I’ve been having trouble with my knees ever since I started commuting by bicycle. I tried adjusting my bike fit on my own, but some of the measurements really require a trained eye. (Said eye being in the skull of somebody other than the cyclist sitting on the bike.) So I took a ride to City Bikes after work a few weeks ago to see if they could help me adjust my touring bike for less painful riding.
The guys at the shop did their best not to laugh when I wheeled in my 20-year-old bike. They decried the overly large frame, fixed-length stem, and old-school drop bars. But keep in mind–The conventional wisdom back in the mid-80′s was to buy the biggest frame you could just barely stand over. The only adjustment one could make to the stem was to raise or lower it. If you wanted more “reach” you had to buy a longer stem, which is precisely what I did when I first bought the bike. And drop bars only came in one style back in the day. They went ahead and fitted me, but I guess I had already done a pretty good job myself–they weren’t able to find anything that could be adjusted that needed it. Thus, no charge for the fitting, but they did strongly suggest that I buy a new, modern bike with a smaller frame. They showed me a bunch of bikes, but the only one that caught my eye was a Specialized Sequoia Elite for about $1100.
So now I’m in a quandary–do I put money in my old bike or buy a new one? $1100 sounds like a fair bit of money for a bicycle, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a car! Instead I decided to see what I could do with my existing bike first. I spent about $300 at Peak Adventures and replaced nearly the entire drive train with pretty nice components: Xpedo RF-L3 clipless pedals, FSA Gossamer triple chainring (53/39/30T) with 172.5 mm cranks and megaexo bottom bracket, Shimano Tiagra rear derailleur, and a new chain. The only original drive train components now are my 6-speed casette (28, 24, 21, 18, 16, 14T) and the wheels. I wouldn’t mind replacing the casette sometime, especially since I now have a 9-speed derailleur, but if I have to replace the wheels I’m going to be thinking very hard about just buying a new bike. (Decent wheels can be pretty expensive!)
If I do spring for a new bike, I’m not fixated on the Specialized Sequoia. I’d be looking for a touring bike–something with a rugged frame, drop bars, fittings for panniers (preferably front and rear), triple chainring or possibly a compact double, clipless pedals, and those very cool integrated shifters/brake levers (my favorite feature of the Sequoia)!
But before I drop that much cash I’m going to see how I do on some long-distance rides with my old Tribute. I’ve got a nice flat 100-mile ride this Saturday: Bike Around the Buttes. I haven’t done a ride this long for many years, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.