David’s Bike for Paris-Brest-Paris

David’s Bike for Paris-Brest-Paris

When David Wilcox signed up to ride in last summer’s Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 km (750-mile) brevet, he wondered about which of his bikes – he has quite a stable! – would be best for this long ride. Comfort is paramount if you’re going to spend 45+ hours in the saddle, but so is speed: The faster you go, the more you can rest without having to worry about time limit of 80 hours.*

David chose his Seven Evergreen all-road bike. Christopher Igleheart built a new fork that made it easy to mount fenders and a rack. The flower motifs and ceramic paint of the frame were done by Black Magic Paint. In real life, the effect is even more stunning than in the photos.

For comfort and speed, David ran Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass 700C x 44 mm tires with Extralight casings. PBP requires riding at night, so David put a SON Delux thru-axle generator hub on the front, and ran an Edelux II headlight (peeking over the front fender), combined with a Supernova taillight on the left chainstay.

Night-time temperatures in Brittany can be quite cold, so you want to bring plenty of layers, plus food for the road. A Ruthworks handlebar bag kept David’s supplies handy. A Rene Herse UD-1 rack supported the bag and kept it from moving to the detriment of the bike’s handling.

Fenders are no longer required in PBP these days, but they’re a good idea for such a long ride. Without them, even a brief rainshower will get your bottom wet, and over the course of the long event, saddle issues are something that you want to avoid at all costs.

That is also why David used a Berthoud saddle – the superlight Galibier model. The underseat bag held tools and spare tubes that David carried just in case, but that he (fortunately) didn’t need during the long ride. David wrapped the bars in Maware bar tape.

PBP is relentlessly hilly, and David ran a 46×30 Rene Herse crank. He reports that it shifted perfectly with his SRAM Red 11-speed drivetrain. He installed three bottle cages in case the weather was hot – there are few stores along the course – but he removed one on the eve of the start when the forecast called for mild temperatures.

SPD pedals and walkable shoes are a good choice – you’ll need to walk into the controls and cafeterias, and more than one tired cyclist wearing ‘road’ cleats has slipped and fallen.

David’s Seven performed without flaw during the long ride, with one minor exception: The long and flexible rear leather mudflap was sucked into the fender – fortunately without causing a crash. His bike shows how a well-designed all-road bike can become a no-compromise randonneuse by changing a few components.

Check back in a few days for a close look at Ryan’s PBP bike, a steel-framed Smeltzer adventure bike.

* Riders can choose between time limits of 80, 84 and 90 hours.
Photos: Nicolas Joly (studio), Maindru (action)

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Comments (13)

  • Rick

    What type of frame pump? What is the rear cassette?

    January 20, 2020 at 8:48 am
    • Jan Heine

      I believe the frame pump is a modern Silca – very heavy, but reliable. For the rear cassette, I don’t recall the exact tooth counts. David said he had more than enough gears.

      January 20, 2020 at 8:51 am
  • ed bernasky

    Beautiful bike!!! I remember seeing it with a bit of jealousy at Fougeres on the way to Brest.

    January 20, 2020 at 8:52 am
  • Jambi

    Seven make fantastic bikes. Thanks for highlighting this build.

    Out of curiosity, what model of fenders did he use?

    January 20, 2020 at 8:56 am
  • Mike Schiller

    kinda surprised he uses 700c wheels on a smaller frame. It looks like there would be some toe overlap.I have a 59cm Bantam with 700C wheels and 59.5cm TT and my feet barely clear a 44 mm tire with fenders.
    Beautiful bike , very well equipped too. Looking forward to the Smeltzer!.

    January 20, 2020 at 10:48 am
  • Daniel


    Would you mind sharing the front end geometry?


    January 20, 2020 at 1:14 pm
    • Jan Heine

      David decided to use the same fork offset as on his carbon ‘gravel’ fork, since he liked how the bike handled with that fork. Sorry, I don’t know the exact measurements.

      January 20, 2020 at 3:17 pm
  • Thomas Savarino

    what was the total as ridden weight of the bike?

    January 20, 2020 at 4:59 pm
    • Jan Heine

      I don’t know if David weighed the bike before PBP. Just estimating the weight of the frame and all the parts, I’d guess 22.5 lb without the bags.

      January 21, 2020 at 1:17 am
  • Pascal Ledru

    Rode a Seven Evergreen as well during PBP (I love it and all went great). Interesting on switching to a custom build steel fork with a front bag! May consider that for 2023.

    January 20, 2020 at 6:15 pm
  • Pk

    As a bike shop owner I run into weight-weenies on a weekly basis. Even though this wonderful machine is probably in the $8K range and still 22+ pounds, it’s refreshing, real, and what I try telling folks. Sure, there are lighter bikes out there. However, there are also dumpsters full of broken warranty frames behind the HQ of almost all big-time bike companies (I’ve seen them).
    The folks at Seven, Rene Herse, Nobilette, et al. have neither the time nor resources to sell unreliable beta-test stuff to gullible consumers. Twenty years down the road that Seven will be coveted while most other techno-slag will be in the landfill. Sorry to be such a grump.

    January 22, 2020 at 8:11 am
    • Jan Heine

      22 pounds is quite light for a bike that is ready for Paris-Brest-Paris. You’ll see much lighter bikes, of course, but most are weighed ‘naked,’ before water bottle cages, pumps, heavy battery lights, etc., are added. What matters is the overall weight as it’s ridden with everything taken into account. For example, if your fenders allow you to leave your rain pants at home, this offsets the weight of the fenders. More generally, randonneuring counts the total time, not the on-the-bike speed, which changes the equation – but also makes it much more realistic.

      Those calculations are what makes randonneuring so interesting.

      January 22, 2020 at 12:41 pm

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