New Bike Day: Rivendell Clem Smith Jr.

One of the best days ever is new bike day.  After preordering a bike from Rivendell two months ago, today was finally the day that a well packed bike showed up at my door.

rivendell clem smith jr

First off, the bike was packed insanely safe.  There was no room for the tiniest bit of wiggle in this bike box.  Kudos to Rivendell for the superb packing!

After about a 10 minute bike build in my kitchen, with minor changes from the stock build.  Instead of the silly wide saddle, my Brooks B17N was pulled from the parts bin where it has been waiting.  In place of the included grips, I went with an old favorite from Oury.  They are probably the most anti-Rivendell grip known to the cycling world, but they are one of my favorites.  And they are made in the states.  Win-win.  Last change from stock was a set of cheap metal flat pedals in place of the cheap plastic flats.  After the build, I was ready to put in some miles.

rivendell clem smith jr.

First impression:  The bike is way quicker than I expected.  I would dare to even call it zippy.  It really caught me off guard, but in a really good way.  The front end seemed really quick to me also, which was another surprise, especially from such a long bike.  On the road the bike moves smoothly, with the steel frame bringing all the pleasantries that steel has to offer.  In the woods, the bike moves well too.  With the bike long and low, I was bashing my pedals all over the place, which is the main reason I switched out the stock plastic pedals.  This bike seems perfect for multi-surface rides.

rivendell clem smith jr.

Parts wise:  There is really nothing too fancy on this build.  The Nitto bar and stem are nice, but I feel it is going to take some time for me to warm up to Rivendell’s Bosco bar.  I think if I add some bar tape to some of the exposed bar areas that will give me enough hand positions to make them work.  Shifting works surprisingly well for such a low part spec.  However, the shifter/brakes/levers just feel cheap, which luckily is an easy fix.  I’m in no hurry to replace things though, as I am going to ride them until they break.  Wheels are stout, and the Kenda 650b tires look like they will last for a lot of miles.  I was surprised with the weight of the bike too, not as heavy as I expected.  My only other bike at the moment is a fat bike, so weight really doesn’t matter to me, but I was surprised nonetheless.

After the 14 miles or so shake down ride, it was time to start adding things I have been saving for this bike, specifically racks and bags!

rivendell clem smith jr.

Surly front rack installed, with Wald basket and Sackville Shopsack, along with my well used and well trusted Banjo Brothers Minehaha canvas saddle bag.  I think this will do for now.

Overall, I am quite impressed with this bike.  I have wanted a Rivendell for a long time now, and it is somewhat odd to own one now.  I think I finally have my bike stable where I want it.


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