What’s Better Than A New Bike? Nothing, That’s What!

For quite a few years now we’ve been a two WorkCycles family. Here’s mine when it was new:

And here’s my wife’s, also when it was new:

When my wife took delivery of her WorkCycles in 2013, we had one (1) human child, and he was three (3) years old at the time. I had a Big Dummy, which had hitherto been our only family bike:

In 2015 we added a second human child, and I also took delivery of my own WorkCycles, which was an improvement over the Big Dummy in that it was designed to live outside. (I gave the Big Dummy to a friend who is neither big nor a dummy.) With two young children and a supremely capable pair of bicycles, my wife and I were each able to carry both our kids at the same time, making our family smugness quotient quite robust:

Now, our older child rides his own bike, and our younger one has maybe two or three more years at most before he’s too big for us to schlep. At the same time, as much as my wife has loved her WorkCycles, there are certain uses to which it is not especially well-suited. For example, a Dutch city bike is not what you want for a family vacation, which is why this past summer we brought along this bicycle for her to use instead:

I mean that’s far from an ideal bike for her either (high top tubes really are kind of silly for “normal” people when you think about it), but it’s still better than the WorkCycles for stretching the legs on a hilly country road.

Anyway, with child-hauling now far less of a priority for us, it was becoming increasingly clear that my wife needed a more “sporting” bicycle that at the same time retained the comfort factor of the WorkCycles. I knew just what that bicycle should be, and yesterday it finally arrived–a Rivendell Clem Smith, Jr. in the low top tube configuration:

[Now that’s what I call a w-h-e-e-l-b-a-s-e!]

The Clem, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is Rivendell’s complete out-of-the-box bike, and while it’s not fully lugged the frame does have some fancy action going on at the seat cluster:

And the head tube:

And the fork crown:

It also has wheels with festive nipples, which is my new favorite phrase:

[Festive nipples!]

Also, between my lousy photography and the overcast weather conditions you can’t really tell, but the color is absolutely beautiful in person:

I believe Rivendell calls it “metallic green,” but I prefer to think of it as “metallic pea:”

“You didn’t order the ‘metallic pea?'”

Anyway, in real life the finish is shiny and iridescent, and overall, despite it being their “budget” bike, I find it every bit as elegant as my Hilsen. I mean yes, I did see this on their site the other day and caught myself thinking maybe we should have succumbed completely to Lug Fever and built her a fully Riv’ed-out Platypus:

[Via Rivendell]

But really I think the way the Clem comes out of the box is ideal for her, right down to the indexed (!) shifting. With a mix of Deore, Nitto, and Silver (Rivendell’s house brand parts) it’s all very nice stuff, and so far the only changes/additions to the bike are the rear rack and the stem, which Rivendell swapped for a shorter one–with four bolts and a removable faceplate no less:

The stem on my Homer has been just fine, but I’m always aware that those big wide bars are being held in place by a single bolt, so this appeals to the same part of my brain that compels me to check that the toilet isn’t running before I go to bed.

As for my wife’s WorkCycles, it’s gone to a new home where it is already giving its new owner great joy, and of course we still have mine for when we need a Family Truckster bike–until such time as my yonger son outgrows that little front seat, at which point I will probably announce, “Fuck it, I’m getting a Platypus.”

And so it goes.

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