Monday, September 23, 2013
Handsome Devil All-Rounder
When searching for an all-rounder bike I discovered lots of options. I wanted it to be fun to ride unloaded, come as a complete bike, fit big tires with fenders and have the potential to add racks and carry a load. I first thought the Surly Long Haul Trucker or Novara Safari would fit the bill, but they were both more heavy duty than I needed. The Specialized Tricross was nice and had a great price, but I found the ride and look to be meh. I really liked the Novara Randonne but I can't get over the amount of seat post that shows on that sloping top tube. Rivendell Bikes are nice but out of my budget. I was looking for a bike with a different look as well. The Handsome XOXO was on the short list but I was looking for something more on-road than off. I read about the Handsome Devil right here on these pages and in Momentum Magazine. It seemed to check all of the boxes, but I would need to order it sight unseen.
When I saw that the Handsome Devil went on sale I pulled the trigger. The next day I had a voicemail from Jesse asking me about my build. We talked about how I would use the bike and picked a local bike shop to do the assembly. A couple of weeks later I was rolling out of the bike shop with my Devil on 35c tires (Jesse thought I would like them better than the 32mm stock ones). The shop employees were a little perplexed, "I suppose you could commute on it." Heck yeah!
So fast forward 6 months and I've made some changes. I ditched the bar-tape grips for shellacked cork. All transportation bikes should have fenders, so I installed SKS Longboard fenders. A Velo-Orange Pass Hunter Rack holds a Wald Basket. I scored a Nitto R-14 rack on Ebay and my wife got me a Rivendell Large Saddleback for Father's Day. I call the bike my "Riven-Devil."
The steel frame has a nice springiness about it and the powder coat looks great. The steering on the Devil is quick, but some weight in the basket quiets it down a bit. The cyclocross geometry does not lend itself to weighting up the rear without a load up front. You can set up a Devil for touring as long as you spread out the load. The geometry prefers a front load; however, the frame lacks a threaded boss above the front dropout (but there's one mid-fork). Handsome now has a version of the Devil with a Porteur Rack, but they drill out the tangs for the axle and (I presume) use a longer skewer.
The Devil is set up with 1x8 gearing with a 44T chainring. It's perfect for my flat-to-rolling commute. I'm not sure the drivetrain is ready for a loaded tour without replacing the double 150bcd crankset --the gearing would be too hight evening adding a second chainring. A low-double or triple would probably be better for biking up hills with a full touring load. With a nod to versatility, the Devil has semi-horizontal dropouts for internal hub builds.
I've enjoyed the Devil and I would recommend working with the Handsome Cycles folks on your search for your Bike For the Rest of Us.