Rivendell Frames - Design Philosophy


All metal, all mechanical bicycles, for lifers 

We make bikes for day riders, tourers, commuters, shoppers, trail riders. For athletes, fitness worriers, get-arounders, recreationalists, family riders, and earth-savers. All of our frames our favorite-by-far frame material:  chrome-molybdenum (CrMo) steel. 

Pedal-powered, period

We know motors are tempting and in some cases necessary, but we're sticking with the kinds of bikes you pedal. They're what we know and love, and we've been trying to perfect them ever since 1994. 

UNracing bikes

Competition and a pervasive addiction to technology have led to hyper-reactive road bikes that are a handful to tame—they're just too twitchy, and there is no benefit—and are made with a material famous for its sudden failures. And today's mechanically overkill mountain bikes look like weapons to combat nature. Racers need them because other racers have them, but for fun and efficient travel over bumps, ruts, and gravel, you don't need pivots, hydraulics, and springs. Decent technique helps, and without the crutches, you'll develop it.

Invisible beneath the lug-jointed surface, hidden in the slender proportions of the steel tubes and graceful curve of the fork, is a frame design that is the result of thirty-five years of ignoring the boilerplate frame geometry competitors and market trends.

Our bicycles are safe. They're comfortable. They're more practical, versatile, useful, and they behave well in all conditions and on all surfaces. Whether you ride because you're carless, or to stay fit as you age, or to see things you wouldn't see on foot and would rather not see from the inside of a car, a Rivendell is always ready and ever able.

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The kind of bikes we DO do:

All Steel Road bikes.

Models: Roadini, Roadeo

Purpose: For pavement riding with tires between 28mm and 35mm. For unloaded or lightly loaded (10lbs?) rides on pavement or smooth dirt.

Rivendell differences: More: comfort, safety, utility, beauty. The bigger tires improve life on rough roads. The Roadeo, our "closer to traditional" design, still clears tires up to 33mm. The Roadini is a little more off-script for a road bike. The 2021 model uses a different sidepull brake that allowed us to increase tire volume to 38mm. 

Finally, the steering geometry has been dialed in for 25 years. New steering theories pop up now and then, create a flurry and a micro-cult, but it is extremely unlikely that you’ll find road bikes that ride as well, and certainly not better, than a Rivendell road bike.

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All Steel Country bikes.

Models: A. Homer Hilsen, Sam Hillborne, Platypus

Purpose: For splitting the time on road and light trails. These days you hear a lot about “gravel bikes.” We made country bikes for 20 years before that trend, but they’re basically the same: Road bikes with more grit, less priss, and fit fattish tires. Ours fit tires to 45mm with a fender, 50mm without. Excellent road touring bike. Super on pavement, moderate dirt, gravel, chip-seal, or unmaintained county roads, with loads up to 25 pounds

Rivendell differences: Like all of our bikes, comfort…handling…and especially in the case of our fully lugged models, beauty.

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All Steel Hillibikes

Models: Gus Boots-Willsen, Susie W. Longbolts, Clem Smith JR.

Purpose: Trail riding, smooth  or rough, loaded or unloaded. Also excellent for loaded road touring, all of them.

Rivendell differences: These are so different from modern mountain bikes that we had to come up with Hillibikes, to point out that we aren’t even trying to be like them. But you can ride them on the same trails.

Aside from only steel and no suspension, our Hillibikes are markedly geometrically different than modern “mountain” bikes, in that they have much longer chainstays and wheelbases. That contributes to a ride unequalled in unsuspended bikes, and yet makes them ideal for any trails. We will have a separate Hillibike brochure, which raves on ad nauseam about ours, and offers good tips on style, technique, and gets into some other interesting topics.

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Every Rivendell is Customized For You. 
A Rivendell bicycle usually starts with a frame, no components. Then we work with you one-on-one, as we pick each part with the goal of getting you a perfect bicycle. You don’t need to know about bikes, and we won't ask you questions you can't answer. We've done this daily for decades and we know how. We talk in person if Covid is vanquished, otherwise by phone or email. It works great--as long as we talk to you, not your assigned spokesperson. We don't allow "assigned spokespersons."  Also, you don’t pay a premium for this personal attention; it isn’t a profit-making indulgence to make you feel special. It’s just the best way to get the perfect bike for you. We do it for everybody, but we'll go overboard for you.