Have you ever had the chance to design and build something from scratch? Maybe it was something as simple as a bird-house or a planter? Maybe you were a little more ambitious and designed your own home? In any case, when that project came to fruition, how did you feel? Pretty darn good, right?
Well, yesterday my new commuting bike became a reality. I got a call about 3:00 asking if I could stop by Sunshine for some quick measurements so they could cut the steering tube. I took an hour of vacation time and headed that direction in a cold, nasty rain. It only took a few minutes to get the measurements Josh needed, and while I was there we again discussed my options for the shifter. The STI was a decent match for the brake hood on the other side in terms of feel, so I decided to go with that instead of the bar-end option. It looks quite a bit bulkier because of the mechanics inside, but to my hands on the hoods they feel just about the same. Josh promised the rest of the build in about an hour, so I headed for home to change clothes because I had a Lady Bears game to attend later on (they won!).
When I got back a little over an hour later, they weren’t quite finished, but both Josh and Alex were busily wrapping the bars, installing the fenders, and installing the computer. As they were finishing and we were taking care of the paperwork, I got a pretty good laugh when Josh saw some fingerprints on the frame, grabbed a rag and cleaned them off. I said, “Dude! It’s raining out there! It won’t make a difference!”
His reply was, “It’s a pride thing!”
In all seriousness, those guys over at Sunshine Bike are great to work with. I appreciate the way my needs/desires were heard and met. They do a good job at making you feel like an appreciated customer. If you’re local, stop in and see them sometime.
After the ballgame, I grabbed the new Tubus rack and headed for the garage to get it installed. It actually went on quite easily and fit perfectly like Wayne at The Touring Store said it would. Now that I have the bike, it looks like the old Tubus rack would have probably worked just fine, but it’s so beat up looking I’m glad I went ahead and got the new one. It actually took more time and effort to get the lights on than the rack. If I had planned my work a little better and installed the back light on the rack before I put the rack on, it would have been a snap all the way around, but that’s life.
Finally, about 10:30 last night I clipped in for the first time and made a lap or two up and down the hill in front of the house before I headed inside to bed.
The first ride to work was interesting. I’ll plan to provide a more in-depth review later, but from my first impressions, I think I accomplished my goal of creating a decently fast, efficient, yet comfortable bike.
The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t feel any wiggle in the back-end from the rack and pannier when I stood to climb the hill out of the neighborhood. On the carbon-fiber road bike, that was a major issue. I really couldn’t tell the pannier was back there on this one.
By the time I got to work, I was thinking to myself, “Boy, this sure feels like I’m riding the tandem!”. Then I realized that the two bikes actually do have a lot in common. They’re both steel. They both have nice, bomb-proof wheelsets. And, they’re both set up with the exact same configuration of derailleurs and gearing. Based on that first impression, I think I’m going to like riding this bike.
The one thing that may still be tweaked is the setup of the handlebars. I was looking for a comfortable upright ride, and it may still be just a tad too upright. I’ll give it a couple of weeks, then if it still feels odd I can remove a spacer or two and try it that way for a while. When it came to cutting the steering tube, Josh and I both felt it best to err on the side of too little rather than too much!
Not the best pics ’cause they’re from the phone…but the best I can do for now.
At the Park Board Office at lunch