A Visit to Rivendell and Jitensha Studios

Serbrina, Bruce and I headed up to the bay area for a weekend packed with bicycle activities. Bruce and I rode in the Rough Riders Rally on Friday and Saturday. First up though was a visit to a couple of bike shops that we like. Bruce already owns a Rivendell, so this was like coming home for him, but it was my first time there. Rivendell is a pretty unassuming shop, but inside you are in heaven. I always give Bruce crap for his Rivendell attitude, but I have to admit that I “got it” right away. There is something special about these bikes.

I asked a million questions and was able to test ride a couple of bikes. The first I rode was the Roadeo. It’s their traditional road bike, all lugged steel of course, and very basic. If I remember right it doesn’t have any braze-ons. It’s probably one of the lightest steel frames around. I was pretty impressed with the weight.

Next up was the A. Homer Hilsen. This is a 650b framed bike, with all the braze-ons you could possibly want. The best part about it was that it weighs pretty close to the Roadeo. Slightly more of course because of all the braze-ons and the kickstand plate, but nothing that’s going to be a deal breaker. This is really a do-it-all bike and they had one outfitted with front and rear bags and fenders.

Between the the two bikes I preferred the A. Homer Hilsen. I wish I was able to borrow it for the ride that we were heading out to do. I love the color and the ride was super smooth. I think it would be a perfect Rough Riders bike. I’m going to finish building the Kogswell, but since it’s a 650b frame, I’m going to keep the A. Homer Hilsen as a backup frame choice. I don’t think you can go wrong with it.

The next stop was to Jitensha Studios in Berkeley. I don’t know much about this studio except that there are two or three frames that can be special ordered from here. One is the Ebisu and the other is the Toei. The Ebisu frame is very nice, but the Toei was the one that I really liked. Of course, the Toei is much more expensive. What can I say? I have good taste! From what I understand both bikes are designed with the geometries of the classic french touring/randonneuring bikes. You can tell just by looking at them, that they are something special.

A sample of the Toei

After checking out the shops we drove over to Mill Valley. That will come tomorrow, so be sure to check back. I’ve got a ton of pics to sort through.

  • rod

    I’m jealous. I’ve been wanting to visit both those shops and will someday.
    Jitensha is in Berkeley and if I’m not mistaken that brown Toei is the owner’s bike?

    Wow, I didn’t know the Homer was so light. Always assumed it was heavier like the
    LHT but maybe the Atlantis is. Good stuff as usual.

  • Two of my favorite places. The Hilsen is spectacular for what its designed for – rambling, mixed surface comfort over distance – even touring. My Protovelo is designed in a similar way.

    Jitensha is really a design studio. Ebisus are “semi-custom” which means you can get it mostly customized, but if you want some details, its better to get a Toei (650Bx42, centerpull braze-ons). Hiroshi is a master designer and an excellent person. My Ebisu is due in a couple of weeks!

    • I’m really thinking hard about the A. Homer Hilsen. It’s a fantastic bike.

  • Wow, those are some gorgeous bicycles! I’ve read quite a bit about all of those, but never seen them in person. They’re very uncommon around here.