Shakedown Ride

I’ve been waiting all week for a chance to get in a real shakedown ride on the Boulder. I’ve got a regular route I take to put a new build through the paces, one that gives me some mileage, some hills, some flats, rough rural tarmac, along with some in-town stop-and-go-riding. I always learn something from these rides; here’s some of what I learned today:

  1. I hate headwinds.
  2. The country roads in my area are pretty rugged at the moment…this is one of the good sections. 
  3. We’ve got some big ass snakes sun bathing on the road in this unusually warm weather. 
  4. I really hate headwinds.
  5. I think I’m going to like the fit of this bike.

This is how the Boulder looks as of this writing, and how she will probably remain for a while… well, mostly, I suppose. I was hesitant about the shorter crank arms (170mm vs my preferred 175mm) but I’m getting used to the feel of the spin so I think I’ll give them a chance before doing anything drastic. The big thing is that I miss the feeling of torque that I get from the longer crank arms; these make me feel like I’m moving slower. I may swap out the brakes for Avid Shorty cantilevers just to see if they meet my needs better than the vintage set I have installed.

I sure like the look of the Brooks flyer, but I wish it would set back just a little bit more than it does. And I have to admit that the creaking of the springs when I pump the pedals is beginning to grate on my nerves more than I thought it might. I’m pleased with the ride quality of the wider tires and I’m hoping that my next ride will not involve any nasty headwinds so that I can find out how fast – or slow – they “feel.” Maybe over the coming weekend I’ll head up to Smithville Lake and try out the 40 mile path that surrounds one side, with all of the rills and bumps and frost heaves.

So on to the shakedown ride: Overall, the ride is quite comfy – and this is without exception, over smooth pavement as well as the abundant rough, bumpy patches. I’m still getting used to the compact double, especially on climbs, so that felt a little awkward at first. I’m used to where my gears need to be for specific ride conditions on the Paramount and have yet to intuit those shifts on the Boulder. Nevertheless, the gears I need all seem to be there, where I need them to be. I’m without the 28t at the moment, but once I fix that problem I’ll have all the low gearing I’ll ever need.

The bike rides like a light weight touring model rather than a racing road bike. It most decidedly prefers to track straight and is not nearly as nimble as, say, my Freschi. Of course that is as it’s supposed to be and I like that the set up is for a much more casual, less intense style of riding.

One thing that still needs to be resolved is how I’ll deal with the decaleur. My front bag can’t really be installed until I have a means of stabilizing it; I don’t plan to use the same stem-mount decaleur that I did on the Shogun either. I’d like to construct some sort of integrated hanger that will attach to the front rack itself and I’ve got a couple of ideas about how to manage that. This bike was designed to ride with a front rack and I miss that piece of luggage, so I’m shopping around for the right materials to give my ideas a whirl.





3 thoughts on “Shakedown Ride

  1. You learned some valuable lessons today but most importantly is #5.

    I have only ridden with rear mounted panniers when it came to lugging my gear (clothes of all kinds, lunch, misc. items) to and from work. It seemed to work well but I have heard some swear by front bags rather than rear for stability and overall handling. If you have experience with both, which do you prefer?

  2. Oops, the carrot marks should have been quoting your statement, “This bike was designed to ride with a front rack and I miss that piece of luggage”.

  3. For loaded touring I’ve always preferred rear panniers and front low riders with smaller panniers. A rear rack provides a nice platform for trunk bags, sleeping bags, tent, etc. To sport a large front bag as I do, several important factors come into play. First off, your bike geometry needs to be appropriate: fork rake and trail can dramatically affect the handling of a bike with a front bag installed. (Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly has written extensively on this topic and I cannot begin to improve upon what he’s had to say.) I’ve seen some bags hanging from handlebars and I can’t for the life of me imagine that such an arrangement could possibly do anything but adversely affect the handling under load. I feel strongly that a front bag needs to be supported by a dedicated front rack and stabilized by a decaleur. Tiny front bags have little in the way of desirability for me: I want to be able to carry things that I can easily access while riding long distances without having to stop: food, rain jacket, etc. I carry tools, patches, and a spare tube in a small saddle bag.

    But I digress – many vintage sports/touring bikes have the sort of geometry that’s conducive to using a front bag. By contrast, few contemporary road bikes are appropriate for this purpose. I do prefer a front bag.

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