Rivendell Bicycle Works: A. Homer Hilsen:
The A. Homer HilsenThe Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen has a bit of a story behind it, but I'll leave it to the AHH website to relate those details to you.

As of late June, 2008, the domain seems to be "na remont". Word is that the original web-guy did a runner and can't be found. Unfortunately, he seems to have the access info. So, the official place to get A. Homer Hilsen info would be via the Hilsen section of the RBW site.

After reading the announcement of the Hilsen, I was none too sure what this bicycle was all about. Then, in a too-brief visit to the RBWHQ&L*, Grant put me on a Hilsen and pushed me off down the alley. I returned from that little ride impressed and heck, and really wanting one. It was snappy and light, responsive and stable - just the blend of things which I really enjoy on my Quickbeam. With the slightly lighter tube set and the ridiculous amount of clearance, it just seemed like it could do anything I was likely to ask.

Now, of course, I'm reasonably convinced, to understate it dramatically.

As of mid-2008, there seems to be a merging of the Saluki and the A. Homer Hilsen into one model. From the outset, the Hilsen was designed to be a 700C version of the Saluki - the wonderful long-reach Silver Brakes allowing for the higher-volume tires which brought the whole 650B/584 thing to folks' attention. As the design gained traction, there were appearances of 650B/584 Hilsen-decaled models, and then the announcement was made on the RBW site that the Saluki would be "rolled into" the Hilsen model.

A. Homer Hilsen bicycles in the Galleries:

- #721 - Steve Park's Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
- #695 - Dennis Disilva's Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
- #679 - Brian Hanson's Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
- #603 - John McMurry's Rivendell "Hiluki"
- #569 - Dylan McNerny's Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
- #548 - Forrest Meyer's Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
- #522 - Cyclofiend Jim's A. Homer Hilsen
- #326 - Frederick Allington's A. Homer Hilsen
- #300 - Joel Solomon's A. Homer Hilsen

- #298 - Jim Bailey's A. Homer Hilsen
- #277 - Douglas Brooks' A. Homer Hilsen
- #244 - Benjamin Keen's A. Homer Hilsen
- #238 - Joel Matthews' A Homer Hilsen

A. Homer Hilsen Geometry Chart - AHH Introduction in RR#38 - RBW Owners' Bunch List Info

last update: May 22, 2010 - Most recent additions are at the top of the page

More Hilsenian Poemetry - by Marty

Originally posted to the RBW Group here

Forgive the long-ish post to follow. I wrote this one years ago (or so it seems) when the stand-alone AHH website was up and there was a $20 credit in the offing. There were a number of good poems crafted for the site. Not sure what happened to the site or the other poems. I'm no poet, but was inspired by a beautiful bike and the company behind it.

FWIW, I give you:

The Resurrection of A. Homer Hilsen

There it was, there it sat.
Bars akimbo, tires flat.

Cluster missing, saddle worn.
Dangling hemp-wrap. Dusty. Torn.

Rubbed the down-tube, read the name:
A. Homer Hilsen – of Rivendell fame.

I knelt to worship and wondered why.
Lost, or stolen? Left to die?

Who would leave it? Could I? Could You?
I asked around, nobody knew.

I felt linked like a chain to its ultimate fate,
the local bike shop was open ‘till eight…

They told me the story of a man dressed in wool.
He lived in the country, his glass always half full.

The bike was his passion, his comfort, his dream.
Fittings for Mark’s rack, lugs filled with cream.

But no one had seen him, at least for a while.
The man had moved on. My lips cracked a small smile.

I asked the police what the policy was.
They showed me the poster: Auction by Fuzz.

I showed up quite early, on the day of the deal.
Misty and quiet, the sky painted like steel.

I noticed the Hilsen being eyed by a punk,
mixed in with the lawnmowers, car parts and junk.

He grabbed a brake lever and gave it a tug,
Spat on a pedal, then moved on with a shrug.

The auction moved slowly, through toilets and tools,
Something for everyone: the dealers, the fools.

And then it was up there, wheeled up by a cop.
The pads squealed on the front rim. It came to a stop.

The bidding began with the auctioneers’ pitch:
“A handsome blue bike for the not quite so rich!”

It was me and the punk, and a man I could see
who was standing alone near a lone Redwood tree.

It had to be mine. I just had to win.
To let Homer go home without me was a sin!

The punk shrugged again when three figures were spoke.
Fished through his pockets, confirmed he was broke.

I looked near the tree, heard the faint ping of a bell,
The auctioneer paused, raised the gavel.

It fell. “It’s mine! Can’t believe it!” My grin ear to ear.
I cashed out in seconds, lost a fight with a tear.

I wheeled Hilsen homeward and vowed to be kinder.
Put him up on my work stand and loosened the binder.

I thought about fate, how I won, how I got’m.
Flipped the frame in the stand to examine the bottom.

As soon as the upside was more downside than most,
A small rolled up paper fluttered out from the post:

“I’m happy you own me, the pleasure’s all mine.
That punk would’ve stripped me and sold me for wine.”

“Now we can share them, those days on the road.
Losing all count of the friendships we sowed.”

“You see, I’m attracted to people like you;
People who dream of a journey or two.”

A.H.H. I’m sure when I’m older, my legs tired of turning,
I’ll think of this day; of the joy and the yearning.

I’ll pass it along to a like-minded good soul;
dusty and weathered, but ready to roll.

The bike will live on, with new stories to tell;
new owner, new road, and the faint ping of a bell.


Epic Poem - "The Great Scot, A. Homer Hilsen" by G.P.

Because the A. Homer Hilsen rocks. Because epic poetry rocks. Because I want to make sure that it stays posted, somewhere...

(well, other than here)


The Great Scot, A.Homer Hilsen
(Written two years ago for fun, found deep in a file when I was looking for something else, briefly updated and exposed.) It takes a while to read, but if you're bored...

On the high bluffs of Ben Nevis
On that highest mount in Scotland
Which o'erlooks grand fields of bluebells
Blazing in the verdant meadows
See the shining ribbon eastward
Aberdeen, the silver river!
Spy the sea beyond its south cliffs
Gaze at thick and constant clouds there
That 'cept for a week in August
When the winds blow hard and northward
Are opaque, as boiled egg whites.

In an unmapped cave no guide knows
On those bluffs above Ben Nevis
Huddled near a bean-can lantern
In which, flickers faint a candle
(It's the only light for miles)
Who is the withered form there?
Is it ghost, mirage, or dead man?
Did the body meet some foul harm?
No, a closer look reveals that
It's just old A. Homer Hilsen!

And, though outside now the snow swirls
In this Highlands winter night-time
Shivers not A. Homer Hilsen
Au contraire, he's warm, he's cozy
Clad from head to toe in sheep's wool
Thick and grey, boiled, and felted
Faintly scratchy by our standards
Thirty-micron wool, by measure
Used by Persians for their carpets
But A. Homer Hilsen squawks not
Of this wool he's grown accustomed
And this wool to A.H. Hilsen
Feels like Portugal's best flannel.

But sleep's not yet coming to him
Truth be told, A. Homer's restless
As he thinks back upon his long life
Recollections clear, yet dreamlike
Block out all of his distractions
In that desolate cave high up there,
In that hole-cave on Ben Nevis.

Known to all Scots as The Great One
For his selfless way toward others
For his " 'nificent donations "
To the poor and sick and needy
Often grownups, mostly children
Now and then an institution.
For the gifts of woollen sweaters
He himself knit from wool gathered
From his flock of hardy black-face
Roaming wild on ol' Ben Nevis.

Sweaters tightly knit, then boiled
So the children of the miners
Kids whose folks cannot afford wool
Living in the Border Country
In the north of Minnesota
Several thousand miles from here
Where the iron ore mines have shut down
And there is no other business
Where the schools are two hours walking
From their cabins in the country
And the mercury it rarely
Climbs above the single digits
So these children would be cozy
In the bitterest of winters!

Thankful are these children to him
And much more so are their parents
Who, despite their independence
Who, despite their pride, so ingrained
Humbly thank A. Homer Hilsen
For his wool gifts, warmly given!

But the Border Country children
Tho in poem, they're recollected
Are the tip top of an iceberg
Two, three brush strokes in a mural
Drops of brine in oaken barrel
Holding pickles in a deli!

For the kind A. Homer Hilsen
Now sequestered in the Highlands
Now an old man, poor and homeless
Near bereft of all possessions
Having sold them, gave the proceeds
To the orphan boys and girls who
Work the dry, cracked land in Malta;
To survivors of disasters
Whether earthquake, flood, or fires;
To the doctors and the nurse-staff
Who need gauze and pills and ointments
These he sends, by helicopter
To their hospitals in Ghana

I could tell these tales forever
Those in need, who are forgotten;
Those whose plights don't make the papers
Certain not a soul knows of them
Never heard of this man Hilsen
Never met him, still don't know him
Don't know where to send their Thank You's
Most assume "God smiles upon us!
Sends us help down from his heaven!"
But in this case, "God" is Homer,
"Heaven: Just chilly cave-hole
No Saint Pete; devoid of angels.

Down to only three possessions
Is the old A. Homer Hilsen
In the cave, just six by eight feet
With a rock roof barely four feet
Lies on flattened tufts from thistles
Plucked by hand. A. Homer found it
Tween the nooks and crannies up there
Plucked from Scotland's purple flower
Sheltered from the Highlands' high winds
Lucky he was, just to find it
'Fore the fierce winds blew it distant
And to bring it back in fistfuls
So to make his final rest-home
Slightly softer on his old bones.

I'll now speak of his possessions
First of them, his pinhole camera
Like his lantern, made of bean-can
He was rarely seen without it
Like a surgeon with a scalpel
Like a farmer with a pitchfork
Like a sea capt. and his sextant
Like Dave Crockett and his coon-cap
Like young mother with her baby
Or that baby with her blanket
Was A. Hilsen and his camera
Oh, so constant was its presence
Oh, so naked, him widdout it!

And though always well-intentioned
Were the gifts of modern cameras
Gifts from heads-of-state, and family
Bought online with cards of plastic,
Up to sixteen megapixels
Fancy with the largest sensors
To give Hilsen in his old age
Technological advantage!

Brushed champaign or satin silver,
Sometimes blackend paint, like Leica;
Often bulky plastic lightweights
Packed with complicated menus
That reveal their dirty secrets
When you push the buttons proper;
Or the small ones, tiny wonders!
Could fit inside an old sardine can

And they did so once (he tried it)
Every year in weight they dwindle,
Jam-packed full of complications.
Said to simplify life greatly.

Said to relegate his darkroom
To a room, that, with a lantern
Like the bean-can one he loves so
Would be useful as a guest-room
For the old A. Homer Hilsen
Replaced by scanner, software, printer
For a virtual desktop darkroom!

None of this he learned to master
Never understood the options
Even after hours of study
In six languages he knew well
Not enraptured by the manuals,
Ne'er deciphered the instructions
Never figured out the options
Never pushed the proper buttons
Never understood the plug-ins
So although the cameras promised
Such instant gratification
It was all lost on the old man
Progressed passed A. Homer Hilsen
As they piled up in the corner
e-waste in the Scottish Highlands
In his cave on ol' Ben Nevis.

Sure, despite these gifts of wonder
He was faster with his pinhole
Faster with his humble pinhole
Made himself, just like his lantern
From a humble, empty empty bean-can!

They say A. could take a photo
With that bean-can pin-hole camera
Like Kwai Chang Cain snatching pebble,
Faster was he with that camera
Faster could he snap a photo
Than that famous western dandy
Paladin could draw his six-gun.

And the scenes his pin-hole captured!
In his cave's darkroom, developed
On the plate-glass shipped by clipper
All the way from Nova Scotia
Where his cousin, Roy MacMillan
Owns a shutterbug's supply house!

Next in line behind the camera
In the hierarchy of possessions
On the totem pole of widgets
Owned by old A. Homer Hilsen
Is a meter-long shillelagh
Made of genuine Irish Blackthorn.
Prickly bumps along its dark shaft
So hard and sharp you just can't hold it
Save in one smooth part exception
Where with flint-knapped knife he whittled
Smooth the knots, to form a handle
'bout two feet below the knothead!

When he made this old shillelagh
It was in his eighteenth summer
And for many years that followed
'Twas the only one in Scotland,
Objet d'envie, that shillelagh!

?Now and then with his shillelagh
Hooligans he showed them what-for
Swift hard clouts rained down on shin bones,
Cracked too knuckles, knees, and noggins
Sent thugs back to where they came from
Rough rapscallions taught a lesson
By a swift, pitch-black shillelagh
Wielded by its master Hilsen
Left behind, bruises that lingered
Bruises black and blue and purple
Now and then, the skin 'twas broken
Oozing from it, creeks of scarlet
"Just deserts for young Scot hoodlums!"
Was our hero heard to mutter
(None dare twice harrass A. Homer!)

But like magic, blows delivered
By that fearsome black shillelaugh
Wielded faster than a numchuck
By the Scottish Ninja Hilsen!
Did much more than just comeuppance
To those surly louts, delivered
That shillelagh taught a lesson
To those ne're do-wells and scoundrels
And as history has proved it
Each man knocked about by Hilsen
Changed his life after the smacking
Change from crime and General Mayhem
To philanthropy and caring!

Some, like Schweitzer, became healers
Some, like Milton, men of letters
Some, like Lincoln, glorious statesmen
And at least a dozen: Teachers!
To a man did they attribute
Their U-turn-like transformation
To the lesson taught by Hilsen
With his magical shillelagh!

And the last of his Possessions
Aft the camera, the shillelagh
Was the finest of his play-tools
And the way he worldly traveled.
?It was steel and lugged and lovely
Slender tubes that joined with others
With such swirls and points of lugwork
Even dolled-up ladies viewed them
Wearing monstrous hats with birds nests
Hats with vast bouquets upon them
Ladies snugly laced with corsets
In their dresses 'dorned with lacework
Hand-sewn with Egyptian cottons
Or French silks and British velvet
With high boots with umpteen laces
Ladies as I've just described here
Even these upper-crust ladies
Have commented on its beauty,
On that iron steed of Hilsen's,
Have felt dizzy in its presence
Woozy, swooning, finally toppling
When with looking glass examine
Strong and beauteous lugged frame joints
On the bike of A. H. Hilsen.
(Smelling salts, they come in handy!)

A. Homer Hilsen's bicycle
Was blue-grey with cream appointments
Silver racks he bolted to it
Silver racks with smooth dull finish
Buckled bags on to them fastened
Made of canvas, wool, and leather
For to hold his grub on long rides.
And a bedroll, should he tarry.

Fifty years did Homer ride it
Fifty years with no new paint job
Fifty years and endless pleasure
Oh, the beausage that bike boasted!

Rode in snow and rain and windstorms
Making camp where there was water
And a place to lay his bedroll
From Alaska to south Chile
From Mongolia to Maui
All these places Hilsen pedaled,
Learned the language spake by natives
Learned the customs, ate the food there
Helped the children, cured diseases
Built fine schools and educated
He left every place he rode through
Better off because he'd been there!

And at long last, here he huddled
By that lantern made of bean-can
With his camera and shillelagh
With his bicycle for company
And his heart now beating slower
Than it beat in his long lifetime
Slower even than when sleeping
Ever slower by the hour
Fifty forty thirty twenty
In that cave up on Ben Nevis
In that hole in rock, in mountain
Simultaneously the candle
Beacon in his bean-can lantern
Stopped the instant that his heart did,
In that cave-hole on Ben Nevis.



"The Best Commuter Bikes" Article, Which of Course Would Include A. Homer Hilsen

The A. Homer Hilsen gets a nice nod from Outside Magazine's article on commuters -

Click for Outside Magazine Online article

Article Link -


Hilsen Headbadge - The Truth Behind the Latin...

Graham S. sent me an email with what seems to dispell most of the mystery about the A. Homer Hilsen headbadge motto -

A Homer Hilsen Headbadge

Subject: Re: ludere quo velis.....

I stumbled on to your blog, scouring the web for information and photos of A. Homer Hilsen. I've been lusting after a Riv for years...

Anyway, I studied Latin in college and I think "ludere quo velis birota permittit agrestis" means "the country bicycle allows [you] toplay (in this context, maybe 'ride') where you wish." Placed into normal English word order, to see the structure more easily, it would be "agrestis birota permittit ludere quo velis." Unnecessary and beautiful, that's Rivendell for you -- obsessed with aesthetics. What a wonderful way to do business!

-- Graham

Kwik Pix of Kixtand Playtz

There was a bit of suprise when I ID'd the frames over on the Toyo blog by the existence of a kickstand plate. Before I could even pose the actual question to the folks in Walnut Creek, GP forwarded over some detail photos of the kickstand plate, as well as this description:

"The kickstand plate weighs 26.4g--less than an ounce. That's before it's ground down some to make a neat connection on the frame. It allows you to mount a Pletscher or Greenfield kickstand directly, without clamping down on the chainstays. Doing that elminates the upper mounting plate that comes with the kickstand, and allow you to use a shorter bolt. The plate replaces the normal chainstay bridge, which typically weighs about 19g. So the n-n-net weight gain, even without putting a kickstand on it, is about 7.4g, or about the weight gain of your handkerchief after a good nose blow.

The plate also has a fender-mounting tab. It is not threaded, but short bolts and nuts are easy, or you can use a zip-tie. It won't pass constructeur muster, but it works great.

The plate is vitually invisible, and for better or for worse, you'll see it on many of our models from now on. I think the next batch of 'bouillets lacks it, but the 'antis, 'aluki, and AHH have it, yes. The mixtes have had it forever.

My oldest daughter's friend recently bought a Giant Simple beach cruiser. It came with a kickstand plate, and she wanted a kickstand, but the shop ignored the plate and clamped on the kickstand onto the chainstays, so apparently kickstand plates are foreign matter even to bike shops selling normal bikes.


Click for larger version

Click for larger version

Kickstand plate measuring up


A Glimpse Behind the Magic Curtain - Toyo's blog photos

Sharp-eyed RBW Group Member Ed Felker tips us to these photos which appeared on the Toyo Blog - If your Japanese language skills are anywhere near mine, you'll need the Google (Beta) translated version. But, the photos show raw A. Homer Hilsen frames brazed up and getting ready for painting.

Toyo Blog Image - click to see post

Toyo Blog Image - click to see site

Toyo Blog Image - click to see site

As they say on the blog (well, as Google sez they say on the blog...)

"It is in the midst of USA Rivendell frame producing. The lag frame of this time is serious! Because it continues still, summer of this year it may be hot summer, is. Lag design being the highest, air temperature on of site is highest!!"

I think we've all been under that kind of pressure!


A Few Photos Demonstrating Frame Clearance

In a recent RBW Owners Group posting, a person was encountering tire clearance issues on the Hilsen. This seemed a bit odd, as the Hilsen has some frighteningly stantial clearance. My guess (and guess is the operative term...) is that it could be related to pinching down slightly oversized fenders.

GP hisself was kind enough to forward some photos over, with some notes. The photos are big, so you'll have to click on these thumbnails to see more detail.:

"The A. Homer Hilsen and the Saluki have identical clearances. The brake reach on both is 64mm, which gives great clearance for puffy tires and fenders. That was the point from the start.

I have Fatty Rumpkin 40.5mm tires on my 'luki, with fenders, and no problem.

We tested the AHH frames with fenders and PASELA 37s, and it works. Here are two photos taken at 8:38pm Pacific time on Saturday night. The tires are Pasela 37s, which my $230 Mitutoyo calipers measure at 37.5 (rear) and 36.5 (front). Don't be bothered by that--tires grow some according to pressure in 'em, and that's the deal there.

The diameter of the tires are 706mm (radius 353mm). So that tells you how high they are. To get diameter, measure hub-center to ground, times two. Make sure the bike is vertical.

Photos often lie these days, but I'm not good enough at Photoshop to figure out how to lie with it. The photos show a Sharpie on top of the tires, for scale. The actual tire-top-to-brake arch clearance is 13mm.

That's a huge amount of room, and the SKS 700x45 fenders work dandily. I haven't tried alll fenders on the bikes, but you can see the clearance, and if a fender can't fit into that, it's too something.

Best to all (or as Sheldon signs off),

All the best, Grant"

AHH Rear Clearance 37mm Pasela at Brake Bridge with Sharpie
AHH clearance 37 mm Pasela at Fork Crown with sharpie

In a follow-up post, it turns out the clearance issue was at the chainstay bridge rather than the seatstay/brake bridge. Before I even made it back from my ride, GP had followed up with some photos from that area:

"The thing with the AHH is that it provides cantilever-clearances with sidepull features. Nothing's wrong with cantilevers. Something was wrong with the SELECTION of sidepulls, until this one, which lets good things happen.


Chainstay with no fender
A. Homer Hilsen Chainstay Bridge with no Fender Mounted
Pasela 37mm

Chainstay bridge with SKS fender
A. Homer Hilsen Chainstay Bridge with Fender mounted
Pasela 37mm & SKS Fender

Ant's Eye View of Fender & tire clearance
Interested Ant's Eye View of the Clearance
Pasela 37 & SKS fender
Fender Shoulder detail
Shoulder cut out detail and mounting bolt.
SKS fender

March 2007 Bicycling Magazine: Buyer's Guide Blurb

A. Homer Hilsen Introduction - Rivendell Reader #38 - Summer 2006

Summer 2006 official introduction of the ready-to-ramble A. Homer Hilsen in Rivendell Reader #38. Click on the image below for a larger version, and if you need better resolution, there's a hi-rez scan of each page as well. The headbadge was not quite ready (it appeared in an article about headbadge making in RR#39).

A. Homer Hilsen - Intro

A. Homer Hilsen - 2nd page A. Homer Hilsen - Build Possibilities A. Homer Hilsen - More info and ramblings.

A. Homer Hilsen Adds Audio

No. Really.

I can't make stuff up like this...

"A LIfe With A. Homer Hilsen"

Update: Sadly, the dedicated A. Homer Hilsen page is no longer active, so the recording cannot be accessed. Though, some of the poem can be found on the A. Homer Hilsen page.

A. Homer Hilsen Geometry Chart

- Click for a Big Version-

A Homer Hilsen Geometry Chart - Click for Big

From Rivendell Reader #38

A. Homer Hilsen Has a Website!
- Live as of 8/29/06 -

and sadly, as noted above, no longer accessible

A. Homer Hilsen Website

With Photos & Poemetry & More!

Update 7/14/06

A. Homer Hilson Prototype caught in the East Bay Hills - click on the thumbnails to see a larger version on Jrome's Flickr pages.

A Homer Hilsen - click for larger version Grant & A Homer Hilsen - click for larger version Grant riding into the sunset on A Homer Hilsen - click for larger version

Thanks to JimG for the pointer!

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   RBW Page

- Rivendell Bicycle Model Pages -

Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
Rivendell Bleriot
Rivendell Quickbeam
A. Homer Hilsen
Rivendell Bombadil
Rivendell Romulus and Redwood
Rivendell Atlantis

Company Info:
Rivendell Bicycle Works
P.O. Box 5289 Walnut Creek, CA 94596
T 800.345.3918/ 925.933.7304
F 877.269.5847


If you are looking for information about Bridgestone bicycles, I have a reproduced page on serial number conventions here. The best source for further information would be Sheldon Brown's Bridgestone Bicycle Pages.


Please note - this is absolutely not meant to be a comprehensive representaton of Rivendell Bicycle Works, their products or their policies.
Please visit their website, or contact them directly regarding these products.

Last updated: May 22, 2010

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