Grand Randonneur Frame Set (v.2)
Our Grand Randonneur is a true low trail geometry randonneuring frame set, which means it rides better with a front load than other touring and road bikes. Co-designed with Mike Kone of Rene Herse/Boulder Bicycles. It will fit all the gadgets a good rando bike should have. The traditional diameter tubes lend a smooth comfortable ride.
- Tange Prestige CrMo tubes, double-butted, non-oversized
- Threaded 1" lugged fork with low rider pannier bosses, mini rack eyelets and double eyelets at the dropouts
- Rear rack and fender eyelets
- Pump peg
- 3 sets of water bosses
- Designed for 650b wheels and cantilever brakes
- Max. tire fit: 650 x 42mm slick tires w/fenders
- Max. fender width: 50mm
- Needle bearing headset recommended
- Paint: White
Grand Randonneur Frame Set (v.2)
Things to Know About Riding A Low Trail Randonneuring Bike
There are growing ranks of cyclists who prefer a low trail bike, primarily because of the way it handles with a medium front load like a handlebar bag. The Grand Randonneur and bikes like it has a fork offset 20mm or more than the average road bike. When carry a load up front the bke responds less to the weight of the bag while steering. Riding the bike without a load takes getting used to if you are coming from a conventional (mid trail) road bike or mountain bike. The Grand Randonneur uses lighter tubing than our other road bikes and a fork with a more pronounced bend to create a more comfortable ride over long distances. Because of that and the low trail design, we don't recommend it for fully loaded touring. It is a performance bike designed for carrying a light to medium front load in relative comfort over long distances.
A low trail bike is not necessarily a great fit for every rider and their bike needs
These observations from Bicycle Quarterly and others may help you determine if you want to try it out and help fine tune the ride of your bike.
1) Low trail bikes ride best with tires at least 36mm wide and preferably at lower tire pressure (55-60psi). Some claim 42mm is ideal
2) Low trail bikes handle differently than most bikes you've tried. It may take one long ride to get used to it or weeks or months – depends on the rider.
3) Without a load in front the steering feels light especially at low speeds. You can put on panniers or a loaded saddle bag on it, but the ride quality won't be as good.
Don't low trail bicycles suffer from "fork shimmy"?
Some riders with low trail bikes do experience varying levels of fork shimmy (aka speed wobble) during speedy descents. There isn't a consensus on what causes it or how to get rid of it. Some riders seem more prone to it than others. Some say that shivering on a cold day or gripping the bars too tightly can set it off. Installing a roller bearing (aka needle bearing) headset may help get reduce it. Some say to avoid putting your seat too back or raising the bars higher than the saddle. Others say resting your knee on the side of the top tube during can help, too.
Specifications and Recommendations:
- Headset: 1" threaded, external cup, 26.4mm crown, (needle bearing or roller bearing-equipped headsets highly recommended for low trail forks)
- Seatpost: 27.2mm
- Front derailleur: 28.6mm, bottom pull
- Rear hub spacing: 132.5mm (fits both 130mm and 135mm OLD hubs
- Tires: 650b x 38 to 42mm
- Fork rake: 69mm - Max chainring fit: 52-42-32t 45mm chainline. 53-39t, 48.5mm chainline
- Bottom bracket shell: 68mm wide, English threads
- Brake compatibility: Cantilevers or V-brakes
- Compatible with downtube shifters
- This type of bike rides best with a front load. You can ride it unloaded, but it will take time to get used to the steering qualities of a low trail geometry. See FAQ entry on "Things to Know About Riding A Low Trail Bike"
Grand Randonneur Frame Set (v.2)
Better than a 700c bike with a front load
The low trail geometry makes the bike very sensitive to steering input. This would normally be too much, but paired with the 42mm 650B tire, it feels PERFECT, even with a front load. When I used to have a mid-trail 700C 38mm-tire bike with a front load, the steering was heavy and sluggish. It was very good at going straight, but not very good at subtle maneuvers. What I have now feels perfect for my taste. I also have a beater that is a low trail 700C 35mm, and that also feels very nice. I'm sure a 700c low trail bike with 38mm tires would be quite good for me. But if you add to this how comfortable the 42mm tires are at low pressure, and they're fast, I can't imagine wanting anything different as I prepare and train for the PBP 2019.
Paul's 1000 Mile Review
Paul wrote a lengthy thoughful review. Below is just an excerpt. Read the full review here: http://bike.paullieberman.net/blog/soma-gand-randonneur-1000-mile-review "And the verdict is
It's a great bike and I'm really enjoying it. As far as the things that are unique about this bike, I'll take them one at a time.
This is a no brainer for me now. I've had aluminium and carbon fiber bikes in the past and now I know I prefer steel. The ride is always great, the performance is great, and I know I can trust it.
650b wide tires
I'm sold on this now. I feel like I'm not giving up anything as far as speed and agility while gaining comfort, stability, and the ability to ride on any surface. This is really a win-win for me.
Low trail geometry
The jury's still out on this one. I like the responsiveness and how well it holds true around a curve. I certainly don't like the possibility of shimmy at speed, or the twitchy feeling when going too slow. Once advantage of low trail is that you can carry more weight in the front. This is great but I can also load up my touring bikes with a front load and never have any problems. If the main advantage of low trail is that it handles better around the turns on really fast downhills, then this is something I don't need. I'd be perfectly happy going a little slower if the trade off was more stability. So this may be the one feature that I don't care for. Then again the more I ride this bike the better I like it. It may be that after a while I'll come to appreciate the low trail more. We shall see."
Paul L., City, State
Grand Randonneur Frame Set (v.2)
Cycle Seattle's Quick Impression on the Grand Randonneur
The Soma Grand Randonneur was recently shipped, and is a very compelling deal. It is a $500 frame/fork combo that was designed by Mike Kone of Boulder Bicycle and Rene Herse fame. Note: Soma is doing some great combo design deals lately. First Grant Petersen‘s design on the San Marcos, and now a low-trail guru’s take on a commodity frame. You’d be hard pressed to not want both!
The bike I rode is a 55cm (small for me) with a large porteur rack on the front. Good to add some weight and see how it feels with a bit of front load. In my short ride, I felt immediately at home on the bike, and really felt some of the benefits of the different front-end geometry. It was quick handling, but forgiving – not twitchy. As I slowed to a stop, I noticed there was none of the flopping I have on my higher trail bikes if I let go of the handlebars. OK – that’s kind of nice. But the thing I liked more is that on a slow climb, I didn’t have the bars slightly twisting back and forth with my pedal strokes. It tracked well at low speeds. Hmmm – I may like this sort of thing.
On turns, at medium and higher speeds, there was no uncertainty of where I was going. Perhaps it didn’t feel like it was “on rails” like my Rivendells, but there was no bad effects I could ascertain. As for riding no-handed, it was about like my Miyata. Not great, but doable, and I wonder if it’s not due to the high saddle, low bars on this slightly too small frame for me. http://stonehog.com/2013/11/21/low-trail-rides/
Handlebard's Grand Randonneur Review
... It’s a beautiful bike, with clean welds, and light tubing (my 61cm weighed in at 25.5 lbs with rack, fenders, and wheels). The color, which I expected to be an aesthetic problem for me, immediately grew on me. It’s unique, classic and even a bit sophisticated looking. Pump pegs, bosses for a third bottle cage, integrated rear brake stop are all nice features that add to the fit and finish. Decals are under the clearcoat.
The ride is more reminiscent of my 80′s Trek 560ex than my touring bike, yet it is at least as comfortable to ride. That is, as far as I remember… my other bikes have been collecting dust since the GR arrived. (Ah, new love!)
It’s my first 650b bike, so I am loath to make too many comparisons. I’m just having fun on it. Fun riding up the volcano, fun riding my favorite fast flat, fun getting my coffee in the morning. It’s even fun to look at while I drink my coffee.
One caveat. If you’re sniffing around Grand Randonneur as a touring bike, I’d encourage you to look elsewhere. The GR frame and fork are purpose built for randoneurring. The frame is light and sporty and I can imagine it being too lithe to handle a heavily load. Further, the rider is farther back towards the rear axle than on an intended touring bike. Even though there are rear rack mounting bosses, heel strike on the panniers would likely be a problem. I have not tried mounting a rack and panniers, nor intend to. Maybe that’s the chainstay length or maybe the seat tube angle. I’m no geometry expert.
Further, climbing was actually fun. Each pedal stroke was like getting a push from an unseen force at the rear of the bike. This is a new sensation for me on a bike. And I love it. I wasn’t just going up this hill, I was accelerating up it. Thanks to John, a cyclist who I’ve been mailing with, I can give a name to this sensation. Jan Heine calls it ‘planing’ and it’s a result of a symbiotic rider and frame geometry. .