Individual Robert Beckman Touring Bicycle Models

 When I designed the XC 700 I was looking toward the future of  bicycle touring, but I was also looking to the past.  I wanted to develop a road touring bicycle that is very much in the future in terms of performance, by integrating the most advanced ultra-lightweight panniers and racks, lightweight frame materials, components and wheels.  I also wanted to pay homage to a few masterful lugged-frame builders of the past by creating extremely crisp, thin, beautifully delicate lugs within a traditional frame design.

Homage to the builders who cared about quality, and that made a difference: one of my many, many versions of carefully thinned and edge-filed lugs. Lug patterns are not standardized and are different from bike to bike.
Looking to the future: a very lightweight rack coupled with a very, very lightweight Phase Two touring platform in which a stuff-sack pannier may be used extend the load-carrying potential of a rack/pannier system with only a few ounces of additional weight. This design is an integral part of Hummingbird XC 700 performance. In my touring cycles, performance is a result of the accumulation of many dozens of details- few or none of which other builders include in their products.

In looking to the future of high-performance road touring bicycles, I wanted the Hummingbird XC 700 to not only be smooth, but more smooth than such bikes have ever been.  The bike had to be fast, but I wanted it to be much more efficient than road touring bikes have been, traditionally.  I assumed that the bike would have to be lightweight, but I made it much more lightweight than road-touring machines of the past.  To me, the essence of a road touring bike is fun and pleasure, and I developed the integrated design of the Hummingbird to deliver both as no bike has ever done.  Put simply, I designed the Hummingbird XC to be the paragon of touring cycles for travel on paved roads and to represent a level of craftsmanship that is very rare.  For many bicycle tourists the ultimate first big trip is a cross-country or cross-continental journey, and the Hummingbird XC is, coast to coast, the most efficient touring bicycle ever built.

The design of the Hummingbird XC is based upon a Phase Two concept in my Advanced Touring Method.  It is a bicycle that is meant to be nimble and lean, and is designed to be used with a single pair of Hummingbird IFT or RP rear panniers for carrying a full compliment of carefully selected gear.  But it is also designed to be versatile as well.  Standard equipment includes a Hummingbird Four-Point Mid-Mount front rack to be used as an overload space for extra gear or with ultra-lightweight Hummingbird IFT or RP front panniers.  Its a bicycle that is built for speed but not at the expense of essential comfort.  The geometry of its frame is moderately relaxed (72-degree head angle, 44/45 cm chain stays) and provides clearances for tires that allow for occasional miles on maintained dirt or gravel roads.

It's a classic touring bicycle with a frame that has a parallel top tube, and its frame is built with heavily modified (lugs with add-ons, reshaped and thinned) Henry James investment cast road lugs, either in the standard road lug size (1in. and 1 1/8th in.) or with oversized lugs for oversized tubing (1 1/8th in. and 1 1/4th in.).  In a classic mode, and in view of it being a very high-performance touring bicycle, I like to set up the XC 700 with fast, lightweight wheels and dual-pivot side pull brakes.  My preference, in complimenting its sleek concept and elegantly hand-formed lugs, is to build its frame incorporating an integrated-fastback seat cluster design, but numerous side-mounted seat stay styles are also optional. The Hummingbird XC, like all of my highly customized bicycles, is available in a Standard, Ultra or Signature version.   

Base price of the Hummingbird XC 700 with a "standard" components package: $6666

The Lite 700 was designed with a new realm of touring performance and potential in mind.  By virtue of its unique design and extraordinary craftsmanship it is like no other road touring bicycle every built.  Its state-of-the art Hummingbird carrying systems coupled with very lightweight frame materials, and wheel components custom-matched to each individual rider's needs/specs, make this randonneur-inspired model the most efficient touring bike ever designed for paved-road touring, but with the versatility to travel on dirt.  This bike represents a wide departure from the bicycle industry's offerings in terms of speed, efficiency, quality and craftsmanship.  It is in a completely different realm.

A paved-road touring bike should be very lightweight, efficient and fast, and have supremely stable load-carrying components that enhance the overall performance of the bike.  By the nature of its design the Randonneur Lite 700 has all of that and much more.   A great touring bike has to be highly flexible, design-wise, and versatile.  Through the most advanced carrying systems, most sophisticated custom lighting systems, custom wheels and componentry, the Randonneur Lite 700 is in a realm of its own.

This Randonneur Lite 700 is set up for Phase One and Phase Two touring in the Advanced Touring Method. How it is designed and set up typifies my approach to creating bikes for high-performance touring. The front and rear racks weigh a total of 23 ounces and they are matched with Hummingbird IFT panniers that weigh 18 ounces per pair. Wheels were very conservatively designed for a 140 pound rider. I should also note that when touring gear is selected wisely and is carefully minimized in Phase One and Two, there is no need for disc brakes or V-brakes. This particular bike was set up with side-pull brakes, which I most definitely prefer.

The foundation of the Randonneur model is its very lightweight, carefully designed frame which is solid for load carrying, yet dynamic and comfortable.  That performance is transferred into its gear carrying system through the highly unique Hummingbird  IFT and RP rack/pannier systems, which are extremely lightweight yet extraordinarily stable and compact.  The frame was designed to be used in widely varied conditions, with clearances for medium-width tires and with a moderately long wheel base.  For comfort and stability the head tube angle is relaxed to an angle of 71 degrees and the chain stays are lengthened to 45 cm. to provide a comfortable wheel base.  Very lightweight, moderately hardened frame tubing, coupled with a conservative frame design, creates a nice feel of stability and solidity without diminishing its liveliness.   Its a bike that is both beautiful to ride and beautiful to look at in a way no other touring bicycle is.

Whether this model is set up for Randonneur events, used as a long-distance touring bike, as a commuter or even a training bike, it can be set up deliver a unique combination of speed, comfort and flexibility through careful wheel design, custom gearing, nearly unlimited choices in components, the most advanced racks and panniers and highly customized lighting systems.

Base price of the Randonneur Lite 700 with a Standard-Level frame: $6666

When I designed the Odyssey Trans 700, I had some very specific thoughts in mind for a touring bicycle that would be ridden mostly on paved roads and that would be used to carry a moderate amount of gear in front and rear panniers.  Naturally, I wanted the bicycle to be highly efficient, lightweight and very exciting to ride.  And I thought that the bicycle should reflect a somewhat traditional design that would be set off with superb craftsmanship and creative options.  In concept the Odyssey is a touring bike in transition.  It represents a step between the very fast, very lightweight Hummingbird and Randonneur models and my two Expedition models.  I designed the Odyssey for individuals that would like to travel very light and smoothly, but not in an ultra-lightweight approach as the Hummingbird and Randonneur models require to fulfill the unique potential of their designs.   
The Odyssey Trans 700 was designed as the pinnacle of speed and efficiency in touring bicycles developed to carry moderate amounts of gear in the most advanced, effective way possible.  The recommended setup for the Odyssey is with the very lightweight, custom-fit RD/EX Hybrid racks (about 18 ounces apiece), that reflect a high level of innovation in a more traditional design, and are matched with ultra-narrow and very lightweight Hummingbird RP panniers (about 24 ounces per pair) to develop the highest levels of load-carrying performance.  As this bike is all about making touring adventures, like a cross-country trip, fun and with a minimum of effort, wheels for the Odyssey are custom-built with components that are very carefully selected to match a rider's weight and to ensure the best advantages of efficiency.   

The Standard version of the Odyssey has the most upright frame design of any of my touring models with a head tube angle of 72 or 73 degrees, but is still built on the conservative and comfortable side with 45/46cm chain stays and a moderately long wheel base.  Highly modified Henry James oversized road lugs are used (parallel top tube, although a sloping one is optional) in the silver-brazed construction of the frame.  When the bicycle is built for lightweight touring loads, and is set up with dual-pivot side pull brakes, a steeply sloping 46mm fork crown is used in its design.  When the bike is designed to carry heavier loads and is set up with V-brakes, a sloping 60mm fork crown is used in the building of the fork (although, many other fork crown options are available).  As is always true in any of my bicycles or gear, the Odyssey is a very highly customized bicycle with wide options available in components, lighting systems and lug design as well as in rack and pannier options (racks and panniers are not included in the price of my bicycles).  And of course, it may be ordered with a Standard-, Ultra- or Signature-level frame.

The Expedition Hybrid 26 has gone through many subtle design modifications since it was initially built in 1997.  Still, it's a bike in which its design revolves around high comfort, stability, exceptional versatility and one that affords the highest levels of efficiency in an expedition-oriented design.  The focus of the design of the Hybrid 26 has always been about a special level of performance in the broadest range of touring conditions, from paved-road touring to the most demanding off-road conditions.   The Expedition 26 has been and remains a true fully integrated touring bike in which the racks, panniers and bicycle are designed as a single unit to deliver the best possible performance.  That concept remains the same, but the details of the bike have been widely improved since its introduction years ago.

The Expedition Hybrid 26 is like all Robert Beckman Touring Cycles in that it is completely custom-built in an endless combination of designs and component choices. Commonly, this model is built with a 7-degree sloping top tube, but this version has a 2-degree slope. Currently, the Expedition 26 is most often built with RD/EX Hybrid front and rear racks (not included in its price) as it is in the photograph. Although there is a "standard" components package which determines its price, all components are personally selected by each bicycle customer. Within a "standard" components package, Nitto drop bars are included, but this bicycle has an alternative, "custom" choice of handlebar.

My designs are always on the move.  I'm always in the process of improving, reshaping and redefining everything that I build, and the Expedition 26 is no exception.  It's design concept has always been consistent, but the execution of its details has gone through a wide transformation.  Today, the ATS racks, which are a crucial part of the Expedition 26 design, bear almost no resemblance to the racks on the original model in design, quality of craftsmanship, or detailing.  The Discovery Series panniers that are also a critical part of the performance of the bike have gone through a wide transition in the execution of their design, details and materials, and are now dramatically lighter in weight in their current hybrid forms.  The frame materials used in the Expedition 26 have improved as new tubing has become available and the craftsmanship level of the frames is dramatically better than in the original (which I did not personally build).  Initially, and for a few years (1997-1999), the Expedition was basically a production bike, but now ( 2013) it is, like all of my touring bikes, designed and executed as the most highly customized, superbly crafted and versatile touring cycle of its type.

The design of the Expedition 26 is based upon a Phase Three concept in the Advanced Touring Method, and as such is a bicycle that will often be used with front and rear panniers.  The bicycle frame of the Expedition 26 is completely custom-built, as are its racks, and along with its custom-built panniers, it represents a highly complimentary design developed to create the highest levels of load-carrying potential.  I use the extreme stability of the racks and panniers and their highly advanced load distribution systems as the mechanism to neutralize the impact of carrying gear in the harshest of expedition-oriented conditions.  Consequently, I do not sacrifice riding comfort in designing the Expedition 26 frame, through the very common route of an unbearably stiff and harsh-riding frame design.  Great racks and panniers allow the Expedition frame to be designed in a unique way, and afford a high level of riding comfort.  An expedition-oriented touring bicycle that lacks suspension must be comfortable to ride over many rough miles.

Comfort is enhanced through the very relaxed head tube angle of the Expedition (70- or 71-degree angle), the careful selection of tubing to provide adequate, but not too much stiffness for load bearing, and through a very long wheel base in the frame.  The long wheel base is achieved through the slack head angle, which moves the front wheel forward, and long chain stays (47.5) which move the rear wheel back.  Henry James mountain lugs provide the low head tube angle and a top tube sloping at 7 degrees.  Overall, the frame is smooth, stable and very comfortable for a frame of its type.  Comfort and performance is also achieved in some conditions through the use of wide tires.  The Expedition 26 is designed with fork and frame clearances for tires up to 1.9  inches (48mm) in width.

The versatility of the Expedition 26 is very unique.  Depending upon individual needs and style of expedition touring, it may be set up with any of the extremely stable, highly advanced designs of RBD and ATS racks and panniers.  The ultimate load haulers within the panniers are the Discovery and EL models, but for some types of expedition touring even the super-lightweight Hummingbird IFT and RP models will perform extremely well.  The same can be said of the racks.  Hummingbird, RD/EX Hybrid or Expedition Hybrid racks can be used on the Expedition 26 depending upon individual needs.  The Expedition and RD/EX Hybrid models have the greatest load-bearing potential, but the Hummingbird racks are quite appropriate for some types of expeditions and world adventures.  And, as with my other models of touring bicycles, extensive customization of frame detailing is available through the Standard-, Ultra- and Signature-level frame designs.  The Expedition 26 may be built utilizing an extremely wide assortment of custom design features in the frame, racks, panniers and lighting systems.

Base price of the Expedition 26 with a Standard-Level frame: $6666 

This model combines the highest level of versatility in an expedition bicycle that is smooth, stable, rugged and that carries gear far more effectively than any other touring bike.  It is the paragon of flexibility.  For any device or piece of gear there has to be an ultimate version.  When it comes to versatility of design, the RD/EX 700 Ultima Tourer wears, by a split hair or two over my Randonneur XC 700 and Expedition 26 models, the crown of the ultimate in versatility.  It's the touring bicycle design, much like that of the Randonneur XC 700, that I've spent 40 years looking for, and have finally found through determination, dedication, perseverance, a long empirical process and my own innovation.

From my earliest days of touring on racing bicycles I've always longed for a bicycle that can do it all extremely well.  With the vast array of RBD and ATS racks and panniers that may be wildly customized, and a bicycle that can be set up with anything from racing wheels to off-road wheels with fat tires, the RD/EX 700 Ultima Tourer can do it all extremely well, and not just in a single way, but in many ways.

As much as I like the RD/EX racks, I'd still recommend whenever possible, going even lighter by incorporating the Hummingbird IFT racks in the custom design of your bicycle.
I feel very comfortable setting up the Ultima Tourer either with RD/EX Hybrid racks like the rear, custom-fit rack above or with Hummingbird IFT racks. The latest Ultima Tourer bikes are designed to be the most advanced, lightweight touring bicycles for Phase Three touring.

The Ultima Tourer gets its name from one of the ultimate touring destinations.  Back in ancient times when early navigators feared sailing off the edge of the world, maps labeled the territory beyond the edge of exploration the ultima thule.  And a while back the Great Pacific Iron Works made a rugged backpack with that same name.  I was always attracted to the name and The Ultima Tourer gets its name by way of a small theft of sorts, but also from the fact that it is more versatile, and has fewer limitations in the quest of bicycle exploration, than any other cycle.

In high-performance touring, lightweight racks and panniers are a critical element of touring bicycle design. The Hummingbird IFT panniers are as lightweight as 18 ounces per pair and are the perfect match for the high-performance Ultima Tourer.
The Ultima Tourer is alike the Expedition 26 in every detail except that it utilizes a 700c wheel size, lacks the clearance for a fourth water bottle behind the seat tube and has frame clearances that are set up for tires up to 38mm (except in frames with side-mounted seat stays, which have 45mm clearances).  The 700c wheel size is a bit more versatile, especially at the narrow and lightweight end of the rim and tire spectrum.  Utilizing the 700c wheel size of The Ultima Tourer, a cyclist, and especially one taking the an ultra-lightweight approach to setting up a touring bicycle, can enjoy an incredible range of bicycle riding experiences going from racing sew-ups to ultra-lightweight training tires, and from lightweight road-touring tires to serious off-road tires in one set of wheels.  I like that, that's pretty cool.  That's versatility.  And that versatility is matched with the enormous range of flexibility of designs in my rack/pannier systems, from the ultra-lightweight Hummingbird gear to my ATS Expedition Hybrid racks and Discovery Hybrid panniers, in creating one of the most unique touring bicycles ever built.

As in all of my fully integrated touring bicycles, the Ultima Tourer is available with a nearly endless spectrum of custom options in frame details, custom rack and pannier designs, custom components, finishes and is available with Standard-, Ultra- and Signature-Level frames.

Base price of the Ultima Tourer (does not include price of racks or panniers): $6666