Owner review: Vivente World Randonneur touring and commuting bicycle (drop bars with STI levers, 2012 version)

Owner review: Vivente World Randonneur touring and commuting bicycle (drop bars with STI levers, 2012 version)
2012 Vivente World Randonneur (drop bar STI version) - modified

The Background:

(Scroll down to the ‘review’ section below if you aren’t interested in my journey to find the perfect touring and all-season commuting bike)

I had been thinking about getting a good quality all-season commuting and long-distance touring bike for many years. However, variety and local availability of such bikes always seemed too difficult and restrictive compared to more mainstream sports and recreation bikes in Australia. What led me to really start hunting around for a reliable and capable commuting and touring bike was when I started full time work earlier this year with my offices located only 9.5km away from where I live. The best part was that 90% of the journey was along a rather nice, uninterrupted Principle Shared Path (PSP) that runs adjacent to the motorway connecting to the city centre.

I had originally considered buying a light and fast carbon road bike, however I soon realised the impracticality of this option as there were no free lockers available at my workplace to store my belongings, so I would need a bike that is capable to mounting a rack and loaded pannier bags each day. Additionally I would also be cycling into work all year round, not just in fair weather, so I needed a bike that was durable and had all the mounting points for a full set of mudguards (fenders) to protect myself and the bike from water and grit. I had also been wanting to do some cycle touring in the future, so it made sense to get a touring bike.

The challenge was on. I spent around 8 weeks researching and reading about a variety of different bikes and options on the market. As I had found earlier there wasn’t much of a market for touring bikes in Australia; the majority of well designed and good quality bikes were sold in the larger markets of the UK, Europe and America.

I looked into a variety of options available both in Australia and from overseas. I noticed that there  were many bikes on the market being sold as ‘adventure’ touring or all-season commuting bikes, being a hybrid cross between traditional touring bikes and cyclocross bikes with features such as steel frames, disc brakes and mountain bike influenced geometry. Examples included the Genesis ‘Crux De Ferr‘ and ‘Day 01 Alfine‘, the Salsa ‘Fargo‘ and ‘Vaya‘, the Singular ‘Peregrine‘, and also the Kona ‘Honky Inc‘. As I mentioned earlier these types of bikes seem to be on the rise, so there are probably a lot more options and examples out there, this is just a snapshot of some of the options I had considered.

However I decided that I didn’t want a bike that was racy or part cyclocross. Instead I wanted something that was easy to ride, comfortable, stable, reliable, and suitable for fully loaded touring and all-season commuting. This meant a bike with heavy duty tyres, stronger wheels, a lower bottom bracket, longer chainstays and wider gear range than what was provided on the hybrid ‘adventure’ touring styled bikes I had been looking at. With this in mind, I decided to go back to basics and look at more ‘traditional’ touring bikes. My first thought was the Surly ‘Long Haul Trucker‘ (LHT) which is an extremely popular and well-known commuting and touring bike in its home country of America. However I soon found that getting hold of a LHT was near on impossible through a local store as every store that I contacted did not stock the bike for test rides, and only a small number offered to order it in (if I paid for it in advance!). There were a few options for ordering in either a frame set or the complete LHT package from overseas or from stores in the eastern states (plug to the crew at Cheeky Transport in Newtown, Sydney for their valuable assistance and advice) however the issue regarding correct bike sizing and not being able to test ride the bike before purchasing was still unresolved. I also looked into the Kona ‘Sutra‘, however I experienced similar issues in regards to local availability as with the LHT.

I had almost given up all hope when I came across a mention of the Vivente ‘World Randonneur’ (VWR) touring bicycle which had been recommended to me by fellow member on a cycling forum who was aware of my search for a locally available quality touring bicycle. After a few phone calls and emails I found that a local bike store just out of the city (Quantum Bicycles, North Perth) actually had the latest models and a few varieties of the VWR in stock. Bingo! Finally I was in luck!

I test rode both the ‘trekking bar’ version and the ‘drop bar with STI’ version of the VWR and found that although the trekking bar version was quite comfortable and allowed a variety of hand positions I still preferred the drop bar version as my commute often involves cycling directly into a strong afternoon headwind throughout most of the year. Any way I could reduce my wind resistance would make the commute home much easier and more enjoyable. Also, as a personal preference, I prefer the traditional aesthetic of a drop bar bicycle. The RRP of the drop bar with STI lever VWR was $1949 plus another $50 for shipping. I would usually not be happy to pay full retail plus shipping on any large purchase, however, given the lack of alternatives and competition, I really didn’t have any bargaining power. In this situation I preferred to buy the bike locally so I could take it for a test ride and be fitted correctly.


The Bike (drop bar STI version):

Vivente World Randonneur 2012

Vivente World Randonneur 2012 – stock (drop bar STI version)

Frame 100% Cr-Mo tubing, double butted main tubes, 3 bidon mounts, spare spoke mounts, centre stand attachment plate, 700x35C (XS is 26×1.4″).
Fork 1-1/8″, 100% cr-mo steel, threadless, rack mounts, pivots, disc brake mounts, light cable mounts.
Attachments Full set of metric 5mm stainless steel allen head screws with washers.
Handlebars Nitto Noodle, silver, 140mm drop, 95mm reach, 420/440/460 wide
Handlebar stem Vivente 10 degree, 60/80/100/120mm.
Handlebar tape Velo Eva cork with gel.
Saddle WTB, She Progel (XS, S, M) and Speed V Progel (L,XL,XXL).
Seatpost Kalloy 27.2 micro adjustable alloy. 250/300mm.
Pedals Shimano M505, SPD, clipless double sided.
Rims Front-Alex ACE 19, 36H, CNC. Rear-Alex DH19, 36H, CNC.
Tyres Schwalbe Marathon700x35C (26×1.4 on XS).
Front hub Shimano Deore XT dynamo, 6V-3W, 36H, w/centre lock, QR.
Rear hub Shimano freehub, Deore LX, 36H, QR, 9 speed.
Spokes Rear-DT Alpine III 13/15/14G, Front DT Champion 14G, cross 3.
Tubes 700x35C, 0.9mm, Schrader. (26×1.4″on XS).
Shiftlevers Shimano Tiagra 9sp STI.
Crankset Sugino Alpina 600T 48/36/26T, 165/170/175 mm cranks.
Bottom bracket Shimano UN-54-113mm.
Fr Derailleur Shimano Tiagra for triple.
Rr Derailleur Shimano Deore LX 9 sp.
Chain Shimano CN-HG53 narrow for 9sp.
Cassette Shimano Deore 9sp, NI plated, 11-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32T.
Fr Brake Shimano cable disc, metal pads, 160mm rotor w/lockring.
Rr Brake Shimano cantilever (R550) w/severe condition shoe.
Brakelevers Shimano Tiagra drop bar STI system. Spacers for small hands.
Brakecables Shimano.
Fr Light Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ Fly RT w/standlight and sensor.
Rr Light Busch & Muller Toplight line plus for day night running.
Fr carrier Not supplied. Mounting kit and info supplied for Tubus Duo.
Rr Carrier Tubus Logo, black, cr-mo steel.
Mudguards Vivente, black, w/stainless steel adjustable mounts.
Horn 150mm black bugle mounted to custom headset spacer.
Bidon cages Black, 6mm alloy, 2 pce.
Centre stand Not supplied. Attachment plate for Pletscher 2-legged on frame.
Spare Spokes DT, 2 pce for each side of each wheel supplied.
Fr Hanger Fr cantilever hanger supplied for back-up on long tours.
 Specification list sourced from the official Vivente website here.
 

The Review:

Now that I have owned the bike for just over a month I believe that I am in a good position to provide a ‘first impressions’ review of the bike and it’s features. I intend on taking the VWR over to Europe with me in July to do some touring while I am there so I will be posting an updated review after completing my trip and using the bike for a longer period of time. So stay tuned for my updated review in September 2012.

1. Value for money

As a former full-time student I am still extremely conscious of where and how my money is spent. I don’t mind spending what some people would consider a large amount of money provided that I am getting good value and I will get many enjoyable years of use. The same applies to bicycles.

Although the VWR isn’t the cheapest touring bicycle on the market (the complete LHT can be had for around $1600 at some stores) it is known to be one of the best value touring bicycles available on the global market given the feature set, design, and quality of the bike. As shown in the above spec list, the VWR has a number of ‘hidden’ features not immediately obvious to someone not familiar with bicycle components that make it such good quality and value. Examples include the integrated Shimano XT dynamo hub, Busch and Muller light set (German made), wheels with heavy duty touring rims, stainless steel DT spokes and Schwalbe Marathon tyres, full mudguards, front disc brake, Nitto Noodle handlebars (a favourite for tourers), wide ranged Shimano Tiagra/Deore LX/XT groupset and a Tubus Logo rear rack.

I already owned a Tubus Cosmo rear rack (an improved version of the Logo in stainless steel) and a Brooks B17 Imperial saddle so the bundled  WTB gel saddle and Logo rack were automatically redundant. I have added these onto my other flat bar urban bike so they aren’t going to waste. I would have also liked to see the B&M Lumotec IQ ‘Cyo‘ front light come with this bike instead of the ‘Fly‘ version, as the Cyo is a marginally brighter light for only a moderate increase in price. Aushiker has a very comprehensive user review of the Cyo on his blog here. With this said the B&M Fly is still a very capable light and provides more than enough light output for most people for night commuting.

I would give the VWR a score of 10/10 if it was possible to order it without the saddle and rack, it came with the B&M Cyo light, and also if I didn’t have to pay the extra $50 for the freight.

Overall I give the VWR a solid score of 9/10 for value for money.

2. Aesthetics and design

Aesthetics is always a very subjective and delicate subject, especially when it comes to bicycles. My person opinion is that the VWR is not the prettiest bike out there that I have seen. The paintwork is good quality but essentially a boring gloss black enamel with a ‘Vivente’ logo on the down tube, and a ‘World Randonneur’ decal on the top tube which looks a little out of place. However, one could argue (as they have done on the official VWR website) that a touring bike is not supposed to be a pretty bike. It’s all about function and practicality! The black paintwork serves to protect the frame metal from the elements and not look too dirty from mud, grease etc encountered during commuting and touring (potentially handy if you are trying to convince a hotel owner to let you keep the bike inside!).

On that same note, a relative of mine who knows next to nothing about bikes recently commented that they were surprised that my VWR cost so much, and that it looked very understated. Some people might not like this considering they have paid so much and want others to appreciate it. I see the benefit in that it is less likely to attract attention from thieves and vandals. I’ve had a near new bike stolen before, it’s not fun. Anything that reduces the chance someone will steal your ride is a positive in my experience.

Concerning the actual frame, there are a few subtle integrated design features of the VWR which nod to it’s practical touring heritage. This includes the mounting point on the front fork for a regular cantilever brake if the disc break should fail (an unlikely scenario but it’s always nice to have a second option), a third bidon (water bottle) mounting point on the underside of the down tube (perfect for storing a fuel canister), an attachment plate on the underside of the bike for a kickstand should you desire one, a mounting point on the non-drive side chainstay for attaching a few spare spokes, and also attachment hangers for a traditional style hand pump on the underside of the top tube. These are all very nice features not usually found an a regular bike, you don’t have to use them and they aren’t noticeable. However if you are planning a longer distance, self-supported tour you will appreciate the extra time and effort Vivente spent designing these features onto this bike to make your life that little bit easier.

One aspect that I am not super excited about on the VWR was the multiple cables and wires that run everywhere due to the old style STI levers and dynamo lighting. It would have been nice to have an internal cable routing system rather than having to have zip-ties everywhere. However this would have added to the cost and complication of building the frame, in addition to making the bike look nicer and potentially more attractive to cretins as discussed previously.

So, given this consideration, I give the VWR a score of 8/10 for aesthetics and design

3. Quality and durability

I have been very impressed over the past few weeks with how solid and sturdy this bike is to ride. You really don’t have to worry about bumps in the road or that sneaker pot hole much, thanks to the strong, stable steel frame, 700c wheels, and wide, puncture resistant 35mm tyres that run comfortably run at 80PSI (I usually have the front tyre at 70PSI and the rear at 80PSI).

I am confident that this bike will last me many decades of enjoyable use, provided that basic maintenance and care is applied as needed. I’ll give an update on durability after I get back from touring in Europe later this year, which will involve packing it in a box and shipping it via plane, in addition to a few weeks of loaded touring over various terrain.

The VWR gets 10/10 for quality and durability.

4. Customer service and support

This is another area where the VWR excels, and was ultimately the reason why I purchased it. Not only was I able to find it stocked at a local store (of which has a good reputation in the local cycling community) but the advice and support from Noel McFarlane at Vivente was excellent. Noel replied to my various questions regarding the bike even while he was travelling in Taipei on business for a cycling convention. Noel is also always happy to take on any suggestions on how the VWR can be improved and he also uses each new model himself each year to test it and make improvements. Not many other companies are as dedicated to the cause of consistent improvement and customer support as Vivente.

The Vivente website is also jam packed with useful information about their bicycles explaining why it was designed a certain way, and also providing general information and resources about commuting and touring including how to package your bicycle for overseas transport.

I happily give the VWR a 10/10 for service and support.

5. Final thoughts

As an off the shelf touring bike the VWR is almost perfect and excellent ‘bang for buck’. Add this to the local availability, excellent support and customer communication, and that the VWR is owned and designed by an Australian company (led by Noel McFarlane), it becomes obvious that the VWR is one of the best options out there for anyone wanting a high quality bicycle ready off the shelf for long distance touring and all-season commuting. Don’t be put off by the slightly higher upfront cost; the small difference compared to some other options on the market will soon be forgotten once you see how well thought out a package the bike is and how enjoyable it is to ride.

The only changes I made to the bike was to replace the rear rack with a Tubus Cosmo (only because I already had it, the stock Logo rack is more than capable), replace the WTB gel saddle (which I found terribly uncomfortable – but I also appreciate that bike saddles are a personal choice) with my super comfy, broken-in Brooks B17 Imperial saddle, and I also added a pair of high powered LED Ay Up! V Twin Sports lights to add an extra element of visibility when riding at night (the dynamo lights are more than adequate, I already owned the Ay Up lights and figured that the more light the better when commuting at night). I also plan to add a Tubus ‘Nova‘ stainless steel lowrider front rack and some form of frame/handlebar mounted rear view mirror to the bike for when I go touring. As a small side note I’d also like to point out that, for reasons not explained by Vivente, the tubes on the VWR have Schrader style valves, this isn’t a major issue as most people have an adapter on their pump however it is unusual considering most other touring and road bikes use the Presta style valve.

Here’s what the bike currently looks like with the replaced rear rack, saddle and high powered LED bar lights:

Vivente World Randonneur 2012 - modified

Overall score: 92% (37 out of a possible 40).

Highly recommended!

I hope you enjoyed my review, please feel free to share it on your preferred social networking service or discussion forum if you think others will benefit from the content in this article. Just make sure you reference/link it back to me. More to come soon, please bookmark and stay tuned!

As always, happy cycling!

Karl

**UPDATE 06/10/2012**

After using this bike for over 4 weeks in Europe, over which I was on the road actively touring every day for over 2 weeks, I have to say that I am still impressed with this bike. I was comfortable and handled a full load extremely well. I had no issues flying down some downhill roads even with all my gear loaded up on the bike. I also took the bike across some very bumpy and rough dirt tracks with/without a load and it performed well in all occasions. However, one issue I did have was that the gearing was a little too high while fully loaded with ~15kg of gear, even in the lowest gear. This resulted in some knee pain (as I’ll discuss in a new post soon about my trip) due to having to crank up hills. I often got off the bike and had to push it up even moderate hills as the gearing wasn’t low enough. I will be looking into swapping the 26T granny gear chainring with a 24T instead which should allow that bit of extra assistance with hills without affecting the rest of the set up.

**UPDATE 11/04/2017**

Over five years later the VWR is still going strong as an all-purpose bicycle that I use for commuting, local trips, groceries and trips to the coast. I replaced the chain after about 10,000km of travel and had a wheel trued after another bike rider crashed into me while riding. I also had to replace the spade connectors for the dynamo hub to front dynamo light, as the original connection was crimped only and not soldered or heat shrunk, so it eventually broke. All in all, I maintain that any VWR you buy from Vivente will be bomb-proof and a highly versatile human powered freedom machine.


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44 comments on “Owner review: Vivente World Randonneur touring and commuting bicycle (drop bars with STI levers, 2012 version)
  1. steve (v17l on Australian Bicycle forum) says:

    Hi Karl,
    Great review. I notice you use the curly bars, did you consider the treking bars? It would also be nie have your thoughts on the ride of the bike in terms of unladen weight. I am guessing it is a very steady, comfortable bike to ride.
    cheers
    steve

    • Hi Steve,
      I did consider the trekking bars however in the end I decided that I wanted the traditional drop bars so I could be more aerodynamic for when I am riding into a head wind (it happens most afternoons on my commute). I spoke a bit about my bar choice in my review; see the last paragraph of the ‘background’ section.

      In regards to the bike’s ride quality it is actually quite zippy and fun to ride while unladen. The steel frame and forks, plus wider 700×35 tyres are very forgiving on various surfaces and I have no issues taking it through grass, loose gravel etc. It is very relaxed and comfortable to ride. The VWR really comes into it’s real form when loaded up as the extra weight down low on the pannier rack makes the bike very stable and once you get your momentum up it’s easy to just keep cranking away. I haven’t bombed down any hills yet with it fully loaded so that is the next test to see how it performs. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment and taking the time to read my review.

      Happy cycling!

      Karl

  2. Josh says:

    Hi Carl

    Great review. I’m looking at buying VWR for a three month cycle tour around France latter this year. All of my research up to this leads my to agree with you opinion the the VWR is a very good option for a touring bike. I going to take one for a roe this weekend.

    I’m interested in how you are planning to get your VWR over to Europe? Are you looking a taking it with you on the plane and forking out for the excess baggage allowance? Or using some kind of airfreight? Or another option?

    Cheers

    Josh

    • Hi Josh,

      I just wrote a in-depth response on the subject as it is quite complicated and will benefit others (I also thoroughly enjoy rambling on). 😀

      The link is here (or just go to the home page of this site).

      Thanks for checking out my blog, share it if you like it!

      Happy cycling!

      Karl

  3. alexdenham says:

    Great review – a well thought out purchase! Have a great ride in Europe.

  4. Max says:

    Reblogged this on MaxiMum Bike Touring and commented:
    A very comprehensive review of the Vivente World Randonneur!

  5. aushiker says:

    A great review and great to see the Vivente World Randonneur getting a write-up. We need more reviews on good touring bikes. I hope you get lots of fantastic mileage on the bike.

    • Hi aushiker, thanks for the comment. I agree, as the VWR is destined mainly for the Australian market there isn’t much on it out on the internet in terms of discussions and user reviews. Hopefully I can hep to fill this niche and assist other people who are looking to buy a good quality off-the-shelf touring bicycle in Australia with my review and thoughts. Right now I am working on my fitness and getting a comfortable bike fit, I plan to do around 1,900km on the VWR in Europe later this year, so I need to get cracking!

      Happy cycling!
      Karl

  6. george says:

    great site loved the Vivente review and the plane baggae one

  7. Peter felvus says:

    Great review, are you still happy with the VWR, I find its very good value. Just finished a week tour from Orange to Wollongong on my Trek FX and was very uncomfortable. The FX really struggled with the extra load and slowed up alot. I eventually want to complete the Perth To Wollongong ride and buying a decent tourer is the 1st step. The VWR or the Lng Haul Trucker ? this is the question ??? 🙂

    • Hi Peter, yes overall I am very happy with the VWR. There’s been a few small niggles, such as the seat post slipping down (fixed by thoroughly cleaning off the grease in the seat tube) and the Schrader valves being a general PITA to pump up with my Serfas FP-200 floor pump compared to presta valves. But these are only small issues. I think that generally the VWR is a better choice than the Surly LHT, it’s just as full-featured and comes in a better value package once you consider all the goodies such as dynamo hub, German made dynamo lights, front disc brake etc. Plus you are buying a bike that is owned by an Australian company, designed by an Australian tourer (who you can email if you have any issues/questions) and made in out region (Taiwan) so there’s reduced carbon kilometres on it compared to the Surly. Check out the new Surly Disc Trucker if you can take it for a test ride to compare it to the VWR, I think you will still end up the with the VWR in the end! 😉

      Be aware though that, like the Surly LHT and other steel framed tourers, the VWR is a bit of a tank. It’s made to handle heavy loads and rough roads. However there’s also few people who prefer to have a lighter alloy road bike and only the essential gear so they can ride faster, further and put less stress on the bike (due to the reduced weight). It’s worth considering. I personally prefer to have a heavy duty bike that can handle more of a load though.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be happy to help out.

      Happy cycling!

      Karl

  8. Konacommuter says:

    Thanks for the review.

    I’m trying real hard not to succumb to upgraditis. However the VWR ticks all the boxes and the price is extremely fair, especially seeing as by all measures it’s a bike that’ll last a lifetime.

    • Definitely. It’s a very versatile and capable bike. You could easily modify it to your liking as I have been doing, but it comes close to perfect off the shelf to suit a variety of purposes. For loaded touring, light touring/randonneuring and all-season commuting it’s one of the best options on the market. I’d like to eventually put a 14-speed In-Gear-Hub on it with either a protected chain or a belt drive for all season durability and simplicity, although the latter option would require the frame to be cut and have couplings installed which adds to the complication and cost. I’ll wait for the current components to wear out first though before making this significant upgrade.

      Glad to hear this review was useful. I’ll be updating it soon with my thoughts and experiences after a couple of months use. I have had some issues with fitting my large 7L Ortlieb bar bag due to the STI cables getting in the way and I have also had issues fitting my Tubus Nova lowrider front rack on due to the disc brake mech getting in the way. There’s work-arounds and alternatives though, so it’s not the end of the world. Just something to be aware of.

      Happy cycling!
      Karl

  9. Matt Pemberton says:

    Hi Karl

    Thanks very much for your in depth review. I come from an adventure motorcycling background, but have just committed to a two month tour bicycling through India and Nepal. So I’m now trying to get my head around bicycle touring and work out which bike to get! Like you I live in Perth and are weighing up a few different bike choices – specifically whether to go for the World Randomeur trekking option, or go for more of a mountain bike setup, for example the Surly Karate Monkey (given it is not always likely to be sealed in the Himalayas..).

    I know the stock tyres on the World Randomeur are 700 x 35C. Do you know if the World Randomeur can take 700 x 38C or 700 x 40C tyres? I think there may be an issue with the mud guard clearance.

    Thanks for your help and for such a thorough review!

    Cheers

    Matt

    • Hi Matt

      Your upcoming trip sounds exciting! Makes my trip around Germany and France sound positively tame. 🙂

      I recall an article on Crazy Guy on a Bike where a guy cycled from Korea to India, via Tibet, on his fairly stock Surly Long Haul Trucker. He didn’t have any major issues. Steel frames and wider tyres are pretty good even on bumpy roads. I would however consider something from Salsa bicycles as well, might be difficult and expensive though. The Salsa Fargo 2 is a pretty awesome off-road touring bike.

      In regards to the tyre width, you should be ok to fit 700x38c tyres on the stock rims that come on the VWR. There’s a bit of extra clearance. However as they explain on the Vivente website 700x35c is the preferred size and width as it is the most versatile. The tyres that come on the bike can be run as low as 40PSI and as high as 80PSI. I usually run them at around 70PSI.

      http://www.viventebikes.com/main/page_technical_technical_rim__tyre_dimensions.html

      I’d highly recommend that you at least go find a VWR to have a look at it and take it for a test ride though. I think you’ll probably be pretty impressed with it. Good luck with your planning and preparation. Let me know how you go with it.

      Happy cycling!

      Karl

  10. Rowan says:

    Hi Karl,
    Thanks for a great website and reviews. I just bought the VWR yesterday and I am very happy so far. I decided to go for this bike because it was the complete package and had all the specs I was after at a good price. I tried the Surly LHT but didn’t want the additional costs with the add ons. Also buying an Australian made bike is also good.
    Will provide more feedback on my trip next year in Europe.
    Happy riding!
    Rowan

    • Hi Rowan

      Thanks for the compliments. I’m glad to hear that you bought yourself a VWR, welcome to the (ever expanding) club! Please note though that Vivente is an Australian company, and designed/tested by an Australian.. however it is made in Taiwan to Vivente’s exact specifications and design to keep costs reasonable. It’s a bit ironic though, as I bought my tent from an American company as I didn’t want something made in Taiwan or China. It’s all about the quality control though.

      I just got back from a big trip to Europe. I plan on doing a re-cap article soon on this site. Just a matter of finding the free time in-between work, play and all the rest.

      Happy cycling!

      Karl

      • Rowan says:

        Hi Karl,
        Its great to be able to share experiences with the bike.
        I am going for another test ride today around Melbourne, and planning where to go in Europe next year. I am looking at a trip of about a year, but will see how it goes. I will probably get the Busch and Muller E werk to power devices. Still have to decide on a tent and other gear. If there are any great places you would recommend visiting that would be great too.
        Cheers,
        Rowan

      • Have a look at this discussion thread here which has a lot of useful information about charging your devices with a dynamo hub device:
        http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=50649

        Also, unless you have some specific areas in Europe that you would like to cycle in (e.g. mountain passes etc) I would highly recommend you have a look at following a EuroVelo route as they are generally well sign-posted, go through nice areas, have mostly dedicated paths, and are generally not too hilly. A few descents are always fun, but it isn’t so fun climbing a big hill with a fully laden touring bike. Have a look here: http://www.eurovelo.org/

        All the best with your planning and adventures! 😀

        Karl

  11. Paul Klat says:

    Hi I just wanted to know if you received the free extra spokes with your bike, and the free clamp for the front mounting of the handbrake .
    Also I notice in your picture of your bike, that the hand brake cable to the rear brake is not as recommended in the VWR manual. Have you had it redone on warrante yet or just have not noticed it.

    The bikes come with the cable continuous straight from the factory but the LBS is supposed to cut the cable to suit the brazed on eyelets on the frame. It appears that the LBS in a lot of cases don’t know this and just zip tie it to the frame. I reckon there are enough ties on the bike without unnecessary ones. I can send you pics if you like. I have just bought a VWR in Melbourne and have had quite a few issues with it. Mostly due to the LBS not following the manufacturers recommendations.

    • Hi Paul

      Sorry to hear you’ve had some issues. Unfortunately as good as these bikes are the LBS is a major factor of how well it will perform and how you enjoy it.. poor LBS = poor experience. As I know from personal experience the quality of service and knowledge at many bike stores in Australia is pretty average to poor, at a high price too! This is why I try to do all my own maintenance work myself. I always contact Noel at Vivente if I have any issues as he is always reliable to help me out as much as possible. E.g. the the saddle post that came with my medium sized VWR was only 250mm and too short for my requirements. I spoke to my LBS and they wanted to sell me a 300mm replacement for $25! I emailed Noel advising of this and he had a new 300mm post express posted to me the next day free of charge.

      Now, your questions:
      1. Yes I did recieve a bunch of free spokes (about 6 I think it was) for both the front and rear wheel with the bike, as well as the mount for the front brake. However these didn’t come with the bike and I had to go back to the LBS a week after getting the bike to get the last bits. I also had to pick up the cable shrink wrapping which came later and the LBS wanted a few days to do it. I did it myself that afternoon in an hour.
      2. I also noticed that about the rear brake cable. However I have spoken to both Noel and the LBS about it and it was confirmed that although against the provided instructions it is beneficial as it keeps the cables covered and protected from dirt, water etc.

      Which bike store did you buy yours from?

      Hope you get your issues sorted out and get to have some fun on this bike. All the best and happy cycling!

      Karl

  12. Paul Klat says:

    Hi Karl,
    That’s good to know that you had the info and got the bits. I purchased the bike through st.kilda cycles in Melbourne. I live in Dandenong. It was put together very poorly and I had to show them from the actual site info what was required, but felt I had to fight all the way to get them to understand why it was recommended in a certain way. The bike it self is perfect and every thing resolved now. I was a bit upset with the front forks and the stupid little O Rig continually falling out and was advised to just cut it off.
    The only one who made any sense in the whole time of sorting the thing out has been Noel and he is a nice bloke.
    Any way it is nice to see your site and learn a a bit more about the bike.
    [IMG]http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff282/dieseltojo/LooseOring.jpg[/IMG]
    this is how they wired up the light . If the pics take up your band width just delete them. I just couldn’t explain it another way. Regards Paul.
    [IMG]http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff282/dieseltojo/IMG_9034.jpg[/IMG]

    • Hi Paul

      Wow… they really did do a bodgy job of your cables! The pictures say a thousand words. Poor form.

      Glad to hear you got it all sorted in the end. I know that Noel struggles a bit with some of the bike shops even after vetting them first. He needs stores to sell the bikes, but he also needs them to do a good job otherwise they will tarnish his brand. It’s a delicate balance. Always good to know that the owner of the actual company that makes the bikes will try and get you sorted out and happy.

      I also had that rubber seal fall out, I just rolled it back into place. It isn’t really critical, just helps to keep dust and water out.

      And no, those pictures don’t use up the site’s bandwidth as they are hosted externally.

      Thanks again for stopping by. I hope you get some good riding out of the bike and that these issues become a thing of the past! All the best! 🙂

      Karl

  13. peterfelvus says:

    Hi Karl, I was unfortunate to break the chain on my VWR the other day, I was able to get her back together on the side of the road but the chain was too short. Rather than put extra links in I decided to put a new chain on my bike and keep the old one for spares. My bike mechanic recommended I upgrade to a “Shimano 105”. At $9 extra than the chain that came on the bike. The difference in gear changing is well worth the extra cash. So when it’s time to change the chain I recommend upgrading to the 105

  14. Louie says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel this website needs a great deal more attention.
    I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!

    • Hi Louie

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the write-up.

      I’ve got a few more reviews brewing, will be publishing soon once I have the time to do them up properly.

      Happy cycling!
      Karl

      • Mel says:

        Thanks for the great review! I’m looking at buying a commuting bike that I can also used for light (3 weeks, 15kg) loaded touring. So far I’ve narrowed it down to the VWR or Jamis Aurora Elite or possibly Bosanova. I really want a bike that will respond well unloaded and make for a fun commute but still perform well for the loaded touring. How have you found the VWR for commuting and do you know the approx weight of the bike? I’m going in for a look at the Bosanova which my local store stocks (haven’t found anyone stocking the Aurora yet), hopefully it’ll give a bit of a feel for the Aurora.

        • Karl says:

          Hi Mel

          I also looked at the JAE and the Bosanova – I can’t recall the exact issues but I do know there was a good reason I took them off my shortlist. The VWR was the best specced, best value touring bike I could find on the market, with an added bonus that I could buy it from a local store. The 2013 version of the VWR is even better with a bunch of small fixes and improvements that makes a great touring and commuting bike even better! I strongly suggest you check them out as I have heard a lot of positive reports on them.

          The 2012 VWR is around ~14kg including the accessories and the rear rack. It’s a standard weight for a heavy duty, full steel touring bike. It’s comfortable, sturdy and handles well on the road even with a full load.

          I currently commute 7km to work every day with the VWR and it is fantastic. Unloaded it is great fun to ride and even though I am not the strongest cyclist I am easily able to keep up with most average speed roadies. As an added bonus if I decide to pick up some groceries on the way home it is no problem, once you get your momentus you don’t even notice the weight unless there’s a steep hill. Additionally you can ride all year round thanks to the mudguards and dynamo lights. It’s good fun riding in winter through rain and muck knowing the bike is made to handle it, while you watch roadies with backs covered in mud and water just struggling.

          I did a 70km ride the other week with a friend and we recorded an average speed of 28.5km/ph. I think that’s pretty good considering I had my dynamo light enabled, a rear pannier bag with food and I rarely ride distances further than 10km while I am at home. It’s definitely not a racing bike, but it is certainly a fun and responsive bike for daily commuting and light/loaded touring. I took it bush bashing through the forests in Germany and found that, with the tyre pressure down a bit, it handles quite well on loose gravel and muddy trails too. It’s even be enough to use as a emergency cyclocross bike too if you wanted to have some fun and didn’t have a dedicate CX bike to use.

          Definitely check out the other options, but you would be doing yourself a disservice not to check out the 2013 VWR.

          http://www.viventebikes.com/main/page_products_bikes_2013_changes_2012_to_2013.html

          Let me know how you go with your search!

          Happy cycling

          Karl

  15. ak says:

    Hi,
    Cool review. Do you know what the screw at the front right hand side of the top tube is for?
    Cheers,
    AK

    • Karl says:

      Hi AK

      Good question! Unfortunately I haven’t the faintest idea what it is for. 😀

      Happy cycling

      Karl

      • Karen says:

        Can you advise on a good place in Melbourne to try this bike? We are in Germany touring at the moment and will upgrade our bikes before the next trip.

        • Karl says:

          Hi Karen

          You have many options to find one of these bikes in Melbourne! My recommendations of places that stock and sell the Vivente are, in order:
          1. Cheeky Transport, Newtown
          2. St Kilda Cycles, St Kilda
          3. Abbotsford Cycles, Richmond

          Send them an email before you go there to check what they have in stock, as I know these bikes sell quickly and are often in short supply.

          I hope you find what you are looking for. The new 2013 models are similar to my 2012 model with a few nice improvements/upgrades. 🙂

          All the best and enjoy the rest of your time in Germany. Happy cycling!

          Karl

  16. Mario says:

    Hi, I am looking for a solid bike that can take a child seat (rear, like Topeak baby seat) for my daily commute and also do the occasional ride (like Ride to Gong, Spring Cycle). My current bike is a Giant OCR and I like the riding position, but the bike cannot take loads. So I have been thinking of picking a touring bike like VWR. Any thoughts? Wondering whether it is a bit of an overkill. My current alternative option is the Specialized Tricross http://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/bikes/multi-use/tricross/tricrosssportdisccompact#specs.
    Thanks,
    Mario

    • Karl says:

      Hi Mario

      The tricross looks more like a sports/recreation bike (hence the name I guess). The WVR will be more comfortable, safer and practical in the sense that it comes with full mudguards, dynamo hub + lights, durable wheels etc.

      If you like the flat bar position but want something that can take a load and will be good for all-season commuting maybe consider the trekking bar version of the VWR? Obviously it won’t be as good for recreation rides as the STI version though. Let’s face it: it’s a tough, go anywhere, do anything bike. But it isn’t suited for racing or group rides unless you’re just in it for fun (then it’s fantastic).

      I’d strongly suggest to find a VWR and take it for a test ride and have a look at it. I think you’ll be happy with it.

      Happy cycling and good luck with your purchase

      Karl

  17. Smith says:

    I’ve done about 12k on my heavily-loaded VWR in the past 4 years, at least half of which was on dirt roads. It was a good value package to buy but I’ve had to modify it significantly.
    -the rear wheel build was crap -it kept popping spoke heads(usually on a saturday afternoon or at least 100km from the nearest bike shop. I rebuilt it with the thickest gauge DT Alpine spokes available. I rebuilt the front wheel too, to get rid of the superfluous hub dyno. Any unplanned night riding is ably undertaken with a small, light, no-drag, hi-qual led torch which also doubles for a camping light.
    – The road-racer gearing was way too high for anyone other than hairy-chested young bucks so I put an MTB crankset on it.
    – Put a Brooks B17 on it (a tender mercy)
    I was sceptical about the STI shifters but they have turned out to be comfy, efficient & reliable. The racks are excellent.
    As I said the bike was good value but be prepared to make some mods.

    • Karl says:

      Hi Smith

      Thanks for your comments and sharing your experience with your VWR. I generally agree that while it is an excellent touring/commuting bike off-the-shelf there is still room for improvement (the 2013 and 2014 models have since addressed some of the issues you mentioned as well, including the gear ratios).

      I also removed the WTB saddle and replaced it with my own worn-in Brooks B17 Imperial saddle – much nicer! In regards to the gearing I also found it to be too high for loaded touring, but perfectly acceptable for commuting. I have had issues with the rear wheel since someone rode into the back of me a year ago and broke two spokes in the process. I have repaired the wheel since but I will probably have it completely overhauled and re-tensioned before I set off on another loaded tour. For commuting around it has been fine.

      I think the ‘issue’ with the VWR is that it attempts to be both an all-season commuting bike AND a packhorse, fully-loaded touring bike at the same time. Generally touring and commuting bikes are suitable for both tasks, but there’s definitely some features like the dynamo hub that is, as you mentioned, unnecessary weight and drag while touring, but are immensely useful and excellent to have on a commuter bike. It really depends how much you do of either. As I spent 6 weeks touring and then 2 years (and counting) using it as a daily ride I found that it was more than capable and suitable for my needs as an all-season commuting workhorse.

      I still maintain that it is one of the best bang for buck off the shelf touring and heavy duty, all-season commuting bikes you can buy in Australia. For most people it is 100% suitable to their needs (especially the updated and revised 2013 and 2014 models), and for those who want specific features/functions it is an excellent platform to start with and then tweak to get it just how you like it to suit your needs.

      Thanks again for stopping by and please check out some of my other articles, they might be of interest to you. 🙂

      Happy riding

      Karl

  18. Judy says:

    Hi Karl,

    Do you know where you can get the VWR in WA? I looked on their website but the info seems to be old.

    • Karl says:

      Hi Judy

      Try Quantum Bicycles in North Perth, that’s where I bought mine and I am pretty sure they still sell them. If you don’t have any luck also send Noel @ Vivente an email (email address on the VWR website) and he will give you an update on where to get one. I’ve been told the website will be getting a major update soon to provide the new 2014 model details.

      Good luck with your hunt

      Karl

  19. Stevie says:

    Hi Karl,

    Thank you for sharing the story of the 2012 Vivente Randonneur. I am the lucky owner of one after my husband and I started getting interested in touring in 2011.

    I’ve since taken my VWR on a 1200km tour around Tasmania and a 1200km tour on the South Island of NZ. We encountered some ‘not quite ready’ tracks in the alps to ocean trail and the VWR coped swimmingly! (ie. at one point we were almost mud surfing).

    The only modifications I made were changing over to mountain bike gears and add a Brooks saddle. The change in gears helped me ride up every hill Tasmania threw at us!

    Our next tour will be in Europe – I’m going to pop over and read your tips on getting over there.

    Many thanks,

    Stevie

    • Karl says:

      Hi Stevie

      Awesome to hear you’re also getting good use from your VWR.

      After Tasmania and south isle NZ Europe will be a walk in the park!

      My main recommendation, one you’re most likely very familiar with, is to go as lightweight and simple as possible. Nothing worse than crawling up hills with too much weight, especially with high gearing on the stock bike.

      Any questions feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

      All the best and happy cycling!

      Karl

9 Pings/Trackbacks for "Owner review: Vivente World Randonneur touring and commuting bicycle (drop bars with STI levers, 2012 version)"
  1. […] dynamo powered, German designed and made: Busch & Müller (B&M) E-WERK. The fact that my Vivente World Randonneur came with a Shimano dynamo hub in the front wheel also encouraged me to get a dynamo powered […]

  2. […] but also handy to have for general use and commuting (and I was right). My major purchase was my Vivente World Randonneur commuting/touring bicycle which I bought in early 2012 in preparation to do some touring in the […]

  3. […] a few emails it was confirmed that this mirror is compatible with the Shimano Tiagra levers on my Vivente World Randonneur bicycle.I also bought the Italian Road Bike Mirror (IRBM) which is very popular amongst road […]

  4. […] a few emails it was confirmed that this mirror is compatible with the Shimano Tiagra levers on my Vivente World Randonneur bicycle. I also bought the Italian Road Bike Mirror (IRBM) which is very popular amongst road […]

  5. […] but also handy to have for general use and commuting – I was right! My major purchase was my Vivente World Randonneur commuting/touring bicycle which I bought in early 2012 in preparation to do some touring in the […]

  6. […] dynamo powered, German designed and made: Busch & Müller (B&M) E-WERK. The fact that my Vivente World Randonneur came with a Shimano dynamo hub in the front wheel also encouraged me to get a dynamo powered […]

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