This week on Reader’s Rig, Frank van der Sman shares his custom Lester Cycles all-roader, built with the Ritchey Break-Away system. As the end product of two years of discussions and deliberations, there are a number of small touches that make this rig unique. Read on for some of the bike’s backstory, plus lots more photos…

Posted by Lucas Winzenburg

Welcome to the eighth installment of our weekly Dispatch series, Reader’s Rig. Each week, we’ll select a bikepacking rig from our reader community to feature on the site. To learn how to submit yours for possible inclusion, check out the form at the bottom of the page. Words and photos by Frank van der Sman.

I’m Frank van der Sman, and I was born in Rotterdam, raised in Amstelveen, and am now based in Amsterdam. I got into cycling through fixed gear bikes back in 2006, so about 13 years ago. I’ve always had a fascination for distance and traveling on the bike, something that has slowly built up over the years. From visiting my grandma in Rotterdam by bike; to riding to Paris on track bikes over multiple days; to riding 500km in one day; to Paris-Brest-Paris; and the Transcontinental Race. Even though the ultra races are interesting, these days I’d rather take it easy and enjoy the time I spend on the bike by just touring.

Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman

Photo by Keng Pereira (@kengpereira)

After finishing my studies in branding, I started working in the bike industry, first for a fixed-gear shop called Pristine, which later became a bike shop/cafe called Meesterknecht (both now closed, unfortunately). I’m now working for Twotone Amsterdam, a consultancy in Amsterdam with a big focus on bikes. There, I have the pleasure of working with some of the most interesting cycling brands around the world.

I’ve known framebuilder Lester Janssen of Lester Cycles (@lestercycles) for a long time, and over the years we’ve become close friends. He has helped me out a lot with my bikes in previous years when I was riding long-distance races/sportives like Paris-Brest-Paris and the Transcontinental race.

This bike is the end product of about a two-year thinking process. It had to be a do-it-all (or do-almost-all) kind of travel bike. So, it ended up having loads of interesting details. Ritchey Break-Aways for starters; cable routing to for easy disassembly; an eTap 1x set-up for the same reason; a third bottle cage; bolts for bolt-on frame bag and top-tube bags; a painted-to-match SILCA Impero frame pump; and the ability to take 650B and 700c wheels.

  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Frame Lester Cycles frame with Ritchey Break-Away system
  • Fork Whiskey No.9 CX fork, modified with internal light routing
  • Rims Hifi Session 650B Carbon
  • Hubs Son Deluxe 12 disc center lock (front), White Industries CLD (rear)
  • Tires Schwalbe G-One 27.5 x 2.25″
  • Handlebar FSA Omega 42cm
  • Crankset White Industries R30 crankset with 36T chainring
  • Cassette SRAM Force 11-32
  • Derailleur(s) SRAM eTap WiFli
  • Brakes Paul Klampers (to be replaced by the new direct mount version)
  • Shifter(s) SRAM eTap
  • Saddle Brooks Cambium C13 (carbon rails)
  • Front Bag(s) Custom made from old Military canvas by Asa Carney (@asacarney)
  • Frame Bag(s) Custom made from old Military canvas by Asa Carney (@asacarney)
  • Rear Bag(s) Rapha (Apidura)
  • Other Accessories Sinewave Beacon attached to a K-Edge Wahoo mount

The bike had to be army green, as my nickname is Frank the Tank. It’s painted in the two-tone color scheme as an homage to the boats in Amsterdam – one of Lester his signatures, as he’s right in front of a harbor. A nice touch is the logos, which are left raw metal and will rust over time. As soon as the bike was finished, I immediately took it on a trip from Maastricht (the South of Holland) to Santiago de Compostella (Spain). I couldn’t be more satisfied with the result.

  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman
  • Lester Cycles, Ritchey Breakaway, Frank van der Sman

The hardest to get part for this bike was a limited edition 2014 Chris King Sour Green headset, which I put my mind onto. After searching for ages, I finally found one in Japan, only to realize shortly after that I ordered the wrong one. So, I did some more digging and eventually found the correct one. Spending such a silly amount on headsets from Japan made me feel more than a little ridiculous, though.

You can find Frank on Instagram @frankvandersman.

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