More Albatross Bar Observations

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.

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13 responses to “More Albatross Bar Observations

  1. I have 2 VO Model 8 saddles. They’re both on bikes that don’t get ridden very much, so they’re practically new. ie – not broken in yet. Lemme know if you want to try one out for a week or two.

  2. I really like the look of that bike. I’m of the same mind as you about my touring bike. It has drop bars and I think with a different setup I would ride it more often.

    • Thanks John. I need to take a “day ride” on it soon to really evaluate not only how it rides, but how functional it is on the long haul. I know it works well for rides of an hour or two, but different factors come into play with longer rides, as you know. Given how much riding you’re doing of late, I’d recommend trying a pair to see how you like it.

  3. What’s the longest ride you’ve done in this configuration? I’m thinking about doing the same thing to my trek. This weekend’s penguin hunt left my backside in a sorry state.

    • 26 miles, and that included a few stops, but not because of any discomfort. The closest similar configuration I’ve had was on the Marin with moustache bars. There I could only handle about 20 miles, but my position was much more forward leaning with weight on the hands and I was using an old Brooks Pro that had seen better days. Here, there is a lot less weight on the hands and less reach, which the wider saddle accomodates.
      Actually, it was your comments after the Codorus S24o that got me thinking about this. My gut feeling is that it will be fine for longer rides. You should give it a try.

  4. I have also been thinking of trying out albatross bars on my LHT–my current drop bars really give my wrists a hard time.

    What I’m curious about, however, is about the kickstand in the picture. I wanted the Greenfield kickstand but it doesn’t seem to work with that spoke-holder on the chainstay. It looks like the kickstand you’re using can fit right behind the spoke-holder. What kickstand are you using and how do you like it?

    Thanks and all the best!

    • Wait, I just did a quick Google search and found that it looks like people ARE using the Greenfield kickstand on LHT’s by pushing it further back–so that the screw on the kickstand plate is in front of the seatstay and not behind it.

      But, now that I take a closer look, it looks like you have a Greenfield but didn’t need to push it farther back on the bike to make it work. Maybe the 2007 LHT’s have the spoke-holder positioned different than the 2009’s.

      • Greetings Andreas. ‘just to confirm; it is a Greenfield…and I highly recommend the Albatross bars. My only reservation about the Greenfield is that it can get awkward if you’re loading gear on the front of the bike, with the “stabilizer” in the back. In those cases, I just lean the bike against something solid. doc

  5. That’s good to hear you managed to put the Greenfield on there. You had no problems fitting the Greenfield to the LHT? It’s just that I’ve read people saying that it shouldn’t fit. For example, even the Surly website says these kickstands won’t work and Neil Gunton (of CrazyGuyOnABike) mentioned how he’s reluctant to buy a LHT because it would prevent him using his favourite kickstand (the Greenfield stabilizer).

    In some places online people mention how they drilled a new hole in the Greenfield kickstand face plate to get it to work. You didn’t have to do anything like this? Sorry to keep bringing this up, but I really want to figure it out. I had a rearmounted kickstand on my bike until I got the LHT, and then had to switch to a bottom-bracket mounted one, which I’m not crazy about.

    Thanks!

    • No drilling…nothing special…just opened the bag and bolted it on. I never heard about any of these issues, and other than maybe cutting it down just a tad to get the correct lean, it works well.

  6. Not that this thread is alive anymore, but just in case anyone was interested: Apparently, the Greenfield Stabilizer kickstand can’t be installed on the newer Surly LHT’s because the dropouts of newer LHT’s flare out, thwarting the Greenfield. Someone else online pointed this out when he thought he could easily take the Greenfield off of his older LHT and put it onto his newer LHT–he found that he couldn’t do it.

    So continues my search for a rear-mounted kickstand.

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