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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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