Bike Mods In Place – Let’s See If They Work

Back in April, I had a bike fitting, which I’ve already talked about here. One of the conclusions that came from the fitting was that I needed to make two equipment modifications to the bike. I needed wider handlebars — 46 cm, although the fitter said 44 would do — and I needed shorter cranks.

In each case, the mods were not urgent, and he told me to get them when it was convenient.

They’re here, and they’re on the bike.

Our resident club mechanic, David,  posted that he had some surplus gear he wanted to get rid of — and one item just happened to be a set of 44 cm handlebars. Not only that, they were Ritchey Biomax, which have a shallow drop — something I thought I could use. He was willing to let them go for a song.

New bars in front. Only 2 cm wider, but you can still see the difference.

Of course, nothing ever falls into place without some kind of glitch. I pulled the old bars off my bike — which also involves peeling off the bar tape and removing the brake levers — and found out the new handlebar is a different diameter than the old one. They wouldn’t fit.

A bike without bars is a sad sight.

Bike mechanic David said I was in luck — that a shim was available that would let me fit the new skinny bars into the fat stem. Technical aside here: Handlebars used to have a diameter of 26 mm, but that’s been replaced by a new standard — 31.8 mm. At Mellow Johnny’s bike shop in downtown Austin (the one where Lance is part owner) one of the mechanics said he’d have to order the shim. “You’d think these would always be in stock,” he said. “It’s a reasonable request.” He ordered the eight-dollar part, and I had it in a week.

Step one done. New bars on, bar tape wrapped neater than before.

I could feel the difference right away, and I'm already used to it.

Meanwhile, our frequent guest poster Don Blount had switched to a new crankset, and offered to send me his old one. It had the 172.5 mm crank arms I needed (I had to replace the 175 mm arms that came with the bike). After a series of delays, I finally got the bike and the new crankset over to David, and he put them on today.

Ready to roll. If the weather cooperates.

Both Nelo, who did the fitting, and David told me the shorter cranks will improve my hill climbing. I’m stoked.

But it rained much of last night and today and the roads are wet. I have to pick up Mrs. Noob’s car from the shop, and then pick her up when she comes back from a business trip this evening.

I’ll climb tomorrow.

Ed. Note: Did 18 mi. one day after this post, including three intermediate hills. Hills seem to be easier. Will post in more detail after I’ve done a variety of rides with the new setup.

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