21 June 2014

Experimenting with the Experiment

The idea  of having the Hypothesis and the Experiment was that I could keep the Experiment -- the actual touring bike -- in relatively stable shape while trying out new things on the Hypothesis.  (Despite the Experiment coming first, and this affecting the names, since you perform an experiment and then form a hypothesis...)
So, this has in part come true; the Experiment just got STI shifters on a Salsa Cowbell 2 bar because I tried those on the Hypothesis and really liked them.[1] (I miss the flats on the FSA wing bar but will accept the trade for the greater width of the 46cm Salsa bar.) The R2C bar end shifters I had been using on the Experiment were mechanically excellent but not intended for actual bar ends and as such prone to demanding blood sacrifice any time the handlebars dipped, as they will certainly do while stopped on bicycles with front bags.
Where it hasn't come true is the chain ring; the Wik Werks chain rings presently on the Hypothesis haven't rendered themselves non-serviceable yet, so I elected to leave them there and try the Surly 50t/110BCD stainless chain ring on the Experiment.  (Since, after all, the Experiment is both where a bent chain ring would be worse and where I'm going to be hauling loaded panniers.)

So far, it's working; somewhere around the 50km total distance mark, the annoying noise from the chain being just a little too tight on the teeth of the chainring went away.  (Which would be about 10km into this ride.)  Since there's a companion annoying squeak from the peddle cleats (which aren't latching quite so snugly as one would best prefer) it's not entirely easy to tell.

Shifting, well, it happens.  Shifting the front ring from large to small happens reliably and briskly, which is after all the more important direction (save on those rare occasions where one is being chased uphill by bears and feeling unusually inspired) pretty much irrespective of the cassette position.  Shifting from small to large happens not at all if the chain is in the lower half (by which I mean, lower gear, not, as still seems more natural to me, closer to the axle) of the cassette; in the upper half of the cassette shifting happens with a bit of clanking but quite reliably.  It'll do.

(Rear shifting, via the X9 rear dérailleur, continues to be a reliable delight.  There's something to be said for the huge range of a 12-36 cassette, too.)

It feels like it improves power transmission, too; not just getting sturdier shoes but getting whatever hypothetical wobble out of the front ring.  (This might be an illusion of increased fitness, hard to say.)

The Experiment in current trim
Up against the fence at the current Downsview Station.  (The station is going to be renamed Sheppard West when the line extension goes in to service and the next station northbound becomes Downsview.)  Kinda backlit, but still blue.
Today's route; still mostly downhill despite unplanned excursion
This is a surprisingly nice ride; parts of McNicoll are difficult, but cheating by getting north of the 401 on the subway is a very considerable help.  Didn't plan to go up to Steeles; that's me missing a turn to stay on Old Finch.  It was plenty scenic, though, and novel even to Zingerella, which isn't easy to do in Toronto.  I still want better signage and a better degree of continuousness from the hydro corridor paths; the ones the exist are lovely things, but they're woefully discontinuous.

[1] I've had all the parts, finally, there were troubles involving the computer having a delusive notion of the product code at the supplier all my local bike shops talk to for Salsa, for a month and a bit now.  Last week I had an attack of spoons sufficient to consider changing only the front half of cable splitters, and got the new bars on.


Janice in GA said...

I wish I had a 12-36 cassette. My main bike had 11-28,& I mostly ride on the 39 tooth chainring up front. I grind up hills... slowly.

First $$ priority is to change out handlebars/shifters, though. That'll be pricey (for me). Alas. I'm also mired in indecision on which handlebar choice to make. ::sigh::

Graydon said...

I think very highly of the "mountain rear dérailleur and cassette" approach for anything hilly or highly loaded, road bike or not. (It's not like Toronto or Niagara are actually much hilly, but there are these abruptly steep bits, and especially with panniers one notices. I had originally gone with the Apex-standard 11-34 and Lock Seven on the Welland Canal trail convinced me that wasn't enough.)

The problem with changing out handlebars and shifters is that you're probably constrained by the cassette; all the recent stuff expects ten sprockets and index shifts, so it deals badly with other numbers. (I've been futzing around very narrowly inside SRAM-recent.) And decent shifters just *are* pricey, if you mean the integrated brake/shifter ones. All those little fiddly parts inside, if one is feeling charitable to the manufacturers. :)

No real advice about handlebar selection; I wound up looking for who made 46cm road bars in 7000 series alloy (there aren't many choices!) and got lucky. They're not perfect -- I'd prefer deeper drops -- but they work pretty well.