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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’ve had the Sam Hillborne on the road a year now and about 3500 Km worth of commuting later I think I have a good perspective on the bike.

The short version, this is a really good bike for a commuter or credit-card tourist or everyday, non-racing use. This would also possibly be a good winter training bike because of the ability to mount fenders and lights. It is never going to be an extremely fast bike but it isn’t as slow as you’d think it is. I average about 25 – 28 Kph (16-18 Mph) on my daily commute.

Likes and dislikes

I have really come to like the “Expanded geometry” and the relaxed angles. I still sometimes ride the triathlon bike on the weekends but it now feels like a total squirrel for the first 30 minutes or so and it was built up to be stable. You cannot imagine how stable this bike is unless you ride one. Even with relatively narrow, (For this bike) medium pressure tires it almost rides like it has a suspension system. My back does not ache after I get off this bike.

The cushy ride comes because of a combination of a loooong wheelbase, very slack angles and a lot of bracket drop. The low bottom bracket means that you probably do not want to have long cranks on this bike and even with 170 cranks you should never pedal through corners. That isn’t normally a problem for a commuter but might be an issue for riders coming from racer frames with less bracket drop. If I am having problems scrapping pedals then anybody would.

One of the side effects of the long wheel base and low bottom bracket is that this bike has an extremely large turning radius. I have ridden other touring bikes but none of them were like this. The Sam has a turn turning radius like the QE2. Indeed, if you need to make a 180 degree turn the best way is probably to stop, pick up the bike and turn it around, remount and ride away. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but is something to consider if you live or ride in places without large parking lots.

Because of my severe Shimano allergy my component choice was odd to say the least so I am not going to say anything about the 20 year old NOS Suntour XC Pro/EX/Comp parts I put on this bike. They are what they are and work as I expect them to work

The wheels are a different story. I have nothing but good things to say about the Velocity Dyad rims. I cannot imagine a better rim for a 650B wheel I’ve not had to do any maintenance truing. They are straight strong and fairly light. They are also reasonably priced. I also cannot imagine a better hub than the DT Swiss 370 for this bike. The wheels are actually lighter than a set of clinchers I use on my triathlon bike!

The Rivendell Maxy-Fasty tires are a very mixed bag. They corner really well and lend a really good feel to way the bike handles. The problem is they wear out entirely too fast for for a commuting tire. I bought two sets when I bought the bike. I will get something else next time. You should not go through two sets of tires on a commuting bike a year and I basically have done that.

My last sort of caution on this frame is that I feel it is little expensive for what it is. Yes the lugs are nice and the workmanship is exceptional but in a way that makes the bike less useful because I don’t feel comfortable locking it outside. It is either in the office, in the house or my butt is on the saddle. I have to have another cheap bike to ride on the days I ride only as far as the train station because I won’t leave the Sam locked at the Tai-Po Market station all day. If I had it to do over again, I’d possibly look at a welded frame that is less expensive that I would not worry about locking up so much.

Another somewhat goofy thing about this bike is caused by the clearance. All the clearance for huge tires makes mounting the magnets for a cyclo-computer quite difficult. I could not get the sensor close enough without carving an archival eraser to fit as a shim between the chain stay and the sensor.

Maybe that isn’t all bad because this is a bike that just seduces you into riding it. Miles of smiles, slow smiles but smiles never-the-less. If you need a bike to ride not race, you could worse, you couldn’t do better.

<a href="https://s10.photobucket.com/albums/a117/Phil_hk/Bicycle/Sam%20Hillborne/?action=view&current=SamFromRight.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a117/Phil_hk/Bicycle/Sam%20Hillborne/th_SamFromRight.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket" ></a>
 

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Thanks for the review. It is a nice looking bike, from the photos I've seen on the Rivendell website. The things that concern me are the lack of sizes and the very long top tubes. I'm not sure I could ever get the proper fit on one.
 

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tarwheel2 said:
Thanks for the review. It is a nice looking bike, from the photos I've seen on the Rivendell website. The things that concern me are the lack of sizes and the very long top tubes. I'm not sure I could ever get the proper fit on one.


grant doesn't fit/size bikes like most others do...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The long top tube bothered me as well and that is why I went with the 52 cm frame rather than the 56. The 56 has a 60 cm top tube and that is just too long for me The 58 cm top tube on the 52 is already pretty long but doable with a short stem. The up right posture gives a very different fit from my other bikes. I would however, buy these frames based on the top tube length rather than the more normal seat tube length. Grant Petersen would say I show an immodest amount of seat post. A problem for me but not for those in N. America is that as far as I can tell this is the only 650B wheeled bike in Asia. New tires are a big issue. I've had that saddle longer than I've been married and I have been married a long time!




 

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Really nice color. One thing you can say about Rivendell, they make very nice looking bikes - at least in my view. I didn't realize the SH takes 650b wheels, although I should have known better, which would be another deal-breaker for me. The amount of clearance between the seat tube and the rear wheel is incredible. It must ride like a limo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
tarwheel2 said:
Really nice color. One thing you can say about Rivendell, they make very nice looking bikes - at least in my view. I didn't realize the SH takes 650b wheels, although I should have known better, which would be another deal-breaker for me. The amount of clearance between the seat tube and the rear wheel is incredible. It must ride like a limo.

Only the smallest two sizes are 650B
 

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tarwheel2 said:
Thanks for the review. It is a nice looking bike, from the photos I've seen on the Rivendell website. The things that concern me are the lack of sizes and the very long top tubes. I'm not sure I could ever get the proper fit on one.
The super slack angles make up for it. I went from a 55cm standard bike to a 58 Riv and the reach was pretty close (bars came up a bit too).
 

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Nice review. I've had a Hillborne for just a few months but I really enjoy it as well. I don't have nearly as many miles on mine as you do, but so far I've been really happy.

My frame is a 56cm with 700c wheels and a Nitto mustache bar. Even tough the top tube sounds long, when matched to a 71.5 STA it's not long at all compared to many other frames. I've only run mine with small knobby tires so far, no "road" tires. I've ridden with 45mm and 38mm cyclocross tires. I originally bought it for dirt road and light trail riding, but find that it's so much fun to ride that I commute on it most day too.

The bike rides more upright than any other bike that I own. When my hands are near the bar-cons on the mustache bar I get the feeling of being on an old English 3-speed. When my hand are moved forward to where the brake lever mount, I feel like I have more power and can ride just about as quickly as I could on any other bike.

The steering is super stable, particularly on downhills on the dirt, and I was surprised how well it climbs on trails as well. As the original reviewer said, the turning radius is petty large, although it doesn't affect me adversely.

The big surprise to me is how fun the bike is to ride. If I'm headed out with a group to ride as fast as I possibly can I'd not take the Hillborne. However, on rides like my commute where I'm ridding to go somewhere this bike is super fun. I walk past my old commuter road bike most of the time and grab the Hillborne because it's more fun to ride. Also when riding it, it seems like I'm more aware of my surroundings. Normally I'm busy pedaling and paying attention to the wheel in front me. On the Hillborne I'm paying less attention to the bike and more attention to the scenery. It's a great change of pace.

If you get a chance to ride one do so. It's not a race bike, but for a nice relaxing ride or even a ride where you're moving quickly, the bike is fun. Too bad it's so had to measure fun. :)
 
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