11 September 2010

Helene's First Changes

I've done a few rides on Helene.  Actually, they felt more like gliding:  The frame is nearly as responsive as Arielle and Tosca, my other two Mercians, but  is also comfortable without feeling too cushy.  

However, there are two small changes I need to make.  The Guidonnet (Contraty to popular rumor, they're not what Snooki would ride--if indeed she cycled.) brake levers and the bar-end shifters aren't quite to my liking.  

The brake levers actually don't allow me to use the Porteur bars in the way I'd hoped.  The clamp doesn't allow for the use of the forward part of the bar--at least, not for someone with hands like mine.  And, the swept-back part of the bar I like is in a nether-world between the brake and shift levers:  I can reach neither easily.  And, finally, using the bar-end shifters has turned out to be more awkward than I anticipated.

Please understand that I am not making judgments on the quality or design of the Guidonnet levers or the bar-end shifter (an old Sun Tour ratcheted Bar-Con).  They simply aren't suitable for the way the bike is configured or the way I fit and ride it.

So, I've just ordered a pair of Silver Tektro inverse levers from Velo Orange.  I have a feeling those will work better for me, and will still fit in with Helene's aesthetic.  And, since they won't allow for the use of a bar-end shifter, I'm going to try a down-tube shifter.  Reaching it from the porteur bar doesn't seem like it would be much more difficult than accessing Arielle's downtube shifters from the "hooks" on her drop bars.  I really would like to avoid using a shifter mounted on top of the handlebar (a "thumb" shifter) because, it seems, they would rob me of one or two hand positions that I like.

Well, there's one thing I've learned:  When you get to a certain age and make changes, some things fit differently (if they still fit!) .  But when you have, essentially, the sort of ride--or life--these minor changes are like little adventures and learning experiences.  


  1. Down tube shifters sound like a good choice.

  2. Wow, Steve, you're quick!

    Actually, I was rather hoping that downtube shifters would be the best choice, as I am accustomed to them on my road bike.

  3. If you aren't too excited about having to reach for the downtube shifters when your bike is set up with upright bars, you could go with a set of stem shifters. They are almost always associated with lower end bikes but you could upgrade a set like I did. I found a set of Shimano stem shifters with a shiny chrome clamp but ugly rubber and plastic shift levers. I kept the clamp and exchanged the cheap shift levers with a nice set of old aluminum 105 downtube levers. They look nice and work great.

  4. Rat Trap: That's a good idea. The only problem is that the bike has a threadless stem. I guess I could somehow adapt the shifters to one of the spacers on the steer tube.

  5. Helene is looking nice!

    I found bar end shifters to be extremely awkward to use on Porteur-style bars, while I love the very same shifters on drop bars. I just don't think Porteurs were designed for them.

    On the other hand, the inverse brake levers seem to be a match made in heaven for these bars. I love, love, love my set-up.

    I don't think you will have any problems using the DT shifters on a mixte if you are already used to them on a more aggressive bike. The reach will be greater, but someone with your level of cycling skills can handle that. And it will look elegant.

    Looking forward to seeing your new setup!

  6. Aesthetically I think the DT shifters and the inverse brake levers will look fab! Your bars will look stream-lined and less cluttered. (Can't comment on the use as I've only had drops for years . . . keep meaning to get that 'other' bike, sigh!).