Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Miss Clementine's Makeover

Miss Clementine before and after the bar and tire swap.

2020 is the year for Miss Clementine's upgrdes.
The reason for the update was two-fold: swapping handlebars to create a more aggressive posture plus create more comfortable alternative hand positions for longer rides, and a tire swap to improve handling and further lighten the bicycle.

To back up a bit:
First impressions of the stock 2016 Clementine (Clem-L to be exact) - in my opinion - were disappointing. Riding was sluggish, and the bike was heavier and longer than I expected.  But trusting Rivendell's reputation and with my desired low gears, I put my immediate reaction aside, The weak aspect was always the bosco handlebars - I disliked the angular, cruiser-type setup, but without knowing what exactly I would swap them with, I decided to live with them for a while, which, in the end, proved to be a wise decision. 

You gotta start somewhere
Once I inflated tires properly, went on a few tours, hauled weight, tested hills - that was when the magic began to happen. Miss Clementine seems to climb all by herself! Well, of course, not really, but the propulsion or planing (I think it's called) is rather extraordinary. Once I gain momentum, Miss Clementine is easier to ride. I liked the upright grip on the boscos and even the supplied Kenda tires worked well on dirt roads. Hmm. Like all my bikes, I needed time to sort out what I would change, for Miss Clementine has always been what I foresee as my new touring bike.


Soma Oxford bar is a near equivalent to Nitto Albatross, but less expensive. This aluminum bar replaced the stock Nitto alloy boscos and is much lighter. I gained 4" of forward reach, a position that's a more comfortable fit, with alternative gripping on the curves.

Weight matters as I grow older.
Miss Clementine is a little heavier than I would like in a touring bike. The step-through bones are good. Gearing is optimal. At the present, it's still the right bike for me with a few changes. As I grow older, it's harder to haul the same 40lbs. of gear when I was 30 years old, so paying attention to weight is critical. Besides lightening up my camping gear, I chose the Soma Oxford bars for better hand positions and swapped the Kenda tires for my preferred Panaracer Pasela's in gumwall version.

Ooooh, comfy gripping on the curves!

A world of difference.
Both changes have made a dramatic difference in comfort. Between finding a bar that works better, along with familiar tires, I've lightened the bike by an estimated 2 lbs. Benefits to the new bar include: lighter weight, aggressive reach, and I have gained back the ability to climb hills while standing on pedals whie being in control. The new tires are slightly narrower (though both indicate 1.75" width). I still need to work on optimal rack setup, but already I want to ride this bike more.

10 comments:

  1. First and foremost, Miss Clementine looks great! I'm glad you've been able to implement some of the changes that you were hoping to accomplish. Making a bike more functional/useful for the intended rider is the most important aspect of any bike. If you don't want to ride it (or find it challenging to do so), that means its not fulfilling its job... or at least that's how I feel about bikes. So, I'm happy that you're finding your way with her! :) I think the handlebar change was an extremely wise one. I always had some level of concern for you regarding how you'd feel about those Bosco bars... they are just so upright (but I knew you were looking for a little more upright position, so it's hard to know what someone else will find right).

    I'm fascinated by the route people take to end up with a Rivendell. Meaning, some people seem to end up with one as their first "good" bike, while others come from more of a racing background, and still others come from commuting for years and wanting an upgrade or hoping for something different or more useful/utilitarian - or even via other avenues, as there are so many possibilities. I admit that I have formed a bit of a love-hate relationship with Rivendell. Okay, I don't "hate" anything about Rivendell, but have found over the years that there is a certain level of frustration with the weight. I always wonder if I was a tall male if I'd have the same annoyance? I seem to end up feeling as though Rivendell bikes are made for those who don't have an issue pushing the extra beef. Although I enjoy my Riv, over the years I've found that it has taken a lot of work to get it to a place that makes me happy, and even though I have found that point, the weight is something that will always be an issue. Personally, I don't think I could ever use it for touring because with the addition of more weight, I would really struggle. Of course, that's just my opinion/experience and I know others have done just fine. Interestingly, I've owned heavier bikes that were actually easier to deal with when adding even more weight in bags/baskets. I think part of my struggle too is that it's always been a bit large for me so I'm never quite in my ideal position.

    But, enough of my rambling thoughts... I truly am happy to see you finding your way with your Clementine! She certainly is pretty and making her more functional for you makes her all the more gorgeous.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I come from both commuting and touring background with a love of old mountain bikes. The Clementine cannot replace my Miyata 610 touring bike (sold), nor the Trek Antelope (sold) - both were lightweight bicycles. I'm spoiled for the lower step over otherwise getting my hands on a Soma Buena Vista has been intriguing. Yes, weight matters but cutting back on touring gear has offset overall bike weight. I've heard that the newer Clementines are even longer!

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    2. But I have to admit it's not an ideal touring bike for me. I don't know what, if anything is, under 2000.00, that's satifies my criteria, purchased in th U.S. As I've mentioned before, wish I had my pick of European step through options! As you know, diamond frames are everwhere, but it's heartening to see how fast Rivendell sells their step through models.

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  2. I have the same feeling when climbing up hills on my '87 GT Timberline All Terra. It's by no means a flyweight, but when equipped with Rat Trap Pass tires, it practically flies up hill!It helps of course that I bike everywhere nearly every day, but I really do notice a difference in climbing performance with the RTPs vs the winter tires, or even the RTPs vs. the Panaracer slicks that are on the bike right now (not my choice; the local shop supplied these when they lost the RTPs that I had supplied for a tuneup. It was at the height of pandemic bike boom so I imagine the shop was crazier than a normal spring. Ah well, C'est la vie). In group rides I'm often the first up hill while the people on plastic bikes are clicking down through the gears.

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    1. Must be you've found the sweet spot with Rat Trap Pass Tires.

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    2. Wow, looked up the tires. 2.3" is incredible and to fit a Timberline must mean you ride without fenders? Love to see a photo. Always wanted a GT frame.

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    3. 2.3" is the nominal size. When mounted on the rims, they're more like 50-53 mm instead of 58mm. The Timberline has room for these tires with fenders, though the rear wheel is a bit pinched due to the position of the U-brakes. They're on the seatstays, not the chainstays as was the fashion at the time, so they actually work for braking, but they get in the way a bit of the fender. That was with the Honjo 62-mm fenders. I've ordered the new Honjo H98 fenders - 75 mm wide! - from Rene Herse. I hope these will fit. With the 62-mm fenders I still got some splashback from the front wheel, even with a good size mudflap on the front (homemade with clear Gorilla tape). I expect the 75s will cut down on the splashback.

      I've ridden without fenders only rarely, such as when I had some 2.5" studded winter tires last year (for a winter with very little snow, go figure). Those tires will easily clear the frame and forks but not exactly with fenders. Outside of that I roll with fenders.

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  3. I never really appreciated the difference the weight of the bike could make until a year ago. I was touring on my Genesis and allowing for the panniers and bar bag it was heavy compared to other bikes in the group. So after the tour I had a look around and bought my Boardman X bike. Its much lighter, by about 5kgs, and although the gearing is not as low as the Genesis its far far easy to ride the hills on it. So couple with the fact that I have lost a few kgs as well the hills are far more enjoyable.

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  4. I've been wanting to do this same thing to my own Clem! I swapped out the bars to Velo Orange Milan. They don't give me as many hand positions as the ones you chose though, so maybe not so good for touring. But they give me a much more aggressive position. Not roadie aggressive, maybe about a 45 degree torso angle now. I feel more comfortable, at least on my short rides I've done so far. The tires though, I've been agonizing over this decision for months! I was looking at the exact ones you chose though, they are very light weight, and love the tan walls. I just don't know if I want to give up that much width. It's between those and the Rat Trap Pass. I've wanted those tires forever, they are just SO expensive!

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  5. Well said Annie, I have to remind myself, as I rush to fill an Amazon cart for a new acquisition, that I need to ride a bike, allot, before I think about making changes. Enjoy Miss Clem in her new more svelte version

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