I will start with a music recommendation:
Giorgio by Moroder – Daft Punk
This song relates to some of my thoughts in this post, I won’t say what they are as individual interpretation is fun, let your mind run. Also, find some time to sit down and listen to the whole album.
I will meander to the point eventually, just come along for the ride and have a chill, that’s the theme for today. To begin, I tried to fix a Dutch bike that had inadvertently ended up in a bike recycler in Newcastle. I work there a few days a week and try to do my bit but this bike defeated me for the most frustrating reason; a tiny part of the internally geared hub had shattered which caused it to slip in pretty much every gear. I rang around and sent many emails to try and determine if this is a part that can be acquired but had no success. So the bike ended up getting dismantled and parted out. One of the parts was the swoopy handlebars, I am fairly certain they are moustache bars but correct me if I’m wrong.
I enjoyed how chilled out the bike felt to ride when I was testing it and pondered about building something similar. So when it was parted out I asked nicely and took the bars home to have a play with. I took a more standard set of flat bars as well as a friend of mine built something pretty cool with a cross bike and mountain bike bars. That’s also the set up I used to ride with my Pompino V4 during uni. So the seed was planted and a backup set of bars acquired.
I finished 003 and have been riding that a lot recently but that has left 002 to sit in a sad, unused state for too long. 003 is a fantastic build and I love getting kitted up and riding into everything with full conviction. But I think I have been missing when I used to tootle around the city with normal clothes and one gear.
I set an afternoon aside to have a mess around with 002 and this is where the beauty of external cable routing comes in. I will default to it at every possible opportunity because I am indecisive and fickle. The devil on my shoulder looks at 002 and says it is unfinished or scrappy which is ostensibly true but I profess that I knew what I was doing. I built the frame with intimate knowledge of the customer.
Removing the drop bars and shifter was therefore trivial. They are in the bike cupboard now, complete and ready to go on another build with minimal fuss, no wasted internal cables or handlebar tape. I installed the new swoopy bars and stuck some SRAM Level brakes on that I have been given. I don’t know about mountain bike equipment, but they make me stop so, cool. Now comes a revelation, I have a 15 tooth singlespeed cassette cog so I put that on and quickly realised an issue; Singlespeed doesn’t work with dropped chainstays (for the most part).
So gears it is. Probably for the best as I want this bike to be chilled out. I got a SRAM X5 derailleur from the bike recycler and made the rest up by getting a matching shifter and a dodgy no name 9 speed cassette for less money than seems possible. Times are tough, fight me. I left the 10 speed chain on and the whole combo has been getting along like a chatter of budgies in a millet field.
I haven’t trimmed the brake lines yet so they are all over the place but this is the sum total of about £20 of parts and 45 minutes work. I will say it again, external routing is the best.
Just ride the damn thing
“Don’t make it perfect, just make it run”
Bit of a car phrase but it still applies here. It has two wheels, some brakes and a chain. It runs.
For years the peak of my experience of a comfy bike still had a saddle to bar drop of about 40mm and made me work for anything more than flat, straight riding. But this, this is plush. I feel reformed. Genuinely. It’s wonderful fun to just cruise along without my lungs being folded over and having my head up high able to see everything around me. I haven’t timed anything while riding it and why would I? This new setup makes me want to get out of the house for all the bullshit little trips because it’s just going to be a laid back experience
I expected the handling to get a bit weird as these bars causes a fairly dramatic change to the weight distribution. Sometimes I worry that having ridden bikes my whole life I have the adaptability to mask poor handling but this setup is actually really stable. The adjustable dropouts may help a little as I have moved the rear axle back slightly. The steering doesn’t feel odd or twitchy though I am uncertain how to manoeuvre around the bars as I am used to moving my weight around a set of drop bars but the upright position makes it feel very unnatural to move too much. Maybe I don’t need to move my weight around so much, it’s meant to be a relaxed ride after all. More riding is needed but the overarching verdict is that I need to get out of my own head and just go for it with some ideas, which are often not as outlandish as I fear.
Let’s be honest. Most of this wasn’t just about the bars. What I am trying to do here is challenge my preconceptions around bicycle equipment and riding styles and I think I succeeded. It’s enjoyable to get out of your comfort zone. This past year has allowed me to challenge myself in lots of ways and I hope to do more of this kind of stuff.
If you have stuck around reading this far I hope you have enjoyed my musings. Go listen to whatever music you want and ride whatever bikes you want.