Wednesday, July 09, 2014

My New Bike Will Take Me Across the Country! soon as it fits right

I got a new bike! It's a Trek 520, which is made for touring but I'm also told is great for commuting. I was going to get a Trek 7.4 FX, which is a hybrid fitness bike, but when I mentioned to the salesperson that I dream of riding the trail all the way to Pennsylvania -- and maybe even riding cross country one day -- he steered me directly to the Trek 520. "THIS is the bike you want," he said. The 2013 model was on sale, and I saved more than $200. I love the color -- the dark olive/bronze is so classy!

It's a beautiful bike -- and very different than what I'm used to. I've never ridden a bike with drop bars before, and frankly the position is all wrong for me. They said I'm supposed to ride on the hoods (the part up by the brakes), but I feel so stretched out there. It's not very comfortable. They say I'll "get used to it." The store manager did a fitting, watched me ride and said he would even suggest a longer stem that pushes the handlebar out farther, getting me lower. "It will be much more comfortable, trust me."

NO! I trust no one. I know how I like to ride, dammit. I'm an upright guy. I like to see the scenery. Drag? Inefficient pedaling? Meh. Not important to me. I'm not trying to win a race. I do, however, have a vested interest in staying comfortable. If I'm not comfortable, I won't ride.

I did a quick 10 miles this morning, and while I'm sure I could get used to the more aggressive position, I can't imagine ever really liking it. I found myself on the flats (the top bar) most of the time, which was better but still not as high or comfortable as my hybrid was. Plus there's no brakes up there, so it's less safe.

And so! I will be modifying this otherwise very nice bike. I've ordered a Brooks B67 saddle, which is made for an upright position, and is said to be supremely comfortable. I'll be ordering new pedals. And, most importantly, I'll be taking the bike back into the shop to put in a new stem with a higher angle. That should raise the handlebars an inch or two, and bring them closer, so I'm not as stretched out. If that's not enough, I'll install a stem riser. And if, on the long tours through the countryside, I find the need for a more aerodynamic position or one that lets me pedal more strongly, I'll just get into the drops, which will still be pretty low and stretched out.

I'm very excited because I know this bike CAN and WILL be awesome! But the frame is SO different than what I am used to, with the handlebars SO far forward, that I need to make some serious adjustments before said awesomeness will thrive. For comparison sake, here's an animated GIF showing how much farther the new handlebars are than my old ones were. Yeeeeeeah.

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