Dropping Out

Yesterday I enjoyed a ride upon autumn’s crunchy carpet:

And passed the following sign:

Once upon a time if you wanted privacy you put up some drapes. Now I guess you turn a swath public property into the Shunan Bamboo Forest and ask everybody to please leave it alone:

I don’t know what kind of weird naked suburban firepit Bacchanals these people are having back there that necessitates a thicket of this magnitude, but I wanted to cut it all down out of spite. Alas, I didn’t have a machete with me:

[The Park Tool MA-1]

Or even my artisanal axe, which after nine (9) years I have yet to use:

So I had no choice but to heed their wishes:

However, when I got back home, I did channel my energy in a positive fashion. You may recall I recently reconfigured the cockpit on my A. Homer Hilsen:

Flipping the bars and relocating the shifters were both improvements; however, the click-friction thumbies themselves are simply not as nice as the Silver2s, so I’d been thinking about switching them. Then it occurred me that if I was going to start pilling stuff off the handlebars anyway I might as well try something I’d always been curious about, which is equipping the Homer with drop bars. So I stripped the Choco bars of their accoutrements:

And replaced them with the 25.4 road bars I recently removed from the Normcore Bike:

Here it is all buttoned up:

Now that’s what you call a head tube:

Before you complain about the black bar tape and point out how it doesn’t match the saddle and it’s completely lacking in shellac or twine or whatever, please remember the corporate mandate here at Bike Snob NYC World Headquarters is not to buy anything if I can avoid it–especially when I’m experimenting with cockpit configurations and may very well pull it all apart again at any time. All of this is to say that I pulled the black tape off another handlebar I wasn’t using and reapplied it here in the name of frugality, and if it’s not twee enough for you then I don’t know what to tell you. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned you can never go too far wrong with black handlebar tape on any bike, it’s like jeans for your cockpit.

As for the levers, I had a couple sets to choose one, but ultimately went with these chunky-yet-comfy Tektro Campy-esque numbers, mostly because they were closest to hand:

And of course I went back to the Silver2s:

Yes, I know the electrical tape is ugly, but the used tape’s pretty raggedy and I don’t want it to unravel.

After one (1) 20-ish mile ride, my first impression is that the drop bars feel great:

The Chocos are a very comfortable bar that afford you more or less the same number of hand position as drops, and I love them most of the time I’m using them, especially since I flipped them. However, when riding the Homer I did occasionally find myself pining for the full-on climbing-and-descending positions that drops offer–mostly when I’m on vacation upstate, when I’m doing lots of climbing and descending. So far my sense is that switching to drops may have unlocked the full vacationing potential of this bike with little to no sacrifice in comfort (thanks, giant head tube and quill stem!), but time will tell. I will note that when using the shifters in the bar-end position on the Chocos they occasionally hit my knees (relocating the shifters to the thumbie position solved this), but with the drops they’re well out of the way and so far I haven’t hit them once. Plus, bar-end shifters on drop bars are about as easy and ergonomic to use as integrated shift levers–maybe even more so, since when you’re riding in the drops all you need to do is nudge them with your palm.

What can I say, I guess I’m a handlebar traditionalist.

I’ll also unapologetically add that, in an act of total surrender, I was wearing a full Rivendell wardrobe, right down to the pants and the sweater,

Also I still really like those Pearl Izumi Canyon shoes, which I’ve been wearing a lot:

I’m just a blur of lugs and wool.

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