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tell my wife i am trawling atlantis: the end of an era

Posted Jan 10 2010 9:12am
The quote from the Billy Joel song is about looking for something elusive and getting pulled down to the bottom of the sea in the effort. And what's happening at my favorite bike seller is an effort not to get pulled down into the swirl.

The Atlantis, Rivendell's last model from the late 90's, is going away. The frame was made in Japan by a small outfit called Toyo, and it was beautiful. It was also the object of my lust for the better part of a decade, even though I already have a custom-built Riv. The Atlantis was the PERFECT frame for doing it all: touring, commuting, rough-stuff, hauling trailers or even (heavens!) building up an Xtracycle unit and turning it into a cargo bike. And it did everything beautifully, with a not-quite-turquoise, not-quite-celeste color that turned heads wherever it went.

Here's one, built up:

And this is pretty much the kind of riding for which it was intended; load it up and ride away happy.

The Atlantis -- and Rivendell's other Japanese-built models, like the Quickbeam and Glorious/Wilbury -- are going away becase the dollar is looking downright anemic against the nearly-steroidal yen. With that kind of exchange rate, prices on these frames would have to go up to a point where almost nobody could afford them. So Rivendell, having no other sensible choice, got out before it got totally sucked under, and found a Taiwanese maker to build the next generation of Rivendell frames -- including the Hunkapiller, which will be something like the son of Atlantis (though with the now-common-at-Rivendell longer, sloping-upward top tube, not exactly. Maybe more like a nephew).

No pix of the new model yet but one can assume it will be well-made and plenty strong.

Meanwhile, I lament the loss of one of the best frame designs ever, especially because it means there's no longer a stock lugged frame option for 559 (26" atb) wheels. The Atlantis came out after I'd taken delivery on my Rivvy, but I never stopped loving it, or looking at cheaper ways to achieve the same ride quality and fit. And because I don't have $2,000 bucks sitting around (or a garage capable of holding six or eight bikes), I won't be trying to snap up the last Atlantis in my size. So if you can buy one, you should. Call Rivendell and snap up this beautiful frame if you can, because when it's gone there will be nothing else out there quite like it. (Then take lots of pictures of the build-up and be sure to share them with all of us in bikeland so we can ooh and ahh.)
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