Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Handlebars for the Ross, Take One

It's like Christmas in March. I opened my package from aebike.com. Ooooh. The handlebars are so light that I didn't think they were in the box. I also picked out leather toe straps for the Ross, cork handlebar tape and a bell for the Miyata (the bar tape is fraying).

Now that I've decided to keep the Ross, the one change I wanted was to swap the current flat bar with something that provided more reach. I ordered an aluminum mustache bar, Dimension brand, affordable at 25.00. A local bike shop confirmed it's a worthwhile purchase.

Holding the new bar up to the existing flat bar, you can see that it will give me more flexibility with hand positioning. Now it's important to note that when I had the bottom bracket worked on at Old Spokes Home I also ran the idea by them about the new bars. Upon measuring they said the new bars wouldn't work because the tubing is 2mm thicker. So, I thought about it for a while. I searched for alternative bars and didn't come up with anything that would give me the set back. It's only 2mm difference, what could it matter? Figuring I could use this lightweight bar on the Miyata at a future date (the Miyata's bar is steel and wider, I wouldn't mind lighter and narrower) if it didn't work out on the Ross, I went ahead with the order. Upon initial inspection, this bar looks nice.

I struggled with removing the leather grips. Normally I would just soak the entire grip with soapy water, but I soon discovered the leather is impervious to moisture. I pried the ends and applied full strength dish liquid, and with lots of twisting and turning, eventually removed both grips. But I tell ya', it took an hour to get both of those buggers off! And my arms were sore the following day. The shifters and brake levers, on the other hand, came off with ease.

I removed the green steel bar—that baby was heavy. It's no wonder the bike is on the hefty side. I presume many of it's parts are constructed with steel. But then the moment of truth. Would the mustache bars fit, not to mention finagling the curves through the steel clamp?

Using a mini pry bar (I love that tool, need my own) I was able to enlarge the bulbousy clamp ever so slightly to work through the curvy part of the new bar. I never felt that I compromised the metal in the least either, which was important. So much for bike shop advice...but I've learned to think some of these problems through on my own, and like I said, I had an alternative use for the new bar had it not worked out.

What I didn't expect was that the mountain bike brake levers would not fit over the slightly larger tubing, nor could I figure out how to enlarge the opening. Rats. I dug around in three boxes of bike parts and came up with Mafac brakes that used to be on my husband's old 12-speed Peugeot. They are kind of retro (ha! like all my bikes), are curved nicely, even sport rubber covering on the lever. They fit. But were they appropriate for the mustache bar? I tied up everything so it wouldn't rattle or fall apart and hauled the bike on our car rack to the shop. The clerk said the levers would be fine.

At this point I didn't feel comfortable continuing with the project; the current cables and housing weren't long enough and I'd never replaced cables before. I asked for an estimate. But wasn't prepared to hear $80-100, which included an overhaul, new cables and housing. I guess they didn't like my drivetrain maintenance. And the rear hub was loose. I can deal with the hub. Cleaning is no problem. And I could hear my husband's frugal voice in my head. So I plucked some courage and said, "Okay, I'll just buy the parts, please." That saved me 50.00.

Now I just need to learn how to do this. YouTube videos, here I come. How hard can it be?


  1. Oh! Good luck! Projects like that (for example, putting spinning wheels together) have me racing for the teapot and putting on Miss Marple DVD's. That way I'm soothing away the grumbles before they start!

    Just think how satisfying the whole thing will feel when it's completed and you know you've done it all yourself.

  2. An interesting post for me now, Annie, as I will soon be facing similar challenges with the bike I am working on. I am sure it will not be as hard as it seems right now and I'll look forward to reading how you progress with it.

  3. Wrench, wrench, wrench! If you can find the time, working on this stuff yourself is very satisfying. The trial and error parts often feel expensive, but think of how much you'll learn as you go and save in the long run!

    That said, I don't feel like I'll ever be GOOD at it. GOOD belongs to the pros, frustrated but ultimately happy to the rest of us.

    Good for you for taking on something new.

  4. Ah, moseying down the DIY bicycle path. Adventure lies ahead!

  5. Never under-estimate the value of a good repair manual that you can hold in hand either,my friend. Personally,I like Lenard Zinn's "The Art of Moountain Bike/Road Bike Maintenance"...almost every iota of the itty-bit of knowhow I've learned over the years came from there,LOL! You can do this,I have faith :) (and be sure to explain how to replace cables...I've never done it either ;) :P)

    Can't wait to see pics of it all together :D I've been toying with the idea of similar bars on my go-to bike as well (a designed-to-be-non-racey cyclocross bike),but I'm putting it off while saving/setting back a little here and there for a new frame that'll suit my needs better (like the ability to run TWO fenders instead of front only,LOL),so I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on those as well. Wishing you and yours an awesome week :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

  6. Fun, fun, fun. Youtube is a great resource as is the Park Tool manual and Sheldon Brown's site. (I'm lucky to have mechanic friends too!) I found that routing the cables was easy, but adjusting the derailleurs took some time. Lots of trial and error = fun. Can't wait to hear about the finished product. Love the shape of those bars!

  7. Oh, and the easiest way I've ever seen to get stubborn grips off a bike is with a compressor. Stick a nozzle under one side, blow some air, and they'll usually come right off. I know, now I tell you.

  8. Thanks everyone for your helpful comments. I clearly need all the help I can get. I don't know why the brake brackets wouldn't fit, but also the shape of the existing levers is way off. That's something I never even considered.


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