I surprised myself a bit making this change. I’m always tinkering and trying to dial in perfection, but rarely do I make such a drastic move after having been content with the basic layout of the bike for three years. It just always seemed obvious that my touring bike should have drop bars.
The whole idea evolved quickly after I got to thinking more about the type of riding I do, the type of riding I enjoy, and what bikes and equipment I had available.
The Cannondale has always been my mystery bike. I get it set up in a nice configuration, but then it just doesn’t seem to work out and the bike sits. Lately it had the Albatross bars, and my intent was to use it for short recreation rides, and if I needed to run an errand. The bottom line is that the bike was fun to ride, but not quite as comfortable as the LHT; and I didn’t like the downtube shifters – I’m kind of stuck on barcons.
Then there was the LHT where I was growing more concerned about how I was only really comfortable with my hands pretty far back on the tops of the drop bars. I kept asking myself why I even had drop bars if I wasn’t using them.
I have it in my head that drop bars equal speed; but I don’t ride for speed. I ride for the pleasure of the sights, the curiousity of seeing new things, and the opportunity to go to places I otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to. I don’t have to break any records getting there.
That starts the wheels turning… I remember reading that the advantages of aerodynamics on a bike only kick in around 14-15mph. I average 12-13mph with occasional bursts on smooth level pavement of 16-17mph. On those occassions, I can bend my elbows and lean forward if I have to.
The gearing that I’ve settled on is lower than it is higher, and my highest combination of 44×11 only gets used if I feel like pedalling down large, long hills. Usually I’m content to coast.
So I figure the Albatross bars on the LHT are worth a shot – I can always change them back…but I kind of doubt it.
As previously noted, the first observation with getting on the bike now is just how comfortable the ride is. I’m probably only a little more upright than before, but I appear to have found just the right weight distribution between my hands and my seat. Moreso, I love how my head and neck angle is. I don’t feel inclined to move around the bars to change my body angle because I’m comfortable as is.
The biggest epiphany, though, is just how much more I can see. Because I’m sitting up, I feel I’m catching so much more of the sights around me, as opposed to just in front of me. I’m sure that makes for safer riding, but more importantly, it makes for a more enjoyable ride – and that’s my goal.
A bonus is that I haven’t noticed any real decrease in speed, probably because I don’t ride that fast to begin with.
The only factor/issue left out there is the saddle. We’re still adjusting to the change. I’m sitting back further and more on my sit bones than before. Given the physics of it all, that makes sense. I think that the end result will be fine once I get used to everything, but there is the prospect of a wider seat like a B67 or a Velo Model 8. At some point I may try it, but for right now I’m inclined to give the Champion a go.
Final conclusion with the caveat that nothing is ever final: I like the change and will probably stick with it. I’m hoping to get in some longer rides that will ultimately tell if this is the right setup, but for now I have no reason not to think that it’s going to work.