06 January 2009

Evolution of a Bicycle

I really got into bikes in 2005. After training for the STP on a Marin Rocky Ridge , and ultimately borrowing a svelte steel road bike for the ride itself, I decided that I wanted a good road bike of my own to use as a commuter.

My commute was a bit of a bear, about 14 miles of RR tracks and gritty shoulders. I settled on a 2005 Surly Cross Check Complete Bike.

From Cross Check

The bike served me well. I picked it because it would give me some flexibility with setups and would allow me to tinker. Clearance for wide tires with fenders, semi-horizontal dropouts for single-speed/fixed, lots of braze ons, and a reasonable price tag.

After nearly a year with the stock setup, a switched to a Brooks B17 saddle, On One Midge bars, and added a set of Reelights.

From Cross Check

This was a more comfortable, yet aggressive setup that worked well for time-trialing the route home, as well as some fire road hill climbs in the northern Cascades. After tiring of the super-wide Midge, I switched to a Nitto Randoneur bar and added a Nashbar front rack, so I could have a good place to strap the battery of my Blackburn X3 light. I also added a 26T granny ring and a Salsa Chain Guard instead of the 48t big ring. I tend to spin and like to climb hills, so why not only have those gears?

From Cross Check

I figured that this would be the last time that I would mess with the setup for a while. However, when I left my job in October to be a stay-at-home dad, my time in the saddle went from 2 hours/day to 30 minutes/week. I had just replaced the rear rim (because rims wear out in the Pacific Northwest if you ride year-round) and wanted to use it. The few group rides I've done in the last few months have left me tired and sore, yearning for the upright position of my Xtracycle, despite it's 20 pound weight penalty over the Cross Check.

A Velo Orange Tourist bar and some Avid FR-5 levers were an inexpensive and effective fix. The shifters were moved to the downtube to clean up the cabling mess on top of the front rack, and are still indexed. The bike is lighter, feels faster, provides better visibility of me and for me, and has reinvigorated my desire to ride this bike.

From Cross Check

The only change I can foresee is a switch to Paul Thumbies instead of the downtube shifters, but time will tell. I can't wait for the next group ride...


melanie said...

wow Bro... that looks great. You can't go wrong with an upright!

Steve Fuller said...

Why not reuse your bar ends?

Matt Newport said...

The tubing diameter is too small to accept bar-ends. I had originally bought it for my wife's commuter, but she didn't want it, so I had to go downtube or buy mtb shifters...