Monday, January 21, 2008

More Handlebars

It's been a while. Since I'm the only one who reads this: Sorry, me.

The Rambouillet has continued to be a lovely bike. I haven't changed anything on it yet. I decided to ride it 1000 miles before thinking about making any changes. It's been significantly more than that, and still I leave it as it is.

One change I haven't made is adding fenders. I'm a big believer in fenders, and I think that a bike without fenders is a little naked. But I haven't been able to bring myself to put fenders on the Rambouillet. It's just so beautiful, I hate to cover up the lovely wheels. The nasty seat-post rack and black Nashbar rack trunk aren't beautiful, but I need a bag. I suppose a beautiful Carradice seat bag would be better, but they're expensive.

So I don't ride the Rambouillet in the rain. Or snow. That's OK. I can ride the Trek in wet weather. Once my junker Fuji fell apart--the broken rear axle was the last straw--I started commuting on the Trek. The moustache bars were pretty nice, but I continued not to love them.

Since I had a set of Albatross upright bars available after I dismantled the junker Fuji, I decided to give them a try on the Trek. They have lovely cork handgrips with bar-end shifters, and I wrapped cloth tape up around the bend in front, which gives a quite nice weight-forward head-down-ish position. I may even put interrupter brake levers on the front curve, so that I have two positions to brake from.

One nice thing about the Albatross bars is that they are high enough with just a Nitto Periscopa stem. I don't need to use the extra stem extension that I had been using with the other bars. I never liked that thing.

I've ridden it all winter, so far, even through several inches of snow and over ice. The really cold weather didn't arrive until this weekend, so I have yet to contend with single-digit temperatures. That may be a deal breaker. I find if I let the air out of my 32mm Schwalbe tires (down to 42 lbs), they grip the ice and snow pretty well. I don't really notice a big difference in rolling. I'm too cold, probably. The extra unrollability just makes me work harder, keeping me warm.

The other thing that keeps me warm is my new generator (Bausch and Müller 6, which has the most resistance of B and M generators). the extra resistance isn't a big problem, and I love the B and M halogen lights, which I run even when it's just a little dusky.

The big question (well, it's not that big a question, in the grand scheme) is whether the Albatross bars will work for touring. My friend Jon and I are planning a little Lake Michigan circumlocution this summer, and the Trek is (theoretically) designed for touring. It has slightly beefy Reynolds 531 tubing (actually, the down tube is quite beefy) and a nice long wheelbase. I have a set of 700c wheels (built by Rich at Rivendell) that I'll put on, so I don't have to worry about the odd and bizarre Maillard "helicomatic" hub (with its teeny little bearings that have broken in half), and I'll be able to use nice 35mm or even 37mm tires.

I think it would be lovely to tour with silly upright handle bars. They'll go along with the silly rear basket I plan on carrying everything in. Maybe I'll add a silly front basket, as well.

Jon is my bike touring buddy from way way back. He and I rode down the west coast (Seattle to San Diego, including--idiotically--the Olympic Penninsula with its logging trucks) when we were 17. (I'm glad my 17 year old hasn't asked for permission to do such a crazy thing.) My longest one-day ride to date came when Jon and I rode from Douglas, MI (on Lake Michigan) to Ann Arbor, nearly all the way across the state on a hot hot June day. About 160 miles.) When we were 16. It took us about 14 hours, as I recall. Insane.

And now here we are, 33 years later, planning on doing it again. We've only ridden together once since then, about 25 years ago. I don't think we'll have many 160 mile days. Or even 100 miles, which we did several times on the west coast trip. (One of those long days involved going over the coastal mountain range at least once. Ah, youth.)

We're both old and stiff, so we need nice high handle bars. I figure, I'm old, so I may as well have real granny bars, baskets, the works. If I had the money, I'd buy a Rivendell Willbury, a low-top-tube mixte. Then I'd even have a granny bike. A beautiful one.

We'll see how the tour goes. I'll document it here, in case I want to read about it on the web. Pictures, even, maybe.

Follow up: The Albatross bars were fine on tour. I had cork grips on them, and I wrapped the curves with tape to give me a more forward position. I also put interrupter brake levers on the curves--a bit unconventional, but it worked pretty well. (The cable routing was bizarre, but not hopeless.) I put the moustache bars on my snow bike (an old Trek mountain bike with 2" tires and giant Wald fenders). They are wonderful for that purpose. Much better than straight bars.

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering about touring with albatross bars (I'm a bout to buy some) so thanks for sharing!