Vivente are an Australian company that traces its origins back to an older company called Gemini who also made the World Randonneur. Over the years the bike industry has changed and the parts available for touring bikes have changed so the World Randonneur has evolved. Production has shifted, the parts on the bike have changed and the geometry of the frame has changed, but the bike has retained some consistency all along. It is a steel touring and commuting bike designed to take loads, be comfortable on a long ride and handle serious use. To this day the old 80s Gemini World Randonneurs are a common sight, still in use.
The first thing we noticed about the bikes when we were putting them together was the unbelievable spec level on them. They come standard with DT Alpine III spokes in the rear wheel – a really tough touring spoke. They have a Tubus rack fitted on the back – pretty much the rack we recommend for most serious touring builds. They come with nice polycarbonate mud guards. They come with Schwalbe Marathon tyres and even come with a dynamo hub and light.
These features are normally upgrades that add hundreds of dollars to the cost of other touring bikes, and they mean that the World Randonneur is ready to go touring almost anywhere right out of the box.
These features are on top of a spec that is all-round good and solid. The frame is double-butted cromoly with all the braze-ons you could possibly imagine (and a few you probably couldn’t, including a mount for a bugle horn (supplied with the bike believe it or not)). The parts are all high quality, with Shimano LX hubs and other parts, nice WTB saddles, Shimano SPD pedals and so on. Their smallest size comes with 26” wheels to avoid toe overlap and other compromises needed to fit large wheels in a small frame.
The World Randonneur also comes in 3 variations – two drop bar models and one with trekking bars. The two drop bar models have Nitto bars – one of the bars we often finding ourselves fitting in place of the stock bars on Long Haul Truckers. They differ in the shifters they use and the price – one uses bar end shifters and the other slightly more expensive model uses STI shifters. The trekking bar model uses what we call butterfly bars and different brake levers and gear levers as a result. As well as this being a good option in its own right it opens up possibilities for customizing the bike without having to buy new levers. Between the two models we can fit pretty much any style of handlebar without having to replace too many other parts. From time to time we will have a trekking bar model which we’ve swapped to swept-back bars on the floor ready to test ride.
To us, the first question that the Vivente raises is how to choose between it and the Long Haul Trucker. There is one case in which the decisison is easy – if you don’t already have a rack, mud guards and lighting and you are looking for a touring bike for less than $2000 then the Vivente is almost certainly the better choice. Outside of this situation there are lots of small pros and cons and the decision will come down to how you want to set the bike up so come in and talk with us about it.