Getting A Grip

I enjoyed commuting so much on the Pink Faggin last week that I did it again yesterday:

This group of people waiting for the light is a perfect representation of modern day New York City “bicycle” traffic:

Of the four of us, only 50% are pedaling under our own power, 25% are using an electric motor, and the other 25% is like, “Fuck it, I’m burning gasoline.”

Also, of the 25% of bike traffic that’s electrified, I’d say 25% of them are portaging small dogs:

Anyway, the P.F. is a lot of fun to ride in the city, but there’s only one real problem with it–and it’s not that it’s ill suited to dog-portaging:

No, the problem is that the handlebars are not particularly comfortable. They look good, they’re narrow enough to easily make your way through traffic, and they’re just fine for shorter trips. However, at this point in my life I crave backsweep, and after awhile the kinda-swept-but-not-swept-enough position of these bars (coupled with the low-ish position) begins to bother my hands just a bit.

At the same time, I’ve also been thinking lately that it’s time to go a little shorter on the stem on the Homer:

When I first got the bike I was using bars with lots of sweep, but these bars are the opposite and have an unusually long top portion which is quite comfortable but also puts the hoods way out there. So recently it occurred to me that I could solve both problems at once, by switching the bars on the P.F. and then stealing the stem for the Homer. This morning I got right to work:

Here is “new” bar (really an old one from my handlebar stash), which once upon a time Rivendell used to sell as the “Dove Bar,” and which it looks like Soma still carries:

It’s a narrow bar meant for urban riding, and I believe Rivendell stopped selling it because it’s not heat-treated and they didn’t want people getting too rowdy with them or going off-road or whatever, but don’t quote me on that because maybe I’m remembering wrong. Anyway, I’m not the rowdy sort and I’ve only ever used it for its intended purpose, and I’ve always liked it very much for comfy-yet-sporty city bikes:

They’re not too much wider than the other bars, either, which meant that not only could I keep slithering through traffic, but I also wouldn’t have to change cables:

I also had a perfect quill stem to replace the one I’d be stealing for the Homer–just a little bit longer to offset that extra sweep a bit:

Thanks to the bolt-on grips and the fact I didn’t need to change cables, I completed the swap in no time, and while I only rode it up and down the street it felt like a big improvement:

See, it’s all about that sweep:

Next I turned my attention to the Homer:

This too would have been a simple operation if I’d been dealing with open-face stems, but of I wasn’t, so I had to unwrap half the bar and completely undo the front shifter.

The stem I stole off the P.F. was a lot shorter than the one on the Homer, but I figured it would still give me enough height–and more importantly net me some serious weight savings!

Just kidding:

Oh, if you’re wondering about the tape on the stem, I have a weird thing about marking quill stem and seatpost height, don’t worry yourself about it.

There’s something unsettling about deconstructing a cockpit–like cleaning a sink trap, you hope everything will go back together and that you won’t have to run to the store for anything. Fortunately the operation went fairly smoothly:

While I did need to use a new front derailleur cable, I even managed to reuse the already-reused bar tape! Everything felt great on the test ride, too, and here you can see that long top portion I mentioned earlier:

In addition to the bars, I also made a couple other changes:

Now that the Homer’s doing serious commuter duty a plastic saddle seemed like less of a hassle, though of course if I wind up missing the Brooks I’ll put it back. I also changed the pedals just for the hell of it; I love the original pedals, but I was also curious to see how the bike feels with a bigger platform. This too may be a short-lived change, if only because I’m not sure about the color, though it might also not be a bad idea to put the original pedals on the P.F.

So much to think about.

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