Besides, I wasn't happy with how the Breezer was doing as a city bike for me.
I'm too fast with my builds (read that as "impatient") to do a drawn out series of unboxing the bike frame, laying out all my shiny new parts, installing the headset, etc. So I'll just cut to the chase and show how my first build came out:
I love the flipped over On One Mary bars, probably because I think Self Propelled Devo's Hunter from mtbr is possibly the best looking bike ever:
Devo must have a better back than me, because despite how cool these bars look, I never run my bars this low for long, even with the Camargue's 350mm steerer tube length. More on this later.
This is my first build as of Friday morning (after picking up the frame from Fedex on Thursday evening):
I love the low bend on the fork, and the flat biplane crown:
Lugs on the fork crown tips, dual eyelets, and mid fork braze ons. Nice, nice, nice:
VO doesn't recommend using fenders with knobbies, on the theoretical chance that they could pick up a stick, jam the fender, and flip you over the bars. With these semi-knobs, I'm not going to spend much time worrying over that possibility.
You can also see the canti cable stop above the rear wheel. Much nicer than a seat binder mount, but I will never use canti brakes on this frame, so this is wasted on me. Free tip to any canti brake users out there: come out of your cave and get some V brakes. They are better in every respect (of course, disc brake users will say the same to me, but I'm happy in my V brake cave, thank you)
My drivetrain is a Suntour 110BCD crank with 38/28 rings shifted by a Dura Ace front derailer, and the rear is a friction 8 speed 11-34 cassette:
Lots of disparate elements, but it all works well enough for me. The 38t is my main cruising gear, and I only use the 28t as a bail out gear.
A downtube shifter isn't the most ergonomic option when paired with a frame bag, but like I said, it's just a bail out gear, and I like the reduced bar clutter:
I ran out of 68mm bottom bracket cups for the non drive side, and had to use a 73mm cup. Oops.
But note the threaded boss on the chainstay bridge for fender mounting. It also has mounting points on the seatstay bridge and under the fork crown.
Someone at VO had the good idea to offset the double eyelets on the rear dropout. This means your fenders stays won't have to bend so much to clear the rack. Smart!
I don't expect to run this as a single speed, but the adjustment range looks pretty good:
A "Camargue" is apparently some obscure French horse breed. I find the graphics kind of cheesy, but they do feel like they aren't under the clear coat:
That being said, I won't remove them. There's room for some cheesiness in my life. Mmm, cheese...
The seat binder is integrated into the seat cluster, and there's even a small "lug" point:
So how does it ride? Very nicely, close to what I expected. The top tube is 28.6mm OD with 9/6/9 butting, same as my Cross Check, and the frame flex feels about the same. Not as nice and springy as Ye Olde Trek, but I think this extra stiffness will pay off when I load it up with the bike train and camping gear. Like this:
The front end of the Camargue is lower trail than my CC, around 50mm of trail vs. my CC at 65mm. This should make rear loading worse and front loading better. I haven't tried a front load yet, but even with the bike train attached on the rear, it handled fine. Unloaded, I like the handling significantly better than the CC: it steers lightly, but isn't darty like my 26" wheeled Breezer. It steers like the Trek, actually.
Nitpicks? Well, I wish the head tube was longer, so I could use fewer spacers. Maybe then drop the seat tube length, to preserve the standover height. I like the extra clearance when I'm manhandling the loaded bike train around town. An additional 10mm of bottom bracket drop would match my Fargo, which worked out well with both fat knobbies and medium slicks. A bit longer in the top tube means I could use a shorter stem. And... that's about it. This frame is actually very close to a custom I had drawn up in BikeCAD, but less than half the cost. Nice!
I had an issue with my setup, though. With the flipped Marys, the bars were about 1.25" below my saddle. Too low for my creaky back, because after only 30 or 40 minutes of riding, I could feel the pressure already building on my hands and wrists. I spent a while playing with stems and bars in the garage this evening to reach build 1.1:
The Soma Oxford bars look great, although if they get too close or too high, I start to feel like Mary Poppins. Or at least like I should be riding while smoking a pipe. Since I don't smoke, I had to use a 130mm stem to get enough reach:
Now it's comfortable but upright on the grips, a bit lower and more powerful on the forward hooks. We'll see how this works out over the next few weeks.
Put me in coach, I'm ready to play: