least as well as the Supercomps, but do tend to cut easily.

Out of the saddle, the Rambouillet certainly feels different at the BB from my Ti Rapid Tour (which is probably very close to a Concours in feel). Sitting down, I probably couldn't tell the difference. The Ti bike has a hard to describe stiff but springy feel. My old steel Koga-Miyata feels even stiffer but has more chain rub... I think this feel is affected by chainstay length as well as BB stiffness as the K-M is shortest and the R-T in the middle.

My Rambouillet was proven for randonneuring earlier this year on the BC Randonneurs Fleche Pacifique set up with Campy Daytona 10 speed, 53-39 front and 13-29 rear. Shimano RX100 brakes, SON generator hub. We did 431km from the top of Chinook Pass in WA to Harrison Hot Springs in BC.

BTW, I get chain rub on the top of the front derailleur cage when using the 53 and at least the largest three rear cogs (23,26,29), perhaps the 21 too. This is due to the seat angle as far as I can tell...

Orin.

Last edited by Orin; 10-08-2004 at 12:13 AM. Reason: Fixed tire type
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:29 AM
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Yeah, pretty solid bike

I've had a Rambouillet since spring of 2002 - from either the first or second batch. I'd go along with the solid, stable, predictable feel. This makes this bike perfect for multi-day tours (supported or credit card loads - I wouldn't carry too much weight on it) where you know you're going to want that "auto-pilot" setting at some point. Also good for commuting and other weight bearing errand runs. I don't do rando events, but I'd imagine it would be perfect for this type of long distance riding. I guess the best description is that it rides somewhat like a touring bike, but unlike a true touring bike it rides better unloaded than loaded.

It may be the best descender I've ever ridden. I've even run into some of my faster friends while out on riding the Rambouillet and haven't been hurt TOO badly trying to hang with them. But I wouldn't call it a fast bike - it does feel like there's some penalty on the hills. Not a lot of snap or accelleration, but not bad for longer, steady-state climbs. I never choose it for group rides unless they going to be relentlessly relaxed and social.

I also find Roly Polys to be a really good match for this bike, and also don't like them any firmer than 100 psi (I weigh 160-165, for comparison sake). The frame feels faster with lighter, skinnier tires, but I have other bikes that feel better with racing wheels/tires, so I keep the Roly Polys on this one pretty much all the time.

-Ray
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:01 PM
oldmill oldmill is offline
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I had a similar experience with my Rambouillet. I bought one used, and it had some Michelin 32s on it. It felt discouragingly sluggish and 'squishy', no matter what the PSI. I switched to Vittoria 25s, and it's a completely different bike now. That's not too surprising given the difference in tire size, perhaps, but the difference seems more pronounced on the R than on other bikes. It seems like I could put a mountain bike tire on the Poprad, for example, and it would still feel fast. This isn't a criticism of the Rambouillet: Maybe just a caveat that it's worth playing around with the tires a bit if that bike doesn't respond, because with the right tires it's a very worthy steed. One rider's (very limited) experiment, fwiw.
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray
It may be the best descender I've ever ridden. I've even run into some of my faster friends while out on riding the Rambouillet and haven't been hurt TOO badly trying to hang with them. But I wouldn't call it a fast bike - it does feel like there's some penalty on the hills. Not a lot of snap or accelleration, but not bad for longer, steady-state climbs. I never choose it for group rides unless they going to be relentlessly relaxed and social.

-Ray
Yes, it's not a race bike... hence the slight lack of snap as you put it. However, the pound or so weight penalty over my Ti Rapid Tour isn't significant IMO.

I lead a so-called 'strenuous' (19 to 22 mph, flat, no wind) ride last Sunday on mine... 55 miles, 3000 ft of climbing and an average of 18.9 mph (excluding stops). 22mph is more like a minimum on the flat on these rides. I didn't have any problems keeping up, though I left one hill 'uncontested' as I waited for someone to pick themself up after not making it around a corner for some unknown reason (the fact that this rider already had a big dressing on his knee may have been a clue though).

It's really turning out into a good general purpose bike for me. I can do everything but race on it (not that I'm racing anyway these days).

Orin.
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Old 10-08-2004, 07:16 AM
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similar tastes

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmill
It seems like I could put a mountain bike tire on the Poprad, for example, and it would still feel fast. This isn't a criticism of the Rambouillet: Maybe just a caveat that it's worth playing around with the tires a bit if that bike doesn't respond, because with the right tires it's a very worthy steed.
Interesting. I also own a Rambouillet (as noted above) and a Poprad. They both fill a sort of similar slot in my garage 'o bikes and there's definitely competition between them for riding time. Both are excellent all-rounder type bikes that can handle most everything, can take a range of tire sizes, are great on the road and pretty good off-road, are incredibly stable and great on descents. But the Poprad wins most of the time because, as you say, it FEELS faster, whether it actually is or not. I've put a rack on the Rambouillet and it seems to get more of the workhorse duty these days whereas the Poprad gets picked a LOT more often for the fun rides.

FWIW, the Poprad and my favorite road bike (an older spec Rivendell Road)have identical wheelbases, chainstay lengths, seat tube angles, and saddle and bar positions, so the weight distribution is EXACTLY the same. The bottom bracket drop is a bit more on the Riv, but quite low on both. The only substantial difference is that the Riv has a longer top tube and steeper steering geometry, so has a bit quicker and more responsive feel. The Poprad has a shorter top tube and more relaxed front end and is notably more stable and relaxed, particularly on rougher terrain. But both front wheels end up in exactly the same place relative to the bb, the rear wheel, and my body. This basic design seems to be dead on the sweet spot for me - true racers feel a bit to quick and squirrely and need more attention than I sometimes want to give them, while longer bikes like the Rambouillet just start to feel a bit slow and deliberate for my taste.

-Ray
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Old 10-08-2004, 11:54 AM
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Orin Orin is offline
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"Feels faster"...

When I had my CIII built up, it always felt like I was going faster than I really was. The Ti Rapid Tour is the opposite - I was often going faster than I thought! The Rambouillet? I haven't noticed anything either way with the Axial SuperComps, but the handling is a little on the quick side - part of that 'transformation' going from the Ruffy-Tuffys was the much quicker handling.

Orin.
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Old 10-11-2004, 11:35 AM
tch tch is offline
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Interesting question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orin
"Feels faster"...

When I had my CIII built up, it always felt like I was going faster than I really was. The Ti Rapid Tour is the opposite - I was often going faster than I thought!
Orin.
So here's an interesting question: what do you prefer? Would you rather feel like you are going faster than you really are? or would you rather be going faster than you feel?
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Old 10-11-2004, 12:37 PM
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Let's put it this way... the CIII isn't built up at the moment. Anyone want to buy a 56/56 CIII?

Orin.
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Old 10-11-2004, 05:07 PM
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I guess it depends

Quote:
Originally Posted by tch
So here's an interesting question: what do you prefer? Would you rather feel like you are going faster than you really are? or would you rather be going faster than you feel?
If I was riding for actual quantifiable results, I'd want the bike that I'm actually fastest on, whatever it felt like. But I pretty nearly never quantify my rides, so the feel is ultimately the most important thing. That said, for single day rides of up to 50 miles or so, I'll go for a bike that feels faster almost every time. Speed, whether real or an illusion, is so much fun that I'll take it any way I can find it. On a really long ride or a multi-day long distance tour, I'm more apt to want a bike that's more relaxing to ride, requires less attention, feels like it has an auto-pilot setting, etc, and these types of bikes usually feel slower than they actually are. The Rambouillet is a perfect example of one of these - I've used it on several multi-day tours and its been dead solid perfect for each.

-Ray
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