Upon my return from Bar Harbor after my cross country tour I found myself without my trusty Atlantis for over three weeks. Up to that point my one bicycle lifestyle had served me well. While a bit of a break from riding after the tour was acceptable by week two I was itching to ride around my new hometown of Olympia. I began scouring Craigslist for interesting, affordable options but nothing turned up before my Atlantis finally arrived. But I’d gotten used to keeping an eye on CraigsList and early in 2013 a Rivendell Quickbeam appeared in Olympia itself.
This was an original Quickbeam in the “Coleman Stove” Green and it had had a rough life. The previous owner to the seller had decided to set it up as a fixed gear bicycle and decided he didn’t need the rear brakes. So he cut off the cantilever studes and the brake cable hanger! The seller when he acquired this, met this with the contempt it deserves (he had a “friends don’t let friends ride fixed” stick on the top tube) and had a local frame builder braze on replacements for the hacked off parts. This area has been sprayed with the black enamel you can see above. I have to say the frame builder did a superb job with very clean brazes that actually are smoother than the front canti posts. However it was clear that I’d need to have the frame painted if I bought it. I managed to talk the seller down a little and all of the sudden I owned my second Rivendell.
In short order I had found Forever Powdercoating which was just a few miles away in Tumwater. The individual whom I bought the frame from turned out to be a professional wrench and he had had frames painted from them. Good enough. I had long ago decided that my second bicycle, were I to acquire one, would be orange I really liked the orange of the second run of the Quickbeams. I inquired with Rivendell about the color’s specifics but they were rather coy about it. But I found on Cyclofiend’s invaluable Rivendell archive a reference to Testor’s Competition Orange being a close match for touchup paint. This turns out to be a non-copyright infringing name for Chevrolet Orange. Forever Powdercoating had that color in stock so that is what I had it painted. And I have to say I find it lovely. I haven’t seen a “real” orange Quickbeam to compare it with, but I’m happy with the color and appreciate whatever uniqueness it has.
Rivendell graciously supplied me with decals and a replacement headbadge and on a grey afternoon I put those on. I followed the instructions from RBW in this YouTube video and successfully put on the headbadge and the downtube decal. However I was so carefully placing the seat tube decal that I failed to check it’s orientation and had put it on upside down! So I removed that and will have to get another one next time I order from Riv.
I had spent the time while the frame was being powdercoated researching and buying parts. For several reasons I really was trying to put together a nice bicycle as cheaply as possible. Primarily as an unemployed fellow I should conserve my cash as much as possible. Secondarily while I’ve always admired the Quickbeam I wasn’t sure how a single speed bicycle would suit my riding. Washington is hilly country and while I certainly think there are a lot of genuine applications for single speeds I wasn’t really involved in any. As my Atlantis is already well setup for touring, commuting, shopping, city riding I had been more leaning toward something like a “brevet bicycle” for my second ride. While I’m not officially a randonneaur the non-touring, non-utility, rec riding I do is more in line with that than anything else. So to cut a long story short, I wasn’t sure how into the Quickbeam I’d be and I didn’t want to invest too heavily into single speed specific components.
The primary components for a single speed that would transfer over to a different frame are the rear wheel and the cranks (and even these could be, depending). I bought a rear wheel quite cheaply from the guy I bought the frame was which was a great score. I then found a used Sugino crank from a single speed which while it had a bit too big a chainring on it I was able to put a more reasonable one on as a secondary. The headset and bottom bracket I bought new and good quality as they are vital components that will last and I’d keep with the frame regardless of it’s fate. I revived my old Nitto Jaguar seatpost (which required buying bolts from Japan!) and thus I was able to transfer my Crystal Fellow from the Atlantis to the Quickbeam.
I mentioned that I’d long intended to paint my next bicycle orange and of course do so on this frame. While I also had in mind a British Racing Green Brooks and matching bar tape to go along with said orange. Dark green and orange is a classic combination and I have to say I’m very pleased with how this long visualized looked turned up. I’ve also long appreciated the copper rails and rivets of the Brooks b.17 Special and was happy to finally own one. It is as well made as it’s cost makes you expect and I have to say the leather seems extra thick for extra long break-in time.
I haven’t ridden drop bars since the late 80s and I have to say I couldn’t be happier with the bars I prefer. But I had become intrigued with “brevet bars” and the way they flair out at the drops and as I mentioned I had been leaning toward setting up a brevet style bicycle. So I decided on Soma Brevet Bars on a Nitto Technomic stem for this bicycle. This makes the cockpit directly transferable if I decide I like the cockpit but would prefer it one a more brevet oriented frame. I have wrapped, twinned and shellacked my moustache bars quite a few times now but this was my first attempt on drops. I think it came out pretty good, though it’s always a learning experience. I think I’ve improved more at the twinning than the wrapping.
The first few rides were pretty weird but I eventually got used to the drops. I definitely prefer mustache bars to them, but I have come around on them. I think I’d like even more flair in the hooks then these Soma bars offer. I have the bicycle as minimally set up as possible. Only one waterbottle cage, a tiny saddlebag with just spare tubes and tools, not even a computer. It being Washington I’ll probably put fenders on at some point – bicycles look weird without them in my mind. I need a bigger saddlebag for carrying raingear and such so a rear rack is also possible. But for now I’ve been enjoying riding around such a light, sprightly bicycle. Definitely a contrast to my Atlantis in so many ways. I’ve probably gotten 50-75 miles on it now and I have to say it’s good fun. So, so far I’m pretty cool with the single speed action even if I don’t find it as utilitarian. I think I would still like to have a “brevet bike” and then I could set this one more up as a city bicycle with upright bars and maybe a basket.
Check out all my photos of this bicycle in my Quickbeam Set on Flickr