Ordering a Custom City Bike From Rivendell Bicycle Works

Stepping over a custom-built A. Homer Hilsen from Rivendell for my first ride was what I imagine people feel like the first time they eat at a 5-star restaurant.

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Stepping over a custom-built A. Homer Hilsen from Rivendell for my first ride was what I imagine people feel like the first time they eat at a 5-star restaurant. You might not be able to articulate the feeling, but you know you are in a new class.

When I had spoken with Rivendell, they agreed to have me come to their Walnut Creek Headquarters for a custom fitting.  They said that at six feet six inches tall with a 37-inch inseam, I “might need” a taller frame.

Getting properly fitted for a Rivendell is very much like being fitted for a good suit.  There are basic size ranges for most bodies, but the process allows the builder to make a few tweaks to your specific measurements so that the bike fits like a glove. One of the most important measurements is your PBH (pubic bone height) – the length from the ball of your foot to the base of your pubic bone.  is determines your frame size and saddle height to make sure you have the ideal leg extension. My 99 cm PBH not only required Rivendell’s largest frame, a 71 cm, but it also earned me a second head badge to reinforce just how “really tall” I am.

To get the best ride out of the A. Homer Hilsen, the parts package is key. I was struck by how many of the components recommended by the Rivendell team as must-haves were not the latest technologies, but rather a selection of the best of the classics. The recommended frictionless shifters, not often found on city bikes, make it effortless to drop four gears while coming up to a stop. Opting for wider tires, 700c x 38 mm, I found that they rode comfortably and breezed over rough patches. Full-length fenders on the road have provided excellent coverage in wet weather, though standing the bike for the occasional elevator ride is a challenge. Whether it’s the fatter tires, extra-long fenders, or beautiful frame, the A. Homer Hilsen isn’t about the latest trend; it’s about timelessness and quality.

The complete attention to detail and pride in their craftsmanship makes the Rivendell process an experience to remember. It’s no wonder that people fly in from around the world to experience these bikes in person and get a custom fitting. After my first ride on the A. Homer Hilsen, I can see why.


Chris Schroeder is the director of sales and marketing for Rickshaw Bagworks. He has lived in the Bay Area for 13 years and developed a passion for bikes, plants, coffee, print design, and bags – and spends time working with organizations that foster community development like PaperGirl SF, the SFGMC, and SFMade. @ReallyTallChris rickshawbags.com

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