Thursday, May 31, 2012

Old Bike New Again

In the fall on Cape Cod, I rode a bike that fit me well: I wasn't too forward on my seat, my toes could rest firmly on the road when stopped, and my hands didn't go numb after twenty minutes on the bike.
These were problems I was having with my current bike after it had been supposedly adjusted to my physique at a bike shop.  I noted the make and model number, looked it up on the Internet, and found that said bike shop was a dealer for them.

Life and other expenditures got in the way of going to a new bike.  When the local Shifting Gears event had a bike fair day with free quick tune-ups in a local park, I got out the bike.  I've been doing yoga all winter and the balancing on my toes when I came to a stop was not so much an issue.  That the bike didn't shift well was.  The free tune-up guy did some de-gunking of the shift cables, but said I needed to replace them.

I set up an appointment.  I noticed riding around that if I lifted my shoulders up and back a half-inch or so, the pressure came off my hands and they didn't go numb.  If the handlebars were up an inch I'd be fine.  When I brought the bike in I asked if they could also raise the handlebars.  The stem couldn't be raised.  I could possibly replace the stem at a cost of $30-$50 plus labour.  I said I'd think about it.

When I picked up the bike, the stems available for the bike weren't going to do much -- maybe raise the handlebars a half inch and bring it close to me by a half inch.  I decided it wasn't worth the investment.

On the pedal home (gears and brakes working so smooth now), I studied the handle bar.  It had two straight ends where grips, brakes, bell, and shifters were mounted and it had a bow in the middle where the upright stem clasped it.  I couldn't do anything about the stem, but what if I changed the plane of the handle bars and bow from horizontal to more vertical?  The bow wasn't very deep, but the plane change would raise the height of the bars from between a half-inch to an inch; it would also bring the handle bars closer to me by the same amount.

I loosened the basket mount and swing it up so I could get at the stem's bolt.  I sat on the bike seat and swung the handle bars up and towards me until I was no longer hunching over the handle bars.
Of course I had to reangle the grips, brake/shifter, and bell.  Now I went around the block properly positioned back on my seat (for the first time ever on this bike), my arms no longer overextended,  my weight no longer tempted to sag onto my hands.  It felt like I could ride forever (or at least until my pedalling legs gave out).

There's a comfortable trip to Lakefield in my future!

No comments:

Post a Comment