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  • Writer's pictureVictorian Cycles

Prototype Men's Roadster

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

For my first Victorian Cycles prototype, I wanted to build an 1890s gravel bike that I could use to explore some of my favorite dirt roads in the Olympic mountains near my home in Port Townsend, Washington. I began by replicating the frame geometry of an 1893 Columbia pneumatic, but for simplicity's sake I kept the frame to a standard double-diamond without the twin top tubes that turned into seatstays on the original. Oh, and I didn't use an elliptical chainring either.

The bulk of the tubes were straight-gauge 4130 cromoly, with Columbus butted top and down tubes in .9/.6/.9 wall thickness. The frame was built with heavy-duty off-road riding in mind, and has the very high bottom-bracket height of the original, as well as 50mm-wide tires and extremely upright riding position. This bike currently has a 2-speed kickback coaster brake hub on it, but I plan to build a fixed-gear wheel to install so I have an excuse to use the coasting peg prototypes as well! The build was rounded out with a hairpin-spring leather saddle, cork grips, and a handlebar bag for all my day-ride necessities.

The pictures show the as-yet unpainted bike on its shakedown cruise over Bon Jon Pass in the Olympics - part of an 80 mile loop ride from my home in Port Townsend. I only overheated the coaster brake twice on the ride down the pass! On its next overhaul it will get some high-temperature grease.

The bike is extremely comfortable to ride, and I have been using it for my daily commute over the last summer. I now know that the frame is significantly overbuilt for my weight and riding plans, and that next time it could be made much lighter weight!

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