What We Ride (Part 4): The Mule

In this mini-series, we look at the bikes of the BQ Team. These are the bikes we bought with our own money and/or built with our own hands. These are the bikes we ride most often, because we feel they work best for the rides we do. And – most importantly – they are the most fun to ride.

When I first went to Japan six years ago, I realized I needed a Rinko bike, so I could travel by train to the great routes that traverse the Japanese mountains. As it happens so often, the project was delayed until the last moment. In the end, the entire bike was built in ten days. I built the frame under Hahn’s supervision. He insisted that I miter all the tubes by hand, rather than using a milling machine. It was a great learning experience, and it led to many framebuilding parts in the Rene Herse program that make it easier to build a bike like this – like the pre-mitered centerpull braze-ons that fit perfectly on the Kaisei ‘Toei Special’ fork blades.

And yes, I did finish the bike in time – building the wheels at 2 a.m., just hours before my plane left. It wasn’t painted yet when I rode it in Japan for the first time, during a memorable autumn tour of Hokkaido, followed by an incredible night-time ride across Shirabisu Pass during a lunar eclipse…

I called it the ‘Mule’ after the race cars built by mid-century Italian makers like Ferrari and Maserati. When a new model’s chassis and engine were finished, they was often clothed in a rudimentary body to start testing. In the same way, the Mule is almost a ‘proof-of-concept’ more than a polished final product.

The Mule uses a frame configuration René Herse used on some bikes for tall and/or strong riders, but that I hadn’t seen used anywhere else: The top tube is standard diameter (1″), but the down tube is oversized (1 1/4″). So the difference in the diameters of the top and down tubes is greater than usual.

The result is a frame that is a bit stiffer than my Herse, so it’s ideal for carrying a camping load in the front low-riders. It still ‘planes’ enough to make it a capable randonneur bike, even if – for me and my pedaling style – it gives up a little bit in ultimate performance to my Herse with its Superlight tubeset. Others who’ve ridden the Mule prefer its more planted feel. One added benefit: The Mule doesn’t shimmy even with a Chris King headset that has almost no damping.

The Mule has inspired quite a few modern randonneur bikes with a similar frame configurations, including the new Crust Canti Lightning Bolt, which we tested in Bicycle Quarterly 70.

Built in such a short timeframe – and by a beginner – the Mule isn’t as beautiful as the incredible frames from masters like Peter Weigle, Mark Nobilette or the craftsmen at Toei in Japan. Before building the Mule, I had made racks and other small parts, but making a lugged frame is a different matter: You need to control the heat over a much larger area and draw the filler (silver in this case) through a much larger space. And working with thinwall tubing, you really don’t want to overheat the frame tubes. It was a challenge I enjoyed, but I also know that the Mule isn’t a masterpiece. The brazing is a tad uneven on the lower headlug, and I didn’t have time to do any filing on the fork crown. (Since then, we’ve redesigned our Rene Herse crown to make it lighter and give the reinforcement tang a nicer radius.) Peter Weigle, who painted the frame after it returned from Japan, commented: “You need to go to finishing school!”

Despite its (minor) cosmetic deficiencies, the Mule has held together remarkably well over many hard miles. And I’m proud that I was able to include a few nice touches like Rene Herse’s fender mount using a simple aluminum pin that is held in place by the tension from the eyebolt inside the fork crown. And I made a Rene Herse-style brush inside the steerer that eliminates the external wire to the taillight (and makes disassembly for Rinko much easier).

The bike runs many prototype parts, like the Rene Herse Rear Cable Hanger. While I was at it, I also made the extra-small cable stops on the top tubes. (Even though I was pressed for time, I didn’t want my first frame to have bulky cable stops!) Both parts are now available in our program.

You may notice the brake cable housing – it’s a little short. It was cut during an emergency repair: I took the bike to the Hirose Owner’s Meeting, but forgot that I had sent the prototype cable hanger to Nitto, so they could make drawings and put it into production. When I went to assemble the bike at the train station, I realized that I had no way to make the rear brake work! H. Hirose came to the rescue, with an emergency repair that included a lot of hemp twine wound around the seat tube to tie the cable housing in place. Miraculously, I was able to use the rear brake during the challenging gravel descents that followed.

The Mule is still using an old Brooks saddle that I bought many, many years ago when Brooks was still an independent company, and the quality was still top-notch. We now sell Berthoud saddles, but I don’t replace parts before they are worn out, so the Brooks will stay on the bike a little longer. The Campagnolo Nuovo Record seatpost holds the saddle in an iron fist, but it’s a bit heavier than it needs to be. I’d use a Nitto post if I were to build the bike again.

Another prototype: This was the first Rene Herse decaleur with H. Hirose’s locking pin mechanism. I made it after my handlebar bag had flown off twice. Then we worked out a licensing agreement with Hirose and made it available in our program. You can also see why our decaleurs now have a loop at the bottom: The open ends of the two tubes on this prototype tend to wear the stitching on the Berthoud bag. (This is the Mule’s second bag.) As an added plus, the loop keeps the two tubes better aligned.

Perhaps you wonder about the center bolt on the bag mount. It’s not missing – we decided it wasn’t needed, and the hole weakens the mount. Still, before making parts without a hole, we had to test it…

I was tired of flexy cable hangers that compromised the power of my front brake, so I drilled a hole in the Nitto stem instead. Nitto’s president, Mr. Yoshikawa, was concerned when he first saw my bike. But when he noticed that I had made the hole as small as possible – I removed the plastic cover on the housing – and drilled the larger hole for the housing just a few millimeters deep. Only the 1.5 mm hole for the brake cable goes through the stem. He smiled approvingly and said: “No problem.”

The photo also shows special Rene Herse headset spacer, which keeps the headset from coming loose without needing much torque on the locknut. It’s little more than finger-tight – great for Rinko. (Before, the headset had a tendency to come loose.)

The rest of the parts are what I had lying around at the time. The Sachs Huret front derailleur’s curve shows that it was intended for a 52-tooth chainring, but it shifts perfectly with the 44×28 that the Mule has been running. Some day, I’ll replace the chainring bolts with our custom-made flat-faced Rene Herse ones, which sit flush with the surface of our thicker-than-standard chainrings. Our parts keep evolving, but I don’t always run the latest versions on my own bikes, because the old ones just keep working.

One part I am especially proud of is the bell. It says ‘World Champion Tiger Bell,’ and it’s a long-discontinued model. ‘World Champion’ is a strange thing to say about a bell, but it really has the nicest ring of any recent aluminum bell I’ve tried. The beautiful timbre reminds me of the great French Sonn-Net bells on 1950s Rene Herse bikes. Usually, you get such a nice sound only with a (heavy) brass bell, and most aluminum bells have a rather tinny sound. So perhaps this one really is the world champion of bells. (That still leaves the ‘Tiger’ part of the name as a mystery…) Recently I was able to buy a small stash of these bells at Kato Cycles, the amazing bike shop in Nagoya featured in the latest Bicycle Quarterly. That was an exciting discovery!

The kink in the brake cable is just one sign that the Mule has led a very hard life. It’s been disassembled and reassembled for Rinko at least 50 times, always in a rush. The handlebars – prototypes for the superlight Rene Herse Randonneur model – are bent, reminding me of the day when the bike fell into a ravine on the old road to Jikkoku Pass. (Water from an underground spring had softened the soil, and suddenly the narrow path gave way under my front wheel.) The paint is scuffed, and the aluminum parts have a nice, dull patina. Like all the bikes on our team, the Mule is intended to be ridden. And when we’re descending a twisty gravel road covered with loose rocks, with a full camping load in my front panniers, I know that I wouldn’t want to be on any other bike.

Here are the specs for the Mule

  • Frame: 7-4-7 top tube (1″), 7-5-7 down tube (1 1/4″)
  • Fork: Kaisei ‘Toei Special’ fork blades
  • Rack: Rene Herse CP-1
  • Cranks: Rene Herse 44×28 with SKF 107 mm bottom bracket
  • Derailleurs: Huret (front); SunTour Superbe Pro (rear), Simplex Retrofriction levers
  • Pedals: Shimano PD-A600 single-sided SPD
  • Front hub: SON Delux Wide-Body SL, 32 hole
  • Rear hub: Maxi-Car, 36 hole
  • Freewheel: Shimano Dura-Ace 13-26, 7-speed
  • Tires: Rene Herse 650B x 42 mm Babyshoe Pass Extralight
  • Tubes: Schwalbe SV14A Extralight
  • Brakes: Rene Herse centerpull
  • Brake levers: Mafac
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Stem: Nitto NP
  • Decaleur: Rene Herse (prototype)
  • Handlebars: Rene Herse Randonneur, 42 cm
  • Seatpost: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
  • Headlight: SON Edelux II
  • Taillight: Rene Herse
  • Pump: Zefal Solibloc
  • Handlebar bag: Berthoud GB28
  • Bottle cages: Nitto
  • Weight: 11.3 kg (25.0 lb) including pedals, bottle cages and pump

These are the bikes we own and ride. They’re a lot scruffier than the bikes you usually see featured on the internet, because they’ve been ridden for many years and many hard miles. They’re the bikes we take when we head out into the unknown, because they work best for us.

And because so many have asked about bikes for smaller riders, we’ll add a fifth bike to the series: Natsuko’s C. S. Hirose. Stay tuned!

Previous posts:

Further reading:

45 Responses to What We Ride (Part 4): The Mule

  1. David Cummings April 18, 2020 at 6:30 am #

    Additionally, I always appreciate cross references and bibliographies to past BQ editions as I have the entire catalog. That way my wife doesn’t end up finding me with magazines scattered all over the floor, muttering to myself at the book shelf, “I know I read an article on that in ONE of these editions!”

  2. John C. Wilson April 18, 2020 at 6:40 am #

    Home drilled stems were once fairly common. I have used them a very long time without problem. Presently a 1960 Ambrosio stem is in regular use, will be used in about an hour. There are stems that would be questionable for such use, present company hopefully would automatically decline to drill a stem with hollow aluminum extension. Nitto stems are massively overbuilt.

    • Jan Heine April 18, 2020 at 10:43 am #

      I wouldn’t say that classic stems like the Nitto are ‘massively overbuilt’ – they don’t weigh much more than modern stems. It’s just that you can make a slim stem if you insert it into the steerer tube. If you clamp a stem around the outside of the steerer tube – especially an oversized one – it gets very bulky, and so you have to make it hollow to keep the weight from ballooning out of control.

  3. john hawrylak April 18, 2020 at 10:00 am #

    Very good article on the Mule and on the Trek. Both had good details, like a complete specification list. I have 1 question on the Trek article. I was not able to post it before the comments were closed.

    In the Trek article you stated “That makes it the perfect base for this kind of conversion – much better than the touring Trek 520 with its lower-grade tubing and ‘relaxed’ angles.”

    Why are “relaxed angles” undesirable for a radonneuring frame??

    Thanks

    • Jan Heine April 18, 2020 at 10:39 am #

      Relaxed angles – especially a shallow head angle – introduce too much wheel flop, so they work well with a rear load, but not with a front load.

      • Eamon April 18, 2020 at 1:31 pm #

        One thing to note is that the first year 520 (1983) was a sport touring model and had the same geometry as the Frek – 73 degree head and seat tube angles, 55mm fork rake. The difference is mostly the Reynolds 501 vs 531 tubing. The 531 models had .08/.05/.08 top tubes, while the 501 set was all .08/.06/.09. Having tested out both in 1983, I actually felt the 520 (with its 501 tubeset) felt livelier. I still ride one today. I’ve been tempted to convert it to 650b several times, but they’re really good bikes with 700c wheels as well.

        Later years of the 520 were indeed more relaxed geometry.

        • Eamon April 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm #

          Sorry, typo on the tubing spec:
          The 531 tubed models had .08/.05/.08 top tubes and 1.0/.07/1.0 down tubes.
          The 501 tubed models had .09/.06/.09 top and down tubes

      • john hawrylak April 18, 2020 at 6:29 pm #

        Thank you, very much appreciated

  4. marmotte27 April 18, 2020 at 11:04 am #

    Yeah, that loop on the decaleur! I need it!

    • Jan Heine April 18, 2020 at 11:09 am #

      There’ve been so many small improvements in our parts over the years… I will also install the latest decaleur once we have it back in stock. (It’s on the water right now.)

  5. Franklyn Wu April 18, 2020 at 11:31 am #

    My 2009 Ebisu All-purpose 650b has similar tubing dimensions as the mule 1″ top tube and 1 1/4 downtube (and 1 1/8) seat tube). Not sure the wall thickness but Hiroshi probably took my weight (~200lbs) into consideration.

    • Jan Heine April 18, 2020 at 11:49 am #

      Ebisus were great bikes. Japan is the only place where I’ve seen Mule-style tube specs (apart from Rene Herse’s 1950s bikes).

  6. Owen April 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm #

    Great series and very timely: there was a 1981 Trek 614 in my size for sale locally, and Steve’s article prompted me to pick it up. I’m amazed at how light it is, especially the fork. I hadn’t thought of modern OS steel frames as being heavier than necessary but this may change that.

    Doubt I’ll be doing a 650b conversion as it fits 700x38mm, I’m very excited to build it up and see how it rides. Thanks to BQ for the inspiration!

    • Tom April 20, 2020 at 7:28 am #

      Please be aware the Trek steer tubes of this era are prone to cracking. The grove for the headset washer retainer is commonly machined very long. The pressure of the stem expansion cone expand the tube which cracks in this very thin area. I have 2 examples.

  7. Owen April 18, 2020 at 1:30 pm #

    Great series and very timely: I found a 1981 Trek 614 frame in my size for sale locally and Steve’s article prompted me to pick it up. I’m amazed at how lightweight it is, especially the fork. I hadn’t thought of modern OS steel frames as being heavier than necessary but this may change that.

    Doubt I’ll be doing a 650b conversion as it fits 700x38mm, but I’m very excited to build it up and see how it rides. Thanks to BQ for the inspiration!

  8. Richard April 18, 2020 at 3:43 pm #

    Please elaborate on the brazing process. I’m curious to know the composition of the silver filler, type of flux and torch size(s). When I was young there was always an oxyacetylene torch in the workshop. I learned to how to do an adequate job of welding and brazing, but have been away from it for a long time. It would be helpful to have some reference info if I decide to go shopping. I’ll understand if you disclaim any comments as “not a recommendation.”

    • Jan Heine April 18, 2020 at 8:05 pm #

      I’m sorry, I don’t feel qualified to comment on framebuilding technique. I’ve been privileged to watch and even work alongside many great builders in the U.S., in France, and in Japan, but that doesn’t make me an expert on materials and tools. There are many good resources, both online and elsewhere, that will be more useful than what I could offer.

      • Richard April 19, 2020 at 10:16 am #

        The existence of “many good resources” is the problem. As with tires, it’s hard to know what’s myth or opinion and what’s not.

        My recollection from long ago is, a good formula was big flame, lots of heat, lots of brass filler and move quickly. My sense is that, for framebuilding, high temperature brass filler rod isn’t used as much as it once was.

        I’d enjoy reading a BQ article with a general overview of how brazing has evolved and maybe a few comments from framebuilders about how they’ve adapted to newer materials and the increasing demands placed on Allroad bikes.

  9. Scott F April 18, 2020 at 8:51 pm #

    One thing about the tubing sizes has me a bit frustrated. Top head lugs for 25.4 top tubes and 31.8 head tubes are common. Bottom head lugs for 31.8 down tubes and 31.8 head tubes are rare. Ceeway stocks one and Henry James shows one (out of stock, as usual). Is there another source for this size? I’m interested in the Mule frame specs as I weigh 210 lbs. on average. I have two rebuilt Trek 520s with “skinny” tubes that work fine for me, but the tubing is heavier gauge than modern tubes.

    • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 12:47 am #

      I believe that the lug on the Mule came from Henry James.

      • Nick J April 19, 2020 at 11:10 am #

        Henry James is selling what’s left of its stock before closing shop for good. If something is out of stock, you won’t find it there again.

        If you have trouble locating the right lug, you could always make your own. They take time to make but they’re not hard. The benefit is you can shape it and choose whatever angle you want!

        • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm #

          If Henry James is indeed closing, that would be sad news. The reality is that framebuilding parts are a tough business these days. Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, relatively few high-end steel bikes are being built. Most of the parts in the Rene Herse framebuilding program exist because we need them for projects like the Mule, not because they actually make money.

          • Mark April 19, 2020 at 7:07 pm #

            I love looking at lugs, but what’s wrong with fillet brazing or—gasp!—welding? I understand they may require more precise mitering off joints (?) but surely they allow more latitude with angles? And lighter, springier (cos the butts need not be as long) frames? And aren’t many modern tube sets designed for these modes off construction? My frame builder (35 years experience & highly regarded) builds with welds and occasionally fillet—for at least some of the above reasons. The results are pleasing to the eye, if different from lugs. OTOH, I believe Darrel McCulloch from Llewellyn Cycles says lugs are the best way to join modern thin-wall steel.

          • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 11:17 pm #

            Nothing wrong with fillet-brazing or even TIG-welding. Lugs are a great way to distribute stresses (and they do need the same quality of mitering as the other methods), but perfectly good frames have been built using all methods.

  10. Oscar April 19, 2020 at 7:41 am #

    Very enjoyable to read about these bikes and their stories. When I first read about the “Mule” in a post from your previous blog years ago I thought its name came after its load carrying capacity, later discovered I was wrong when reading its BQ dedicated issue, but also that in some way that was not that far from the truth…

    I must also say the discussion and amount of information generated after the “Frek” thread makes for a truly valuable piece of information, worth keeping for those of us that at some point have considered similar conversions. As another reader says, being able to build something out of more or less easily available parts and involving minor modifications (basically, no brazing involved), makes for a really attractive prospect.

    So, thanks for the series and thanks to all contributors too.

  11. Steve Durrant April 19, 2020 at 11:01 am #

    Sorry to backtrack – on Ryan’s 333, can you show us the handlebar bag mounting? Is it a standard commercial part or an adaptation or custom fabrication? Also, some info on his carbon fork and would you do it again? Thanks (I ride a Ti Davidson with S&S, built by Max…)

    • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 11:14 am #

      The bag mount is a standard part. The carbon fork was discussed in the comments of the previous article. It’s been causing some problems, but nothing immediately safety-related.

  12. Rick Thompson April 19, 2020 at 11:04 am #

    My Rinko capable bike has been taken apart about as many times as the Mule, in my case for car packing not yet for any big adventures. It has what I assume is typical for the RH taillight, grounding through the frame and a single wire for power. The wire passes through the frame and exits under the down tube to a connector tucked under the fork crown, where it takes only a few seconds to disconnect. I appreciate the cleaner appearance of no wire, but when you say the steerer brush connector makes Rinko much easier I do not see the advantage. Could you elaborate?

    • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 11:11 am #

      You are right, disconnecting a wire isn’t that hard – I just tend to forget it when I pull out the fork… With the brush, nothing bad happens… Beyond that, I’ve had a really hard time finding good connectors. I’ve worked on more than a few bikes where the lights didn’t work, and it was a connector that had gone bad due to moisture. So having a bike that has no connectors – the Mule also has a SON SL hub with no wires – is nice. But it’s not essential.

      • Rick Thompson April 19, 2020 at 11:59 am #

        Thanks. I have the SON SL also, here no wires is certainly worth it for clean simplicity.
        For the past 2 years my taillight connector has been a magnetic style sold for bikes. It is susceptible to grime when not connected, but a quick wipe restores contact. So far no corrosion, but it is drier here in CA.

      • Jacob Musha April 19, 2020 at 12:50 pm #

        Jan, is it possible to add the brush setup to an existing frame? I’ve only found one set of instructions, written by someone muddling through it for the first time during a frame build. It would be nice to see detailed write-up, and even nicer to see a kit of parts available so it could be more easily accessible.

        • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 1:37 pm #

          Installation is tricky – there really isn’t much room between the steerer tube and the head tube. But it’s worth a write-up. Will have to take good photos next time I take one apart.

  13. Juan April 19, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    Thanks for this technically interesting, nice-to-read article. I’m wondering about the spoke gauge you chose for the front wheel, which needs to deal with the additional loads coming from the paniers. Would you mind discussing how you made your spoke choice (1,5mm butted, or perhaps 1,8mm butted,…)?

    • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 1:58 pm #

      Spokes don’t break from overloading, but from fatigue as they detension at the bottom of the wheel with each revolution. Thinner spokes detension less, so they last longer. Double-butted spokes are even better, as they are thick at the ends (where they can break) and thin in the middle to resist detensioning. On all my builds, I use Sapim Laser 2.0-1.5-2.0 mm spokes, as they are much higher quality than others I’ve tried. Haven’t broken a Sapim spoke yet…

  14. John Duval April 19, 2020 at 11:12 pm #

    I have often thought about a Rinko conversion for my bike. I wonder if it would be practical for you to offer short lengths of fender to make a spline to go with the rinko nut. Also, a pair of the rinko center pull brake arms to replace the nutted arms. Or is it possible to Rinko without detaching cables from brifters and brakes?

    • Jan Heine April 19, 2020 at 11:19 pm #

      We do offer Rinko centerpull brakes that allow the straddle cable to unhook on each end. Offering short pieces of fender is something we’ve thought about. It’s just that there are so many different fender models…

    • Mark April 20, 2020 at 4:54 am #

      I’ve got Herse rinko centre pulls and they work well. However, if you use the old style MAFAC straddle yoke instead of the Herse ones you don’t need the rinko style c/p’s.

      I also use bar-end shifters with cable-splitters—it takes a little longer than if you’re using down tube shifters, but it’s not an onerous task.

      It’s also worth considering that there are many ways to make a bike suitable for carrying on a Japanese—or other—train: you don’t have to break the bike down in the way described in BQ. Other methods can make a fairly small package, and some are much quicker to do. You can even *approximate* the BQ method without disconnecting the cables—esp. if you have slotted cable guides (it takes a lot of care, so I don’t do it). The BQ way does, however, generally make a more contained & substantial package (in the sense of being cross-braced and able to be easily balanced or self-balanced & usable for plane travel) than other methods.

      I think the manufacturers of aluminium ‘guards should be encouraged to provide an extra small section with each set for splitting the ‘guards—perhaps RH could do this for their own offerings. IME, it’s usually easy to find extra sections for plastic ‘guards.

      • Jan Heine April 20, 2020 at 9:29 am #

        You are right, there are many ways to Rinko a bike. We prefer the Alps method, because the package a) is small enough not to obstruct the aisles on Japanese trains and b) it’s free-standing, making it much easier to travel with it. When I traveled with my Firefly in Japan, I couldn’t easily disconnect the disc brakes, so I just removed both wheels and the bars and put them in a (much bigger) bag.

  15. D. Venable April 20, 2020 at 5:25 am #

    All of the frames in this series look to be about as big as they could be for the rider.

    • Jan Heine April 20, 2020 at 9:30 am #

      It’s an easy way to get the handlebars into a position that is comfortable for long-distance riding.

  16. Jacob Musha April 20, 2020 at 9:30 am #

    Why use a pin and eyebolt for mounting the front fender? On two bikes I’ve drilled and tapped a small hole on the front edge of the fork crown and attached the fender directly, just like a seatstay or chainstay bridge. If you drill the hole along an axis that lines up with the front hub, you don’t have to go through the trouble of denting the fender.

    • Jan Heine April 20, 2020 at 10:26 am #

      The Rene Herse fork crown is too thin to drill a hole at the bottom. If you drill a hole at the front, you’ll need an L-bracket that causes the fender to flex and possibly crack. (I know you aren’t talking about that.) Some builders braze a little threaded plate into the bottom of the steerer tube, but I like the pin, because it allows the eyebolt (Daruma) to slide a millimeter or two, so it’s not as crucial to align the two holes in the fender (at the fork crown and at the rack) perfectly.

      • Jacob Musha April 20, 2020 at 10:53 am #

        It’s funny you mention alignment. I had to ovalize one of the fender holes because it no longer lined up as I tightened it to the rack… Even though it was lined up initially. Next time I’ll know better! Drill the rack hole a little further forward so it lands in the right spot.

        I’ve also seen water bottle/rack bosses brazed into the inside of the fork crown, if drilling into it is not an option. To me it seems like an elegant way to avoid the clunky eyebolt and extra pin, but as usual there is more than one way to do things. I definitely avoid the L-brackets whenever possible.

  17. Dann April 20, 2020 at 10:27 am #

    Is there a reason you have a straight TT? I would think that for rinko / packing a bike a sloping TT and long seatpost would offer more flexibility.

    • Jan Heine April 20, 2020 at 10:58 am #

      A sloping frame isn’t really smaller, as the longest dimension of a Rinko bike is from the rear dropouts to the head tube. Having a long seatpost introduces extra flex. Many have commented on the extra shock absorption of fore-aft flex, but you also get side-to-side flex that introduces some vagueness into the bike’s handling. (You really notice this on a tandem that is too small for the stoker and has a very long seatpost, because you don’t compensate for somebody else’s body moving as easily as for your own.) From an engineering perspective, keeping the cantilevered seatpost relatively short makes a lot of sense.