Bicycle Built for 4, 3, 2, and 1

Something you’ll only see at Rodriguez

Counting on you fingers
There are a lot of custom bicycle builders in the world. That list shrinks quite a bit when you look for custom tandem builders. Now, you can probably count on your fingers the number of shops that can build you a bicycle for three. Think about it….how many can you think of? Now, think of how many shops will build you a bicycle built for 4 or even 5! These are what we call Extra-Long bicycles. Is your list shrinking?

Now for the really hard stuff!
Add convertibility to the mix . What is ‘convertibility’? It’s the ability to make your Extra-Long bicycle easily convert to a bike for 3 or 2 riders. How cool is that? The number of builders that have accomplished this you can count on just one hand now.

But wait! I’m not finished. Now for the icing on the cake. How about an Extra-Long bicycle that will convert all the way down to a regular bicycle built for one? The list of builders who’ve done this can probably be counted on one finger….Rodriguez Bicycle Company of Seattle.

You won’t see much about our company in magazines or online bicycle tech sites. For some reason, they don’t take much notice of what we’ve been doing out here in Seattle for the last years now. If you’ve heard of us, it’s probably because someone you ran into along the way recommended our shop. Maybe you needed something very specific, and another shop sent you our way. (Many thanks to all of you who are getting the word out.) When it comes to the extra-ordinary, we’ve done just about everything possible with a bicycle. The crew here is the best there is.

Now about this amazing bike
This particular project was really cool. In 2002 we built one of our exclusive Rodriguez 8-ball convertible tandem/single bikes for a couple here in Seattle. This specific bike sports the very first Rodriguez bottle opener. The one on this bike was actually made by hand here in the shop at the request of the customer. I liked it so much that I traced the shape on a piece of paper, and then imported it to my computer. Then we had them custom cut for us by a company here in Seattle, and have ever since.

This Fall, that couple approached me about building a couple of sections for their children. This is something that we’ve done before, so we came up with a plan for them. They also wanted to upgrade the shifting to Rohloff and put the drag brake on the front wheel in the form of a Sturmey Archer drum brake.

All of the finished upgrades can be seen in the full photo gallery for this bicycle.

Now for a few of the progress photos:

Making room for the new bottom bracket that will contain the Bushnell eccentric. This is required for upgrading to the Rohloff rear hub. Dan P. does some great work!

The frame got a full new rear triangle to make room for wider tires, Rohloff rear hub, and Bushnell eccentric

The frame stretched out on the frame table and the beginning of the 3rd section.

All of the finished upgrades can be seen in the full photo gallery for this bicycle.

Rodriguez and Erickson Custom Bicycles Logo

Just in time for NAHBS! But you won’t see this bike there….

…instead, it’ll be where it should be, with its new owner starting a life of challenging bicycle rides and tours! As a matter of fact, you won’t see any of our bicycles there. Instead, we’ll be right where we should be….designing, building and painting these custom creations. If you follow my blog, then you know why we don’t attend…if not, here you go.

Last month, I wrote about some of the incredibly unique Rodriguez bikes we built in 2014. Well, here we go again! 2015 is off to an amazing custom start as well!

More Custom than Custom!

This bike is pretty special, and I think you’ll agree after you’ve viewed the post. It’s a combination of our new Rodriguez Model 2014 tandem, our famous Rodriguez 6-pack, and our old standard, the Rodriguez 8-ball convertible (an invention of ours from the 1990’s that I wrote about last year). So, basically, this puppy is a micro travel bike, and a micro travel tandem all in one. Chances are that you won’t see anything this challenging to design and build at any bike show you’ll attend (sorry show attendees). That’s OK though, you can see the whole thing in detailed photos right here on our website because…well…it’s 2015, right?

Links in this article

The Ultimate Micro Travel Bike from Rodriguez Returns!

Bike To The Future!

As it turns out, the Rodriguez 6-Pack bicycle was 12 years ahead of its time.

In the world of micro-bikes, there are certainly a lot of options. The only problem is, a lot of these options are not regarded as ‘real bikes’. There are several really inexpensive folding bikes with small wheels, but they are not designed for, and don’t hold up to, heavy everyday use. Then, there are some more expensive options that are supposedly made for loaded touring, but most people that own them don’t like them well enough to use as their every day rider. Their micro-bike is only pulled out of the box when the convenience of easy travel outweighs the inconvenience of riding something…well…sub-standard to their ‘real bike’.

The Rodriguez 6-Pack solves this problem. The 6-Pack is a real bike, and rides like one. It packs easily to go on any sized airplane (even the stow compartment on your private plane), train, boat, or other mode of transportation that you find yourself needing to ride.

Don’t take it from us though, ask Steve!

Meet Steve

Steve with his 2009 Rodriguez
6-Pack micro-bike

Steve researched and owned several different micro-bikes over the course of 10 years. He already owned a full sized travel bike, but found that he wanted the convenience of a small wheeled, easy to pack bike for most of his trips. He’s been a customer of ours forever, but didn’t realize that we made such a bike, so he purchased several different brands over the course of a decade. Most were well known brands, and some were full custom micro-bikes. He wanted to find a micro-bike that he could ride all the time…one that didn’t have that ‘whizzy’ compromise feel to it when loaded with all of his touring or commuting gear, but had resigned himself to the fact that it just didn’t exist. Therefore, he would have to take his place in the ‘whizzy micro-bike’ for travel / ‘real bike’ for daily riding category.

Somethin’ Up Our Sleeve

When I realized that Steve was looking for such a bike, I told him about the Rodriguez 6-Pack that we made back in 1997. We had tried to launch our own micro-bike in the early days of S&S couplings, but it didn’t take off like we’d hoped, so it eventually was dropped from the catalog. I thought the 6-pack would be exactly the bike that he was looking for. It rides like a real bike because it starts with the same structure as a real bike. It has a front triangle, and a rear triangle. Triangles are the strongest design in geometry, and this is why it has been the building block to just about every successful bicycle design. Most micro-bike designs eliminate the front triangle to try and save space when packing.

I explained to Steve that by eliminating the front triangle, his micro-bikes just didn’t have the same strength to carry the loads that he tours and commutes with. He thought about my explanation for a while, but didn’t order a bike right away.

A picture’s worth 1,000 words

The original 1997
Rodriguez 6-Pack

Eventually, I came across a photo of the 6-pack bike that we had published in our catalog back in 1997. The next time Steve came into the shop, I ran upstairs and grabbed the picture so I could show it to him. He immediately said something to the effect of “That’s the bike I’m looking for!” He ordered a 6-pack frame/fork from us and we re-launched the Rodriguez 6-pack in 2009.

Deja vu
When it was done, we took the parts off of his (then) current micro (the one with no front triangle), and put them onto the 6-Pack. After a 12 year hiatus, the Rodriguez 6-Pack was back! I took it for the first test ride myself, and just like the 1997 model, this bike handled, climbed, in all ways rode just like a full sized bike! No more compromise. Steve was thrilled! He got rid of his other mico-bikes, and the 6-pack became his main ride. He even commutes on this bike.
Steve has finally found that micro-bike that truly replaces his need for his full sized bikes.

Since Steve’s 6-pack success, we’ve built several more (here are some photos). The story has been the similar each time. The Rodriguez 6-pack customers have been long time micro-riders, but until this bike, haven’t found the bike that replaced their ‘real bike’. The 6-pack gives the micro-bike enthusiast a bike that can go as carry-on luggage, and still rides just like a ‘real bike’. We’ve built them in several different styles including: off-road, heavy touring, and even high-end racing versions. As it turns out, the Rodriguez 6-Pack was just a bike way before its time.

Is Touring the World on Your Bucket List?
Whether you (or a friend) already own a micro-bike and want something better, or if you are considering your first micro-bike, the Rodriguez 6-Pack should be at the top of your list to see. We think you’ll agree with Steve, it’s the perfect bike for that “go anywhere” bicycle traveler. Unlike Steve, you don’t have to trust a photograph…we have one on the shop floor now for test rides.

The Rodriguez 6-Pack….your micro-bike, your only bike!

Thanks Steve, for giving us a shot!

Dan – April, 2014

Look Ma! No Derailleurs!

Look Ma! No Derailleurs!!
(As originally published in The Bicycle Paper in Summer of 2011

Rohloff Speedhub illustrationsOver the last 8 years or so, we’ve seen a lot of interest in internally geared rear hubs (IGH for short). A bike with an IGH has all of the gears housed inside the rear hub instead of using traditional cogs, derailleurs and chain rings. Remember your old 3-speed (or your parent’s old 3-speed)? It’s like that, but with a lot more gears. IGH technology is an old one (over 100 years old actually), but with the invention of derailleurs, the 3-sp IGH was abandoned by most cyclists for the unlimited gearing options of the derailleur. I don’t see the end of derailleurs anytime soon, but for those who are investigating IGH, we’re trying to help you with your homework.

When Todd Bertram, a master frame builder here at R+E Cycles in Seattle, returned from Germany in 2003 he brought with him something special. It was a finely crafted piece of German engineering known as the Rohloff Speedhub. He’d spent almost two years in Germany, worked in the Rohloff factory, and had seen a lot of these on bicycles throughout Europe. He had a sneaking suspicion that soon, this engineering marvel would capture the eye of American cyclists as well.

A Rohloff hub has 14 speeds instead of just 3. Now the IGH rider could have the same range of gearing that would be found on a traditional 27-speed touring bike. A bicycle equipped with a Rohloff Speedhub has no derailleurs to worry about, and is virtually trouble free as far as shifting goes.

Since 2003, news of the Rohloff Speedhub slowly made the trip around the world to the United States. What used to be a curiosity is now an accepted design. Because of its trouble-free reputation, it has become a popular item with touring cyclists, and ‘go-anywhere’ cyclists. Building Rohloff equipped bicycles has become an industry in and of itself. The special hub calls for some special frame design to make life easier for the rider though. Custom frame builders all over the U.S. are trying to design adaptations for their touring bikes to accommodate customers who are requesting this new hub.

As the builder of Rodriguez Bicycles, we got lots of questions from curious adventurers, but we didn’t start getting a lot of orders until 2009. Since then, sales have ballooned. We’ve seen our sales of Rohloff equipped bikes double each year over the last 3 years. As of November 2011, Rodriguez Bicycles has become the number one builder of Rohloff equipped bicycles in the United States as confirmed by Cyclemonkey, the exclusive U.S. Rohloff importer. (Probably the reason we were asked to write this article).

Who wants an IGH? While most of our Rodriguez Touring bikes are still equipped with derailleurs (just Shimano these days) higher end touring cyclists have been looking for alternatives to derailleur equipped bikes. This is because Campagnolo, SRAM and Shimano have all but abandoned the high-end touring market. Instead, the big 3 have focused their advertising and development on racing equipment that’s expensive, doesn’t hold up for touring, and limits the gearing ratios too much for touring. Shimano still has a some great derailleur options for the sub $2,500 bike market, but for the high end, a lot of folks are now considering the move away from derailleurs.

Another customer who has interest in IGH is the urban commuting customer. Commuters are very hard on their equipment, and some of them are very attracted to the idea of a bike specifically designed as a trouble-free commuter.

What are the IGH options? With the worldwide popularity of the Rohloff Speedhub on the rise, Shimano has taken notice of this new market as well. Shimano has been building some IGH hubs for several years, but their offerings have always been suitable for more of an urban commuter bike rather than a serious touring bike.

Shimano Alfine illustrationsLast year, Shimano introduced their first serious entry into the field of IGH touring hubs, the Alfine 11. Now that Shimano is making a run at the high-end IGH market, that has spawned a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of IGH questions from around the world. People (as well as us) were hoping that the new Shimano hub would give them Rohloff performance at Shimano prices. As a major Rohloff builder, a lot of those questions have come to us.

When the The Bicycle Paper asked me to write an article comparing IGH hub options, Jeremy and I were actually in the middle of answering those very questions in the form of an FAQ series on our website. So, as it happens, we have the answers:

In addition to Rohloff equipped bikes, we have now built and sold several bikes with Shimano IGH hubs on them as well. Our experience with the different hubs shows us the best use for each.

We’ll compare 3 different hubs (the 3 we’ve built with): The Shimano Alfine 8-speed, the Shimano Alfine 11-sp, and the Rohloff Speedhub 14-sp. Shimano does make some lower end 8-sp IGH hubs (Nexus), but this article is ‘geared’ toward the more serious cyclist.

You’ll need to be familiar with a few terms:

Gear Range: This is the % of gearing change from the lowest to the highest gear. A good range % between high and low is important for touring. ie. the higher the better. Unlike a derailleur system, for the IGH the gear range is forever. A standard modern day touring bike will come with a gearing range of about 450%. It can easily be adjusted to about 600%, but the 450% gives us a good starting point. By comparison, an old 10-speed bike from the 1970’s would come with a range of 250% or so.

Gear Ladder: Another thing to consider is what we call the Gear Ladder. The Gear Ladder is the % of distance between each individual gear change. On a derailleur system this is adjustable by using different cogs or chain rings, but for an IGH, you bought it, you got it.

First up – The Shimano Alfine 8-sp:
We’ve built several urban commuter bikes with this hub, and even a few sport/fun tandems.

  • This hub is limited to 308% gear range. More than the old 10-sp, but not really enough range for serious touring.
  • The Gear Ladder is very uneven. Ranging from 1st gear, it looks like this: 23%, 16%, 14%, 17%, 23%, 16%, 14%.
  • Wheel attachment is bolt-on only, so no quick release rear wheel.

Shimano Alfine 11-sp:
The gear range is 409%. It doesn’t quite get you to the range of a stock touring bike, and nowhere near the range of the Rohloff.

  • Although Shimano originally planned an evenly spaced Gear Ladder, the final result was disappointing to many rabid IGH fans.
  • The spread between first and second gear is a whopping 30% jump. The ladder runs even 17% and 18% for the rest of the gears, but that first 30% jump is really big.
  • The absence of a quick release makes this hub less desirable for many serious touring cyclists as well.
  • Also, for you belt drive fans, use of a belt drive on either Alfine hub will limit your tire width as well.

Rohloff Speedhub:
The King of the IGH! For the truly serious touring cyclist, the choice is the Rohloff Speedhub. We’ve built touring bikes, mountain bikes, and serious tandems equipped with Rohloff Speedhubs.

  • The Gear Ladder is a uniform 13.6% all the way through the range.
  • The Speedhub can also be ordered with a quick release axle or a bolt-on axle.
  • The design allows for better belt drive/wide tire compatibility.

All in all, the Rohloff is better suited for the customer who wants an IGH, and wants a real replacement for their touring derailleur setup.

Summary: The Alfine 11 is not really the alternative that we or the IGH touring cyclists were hoping for. While it’s a great hub for an urban commuter, our touring customers want more than it has to offer in many ways. Rather, the Alfine 11 is an alternative to the Alfine 8 for the commuter that wants a bit wider gearing range.

The serious touring cyclist will still have to choose between derailleurs or the Rohloff Speedhub.

Since a high quality custom touring bike will run you about $2,000 in our shop, a serious IGH touring bike turns out to be quite a bit more expensive. Even so, many folks are choosing to go that route in order to have the convenience and low maintenance of the Rohloff. We run about 70% derailleurs, and 30% Rohloff for the touring bikes at this point.

If you’re considering a Rohloff or other IGH equipped bicycle, the FAQ section of our website has a dozen or so articles comparing, contrasting, and listing all of the pros and cons of each design.

Grey Rodriguez Rohloff Tour

This Rodriguez Rohloff bike is heading for Vermont! It’s a grey, flat bar Rodriguez Makeshift and is ready for loaded touring, or bouncin’ around town.

This one comes loaded with all of our Rodriguez differences like clean cable routing, eccentric bottom bracket for chain tensioning.

You can also find out more about our line of Rohloff equipped bikes at our Makeshift catalog page. If you want to see yourself riding something like this in the future, please contact us with any questions!

Rodriguez Bicycle Company is proud to be America’s largest builder of Rohloff equipped bicycles!

Russet Makeshift ready to Fly!

Another Rohloff equipped Rodriguez went out the door this week! Red-brown with our travel package, this bike is ready for some serious touring.

At Rodriguez, we know Rohloff bikes. We know them so well because we’re the biggest Rohloff manufacturer in the USA!

You can also find out more about our line of Rohloff equipped bikes at our Makeshift catalog page.

Silver, Sporty and Stainless

Another Rohloff bike that went out the door last week. It’s completely stainless, with a painted front triangle to give it a classic 70’s feel.

Quick Highlights:

  • Rohloff Speedhub
  • Long Reach Brakes for fenders and wide tires
  • S&S Couplers for travelling!
  • Shiny!

All of the specs for this bike can be found at the Catalog page for our Makeshift line of bicycles.

Yellow and Stainless Rodriguez side shot

Yellow and Stainless RodriguezYellow and Stainless Rodriguez

Silver Rohloff on a Rodriguez

Silver Rohloff Speedhub on a Stainless Steel Rodriguez

Yellow Rodriguez, silver S and S coupler

fenders and wide tires on Rodriguez

Rodriguez Rear TriangleStainless Rohloff cable routing

Eccentric Bottom Bracket of the Rodriguez frame

Silver Rohloff on Rodriguez Closeup

Painless Stainless! Rohloff Touring Bike

What do you do as a fisherman whose bike lives on the boat? Steel can rust with that much proximity to salt water, but titanium is too expensive for your budget? Stainless Steel!
With a Rohloff hub, DaVinci cranks, a Schmidt generator hub and our Trillium Big Squeeze™ Brakes this Alaskan fisherman’s bike is ready to handle whatever he throws at it.

Full specs here, more like it can be found here.

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Stainless Steel Rodriguez Touring bike with Rohloff

Rodriguez MakeShift Stainless High-Roller

Frame Stainless Steel
Fork Steel Tandem Grade
Shift levers Rohloff twist grip
Brake Levers Tektro ATB
Brakes Trillium Big Squeeze™
Bottom Bracket Phil Wood Stainless
Cranks DaVinci
Wheels Hand-built 3-year warranty
Rims Alex Adventure 26″
Rear Hub Rohloff Speedhub 14-sp
Front hub Schmidt Generator
Spokes Stainless 14G
Tires Schwalbe 1.5 Marathon
Handlebar BHB Butterfly
Head Set FSA 1 1/8″
Bar tape Black Cork
Seat post Thomson 27.2
Seat Terry Fly

Accessories S&S Stainless Couplers
Sun Edolux light
Tubus Tara front rack
Tubus Logo rear rack

#1 Rohloff Frame Builder

#1 Rohloff seller
Rodriguez Bicycles becomes biggest Rohloff builder in the U.S.A.

A few weeks ago, as we were ordering yet another Rohloff hub, I asked Amber to find out how we ranked in U.S. Rohloff sales. As it turns out, we’ve built more Rohloff bikes than any other builder in the U.S. this year. Yesterday I confirmed it with them again, and asked if we could call it official. They said yes.

We want to thank all of you who’ve chosen to make us your Rohloff headquarters. It’s official! You’ve helped to make us the number one Rohloff builder in the United States!

Rohloff Speehub illustration
Building so many Rohloff bikes has helped to develop very specific ways of building them. We’ve managed to come up with innovations to make make life easier for the rider as well as make the bike more aesthetically pleasing. The more we’ve built, the better they’ve become!

Why are we number one? It could be the special innovations or it could be the fact that we have excellent pricing on our custom Rodriguez Rohloff equipped bicycles and tandems. The Rodriguez Make-Shift series is priced extremely competitive.

See our full line of Rodriguez Make-Shift bikes on our website or download the PDF spec sheet PDF logo (2meg).

We plan to keep up the pace for 2012 as well! See you on the road.