Saturday, March 30, 2013

Seasonal Change of Bikes

Winter for a full year it felt.  I used 3 bikes to get me through it.  A Trek FX 7.5 hybrid with 700x35, Trek 920 MTB with studded tires and a Trek 520 touring bike with 4 panniers and 700x35 road tires.  All slow.  Up until mid February I had a 12 mile round trip commute.  Roughly 30 minutes mostly trail.  By the time snow hit the 520 went into storage.  From mid February on my commute doubled.  More street than trail once Clive Greenbelt was covered with snow.

This week I put the 920 away and busted out another Trek.  Yeah, I have many Treks, I seem to collect them over the years and they never leave.  Road bike this time.  Took a ride to adjust to a skinny tire beast.  First, the handlebars are not nearly as wide as the FX's.  I replaced 2200's stock bars almost 2 decades ago with Scott Drop Ins. A little wider than the stock but not nearly as wide as hybrid or MTB bars.

Foot goes into the spokes.  Slow speed maneuvering is trickier on a roadie.  No more turning the front wheel 90 degrees and pedaling lest toes and spokes are not necessary. Sidewalk U-turns not recommended unless attention to detail is a priority.Why was I on a sidewalk anyway?  Oh yes, construction on Walnut St.

Brakes.  Winter riding destroys bicycles.  Unless you bring the bike inside after every commute and hose it down and lubricate everything and replace worn out parts before they become an issue, commuting in the 6 months of winter ages bikes and components quickly.  Brake pads are the first to die.  All the sand and grit the city dumps on the streets sticks to the braking surfaces and grinds up the pads.  I suppose disc brakes are just as susceptible to this since they are just as exposed to the elements.  If you ride 100+ miles per week in  winter and use disc brakes please contact me.  That being said, as soon as one grabs their road bike from its winter slumber they should notice, assuming that the bike was put away in good condition, that it feels brand spanking new.  Shifts nice, rides smoothly and they first time you operate the brakes you either get launched off the bars or wonder why the rear wheel locked up for 5".  The later for me.  making a quick right turn off a busy street something felt strange.  "HEY DUMBASS, LET OFF THE REAR BRAKE!!" the 2200 shouted.  Original 1994 pads, too.  I love good brakes but get too used to crappy worn brakes because of winter.  Lesson learned.

But the best thing is how it feels.  Light, fast, smooth, new, different.  It is like going outside with having to dress like an Arctic explorer.  Literally shedding pounds and resistance.  I do not want to even look at the FX until it is time to fix it up for next winter.  I really don't want to look at the 520 until it is time to bag and it won't be bagging time for a month or so.  Until then I am going to enjoy speed even if I have to don a backpack.   

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