Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rivendell Betty Foy - Specs, Pics, and Raves

I've had Betty for a few weeks now and I couldn't be happier!

Betty Foy is a lugged, steel-frame mixte from Rivendell Bicycle Works. I had been looking for a well-built steel bicycle, and was faced with many choices. Eventually it came down to Betty and the Pashley Princess Sovereign. I see a place for both bicycles in my life, but I could only afford to get one right now. Although the Betty does not have certain features of the Pashley that I liked (full chaincase, internal hub and gears), it is still the more versatile of the two. Its derailleur gearing and slightly sportier but still comfortable riding posture enable me to take it on a greater variety of rides, from running quick errands to my hilly 20km commute to work. While I don't believe there is one bike that can do it all for me, I find that Betty comes pretty close - this echoes Lovely Bicycle's sentiment.

The Betty Foy is customizable. Keven at Rivendell was extremely helpful in guiding me through my component choices. Once the specs were finalized, the bike was built, tested, and shipped to my home. In order to facilitate shipping, Riv minimally disassembles the bike.

Putting the bike back together was fairly easy. My job was to reassemble the handlebars and stem, front wheel, front brake, front rack, front fender, saddle/seatpost, pedals, and other accessories (i.e. bell, mirror, basket). This video shows how easy it really is. Having said that, I had difficulty reattaching the front fender so that it didn't rub against the front tire. No matter what I tried, some part of the fender would rub and make an incredibly irritating noise. Eventually we drilled two holes into the fender and zip-tied it to the front rack in order to hold it up and away from the tire - worked like a charm!

Here are some (ok, many) pics:

Nitto Albatross aluminum bars, cork grips (which Riv beautifully shellacked and twined), Tektro brake levers, Silver sidepull rim brakes, Silver bar end shifters, German mirror, brass bell:

(Yup, I live in giant vehicle land)

The Albatross bars are awesome. They allow for a very comfortable riding and hand position - no more numb hands - and I can grab onto the middle section for extra leverage when climbing. I have my handlebars positioned relatively high as I prefer to sit more upright. The shifters - good God I love these shifters. They work flawlessly, and feel comfortable in my hand when shifting. I know that sounds weird but that's the way it is. I approached friction shifting with some trepidation but there ended up being no reason for that. There was virtually no learning curve; it really is quite easy. This article gives some good tips on learning friction shifting. The best way to get a feel for it is to just get out and ride.

Front view... Wald basket on Nitto Mark's Rack, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires:

I prefer a wire basket over other materials (e.g. wicker) - less weight to impact steering, less wind resistance. I have a net that clips over the basket to hold its contents in place. Sure, the wire basket isn't cute but there are enough girly details on the bike already!

As for the tires - I'm unsure. I went with the Marathon Pluses simply because they were the only ones in stock at the time. They're super puncture-resistant due to a "SmartGuard layer" of rubber. My journeys don't bring me through areas with lots of broken glass or other debris so I think the MPs might be overkill and aren't worth the extra rolling resistance I feel. Schwalbe Delta Cruisers would be ideal but they don't come in the size I need. I'm thinking of swapping these out for Marathon Supremes but I'll keep riding with these for now - maybe they'll grow on me.

Sugino XD2 triple crank, MKS sneaker pedals, IRD front derailleur, Pletscher double leg kickstand:

8 speed 11-32 cassette, Shimano Deore rear derailleur:

Nitto top rack, Brooks B17S saddle in honey:

Rear view, SKS plastic fenders in silver: 

These fenders work great but are a little short. I would have preferred the Longboard Fenders but they don't fit a 26" wheel. So I'll get some mudflaps instead. I love the look of hammered Honjos (as seen on many other lucky Bettys) but I'm perfectly happy with these trusty plastic fenders.

And now for the prettiness!

Evil-eye Betty headbadge:

Gorgeous lugwork:


Downtube decals:

Tiny apples!

My favourite lug is here on the seat tube - I love the filled-in heart and fanciness:

Some people find the girly details to be a little much but I'm all over it like stink on sh!t. That's not too crass for a girly girl to say, is it?

Well, that's Betty. Don't let her good looks fool you - she's beautiful, but she's also a speedy workhorse. I can't stress enough how much I love this bike!


  1. Betty Foys truly are beautiful bikes. what size did you get and were you able to test ride before purchasing it ?

  2. Thank you for your comment! I can't believe I omitted that very important info...

    Riv recommends the 52cm frame if your PBH is between 70 and 81cm. My PBH is just over 70cm but I'm only 4'11" so they recommended the 47cm frame and it's perfect for me.

    I had read so many positive reviews and its ride characteristics as described by others really appealed to me. So I took a huge leap of faith and purchased it without a test ride (there are no Riv dealers nearby). Could have been a costly mistake but, like many other Betty owners, it feels like it was made just for me.