Vivente Newsletter April 2024

Jan ’24 test ride

This was an interesting look at the major Australian river but also a test of the Schwalbe 70mm wide G-ONE Allrounder tyres and the Baramind bars with a bit of flex in them. Here’s the ride report.

Should You Bother Taking a Spare Gates Belt on a Bike Tour?

Every month someone asks about taking a spare belt on a ride, noting that they are not likely to be readily available. We point out that the belts are very durable, that there are many things on the bikes that are not widely available and that we can and do send things quickly when needed.

Right across this range of Rohloff transmission bikes, choices have been driven by a bike traveller’s need for reliability and durability. We won’t list examples here but they are mentioned in several of our web articles. You can be confident that you won’t have a component failure.

This issue was recently put to the test in Malaysia when, mid-afternoon on a Monday, Eugene (his real name!) got off a ferry and headed towards his accommodation only 5km away. 

After 3km he noticed noise at the back and discovered his belt was damaged and looked like it was about to break so he (a) started to walk, and (b) contacted Vivente whilst walking. He sent a text which was seen within minutes.

He later discovered the cause of the damage. An arm of his rain jacket that was strapped onto the top of the rack had fallen down and the press-stud on the cuff had run through the rear sprocket and had done the damage. We sent a belt by express to Malaysia the next morning and he had it by the end of the week. 

It’s the only time we have heard of a Gates belt getting damaged. So, what’s the conclusion? Should we all carry a spare belt? Or should we take care and call for help if needed? Here at the factory we love being able to have a role in peoples’ travels. If you do decide to carry a belt for your peace of mind, we have them for sale. We just don’t think you need to, as it will likely be an unused belt.

Price rise on July 1st

Currently our bikes range from AUD6,600 to $6,950 including the 10% Australian GST. We have held these prices since Feb 2023. For orders received after July 1st 2024 we will have to increase prices by $300.

Removing an Eccentric Bottom Bracket unit that has Become Stuck

There is now a guide on our website about how to free up an EBB if the grease has dried up.

Dust on the Gates Belt Causing a Noise.

The standard treatment  has been to turn the cranks backwards whilst shooting water onto the inside of the belt from a waterbottle. It works but sometimes not for as long as we’d like. 

Gates suggests a silicone spray and one of our riders, on the dusty Central Otago roads,  tracked this product down.

He’s been testing it and concludes that dust that does settle into the grooves of the belt washes off much more easily if the belt had been coated with the spray. Please let us know if you use it and find it works.

Solar Powered Bike Factory

The Vivente factory is now 100% solar powered. In fact, we export more power to the grid than we use ourselves. But in winter the days are short and more cloudy so we also have good battery storage. We don’t use plastic as it seems to end up in the ocean. With the exception of zip-ties, only cardboard and paper tape protects the bikes in transportation.

A solar panels in a field

Description automatically generated

Western France Test Ride in July ’24

57mm G-One Allrounder Tubeless.

With the Eurobike trade show coming up in early July, it’s time to plan a bike ride to follow. The route is from Lille, near the Belgium border, to San Sebastian, just across the Spanish border, visiting Nante and Rouen along the way, and missing Paris.

Traditionally in Europe we use 38-40mm tyres on 700c rims. On the longer European rides, the surfaces are almost all good. 

After using the 70mm G-One Allrounders on the recent Murray River ride and being impressed with how well they rolled, and how they didn’t have the excessive grip of a knobby tyre, we want to investigate how the 57mm version of the G-One will go. We suspect, on good surfaces, 57mm may  be even better. 

Part of this test is to run them tubeless. Also to fly with them tubeless. We will just reduce the pressure a bit for the flights. Not too much! We will report back later this year.

The reward for tubeless on bigger tyres that don’t have kevlar protective belts is virtually eliminating punctures. This in turn allows us to use wider tyres on what are, essentially, road trips. You don’t need to keep your eyes on the road as much.You can ride off the road more easily. You are a bit slower but do you care? Is the speed reduction even noticeable?

Years ago for the Munda Biddi, I used 1.75” tyres with a semi-knobby tread and when I returned East, almost immediately, we did the Central West Cycle Trail, which is more on tar than dirt. I still had the knobs on my tyres. It was annoying on the tar as the steering was impeded by the ‘grip’. It was just harder to steer than with a 40mm 60psi road tread. Let’s face it. Wide knobby tyres were not intended for riding on tar.

The reason we are testing the 70mm and, coming up,  57mm G-ONE tyres is that, although they are wide, they are easy to steer on the tar. That drawback is gone.

Vivente Bikes Around the World

Cezary Carmichael Riding Around Australia 

Just out of high school in Melbourne, Cezary and his mate Leo are riding around, raising money for a school in East Timor and trying to break the record for how many bird species they can see in one year.

They have left Darwin, heading for Broome at the moment.

Follow them @twobirderstwobikes.

Jess Thomas Heading for the Pamir Highway

Jess Thomas’s Gibb was made before we started using Gates belt drive. She still has chain drive. We are swapping her frame over in early June to the belt-compatible model  and we are changing her rims to 650B with Schwalbe Mondial 50mm tyres.

Follow Jess @jess_revolveyourself.

Tyre Choices on New Bikes

For years we just used 700c rims and 40mm tyres. More and more people asked….what’s the widest tyre that will fit and will we still be able to use mudguards?

Eventually the penny dropped and we realised a 700c rim with a 40mm tyre stands at exactly the same height as a 650b rim with a 57mm tyre. Building the bikes one at a time and being able to use either size rims, without altering the frame design, meant we could offer bikes suited to off-road travel. Wider tyres are often run tubeless to make them virtually free of punctures. That’s appealing, along with the added sense of stability you get with wider tyres.

Vivente’s core commitment is to make bikes for travellers. Travellers cover distances and distances even if “off road”, include some tar and some good gravel. It’s the “off-road” bit that gets publicised, but there might often be tar.

These graphics allows you to drill into the differences between the four tyres that we offer in 2024.

On the subject of reviews

At Vivente Bikes, we don’t advertise, we don’t have ‘influencers’ and don’t chase online reviews. But we do get some very nice “out of the blue” messages from happy owners. Actually, reading these is the best part of our job. We thought we’d (just this once) pass them on. Here are the unsolicited comments received in the first two weeks of April ’24.

“We are now back in Perth after 3 months and adjusting to ‘normal’ life again :-)... FYI the Gibb bikes were outstanding and performed way above our expectations, with no failures of anything working loose and not to have a single puncture was a great result.”
“We are 300k away from Mount Isa and just spent a couple days around Winton and Opalton ... very close to seeing the first Diamantina in the Diamantina ...

The bike has been fantastic, no particular issues, not even a flat tyre.

The road down to Opalton was corrugated and at times very sandy which slowed the pace but the bike still handled well and didn't get too bogged.

Brooks saddle is well worn in and very comfortable. It got quite wet earlier in the year coming through the Blue Mountains but is still firm.
Thanks again for all your assistance in December. Nothing feels better than to have confidence in the bike and it's been nothing but that for the last 3,000 odd k's.”
“I’ve been enjoying my new Gibb. It’s so smooth and quiet (in gear others than 6 or 7!)”
“I was planning to give you some proper thoughts once I've had the chance to really put the bike through its paces, and I envision doing a longer journey soon. So far I've only managed a few shorter trips with it, so l'll need a bit more time to play with it before I really get to know it.

However, can I give a few initial impressions: Overall I'm really liking the bike so far, for one thing the website pics don't do it justice, it's an absolute beaut! Really liking that enamel paint finish. Standover was no issue on the L size, and the chunky 70 mm tyres roll much better than I expected. The steering stabiliser also works quite nicely and you don't really notice it when riding.”
“Hi Noel,

On my (scenic route) way from Amsterdam to Rome on my Gibb!
Just a quick message to say thank you for creating such a great bike for my journey thus far! It just glides and is effortless to ride! The bike has impressed the Dutch ....... which says a lot !!”
“Hi Noel,

Just wanted to let you know that my Gates drive Gibb is still giving me many hours and kilometres of absolute bike riding bliss. I have a number of bikes but my Gibb is virtually the only one I ride. I would say that the Gibb is just about the best money I have ever spent.”

We are very grateful too.

Noel McFarlane