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Vivente Touring Bikes
Address:PO Box 156
Phone:(02) 9797 4444
Fax:(02) 9797 4488
We design and make bicycles, for use for both travel and as a daily means of getting around. Our origins trace back to Sydney in the 1970s.
If the design purpose of these bikes was only "getting around" and not travel, then we would not have addressed the aspects of comfort, durability, longevity and serviceability nearly as much as we have. Anyway, these are great bike attributes for most of us, who, even if annual tourers, mostly are everyday urban cyclists. It is inconvenient to get punctures and have parts wear out, whether you are commuting or touring. You just want your bike to be comfortable, practical, easy to control, and to work 24/7. The features we emphasise are especially relevant to bikes that are used a lot, such as when it is the prime means of transport.
In addition to making bikes, we are advocates of travel on bikes. Travelling on a bike is an amazing experience. In this "virtual" age, your experience is real. You are out there waving to farmers who are waving back. You are smelling the pine trees in mountain passes, and seeing the sun's glint on the breaking surf. An eagle, circling up high, watches you. A horse in a paddock runs alongside you.
Wherever you go, you are welcomed. Everyone knows that you can't do any harm.
You are so independent and free. Do a bit more every year and over a lifetime you stay fit and strong. You really do see the world. And you make memories you will cherish forever.
Thanks for visiting us. We appreciate all feedback and contributions.
The Vivente World Randonneur is a fully accessorised complete touring bike available in three configurations. New Model World Randonneur models are reconfigured, improved versions with high quality steel frames.
All of the bikes are equipped with dynamo systems, mudguards and racks, and a good selection of spares.
Trekking / Butterfly bar with mountain bike brake and gear levers.
Drop Bar (Nitto Randonneur), Tiagra STI’s. Also includes CrMo front rack.
Drop Bar (Nitto Randonneur), Tiagra STI’s and Separable Frame (utilising the Ritchey Break-away system).
Evolution of "World Randonneur" bikes in Australia.
Our beginnings were in the1970’s in the inner city of Sydney. A group, most of whom were students, became involved in bike touring.
There weren’t many bike shops. Full-sized bikes in those shops were mostly oriented to racing or were of low quality. For people who wanted better quality bikes but with more versatility than racing bikes, a bike custom building scene evolved. The main operation was Man Powered Vehicles (MPV) in Bourke St Waterloo.
There was a high proportion of MPV bikes being used for touring. The frame builders and customers learned that the same bikes made for long distance touring were very well suited to city riding. The inner city roads were rougher than country roads. In the city, durable wheels were needed. Whether carrying shopping back from the markets, or books back from the library, the well-geared touring bikes that were made to carry loads, and easy to ride, came up trumps.
One of the students that had drifted into bike touring, Noel McFarlane, (pictured here with David Walton) started Calypso Cycles in North Newtown in 1979. He had toured much of Australia on bikes from MPV. He had done a six month tour in India and Sri Lanka. In the early years, most bikes sold at Calypso were built from scratch. But the crew there was constrained by what components and frames were available at a wholesale level. They set up their own frame building and spay painting operation in 1981. But it was a lot of work to make each bike this way. They pondered how the bikes could be made more efficiently and at a better price. Building bikes one at a time was far more expensive than doing it in batches.
In late 1981, Calypso, in conjunction with a fledging importing company, Gemini Bicycles, worked out how the bikes could be standardised so they could be made in a bike factory. In those days that meant a bike factory in Japan. The first model was called the Gemini Randonneur and its design arose directly from the custom built bikes in Calypso Cycles. A few years later came the World Randonneur which initially had 26 x 1-3/8” tyres.
Gemini Bicycles became committed to touring bike development. The staff all toured and commuted by bike. New bike components were road tested prior to use on production bikes. This line of bikes has always had a strong connection with the city streets and a direct involvement in touring.
Australia was not a world leader in these facets of cycling and new innovations were best seen at international bike shows. The Eurobike show, which started in the early 1990s became a major long term influence on our bikes. Also, going to Eurobike included time for a bike tour in Southern Germany and experiencing a region where bike touring is a normal activity.
The driving forces in the mainstream bike industry became increasingly concerned with bike branding, the sporting side of cycling and bike weight. Touring designers were different. Whilst highly conscious of weight, having to carry it such long distances, weight was not an obsession. The need to make bikes lighter seemed to have been exaggerated in the media and the marketplace. Balancing efficiency and comfort was central. Bikes also had to be fit-for-purpose, ready for the road, durable, serviceable, long-lasting, safe and good value for money.
In the late 1980s mountain bikes (MTBs) were the most “normal” bike type being sold in Australia. These brought a sit-up riding position to every-day cyclists. Gradually, “hybrids”, being also sit-up bikes, and having mid-size tyres and front suspension, became new “on-road” bike versions that followed on from the more "off-road" MTB development. Suspension forks on hybrids became compensation for losing the multiple riding positions offered by drop bars.
For some time, touring bikes were under challenge from hybrid bikes. Many new cyclists were not experiencing drop bars at all. Most touring bikes left the market in Australia by the late 1990s and shops suggested higher end hybrids with aluminium frames and suspension forks with lock-out as long distance bikes. In that context, in the late 1990’s, Gemini, also a prominent distributor of MTB and hybrids, was able to sustain these classic randonneur design bikes by using Mongoose as the brand name and, by using alloy frames. (Gemini held a licence to use the Mongoose brand on its own designs).
During those years, to differentiate and attract more attention, the randonneur bikes started to get dynamo hubs, lights and racks.
But we wanted to get back to cr-mo frames and decided to also make the break from the Mongoose brand which was considered to be more associated with “fat tyre” bikes. Thus the Vivente (“viv-ent-ay”) bicycle brand was created. The word means " living"in Italian. This would be the long term home for these randonneuring bikes, now with over 30 years of heritage. In 2007 the first Vivente World Randonneur was released.
Development over the last five years has focused on refining component choices and integrating components and accessories. Now showing our bikes on line is a major focus. The recent years have been the most active since the late 70’s and 80’s. When Noel turned 50, in 2002, he resolved to go on at least two bike tours a year. He got rid of his car around then.
The World Randonneur project is driven by cyclists that depend on bikes, every day.
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