Rivendell Blériot

Blériot frame, October, 2007

(Click to enlarge)

Flying ace

The Rivendell Blériot—named after 1900s aviator Auguste Louis Blériot—is designed around the 650b wheel size.

Smaller than the 700c road wheel, but larger than the 26″ rim common to mountain bikes, this neglected French standard (584cm/26 X 1 ½) allows for larger-profile tyres, while preserving comfortable frame angles.

650b rims fitted with tyres such as the 42mm Grand Bois “Hetre” results in a circumference within a couple centimetres (206) of 700c X 23mm tyres (210).

The Blériot, with 71°head and seat tube angles, manages this job well, but not without significant toe overlap, at least with the smaller frames — in this case 49cm. This issue might have been avoided with more generous fork rake, but would introduce other unknown handling characteristics (more wheel flop, perhaps) and presently, with the small Berthoud front bag, the bike tracks like and arrow, no hands, as seen in the video on the Commuter Hub page.

The overlap phenomenon is not uncommon. It is, in fact, more likely to arise designing small frames around 700c wheels. Top tubes can be made only so short (around 52cm), before forward rotation of the pedal interferes with the front wheel.

This problem can be somewhat mitigated with shorter cranks—probably better for small riders in any case. I installed 165mm cranks. Overlap still requires care on slow, tight turns, but is not an issue otherwise.

On the stand

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While some deride 650b as a fringe fad, interest is not waning. Velo Orange has just (winter ’09) introduced the “Polyvalent” into the growing market for plush-riding bikes, as well as pre-built 650b wheelsets.

A flurry of activity also continues in the area of tyres. 650b MTB advocate Kirk Pacenti has taken to the road with “The Pari-Moto™, a high performance, 650x38b tire with a light, supple casing and fine file tread pattern,” now available from Velo Orange.

Presently, of course, there are many custom builders who are hip to 584 and more than willing to construct your dream randonneuse.

From its initial “maiden flight” to longer tours, this bicycle brought me velosatisfaction.

The complete Blériot

Blériot on the Galloping Goose Trail

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Sadly, this Rivendell model—that provided a relatively inexpensive introduction to the world of 650b—has been assigned to history, much like Mon. Blériot’s trans-channel flight. Sadder yet, the bike pictured on this page was destroyed in a serious crash, in 2009. I leave this page as a memorial to a fine old friend.

Blériot Registry exists for those wanting to record details of their now “limited-edition” classic.

Andrew October 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I like bar end shifters and am looking at options to build up a bike with a French style handlebar bag. How did you route the shift cables on your Bleriot? I think the ‘regular’ way would interfere with the bag but I can’t see them in your photo. Did you route them up the handlebars to the stem? I imagine one would need longer cables to do that (tandem sized?).

Raymond Parker October 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hi Andrew: Good question. If you go to the “Maiden flight” page (link above), you can get a better idea of the cable routing, particularly on front view detail photo.

I didn’t change anything after changing bar tape and installing rack (see “Fitting racks,” right sidebar above, for that process).

The cables sat nicely alongside the bag with no problems–no special cables needed.

BTW, you’ll love the convenience of the French-style bag. The most difficult part is setting up the decaleur. Again, see the link for fitting racks. above.

Andrew October 21, 2010 at 9:09 am

Thank you! That is the way I have my bar ends set up on my current bike.

The rack fitting link will come in handy come build time. Thanks!

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