Monday, May 28, 2007

The Green Bike Evolves

I've been spending money on my old Gary Fisher HooKooEKoo so I can't keep calling it the twenty dollar bike. I haven't come up with a good replacement moniker, so for now I'm calling it the green bike. I'm pretty sure this bike is going to get some kind of a better name at some point, but I'm not yet sure what that name will be.

After the 400K, I was forced to admit that while the inverted north road bars looked cool, they just don't work for me for long distance riding. My pinkie fingers went completely numb the next day I couldn't uncrook them! Now, a couple of weeks later, my hands are mostly back to normal.

I decided to use one of my blogtaculator powers and my eight good fingers to peck out a note to Jeff Kerkove. Jeff is a fast, tough long distance rider who is one of the masterminds behind the hard as heck Trans Iowa race. He also is sponsored by and is a rep for Ergon.

Jeff took pity on a fellow distance dude and after quizzing me about my hand size and shifter preference, he shot me out a set of very sweet bright green ergonomic grips. I haven't logged any super big distance on these grips yet, but on my commute and a hundred kilometer ride today the grips have proven to be very comfy. The angles of the grips and bar-ends can be independently adjusted. The great thing about these grips is how they spread out the pressure. The bar-ends flow smoothly into the grips and there are several really comfortable places for my hands.

As I've gotten older (an article in B.R.A.I.N. last year described me as "pushing 50") I've grown to favor bars that are roughly the same height as my saddle. This higher position is not as aerodynamic but about the only time I'm really concerned with aerodynamics on the green bike is when I'm pushing against a headwind and I figured out that in that case I can actually rest my forearms on the wide palmrests, flatten my back and look like some weird cross between a triathlon racer and an old cyclotourist.

The big rear basket continues to be a delight and a front basket proved very handy on the 400K. My friend Matt Newlin had an inexpensive Nashbar front rack on his bike at the 400K. It was a nice sturdy rack that mounts to the brake canti studs and fork crown center hole and it's just the perfect size to support a small front basket. After seeing Matt's rack, I ordered one for myself.

The plastic basket is something I picked up at Fred Meyer (one of our local "everything" stores). An office binder clip and a ziplock bag make a good cheap map holder. I put a little bit of foam (excess cut from my Z-rest pad to make it more compact) to keep things from rattling around in the basket but if I'm going to be riding on bumpy surfaces I'll probably keep small, loose objects in a nylon bag inside the basket so they won't bounce out.

I've got a Princeton Tec Eos headlight and a white reflector (actually some white reflective tape on a hunk of coroplast) on the front of the basket and a white LED flasher and my brass bell on the handlebars.

I carry my tools, pump and spare tube wrapped in an plastic bag that used to hold seed corn in the rear basket. I also carry a day pack in the basket. A couple of elastic cords with aluminum carabiners on the ends keep everything secure.

I like the Taoist mural on the back of this bus shelter.

At Turtle Park in Kirkland I had to stop and take a picture.


Jeff Kerkove said...


Keep me posted on how the grips work out for you.

Brian said...

Good to see you yesterday on your bike checking out the bike lockers at Kingsgate P&R. With some luck and speedy recovery, I can be back out there riding again. Let me know if there's something I can do for the B.A.W. during my downtime (and after work).

verlaine said...

Those are some wild-looking grips. Hooray for bike baskets, once I overcame the feeling that everybody was looking at them funny I learned to love them. They have made S24o trips and grocery runs on my Long Haul Trucker so much easier.

Cellarrat said...

Nice looking Rig!

Tai-po said...

That rig continues to get more interesting! I have a set of older ergon's that I dig. I can't believe you did the 400k on that thing!

Tom said...

I learned about that front rack from your blog and SIR mailing list. I ordered one and installed it this morning. There were absolutely no instructions with the rack, and I'm a very green bike wrench, but your close-ups helped. I'm still stuck, though. If I tighten the rack down, the side-pull cantilever brake doesn't spring back away from the wheel. Did you put a washer between the rack and the brake arms? There weren't any washers in the package...

What am I doing wrong?

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Tom,

Yeah, I do have washers between the rack and the brakes. I think I used slightly longer bolts as well. I have this gigantic pile of parts so I usually can make things work by mixing and matching stuff from my stash. Here in Seattle, Bikeworks or Recycled Cycles will usually have what you need if you don't have some odd little bit of hardware.