I’m having problems. So this is the Novara Randonee I have mentioned before, with its new Salsa Poco bars and Tektro short-reach brake levers:
I rode the bike with the new handlebars and levers about five or six miles the other day…and I hated it. I did not like the angle my wrists were at no matter where I put them, and it seemed hard to reach the damn brake levers from, well, anywhere.
My first thought is to tilt the handlebars so that the top part (the ramp) is flat, and then maybe scooching the brake levers down a little, so it’s a mostly flat line…but I’m afraid that the drops will then become unride-able because they’ll put my wrists at a crazy angle. I could be wrong here, but it looks to me like the top of the handlebars is supposed to be tilted like that or that lovely ergonomic bend in the drops (which is part of why I got these handlebars!) would be almost unusable.
And despite the fact that these are short-reach brake levers, they still seem awfully far away.
In any case, I think I want my stem taller, since I think I’d be happier with the handlebars a couple inches higher than my saddle, and right now they’re an inch or so lower. I might just get one of these, since it’s cheaper than a new stem. I’d probably have to get new brake cables and housing, which is frustrating.
Riding the bike also confirmed that whomever turned this bike into a single speed is an idiot. They didn’t build a new wheel or anything, they just took off the derailers and shortened the chain. The bike has vertical dropouts, which means it’s impossible to get the chain perfect. There’s a bit of slack in there, and it means that when I hit a hard enough bump, the chain wants to catch on other gears in the rear. In addition, to get a straight chainline it’s in a ridiculously high gear. I could see maybe riding like that with a fixed-gear, but as a freewheel single-speed it’s moronic. And hard on my knees. Hmph.
I’m not looking forward to the expense of putting on new derailers. I guess derailers and shifters and the cables and housing aren’t that expensive necessarily. But it adds up, especially if I wuss out and just have the shop do it for me. And I might want a new cassette anyway, so I can have a really low first gear in the back.
…I’m trying to picture the bike with a taller stem and changing the angle of the handlebars and lever, and how it would change the angles of my wrists…it might work.
Every time I try to get a bike to fit “just right” I wish I could afford a professional bike fitting, or even better, a custom bike. This is a bike I want to be able to ride for eight hours a day for days on end without pain. Some of it is up to me getting stronger and improving my posture, but some of it is getting the bike to fit. It’s tempting to say “aw f#%$ drop bars, I’ll just put upright bars on it,” but I’ve been touring on mustache bars. They’re great for around town. I love the wide stance when going downhill. But they’re agonizing on tour. I end up taking a lot of ibuprofen because my shoulders ache so badly. Some of it is my terrible posture, I know…I recently looked at pictures of me riding on tour, and I was locking my elbows. But only having a few hand positions that are pretty similar to start with, and only one from which I can reach the brakes, just isn’t doing me any favors.
I’d love advice if you have any.