High Baron sneak preview #3

Another quick update on the work-in-progress High Baron build: brake troubles!

It has brakes! At last!

Also, side-by-side with the Metabike…

Regular readers will recall from my two previous ‘sneak peeks’ [1] [2] that the High Baron doesn’t exactly lend itself to the fitting of brakes.

That problem was solved on the front with a deep drop Miche caliper, recabled to be ‘bottom pull’ following advice from Nazca who do something similar on the 700C Gaucho.

However, the back brake remained elusive, with the stopgap measure of filing apart a Tektro R725 to get tyre clearance leaving a lot to be desired.

Upon enquiring with Optima as to whether or not the frame might be faulty, I was reassured that…

…the rear brake bridge is made this way to make it possible to fit 28mm tires. But indeed it will only work with a set of brakes with a bit longer arms (47mm – 57mm distance).

Fair enough, let’s get hold of a long drop Miche caliper for the rear, and try that…


Whoops. Not so much, although it’s easy to believe that an even longer caliper would be OK.

So: how about fitting a long bolt front brake in combination with the conical washers from an Avid disc brake caliper mount:


The bolt’s not quite long enough but it’s a workable solution. Unfortunately, this presents the next problem… the caliper offers up the cable right against the end of the frame, with a severe kink needed to wire everything together:


Fortunately amongst the widgets and grommets in the Laid-Back showroom we found a fixing plate with two holes, which could be bent and bolted onto the brake as an adapter:


This actually works really well. It’s not super clear from the photo, but because the adapter moves the cable off the plane of the caliper arms (towards the front wheel) rather than along it (towards the left kerb), it doesn’t seem to have too much impact on the leverage.

Probably you’re thinking “why on earth didn’t these guys just get the recommended brakes”, or “well, I’m glad that’s over” (here here), but since everyone who buys a frameset is going to have the same issue, I think it’s worth being frank about it… plenty of ordinary brakes just aren’t going to fit. Ask Optima and go with their recommendation for an easy life!

Regardless, the High Baron is now essentially complete. We put it up against its competitor of the moment, the Metabike, for an interesting side-by-side view:



Nice! Whatever you think of the aesthetics, you can see the significant variation in seat height and wheelbase easily enough. This is right around my ‘flat foot threshold’ so makes quite a difference.

As for how it rides? You’ll need to wait a while yet for that update!

22 thoughts on “High Baron sneak preview #3”

  1. I was in at laid back this evening – the Baron looks lovely – a great job done with a very neat brake solution. I will be interested how this and other high racers compare on the speed and comfort stakes against a fuego.

  2. Hi Peter,

    Glad you like it – it was a labour of love (and desperation) and no mistake!

    I already doubt the handlebar tape. In my mind it was quite a complimentary colour but it doesn’t go at all 🙁

  3. Dave – I do agree with you about the handlebar tape :-). The rest of it does look very sleek and well engineered.

  4. Hello David. Thanks for showing this – I’m also trying to decide between the Metaphysic and the High Baron. The problem is that I’m on the short side (170cm tall/104cm x-seam). How big is the difference in seat height between the Metabike and High Baron? It’s not easy to judge from the photo. And does this translate into an easier reach from seat to pedals for the Metabike? The figures from the manufacturers seem to imply that I’d find it harder to reach the ground on the Metabike, but easier to reach the pedals…

    1. Hi Allan,

      It’s hard to say – I find the Baron much easier in terms of touching the ground and do not think I can remember any drastic difference involving the pedals (possibly it’s there, and I should have paid more attention!?

      In terms of seat height, it’s not much – maybe an inch or two – but for me, that’s the critical difference between having your foot hovering about the ground, or on it!

      thanks for the comment.


  5. How’s the testing going ? High Baron or Metabike ?

    I’ve ‘ducks disease’ (long body, short legs) so the Baron seems a good choice


  6. Thanks for the sneak previews, do you know when the final review will be out as this was written a good few months ago now.

  7. Sorry for the delay!

    I’m out this weekend bedding a few things in, then I’ll be writing up. Say, weekend after this?

  8. Hello Chaps. My tuppenceworth, if it’s any help for those with leg length challenges.

    I have a Metaphysic but have never tried the Baron HR, so I can’t comment on the differences. I’m 175m tall with average length legs, about 78cm inseam (I wear jeans in 30″ length). I also was concerned about going feet flat when stopped, so before splashing out on a new wheelset for my Metaphysic frame I spent a long time debating on whether I should go 26″ or 700C. I tried all the combos: 26F/26R, 26F/700R, 700F/700R, and I tried them with various different seat angles, down to very flat (flatter than the Baron allows).

    What I found was that my ease and comfort in going “feet flat” depended very much on seat angle. It’s not just a question of seat height. Flatter seat angles cause the back to arch, and the legs to splay outwards more in order to get the feet flat on the ground. With the seat stays raised just a couple of inches, I was as comfortable with 2×700 wheels as I was with 2×26″ wheels when the seat was very flat. Moreover, as the seat angle goes more horizontal, the seat front curve rises up, and this forces the thighs apart when you place your feet on the ground. However, it’s possible to trim the seat front to make it narrower, thus reducing this issue.

    From a purely comfort point of view when stopped with feet flat, I would prefer 2×26″ wheels. However, I spend very much less time in this posture than I do riding along, so I plumped for a 700 wheelset for a better choice of tyres. I now hardly notice the “issues” I had with going feet flat (even though I have my seat pretty flat) and I don’t regret my choice.

    All this just to say that one adapts quickly to what one’s got. Seat height is an important criterion of choice, but not the only one. If you can’t get your fleet flat at all, that’s an issue. But if you can, albeit not with total ease, I think that one soon gets used to it and finds it more and more “natural”.

    I too await with interest the Baron road test, and especially any insights into how the two bikes differ in their ride, comfort, and handling.

  9. Thanks for that……its great when someone has had practical experience and is willing to share it. Choices, choices……hmmm.

  10. Thanks for a thoughtful comment Nick.

    I had a great day out on the High Baron yesterday. Review to follow very soon (unfortunately, the weather conditions were horrendous so the bike needs a couple of hours cleaning before I can photograph it too!)

  11. Sorry for the delay – I appreciate you’re having to be patient.

    I’m around half way through the write-up and will have it out midweek next week.

  12. It’s far too late for me now, I have already brought one and its sitting in my garage as I’m just waiting for the brakes to arrive and then it’s time to ride.

  13. Its absolutely brilliant and around the same weight as my road bike (Its quite an old heavy one). I have rolled it down the road a few times as I live on a slight slope and its great fun. I really want those brakes and then its going over to the track.

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