I became familiar with Grant Petersen, the founder of Rivendell, when he was designing bicycles at Bridgestone. I bought a Grant designed Bridgestone XO-1 in 1992 and have been a fan of Grant’s ever since.
The XO-1 was a do most everything bicycle. The Bridgestone catalog rightly predicted that with the XO-1 in my garage, I wouldn’t ride any other bicycle. With its 26″ wheels, eyelets and room for fenders, eyelets for a rear rack and comfortable handlebars, I left sitting in the garage my Italian racing bicycle, American mountain bicycle and English three speed. It was fast enough to enjoy long road rides. It was stout enough to explore dirt trails. It could be set up to carry more than I needed to carry. I did all these things all the time. I didn’t want to ride any other bicycle.
My XO-1 didn’t rest until I fell in love with motorcycles. Luckily, I fell out of love with with motorcycles five years later, the day after 9/11. I walked to work on 9/12 and continued walking for two years. Six miles round trip. Loved it. Just walked at first. Then I listened to music. Then I took pictures. Next I picked up trash. Sometimes I did all three. Then I remembered bicycles. Missed the music, photo taking and street cleaning, but what was an hour and an half round trip on foot became a 30 minute round trip by bicycle. More time to enjoy my family. The XO-1 was waiting patiently for me and I enjoyed it for another couple of years.
While I was loving my XO-1, then motorcycles, then my XO-1 again, Grant had left Bridgestone (to be fair, Bridgestone left the US market) and founded Rivendell. The strengths of the XO-1 were appearing in Rivendell bicycles. If you were willing to wait and had some money, you could get a custom Rivendell. Grant also offered production bicycles which you could get more quickly and more affordably. I bought a used Rivendell Atlantis and enjoyed it for many years. It was set up like my XO-1, which I still had, but the Atlantis was a bigger size, so it was more comfortable.
Grant expends a lot of energy helping people onto bigger bicycles. Many bicycle riders end up on smaller frames because they are lighter and/or stiffer (perhaps to emulate racers) or just easier to stand over. Once you think you know your size, it isn’t easy to change. I was advised to buy my XO-1 in a size between my road bicycle and my mountain bicycle, which I did, but at that time I was riding a 53 cm road frame. My first Atlantis was bigger than the XO-1, but was still too small at about 53 or 54 cm (I can’t remember just now). I recently bought a 56cm Atlantis and it is perfect.
Never believed I would ride a 56 cm road bicycle. Stepping up frame sizes over the years has brought the bars higher in relation to my saddle height resulting in a more upright seating position. A racer would see this as less aerodynamic. Might be, but at the pace I ride, it simply doesn’t matter. I ride for transportation. The increase in size of the three frames pictured above is easiest to see by looking at how much seatpost is visible. The second Atlantis has the least seatpost visible. Just a fist full. An easy test. Notice how the bars are higher in relation to the seat as the frames grew in size. Three bicycles later, I am finally on the right size! Learn from my mistakes!
In addition to giving free advice and selling beautiful, durable and useful bicycles, Rivendell sells parts and accessories that make riding bicycles more enjoyable. Parts that were getting harder to find each passing year. Things like classically styled and durable bicycle bags. I always hoped they’d offer leather free bags and now they have. Their bags are mostly waxed cotton, but until now they always had bits of leather added here and there. Grant has once again answered my call without my having to pick up the phone or send an email. Telepathy, I tell you, plain and simple.