purposely put off doing this post until I could get enough ride time on this
collection of parts to give some good feedback on how it all fits together. I
am at about 200 miles now and have formed some definite opinions.
remember that I used a set of old aluminum road bike handlebars that were
stacked in my basement parts corner.
They were taken from an old road bike when I upgraded it to a sweet set
of carbon bars a few years ago. I could
have reported back on these the first time I test-rode, but I wanted to wait
and play with the angles and rotation and placement of the shifters. There’s just no way around it. These bars suck, I hate every minute of using
them. They are too narrow, I feel
scrunched up between the hoods, It might be just what I am used to. My road bike bars are 2cm wider and my mtn
bike bars are 20cm wider. The drop is so
ridiculously deep it is unuseable, and the ergo bends are a joke. There is no comfortable sweet spot. They are harsh, I feel shaken to death with
them (this could be a product of the whole aluminum frame and fork, but I’m
blaming the bars for now).
one bright spot here is that I was smart enough not to wrap the bars with the
new Lizard Skinz bar tape until I was satisfied that they were set up
right. I’m now convinced that there is
no ‘right’ set-up and they will have to be replaced.
I put a lot
of studying, talking, and review reading time into selecting a saddle. You remember in a previous post I went with
the Brooks Imperial. And predictably,
just like everyone said, the first ride was an eye opener “Wow, this thing is
hard!” But I kept at it, even switching
it to my mtn bike when I rode it just to get more time on the saddle. I applied and reapplied the Proofride. Then maybe two weeks later, I was riding and hadn’t
thought about the saddle recently. It
was starting to disappear underneath me. During one ride I traded bikes to ride
Lori’s Giant for a while and right away I knew I wanted back on the
Brooks. I really think I have a winner
here. The short trade-ride also
convinced Lori that she wants a Brooks.
So now I gotta give some credit where it is due: Thanks Bob Jenkins, you
have made my ass very happy.
first ride found me cruising on this gravel loop near the river. Happily riding along all proud of how well
the wheels I hand-built were performing.
¾ of the way around the loop the rear wheel picked up a wobble. I was trying to decide what hole I hit could
have bent my wheel. I didn’t remember
hitting anything big enough. So, I watched it wobble off and on while I rode,
sure enough it was getting worse. Before
long it was rubbing the inner drive side chain stay. I stayed off the power and coasted as easy I
could back home. I pulled the wheel off
and put it on the truing stand. It was
all jacked up. Right away I noticed
loose spokes, a LOT of loose spokes, rattling around, not even finger
tight. I spent an hour re-tensioning and
truing the wheel. Luckily there was no
permanent damage. It is as straight and
round as I could hope for (again). The
only thing I can figure is I had under tensioned the spokes to begin with, then
they loosened more on that first ride.
So this time I cranked the spokes a little tighter, and since the repair
the wheel hasn’t changed a bit.
BBG bashguard is working out well. There’s
a pretty steep driveline angle when I am on the smallest cassette ring, but I
haven’t dropped a chain yet so I’ll call that a success. I haven’t bashed it on anything so far, but
it looks like it should hold up good against any damage.
I am loving
these Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tires. I’ve
hit a couple of holes and some pieces of gravel that made that loud ‘ping’
sound with no ill effects. I know that’s
no real test of how tough they are, but at least it’s a good beginning. I started out riding them at 45 psi, but
lowered the pressure to 40 after the first ride. I think that may be their sweet-spot for hard
gravel. Anything looser or more off-road
and I think I will take them to 35psi.
thing that concerns me is I have them in 700x35 size and I think I would like a larger size for
some of that rougher looser gravel. But
look at this picture of the very limited clearance I have between the chain
stays and tire. No way to get a bigger
tire in there. I even question if these
35’s are too big. It won’t take much mud
or snow to completely fill that little gap.
In the time I've been doing these gravel test rides I can also
tell you the gravel roads are great riding.
They are mostly deserted and the few farm trucks or cars that go by mostly
seem to wave a ‘Hello’. Some even go out
of their way to pull a little to the side and slow down to avoid covering you
with the dust. Now that’s a far cry from
one fingered waves, rude yells out the window, and beer bottles off the helmet
that I have experienced on paved roads.
So I am going to keep riding the gravel bike and call it a success. Oh and those handlebars are going to be
changed out ASAP.