Saturday, June 16th, 2007
8:58 am - Test Ride  
Yesterday the weather finally changed from gray, cold, and windy to sunny and downright pleasant. Of course, despite all those gray evenings, I hadn't bothered to get the new bike ready to ride other than installing a different saddle, so last night I hustled home from work and hurriedly did some fixes. I installed the bike computer, swapped the kick stand over from the Widowmaker, adjusted the handlebar height and alignment, topped off the air in the tires, and then headed off for the bike path.

HandlebarIt was almost 7:00 by the time I got there, but that was fine since I just wanted to do a short, easy test ride. One thing I didn't want to do was to assume that riding this bike would be just like riding the Univega, because that way leads to ambulance rides. Good thing, too, because in my hurry to get out the door I hadn't quite tightened the set screw (at the center of the bullseye in the photo) for the handlebar height adjustment enough. The bar height is adjusted by swiveling the bar around the bullseye. I'd initially set it swiveled all the way up, so as I rode and leaned forward on the bar, it started slipping forward and down. Had I been riding hard, that could easily have thrown me over the bar. Of course, I didn't discover this until I was already on the return leg of the ride, and I stupidly hadn't brought any tools with me to tighten it up with. After the first slip, I rode very carefully.

Other than that, though, the ride was blissfully uneventful, I like the bike a lot, and it is far more comfortable to ride than the Widowmaker was, although most of that is because this bike isn't two sizes too small. It weighs more (26 lbs) than the Widowmaker (22 lbs), but is still quite a bit lighter than the Univega (35 lbs), so that's good. There are a couple of things I didn't like, but they are fixable. As noted above, I'd adjusted the handlebar to its maximum height, which matched the height of the bar on the Univega. However, by swiveling the bar up, it also got swiveled back closer to me, which wasn't particularly comfortable, especially in that my knees were actually hitting the back of my thumbs as I was pedaling. I noticed that as the bar slipped forward, the riding position got more comfortable, so I'll probably push it forward even further. If it gets too low to be comfortable, I can always raise the stem with the adapter I bought for the Widowmaker.

The other things I really didn't like were the twist shifters. I sort of expected that going in, but I didn't expect to hate them as much as I now do. It seemed like every time I wanted to downshift a step on the rear gearset, I'd miss and go down two steps, then have to come back. Very annoying. The front derailleur is better, but it's micro adjustable, which sounds good in theory, but just means more fiddling with things in practice. It's also impossible to do the quick shift trick of shifting both derailleurs at the same time to go up or down a gear, because the motions aren't identical as they would be with thumb shifters. None of this is a big deal on the bike path, but it would be on other rides. Fortunately, I can swap the shifters out for a proper set of thumb shifters, so I'll do that.

So, apart from some tense moments when the bar slipped, I was quite pleased with the bike. There will still be some getting used to, but I think it'll be fine.
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