The A. Homer Hilsen is a Country Bike.
"Country Bike" is our name for a smart, useful, comfortable, practical,
and hellaciously versatile road-ish bike. It's a road bike with good
clearance for tires and fenders, and one that can carry racks. It's not
a loaded touring bike for self-contained extended tours. But you can
certainly put 20-25 pounds on it and head out for the weekend. Everything you wish your current road bike can do, but it can't, the A. Homer Hilsen can.
The zippiness that you wish your comfort or mountain bike had, but it doesn't, the A. Homer Hilsen has
.Thats a 33.3333333mm Jack Brown tire right there, but you can squeeze a 40mm AND a fender under these fantastical Silver brakes that we designed just for the Hilsen.
It comes in sizes 47cm thru 71cm; and the wheel size depends on the frame size:
47-50-52-54-56-58 are for 650B wheels.
57-59-61-63-65-67-69-71 are for 700c wheels.
Included in the batch of photos here are some of a 69cm A.Homer Hilsen, with a double top tube (2tt). We do that on 65cm, 67cm, 69cm, and the King of All Homers, the 71cm.
the A. Homer Hilsen a "country bike" means it's a road bike you can do
a light tour with, a sport bike you can ride trails with, a trail bike
fast enough for club rides on the road. It's a brevet bike, a commuter,
a daily everything bike. It looks and rides like a classic road bike,
but it's far more comfortable, and can take you places you plain can't
go on a road bike. On fire trails, it's more practical and more fun
than a mountain bike.The A. Homer Hilsen is Versatile
A. Homer Hilsen's versatility isn't a result of design genius or high
tech breakthroughs. Its versatility comes the way versatility always
comes: by means of properly dimensioned tubes and properly located
bridges, which lead to the clearances that fenders with medium-volume
It feels odd to boast about that or
even mention it at all, because it's kind of a boring topic, and it
seems as though making forks the right length and putting the seat
stay- and chain stay-bridges in the right spot for good clearance
should be a given.
And yet good clearance is almost unheard of
these days, which is why we love to talk about it. Bike makers are all
agog over materials and light weight and eleven-speed cassettes and other
things of questionable value unquestionable. They've either consciously
leapfrogged the basics of good design to get to the glitzy stuff and to
capitalize on trends, or they don't know what good design is. It has to
be one or the other.
In any case, until late 2006, the clearance that allows the versatility was
with quality sidepulls. Campagnolo's and Shimano's are too short.
Nobody made a sidepull brake in the right dimensions until Tektro
pulled it off in late 2006, and that brake, known as the Silver
sidepull, or Tektro R559, opened the door to a versatile bike with sidepull brakes.
these brakes, the A. Homer Hilsen is able to fit tires all the way up
to 42mm, and up to 38mm with fenders. Maybe you'll never ride a tire
that fat, but having the ability to means the A. Homer Hilsen can go
where road bikes can't. And yet it still looks great and works
magically (well...that may be slightly enthusiastic) with the normal
32mm to 35mm tires you'll be on 90 percent of the time. Fenders don't
get squeezed, and wheel installation and removal couldn't be easier. No
single detail on the A. Homer Hilsen by itself is all that
earth-shattering, but the combination of details in just one bicycle is
truly a breakthrough, or at least an anachronism. It amounts to this,
in a nutshell: The A. Homer Hilsen has the sort of design smarts that
bikes used to have fifty and forty years ago, but the details have been
refined, evenized, and perfected. It combines these design elements
with the absolute finest modern materials, and a build quality that is
rarely equalled and remains unsurpassed by anybody in the twenty-first
century. The really big ones get double top tubes to make 'em stronger. Most big bikes don't have 'em but should. Really there aren't that many models out there to choose from for tall riders. This is your bike. What does it ride like?
A. Homer Hilsen feels like any Rivendell-designed bike. When you get
the right size and set the bike up in a normal way, you have a good
position and feel comfortable on it immediately, no matter how new it
is, no matter what you're used to.
With 33mm tires pumped to 95
psi, it feels like a fast road bike. Not a race bike, thank goodness,
but a fast-enough road bike, with zip. With 38mm tires at 40psi, it
feels perfect for fire roads. It turns easily, but doesn't overreact to
wind. The most we've put on it so far is about 25 pounds, and it
handled that wonderfully, even on fire trails with a 185-lb rider at
the controls. If you weigh less, you can carry more. All in all, it
combines the best of a late-'60s road bike with the best modern
materials and craftsmanship. It's a good, smooth, bike you can ride
TRIVIA: During its development, the A. Homer Hilsen
was named the Honus Wagner, after the early 20th century Pittsburgh
Pirate shortstop. All we talked about was Honus Wagner this, Honus
But it turns out Honus Wagner is trademarked. So we
contacted the firm that represents the Heirs of Honus (and about fifty
other famous people), and started two months of talks and negotiations.
Not full-time, mind you. We were optimistic enough to have completeted
the decal art for Honus Wagner, but then the contract included a few
unexpecteds that killed the deal for us (who were already stretched to
the max), so we didn't sign. Instead, we holed up in our Model-Name
Think Tank, and after about an hour and a half, emerged groggy but
giddy with A. Homer Hilsen shocked that it hadn't already been taken,
and that it wasn't, like Honus Wagner, trademarked.
names from the usual sources----Middle Earth, geography, birds, fish,
and mammals. The good ones were all taken, and besides, they all get
lumped together. I never liked combo-computer names, like
Lexuva&Futura&Diamante, that sound precise, smug, and high
tech. As bike names go, A. Homer Hilsen is their antithesis, and that's
why it won. It's kind of a filter, actually. That may not be a great
thing, but it's a useful thing.How to get one, price, delivery, and so on
.Frame and fork when you buy them alone, no parts, up to 63cm: $2300 65-71cm: $2400.
These sizes come with a second top tube (2tt).
The 2tt adds triangulation and the strength and anti-twisty stiffness
that comes with it, to frames that could use that, due to their longer
head tubes. Some people object to the unusual look, but there are
hundreds of thousands of examples of 2tt bikes in the world, and it is a
feature that came about to solve a problem. So if you're tall, embrace
your gangliness and get the 2tt bike. If you're tall and light and will
ne'er ride with any sort of weight on it, you can get a tall Homer with
1tt...but you don't save money doing that, and the bike is worse.
if I want another color?" You can probably get it, but it'll cost you
$350 more. That's what it costs us. It's possible that we'll change
colors on future productions, but it will always be some shade of blue,
and the only other blue that's in the running is a really pretty one,
too. How much for a complete bike?
on parts picked, of course. We're happy to help you figure it out if
you feel overwhelmed by all the parts decisions you have to make. The
way we like it? Around $3400 to $3600 with a smart mix of parts.
you want to upscale it here or there, we've done it before and offer
great advice. Want top of the bar shifters, a second set of brake
levers, STI? We've done it all. We won't let you wreck the bike with a
fantasy part that doesn't work, but we're quite flexible if you have a
notion you'd like to explore, or just want our opinion about some idea
you might have.How long to get one, and how do I get the ball rolling? Frame only:
it's in stock, we'll charge you the full $2300 (or $2400 for a big one) and ship it right
out. If we have to build the frame, lock it in with a $1000 deposit and
we'll charge the rest when it ships. For complete bikes:
we have the frame in stock, it won't take long at all, maybe a month to
build and ship. Put $2300 down for the frame and we charge the rest the
day the bike ships.
If we don't have the frame in stock, put
down the $300 non-refundable deposit. We order up the frame. The rest
gets charged when it ships. In the meantime, you have plenty of nights
to think about the parts.
Of course, special-ordered parts, custom wheels, and custom paint take longer. Miscellaneous
it made? Early Homers were made in Japan by Toyo. Then gradually and
now totally production shifted to Waterford, in Wisconsin. Although
it's human nature to wonder, "Which ones are better? I want one of
those!" --- there is no difference in quality. If there were, we'd
know it and lay it out there for you.
Tires: designed for 32mm to 43mm
Brake type: Sidepull or center pull
Brake reach: 64mm
Rear dropout spacing: 135mm.
Bottle mounts: Toyos mostly had two, W'Fords have three.
Tubing: Lightweight butted heat-treated CrMo steel.
See Also: the Rivendell Bicycles group on Flickr
. There are tons of photos there!