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Brother Grant's a visionary.

His description of the modern roadie as a "clown" dressed in skintight lycra peppered with advertising logos, wraparound dark goggles and helmet that looks like bird feathers, riding a 16 pound bike hard enough, 60-80% of maximum heartrate, so it hurts, "one spoke away from not being able to ride," that will break in a crash. This bike can't be used for commuting or transportation because of this breakability, and no clearance for larger tires, fenders or racks.

Lightweight, responsive, efficient, solid riding road bikes by the late 70s were durable lugged steel, responsive, crashworthy, with enough clearances for different tire sizes, fenders and racks, so you could use the same bike for all types of riding, from centuries to runs to the coffee shop.

Why aren't these bikes being built today and sold for less than 500. to the people now snapping up hybrids in huge numbers? They don't have sex appeal, mainly, they don't promise speed, like "This bike will make you invincible!" Also, there's a huge selection of flat bar hybrids and mountainbikes to choose from to buyers not willing to plunk down a thousand bucks or more.

Grant Petersen recalls the days when you could hop on your roadbike dressed in t-shirt, bluejeans and tennis shoes, and just ride around town. While most builders took the road to lighter weight, faster speeds and quicker handling, Grant went towards reliability, serviceability, self-sufficiency. Freedom of the open road is what most roadies want, but they spend thousands on bikes that don't elegantly satisfy those requirements.
 

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I agree with most of what Grant preaches

But he seemed to be stumbling and a little incoherent in the interview compared to his more lucid writing. He's a much better writer than talker.
 

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They call it "laid back."

Reynolds531 said:
But he seemed to be stumbling and a little incoherent in the interview compared to his more lucid writing. He's a much better writer than talker.
How quick would you be with clever phrases, when some guy rides up on a bike and says, "Hey, can I interview you?" I think Grant hit on essentials, like the crashworthiness and reliability of lugged steel, his laid back cycling style, and natural fiber clothing. He was wise to carefully choose his words, knowing they were being recorded and would be heard on the internet. Always easier to thoughtfully write your ideas down, than pulling them off the top of your head.
 

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He's an absolute marketing genius, IMHO.

Not because he hypes his stuff, but because of a couple other of the Four P's:
Product and Place. (And positioning.) He's created a very effective niche for his poducts that effectively differentiate them from "me too" carbon and Ti offerings that rely primarily on brand cachet and sponsorships. And while there is cachet with Riv stuff, I think it falls into the "street cred" category versus bling.

Off to ride my carbon Trek now!
 

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Grant is a marketing guy, as opposed to a Richard Sachs (and many others) who are both builder and marketing. I wouldn't call him a marketing genius, but he has kept a small company afloat in a tough industry against many large competitors, no small task. Grant is also 100% committed in his personal life to the philosophies he espouses, rare in this day, which is one reason why he has the niche following. In fact, if you were to look at his total body of work from Bridgestone to the present he comes across as much as a homespun author as a bicycle businessman. Look at everything Rivendell sells - pine tar soap, hatchets, #2 pencils, etc. - hardly the product line of a cycling marketing genius vs a man on a mission to promote a nostalgic and simpler lifestyle.

The problem is that most dedicated "cyclists" consider cycling a sport and fitness oriented activity as opposed to a casual activity or lifestyle. Rivendell sells expensive bikes suitable as utilitarian vehicles suitable for multiple practical purposes which is a bit of a dilemma. Grant's philosophy does not fit in with a typical American family and certainly not a suburban family lifestyle; but he knows that and is trying to show us an alternative - who wants to argue against him? I like that he is dedicated to his industry, believes in handcrafted work, some of it Made in America, that he seemingly treats his employees well, and that he backs up his product.

I have visited the warehouse, bought many of his products (wool clothing, a few accessories and, yes, pine tar soap) and on two occasions nearly purchased his bikes. If he made just a FEW concessions to updated equipment (brifters for example) and style he might appeal to a larger audience -- and that might be marketing genius.

Anyway, long live Rivendell.


PseuZQ said:
He's an absolute marketing genius, IMHO.

Not because he hypes his stuff, but because of a couple other of the Four P's:
Product and Place. (And positioning.) He's created a very effective niche for his poducts that effectively differentiate them from "me too" carbon and Ti offerings that rely primarily on brand cachet and sponsorships. And while there is cachet with Riv stuff, I think it falls into the "street cred" category versus bling.

Off to ride my carbon Trek now!
 

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Funny thing is we just decided to stock the KHS Flite 220. It's a tig-welded 700c drop bar steel "road" bike (chromo main tubes and fork) with "Pilot like" geometry, i.e., extended head tube, longish wheelbase and "relaxed" angles, long-reach brakes (you could put fenders on it), rack braze-on's, etc.

It's got "Sora" type 8s shifters, a 50-34 compact crank and a 12-32 cassette.

It's obviously not light at about 26 lbs for a large (57cm effective top tube.) Everybody in the shop has ridden one and, damn, the consensus is that thing rides and handles very nicely. It's a great alternative to the now ubiquitous "hybrid" and would make a great all-round exercise, commuting, even light touring bike.

And the sucker retails for $450.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
SantaCruz said:
I have visited the warehouse, bought many of his products (wool clothing, a few accessories and, yes, pine tar soap) and on two occasions nearly purchased his bikes. If he made just a FEW concessions to updated equipment (brifters for example) and style he might appeal to a larger audience -- and that might be marketing genius.

Anyway, long live Rivendell.
It's funny you mention brifters. He has written many times in his catalogues that they are more than happy to put brifters on if you want them. Also in one of the RR he built up a Rivendell frame three different ways. One of those ways was with a double chainring and STI. :thumbsup:

He may not use them, but he isn't going to not sell them to you.
 
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