Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Going Narrow

It was time for the work horse (that is, the CAAD8) to get a little TLC. It still had the Microshift cables on it from when I bought the White groupset! (And yes, I still like my Microshift White... a lot) I'm not sure how many miles that equates to, but needless to say, it was time for a tune-up.

I've gotten tired with relying on my LBS every time I need a cable or housing (as I often squander it with a bad cut or some other mishap...) so I decided to upgrade the garage once more with a full kit of Shimano fileboxes (that's 100 shifter cables and 100 brake cables, along with housing for both) which is bringing the garage one step closer to "home shop" territory.

While I was at it though, it was time for some new bars. The freebies I have been rocking the last few years are ok, but nothing exciting and certainly not as lovely as the 3T Ergonova's I have on my CR1. So the hunt for some new drops commenced. My first stop was obviously 3T, and I definitely felt the draw of the new Aeronova's... but even I couldn't bring myself to paying $300+ for bars for the CAAD. However, I did find something else that caught my eye. A pair of NOS Oval drops for women coming in at a slim 36cm center to center. That's old school aero. They were also dirt cheap and I liked the idea of slimming down from 40cm bars.

New Bars!
I have always ran 40cm because... well... that's what I was told that was my measurement. Of course for years I never questioned it, that was just the right number...right? I mean, a fitter did tell me that. And I read on the internet that you measured shoulder width (or width +2cm) for bar width... so why question it. Because... I can't leave things alone. If I had just listened to the first thing I was told about lengths on bikes, I'd still be running 175 cranks (as opposed to 160's and 165's) and keeping my bars barely below my saddle height. Nowadays, to me at least, fitting is about asking as many questions as you can, seeing where the limit is and then working backwards from there. It's worked well for me in TT positioning, so why not with road equipment as well.

Considerably narrower than my old bars. Deda Tape is actually pretty nice (and cheap) as well.

I had read that handling would be impacted, but other than the first few minutes of the first ride feeling different, I can't say that I think it's any different. Comfort seems basically the same as well, with just a little more fatigue in my hands (although that could be dialing in the brifter position or the new bar tape as well) towards the end of the ride.

Oh, and speaking of bar tape... I finally figured out how to wrap a figure 8... no extra strips of tape required. This was a big personal victory for me, as historically I have been absolutely terrible at wrapping bar tape efficiently. No more! Mechanic level up!

No Gap, and no extra strip!
And while we're talking about narrow... the Speed Concept is also running on a narrow cockpit. The Brezza II Nano's only measure out 30cm! As I mentioned earlier, I like the idea of finding the limit and working backwards... the astute and studious among you will remember a few years ago I tried an "aero or die" setup on my Cervelo. That was past the limit for me for triathlon (although I might be willing to consider it again for TT's.) and so the Nano's were the next step backwards. After a few short rides on them, I would admit I wouldn't feel terribly comfortable riding them on a crowded course full of triathletes (although it's a very real possibility that would fade with a little more time on them) but they seem perfect for TT's, where very little (180°s and starts mainly) time is spent on the base bar or braking. They also look sweet, and let's be honest, that counts for something!

Speed Concept cockpit. Not a good scale for how narrow the bars are.

It seems like there is never a day without a project at the Wit's garage, and the current undertaking is an old Nishiki steel frame that was donated to me. It's a rust bucket, but I'm hoping that some tlc will have it back up and moving sometime in the future. I would prefer not to turn it into a fixie, but restore it to something like 7 speed glory. Maybe a Shimano 600 kit or some Suntour.

More to come soon!

Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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