Monday, December 26

Year of the Longtails: Upgrades, Not Up Grades

Grumble, grumble, grumble?!

Translation: Why does the bike shop not open before ten?!

When I first did the Xtracycle build and gave birth to my monster I was still wrestling with the handlebar configuration.

I didn't want to go with flat bars because I intended for the finished Cannonball X to be closer to a touring bike. I wanted to be able to ride a century or ride to work or to get groceries or out for the day on the metro area MUPs.

I also didn't want to commit to cruiser bars, or something like the Ute's swept back configuration for the same reasons. I liked riding the Kona Lisa and for my daily commute the swept back bars are perfect, but for the long haul I didn't think they would serve me well.

At the time I thought my only other option was to go with conventional drop bars. So I did, but in the back of my mind I knew that the CBX with drops would not be the final form of my longtail cargo bike.

One other factor to consider is that the Cannonball frame is a bit large for someone of my stature. I'm average at 5' 9", and I bought the bike from the original owners who are brothers and both very tall. Any handlebar configuration had to be carefully considered so as not to make the bike unrideable. I had to go with a shorter stem to make the CBX with drops work at all.

And then I saw the Jones H-Bar. I knew I'd found the perfect handlebar setup for the X. Multiple hand positions, swept back ends, straight and flat middle section and forward and center swept ends.

The H-bar would satisfy my cruiser tendencies, my MTB tendencies and my touring needs. So when mandy asked me what I wanted for Christmas I explained the H-bar and how it would make the CBX a superior machine. And I added that I'd need new shifters too. I still have the original Cannonball brake levers in the shed.

So we trundled over to Arvada Bike and put in the order. My wife is awesome!

My hope was twofold: 1) That the bars would be as functional and versatile as they seemed. I was fairly confident they would be, and 2) that some of my front chainring shifting issues would be fixed with the new shifters.

Another plus is that with the new shifters I will be able to adjust at the shifter end again, where with the Tiagras I took off my slain Giant (RIP) you can only adjust at the derailer. There are some other pros to switching: more rise, better control with a loaded bike, better dirt possibilities. The cons seem slight: wider bars...I guess that's really it.

Christmas morning I tore into the wrapping paper and held aloft my new H-bar...I. Have. The Power!

And then the "fun" began. Down comes the existing cockpit and I had to build up the new one. Everything had to be newly adjusted, tweaked, fiddled with. Oh, and then I had to wake my family so they could open their gifts.

I decided since I was going to be wrenching down deep on the reconfiguration I might as well give the ole CBX a good going over. It needed a good cleaning, check the brake pads, check the fenders and all the other bolts and attachments and I wanted to put my old knobby tires back on for snowy weather. No small job...

But on Christmas Day I was hard pressed to find the motivation for deep maintenance on the ole cargo bike. I got the handlebar on, the shifters and brake levers in place and the bars wrapped and ready to go.

Still lacking were both brake cables (Tiagras and the new Alvios utilize different cable ends) and the long shifter cable. I couldn't get the gumption to swap tires and fiddle with my rear brake. It seems like the brake issue might be an adjustment or something, so until I have the new cable there's not much I can do.


9:22am. Bike shop opens in less than an hour...maybe I should go camp out?

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