Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Future of Bicycling - Mine

My bespoke bicycle fitting with Chris Kvale was a real stunner. I'm 2 1/2" shorter than I thought I was. That changes the rules some doesn't it? It wasn't a measuring error either. My younger brother and I stood back to back and he is now noticeably taller than I am. I am no longer 6' 3". Suddenly I feel sooooo short. It helps explain why I can no longer dunk a basketball. It does not explain why I can no long hit a set shot though. Nor a layup for that matter. It also means I am even more overweight than I thought ;-)

Later I told Mark Stonich I was having a bike built to take me into old age and we reviewed the specs. He told me I wasn't building it for the future. He said I was having a bike built for the way I am right now. For instance he is of the opinion, based on his own body, that it isn't just spinal compression, that all of our bones shrink with age. It affects our seat tube length, too!  And he says I will continue to shrink ?!? and in my heart I know this to be true. And eventually I will need a more upright posture, probably even foregoing drop bars and the downtube shifter will be waaaay down there. 

Now I am trying to more realistically imagine myself at 75 and hopefully still on a bike. When this hit me, visualizing the bike with upright bars, a shifter on the downtube no longer makes sense. It would be a long way down. A shifter on the top tube with the cable running back and down the seat stay? I ran this by Kvale. He is a conservative traditionalist and didn't warm up to the thought for aesthetic reasons. He will do it, but really doesn't like it. While my name would be on the check, it's his name on the downtube. I'm trying to reach a compromise that will work for both of us. I even considered Paul Thumbies, but if the top tube shifter is ugly, they take it to a whole nother level. (No offense, thumb shifters.) I think at this point I'm looking at a Suntour bar-end shifter with the cable routed internally through the bars so that it clears the front bag. I wouldn't do this with indexed shifting, but I done it with friction in the past and it works fine.

Any thoughts?


41 comments:

Silk Hope said...

Quit it! you looking at this in totally the wrong way. Let me shed some light on this. In High School I rode a 58 CtC Peugeot UO8. At one time I was close to 6 ft. I am now 5'10 1/2". I now ride a 54 CtC McLean. I now get a bike the is lighter, easier to handle, and the whole scale (design) of the frame looks much better.

Do you feel better now.

Silk

Gunnar Berg said...

So, you're saying that this is POSITIVE situation? Thanks. I needed that.

Margadant said...

Consider a bike for 2 --let Lorna do the shifting. You can just follow along and let her tell you where you're going. Or restore an old '48 pickup with an entertaining stick shift. You can smoke cigars in that ride without too much danger of setting your jersey on fire.

Gunnar Berg said...

Actually, we have a Burley tandem already.

'46 Chevy ... and Lorna's cousin Jack already has one. Restored. He knows how I feel about it. So far he's unmoved.

Silk Hope said...

Btw what is up with you and your Guru's? One day out the McLean and you find your fork is out of wack, the next your size frame is wrong because you shrunk. Your whole zeitgeist / weltanschauung thing is totally out of kilter.

Gunnar Berg said...

I love the McLean. Period.

Kurt said...

Buy the bike you love now. You may get run over by a truck tomorrow. It would be a waste leaving this earth on a ugly bike.

Do not think old before your time.

Kurt

Gunnar Berg said...

Ugly? Nay.

Silk Hope said...

What Kurt said!

Silk

reverend dick said...

Get it built for your current height; you know, with hella headset spacers. As you dwindle, remove spacers until it's perfect. Every time.

You should probably start with about 4 inches of spacers.



OK. Maybe Kurt's idea is best.

Gunnar Berg said...

Quill stem man, quill stem. Like when we were a kids they'd buy'em big so we could 'grow into it'. Now I gotta shrink into it.

It'll be exactly the same size as the McLean except with the BB dropped 1cm to allow for larger tires.

Anonymous said...

I like the bar end shifter idea. I have run index (campagnolo 9 speed) bar end shifters with no problems. For non-index however, the SunTours are best. -Tony

reverend dick said...

OK, why are integrated shifters not on the table? They work great(really great) and look fine.

Gunnar Berg said...

I had a set of Campy Ergo-8 bar-ends which had a resin housing. They failed. Broke part.

Gunnar Berg said...

I have a wheelset set aside which is freewheel. I realize it's silly to let that drive the the project, but thats me.

Anonymous said...

Bar ends, no contest. Easy to reach, keep your hands on the bars, and even Tullio liked them. Nothing works better with mittens, either. If nothing else, you can get into a whole Walter Mitty cyclocross fantasy, too....

No need to drill the handlebars either (that idea make me nervous), just run the housing under the tape all the way to the stem. I've done that with both Shimano and Suntour in both friction and indexing, without problems.

Rich F.

Silk Hope said...

You got quite a Rube Goldberg goin' here don't you?

Gunnar Berg said...

Says the man who has a custom bike rack just to carry Pinot Noir wine.

Silk Hope said...

"Form follows function."

Louis Sullivan

Erik said...

I agree with anonymous Rich F.. Bar-ends with the housing under the tape work great, even indexed, and they solve your bag issue. You may have to spend a little extra time getting the housing length just right, and it will require copious amounts of electrical tape under the bar tape to help hold everything in place, but it will look and shift great.
-Erik

Gunnar Berg said...

Louis Sullivan? Is he a frame builder?

Mimbres Man said...

XT rapidfire...bomber

http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/mountain/deore_xt/product.-code-SL-M770.-type-sl_mountain.html

Gunnar Berg said...

Ugly bomber. Wrong bar diameter. I have a Shimano Deerhead vintage shifter which I may bore out to road diameter.

Mimbres Man said...

The new mtn bike bar diameter is the same I think. 31.8mm
Lots of options of bars and stems. I hesitated about the rapidfires too, but they are mainly hidden from the rider's view and you can shift both up and down using only the thumb.
Just throwing out another option.

Gunnar Berg said...

Well....I'll be damned.

reverend dick said...

31.8 is just the clamp area diameter. The bars are different.

Bar ends.

Gunnar Berg said...

Can we hear an Amen?!

reverend dick said...

Pass the snakes, Brother!

Gunnar Berg said...

Oooo, snake handling. This religion thing has taken a dark turn.

Mimbres Man said...

I know its the clamp diameter, but why would the bar diameter make any difference if you're running upright bars?
Example: These are popular among single speeders. http://www.on-one.co.uk/i/q/HBOOMA/on-one-mary-handlebar
I'm not a roadie, so I'm clueless about this stuff.

Gunnar Berg said...

The uprights bars are future maybe. Initially it will be drops. The Rene Singer head tube lug has an extension so I can cheat them up a little without bastardizing the looks too bad.

Gunnar Berg said...

Eddy Merckx prior to setting the hour record on a road bike rather than a special track bike, "I am, above all, a roadman." Well, I obviously ain't no Eddy Merckx, but I am a roadman and will be until I can no longer ride drops. Whereupon I will become a codger.

reverend dick said...

The mountain shifters won't fit on a road bar to begin with, is what I was saying. That's why the different diameters matter. Please don't ruin the vintage Deore shifter; with Paul's thumbie mounts, I believe there are both road and mountain sizes available- but this style is VERY inelegant on a drop bar, in my opinion.

You can reverse moustache bars for a bar end shifting upright bar.

Or, if you're that guy, you can have your upright bars bored out. Guess what I think you'll do.

Gunnar Berg said...

Dropbars with a Suntour bar end shifter. Forever.

Silk Hope said...

Stop!!!

Anonymous said...

do you have the bar ends? I have some Suntour bar ends but are made for 5 maybe 6 at the most. basically NOS.

mw

Anonymous said...

I mean, you can have them if you need em

mw

Gunnar Berg said...

I need 'em. At least one of them anyway. Good man.

Anonymous said...

you got em. they are either superbe pro or dura ace, I can't remember which, but it shouldn't matter since they're friction. And, like I said, they only go to 5 or 6, which is why they're like new. I will need your zip code.

mw

Mark Stonich said...

Old school SunTour BarCons will shift a 9 speed 12-27 cassette just fine. At least they will with a 9 speed Ultegra RD. I only run my cables under the tape (or Grab-On) to the brake lever and don't have a problem with handlebar bags. As far as I'm concerned, the only shifter setup that beats BarCons is a Sturmey Archer trigger.

Some of the modern brake levers have such long hoods you will want to run short reach bars. There are some very nice new bends out there. Stop by some time and I'll show you some nice tall stem/drop bar setups. They might look a little dorky but the choices are;
A. Looking cool, hanging on a hook in the basement.
Or
B. Looking dorky, while I ride in comfort.

Quill stems forever. Almost. As I get older my bars get taller, while my frames get smaller. For my next frame I'll abandon the quill setup for an old British headclip style, which clamps the stem in the steerer. As tall a stem as I'll eventually need, a quill would be heavier due to the length of the bolt. My Raleigh Twenty has a headclip and the stem I made is 16" long. If anything's flexing I've never noticed.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

I sure agree with you about some of the new bars. I put a Pro PLT compact on my Merlin, with its Ultegra 6600 parts, and yesterday rode 50 miles and it really fit. That was a bike that had gotten too long for me with my middle aged back. The bars alone made a huge difference. Also the drops feel great now. Half my bars suddenly seem stupid.

The only problem with these newer bars is that they're all oversized, right? Someone will make a killing when they do a compact 26 bar--just imagine all us boomers with bad backs and quill stems!

I don't think the shifters I have will go to 9--they wouldn't for me--but it's up to Gunnar to try and I don't think he cares anyway. These are at least 35 years or so old, just barely used. They might be Dur-ace. Ancient, but not as ancient as Gunnar.