New bike day - Distance 45

Distance, for those of you who haven’t heard of them yet, is the little sister of the brand Victoire Cycle. Victoire has been known for many years now for making custom steel bikes in their workshop in Beaumont, France. These machines are out of the ordinary. Each bike is unique and requires a lot of time to make. The waiting time and prices are proportional to the quality of work delivered and Distance is the answer to these two limitations. 

"Distance are out of the ordinary. Each bike is unique and requires a lot of time to make."

Without sacrificing anything in material or manufacturing quality, Distance offers the Victoire knowledge through a range of 5 bikes, built in small batches and all available in 5 sizes and 13 colours. These bikes are all made in the same workshop as the Victoire, by the same crew using the same manufacturing techniques. It's the perfect recipe for all the enthusiasts who are looking to get a handcrafted bicycle at a lower budget! 

I've been lucky enough to work with Distance for two years now. After having ridden thousands of kilometers with my first Distance 45, I had a lot of discussions with Julien (the framebuilder) about the best way to make this gravel/adventure frame evolve. The new model has a new geometry, internal cable routing, improved tyre clearance and a slightly higher bottom bracket. The idea was to reinforce the off-road character of this bike and guess what - we nailed it! 

My experience with this Distance 45 started long before the first ride on it. I had the great pleasure, like many Victoire & Distance customers, to discover the place where my future adventure partner had been considered, constructed and assembled, but also to interact with the people behind each Distance and Victoire bike. 

We are far from the atmosphere where a bike arrives pre-assembled in a box at your home. The interactive design process allows you to develop a unique relationship with your bike from the start. Did I mention how cool this workshop is, because it really is! It has a really special atmosphere. You can see all kinds of machines in the different stages of their making. Some are just being painted while others are about to be brought to life on the marble layout table. The noise of the blowtorches blends with that of the cords that come to polish the welds. When I open the rolling doors that morning, I discover Xavier finishing the last adjustments on my Distance. 

I am very happy because it is the first time I see it assembled. All the parts I took a lot of pleasure in choosing for this bike are there in front of me! On the menu, first of all, there is this Distance 45 XL frame in its beautiful "purple haze" paint scheme. The bike is mounted on French carbon hoops made by Duke Racing Wheels and carefully assembled at the Distances workshop on blue RS4 Hope hubs with Sapim spokes. On the contact points side, I chose Enve components whose quality is world renowned. I must make a special mention for their new adventure fork that allows generous tyre clearance and comes complete with mounts for future bikepacking adventures. The very comfortable Brooks C17 saddle completes the build. 

As for the transmission, I chose the Shimano GRX 600 groupset for its simplicity and reliability. I have a soft spot for its matte finish that matches perfectly with the rest of the bike. The only difference with the original groupset is the addition of a pair of XTR disc rotors that allow for greater cooling and a good resistance to deformation for the long descents of the south of France! In short, an adventure groupset for an adventure bike! The GRX 600 groupset coupled with Jagwire sealed cables also works superbly. Despite the mud, shifting is super smooth. I also prefer the comfort of the hoods with their smooth coating and I'm still pleasantly surprised by the quality of the braking on the whole GRX range. It is powerful and predictive enough to deal with any situation! 

"The idea was to reinforce the off-road character of this bike and guess what - we nailed it! "

The other advantage of Distance bikes location is the playground right outside the workshop. Once the bike was freshly assembled and photographed with Julien, we put on a helmet and cycling kit and went to baptise the bike as it should be just behind the workshop, around the Gergovie plateau. The atmosphere is mystical and the conditions are slippery as it can be! Julien helps me discover best singletrack and we laugh sliding around at each turn. 

With already two years behind the handlebar of the previous Distance 45, I immediately noticed the changes we made on the bike. The slightly higher bottom bracket, the more open headtube angle and the slightly longer top tube. I feel at home in this position and I'm already happy with the way the bike handles. What you notice the most is this wonderful balance between dynamism and comfort. The bike doesn't wear you out and is forgiving in the right way. The stiffness-softness ratio is so well mastered that once the right tyre pressure is found, the bike absorbs the ground's asperities beautifully while staying tight in the curves. It's wonderful to ride and clearly due to the knowledge of the Beaumont crew.

"Julien helps me discover best singletrack and we laugh sliding around at each turn."

Two hours later, we are covered with mud but delighted! After this beautiful first ride, we go back to the workshop for a well-deservedjambon-beurre sandwich and a coffee while discussing the next adventures with Julien. One thing is sure, 2022 is going to be an amazing year of adventures. 

Over the course of the coming months, Simon will ride his Distance on many new places, but for now, we heard that you can find him ripping the gravel tracks around Marseille that he loves so much! You can follow Simon's next adventures here : sims_teuteul 

Simon taulelle

Simon lives in Marseille, in the south of France, where he spends a lot of his time getting lost on the gravel tracks close to his home. He’s fortunate enough to be able to claim “the long-sleeved season here is known to be rather short!” When he’s not on his bike he works as art director and motion designer for museums and all kinds of exhibitions. Simon has been part of the Shimano Gravel Alliance for three years now, promoting and documenting the leisure side of gravel riding with all kinds of cameras, especially the heavier analogue ones.

Author image courtesy of Arthur Frd

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