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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting a Handle on the Bike

06/12/12 0m

Via BikeRumor, comes a bicycle handle accessory from Walnut Studio:

Although some may cast aspersions on this admixture of a suitcase handle and a bicycle, decrying it as an overwrought hipster artisanal mashup, I think it's a legitimate use.

I've seen a lot of people who enjoy riding their bike but find a staircase to be a frustrating experience. Particularly for apartment dwellers, I think this makes great sense. Also, two weeks ago while watching people struggle with their bikes on the Burma Road detour on the C&O Canal (MP16), these handles would have sold like hotcakes.

Getting a handle on my own bike
Today was a day for making changes and adjustments to my own bike, in anticipation of an upcoming trip.
I have for a few years rolled with two stems and two handlebars, in order to have sufficient mounting opportunities for my core minimalist needs: flip-down aero bars, Tektro secondary (cross) brake levers, see-me blinky, headlight, cyclometer, bell, and a Zounds air horn. (I've stopped mounting the GPS on the handlebars.)

On a recent trip, I realized that with a rolled-up sleeping pad on the top platform of my front rack, the lights mounted on the lower/secondary handlebar are blocked by the sleeping pad.

This caused me to re-examine the entire two-stem assumption; it would seem that with two stems, two handlebars, aero bars, and a front rack there should be enough redundancy to mount a front light without obstruction, and that possibly at least one of those structures might be unnecessary.

I thought, since the aero bars are attached to the handlebar with a set of perpendicular brackets, couldn't I just use a second set of aero-bar brackets to attached a second handlebar? This would save the weight of the second stem, and would also place the secondary handlebar further forward rather than below the primary bar.

This notion resulted in my taking the following steps: (1) scrounge an old set of aerobars with mounting hardware, (2) toss the bars and keep the hardware. This is a side view, showing the primary bar wrapped in blue, the aero bars, and the secondary handlebar:

Front view, showing placement of various essentials:

I like the flip-down aerobar pads a lot; they really maximize the handlebar space available for your hands, but they suffer from chronic failures of the little springs that cause them to flip-up. I think this is because the springs are (1) exposed to the elements and (2) insufficient for the forces present when the bike is transported on a car rack. I need to figure out how to rebuild these myself.

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