Thursday, November 25, 2010

Drop bar mountain bikes! Love 'em!

Yesterday evening, I finally finished--except for bar tape and final form pedals-- the latest iteration of one of my cycling obsessions: drop bar mountain bikes. This one's in the form of a first generation Litespeed ti frame, 1 inch headset, courtesy of my friend and one time coworker, Jorge. It's really too small for me; but I've set it up with WTB Specialized Dirt Drops from long, long ago, with which I have a love-hate relationship (do like the drops; don't like the flare that puts the brake hoods in an awkward position); built up with 1980s and early 1990s parts: first gen XTR rear derailleur with XT 7 speed era front; Shimano indexed bar end shifters run in friction; DX 7 speed wheelset; Specialized ST-1 crankset with 24 36 50 rings (dual purpose: road, offroad); super high rise stem off of a GT mtb from the early 1990s; Dia Compe 982 brakes with original pads all crispy and red but still skidding the rear as long as the front goes on at the same time, non aero brake levers for that Jacquie Phelan look, and Tioga BMX pedals with steel clips. Fun; took my blue heeler mix for a 30 minute ride run this morning, partly in dirt; then rode it another hour on pavement (cooking obligations means no offroad today); it's a nice bike. FWIW, the 14 to 15 mile commute on pavement took me 59 minutes with Hutchinson knobbies, clock running during all stop lights and traffic delays; this wearing USAF fatigue pants and Converse All Stars. Photos of the monstrosity to follow.

Anyone else run drops? People look at you like you're a freak when you show up on the Santa Monica mountain trails with such a setup, except for the state champion jersey wearing cyclocross rider who overtook me two weeks ago on his cx double, who admired the build before he dropped me like a lead weight over a cliff. In my experience, they actually handle all but highly technical stuff and big dropoffs better, because there's more weight on the front wheel: downhills on fire roads are just a blast!

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