emily’s bike stuff
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Dialing In the Hardtack

I took my Hardtack (“weed can”) out for a 25km ride the other day1 and it’s feeling great! I got the stack dialed in I think — I was shooting for a more aggressive position but I’m going to give it time. The position I’ve ended up at puts the bars a bit above level with the saddle and it’s feeling pretty good. I feel like I’m not quite getting the power out of it I want but I’ll keep playing around. For now it’s feeling comfortable and the riding is very enjoyable and that’s all that matters. The largest change is swapping out the 40cm drop bars2 with some 51cm Tumbleweed Big Dipper bars.

This bar is a lot like a Crust Towel Rack. I borrowed a Towel Rack from Jay when I first built this bike and I liked it for a while. The one I had was a bit too wide though. It worked when my bars were very upright but I wanted to go lower some and then they were just too wide. Anyway, the major difference with the Big Dipper is the 50mm reach instead of a 100mm reach. This is kind of wild. I always go for as short a reach a drop bar as I can because I have a shorter torso and longer legs proportionally. But usually the shortest I can find is 68mm.

I’ll get julien biker up and running some time this year and experiment with more sporty positions. I have the flexibility but probably not the strength. I guess that’s why two bike fitters have put me in a more aggressive position than I end up actually riding and thus it doesn’t work out. What good is flexibility without the functional strength to keep you there? I intend to work on the strength part and see where that gets me. A bunch of core work at the gym/physical therapy definitely helped. It’s so nice to have the e-bike because I can push myself on sportier rides and then still live the car-free life with the e-bike.

The front of a bike with a wide black drop bar and basket bag.

What I like so far is that every hand position feels very comfy — the hoods, all around the tops, and all around the drops. The tops could have a little more than their 5 degrees of backsweep but I’m happy enough with it!

I also switched from compressionless housing to some plain old Shimano steel coil brake housing. There’s this one steep downhill in my new favourite park dirt loop where I want a bit more modulation out of my brakes. I tend to like my brakes very bite-y and these Paul Klampers definitely grab. I was curious if getting rid of the compressionless housing would give me a bit more modulation and I think it has. I’ll put a little update on this post if I still think that’s true after riding with it more.

A close-up view of a bike stem on top of many big headset spacers. There's black bar tape and a black bar with gold accents.

I couldn’t save the bar tape I had on the old bars. I’ll use some scraps from it to wrap my inner bar ends on egret. I put some Ergon BT Gravel tape on. It’s very grippy. Like maybe too much?? I don’t think so in practice but it’s kind of a weird sensation, to me. A mildly interesting note is that the two rolls of tape they give are sided (I think for the wrap markings on them) and the instructions say to start wrapping from the outside towards the centerline of the bike. That’s the opposite of how I normally do it, since folks usually twist their wrists outwards in a hard effort, thus not making an unraveling motion on the tape. At least, according to Park Tool. This is a contentious debate that I don’t have an opinion on and I think it probably doesn’t matter as long as you tension the tape and secure it correctly. I liked doing this direction — wrapping counter-clockwise in the drops — because you don’t have to reverse the direction around the brifters.

I needed some way to carry things on this bike other than just the bare front rack. I threw its old 137 basket on for now.

Looking down at the handlebars and basket while riding. Motion blurred road in the background.

I looove the basket life but I’m not actually sure I love riding with a basket on the dirt. It’s so rattle-y. But it is nice to have the bars completely free for maximum hand space. I dunno what I’ll do in the long-term.

Anyway, I love this bike so much. Here are some barely interesting detail shots to wrap up this rambling post. This concave washer managed to get stuck perfectly around a tire knob. idk why you’re still reading this.

A silver washer around a tire knob on a Rene Herse knobby tire.
A sticker on the top tube of a pink bike that reads 'We only have one flat earth and it's just getting colder'
A sticker on the top tube of a pink bike that reads 'Interspecies Bicycle Club'

Bonus Gus to keep you around.

A buff tabby cat closing his eyes in front of a computer monitor.

  1. The longest non-electric ride I’ve done since getting egret — very pleased about it. ↩︎

  2. I don’t really know why I had such narrow bars on this bike. It was kind of a hasty decision after some Crust Towel Racks were too wide for me. ↩︎