Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time to Try Something New

"Is this race legal?"

Since this is the slow time of year (for racing anyway), I figured I could play around with my bike fit. Back when I built my beloved Goose, I was about to take part in the XTERRA Uwharrie. I originally swapped all of the parts over from Slug, my previous ride. I didn’t think to take into account the new top tube length of the frame, since I only jumped up one inch on the frame size. I was running an Easton 120mm stem with 10 degree rise, so I figured what was good for the Slug was good for the Goose. I was wrong. The top tube length offset my riding position quite a bit, even though I went from a large frame (20”) to an X-Large (21”). As more seasoned riders/bike fitters will tell you, it can make a world of difference. I rode it that way for a bit, but I knew I needed a change. I didn’t want to make any hasty decisions however, especially right before the XTERRA. It would have to wait.

I opted for a new stem right after the XTERRA was over. I swapped out the 120 to a 100mm Easton EA50 stem, but I could only find one with a 6 degree rise. Again, I was wrong. Are you seeing a pattern here with my wrongitude? I did like the new reduced length, because I wasn’t so stretched out in the cockpit like I was before. That missing 4 degrees of rise was becoming a problem though. I rode the entire summer series like that though, as well as the Tree Shaker. After every ride, I felt some pain in my neck from straining to keep my head up. I kept telling myself that being tucked in like that would make me go faster. Forget the pain. Now that the racing season is pretty much over for me, it was time to try something new (and hopefully improved.)

After an unsuccessful search for a new Easton stem that would be to my liking, I had to look for other options. I probably could have switched to another brand of stem to meet my fit requirements, but my obsessive-compulsive disorder keeps me from doing so. I use Easton parts for my bars, stem, and seatpost (I use the same setup on all the bikes in my family fleet too), so it would be hard for me to try another manufacturer. There was only one way to do this; new handlebars.

"Is it a baseball bat? No dummy, it clearly says handlebar."

I got a package in the mail last week which would help me continue my experiments. I am currently running an Easton EA50 low-rise handlebar, which worked perfectly on the old setup, at least as far as the height was concerned. My new stem rise no longer helped my situation though. I opted for the same bar, but a high-rise this time. I pulled my new handlebar out of the box and compared it to the other before I started the swapification process. From the looks of it, this just might work.

"Everyone is running two bars these days."

Since I would be swapping everything out, I figured I would change my grips too. Yeah, I just put these on, but I didn’t really like the fit of them. I love Lizard Skins bunches and bunches, but these Moab grips were a little too small in diameter for my hands. I decided I would switch back to my North Shore lock-on grips, since they were a little bit meatier. I would still keep the Bike Patrol lock rings though, and why shouldn’t I?

"Here, have some fatties."

Well, it was time to commence to swappin’ out parts. This would be a breeze, especially since everything just clamps onto the bar pretty easily. I would have to make sure that I get the positioning correct for everything, and that figured to be a challenge. Even though I had some previous fit issues, I did have the handlebar angle correct, along with the angle of the controls (you know, the shifters and brakes, duh.) I will have to take a few rides to try it out, other than the standard “driveway test.”

Everything seems fine so far, but I need a lengthy ride first. I don’t really have any specific riding plans for the weekend, but I guess I can make some. I am on call for work this weekend, so that could ruin my riding chances. I’m normally not too busy on call, so theoretically I can get in a ride, and hopefully bring along Little Miss Sunshine and Lunchbox as well. I am hoping for success with my fit configuration, so I can mess it all up again when I start shopping for a new fork. Yep, you read it right, Goose needs a new utensil. The RockShox Pilot I’m currently riding is a fossil, and it is slowly dying. Stay tuned for more information on the new fork action, coming soon to a computer near you (hopefully.)

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