20 January 2012

Vera's Changes

After losing her saddle and seatpost last month, Vera's had a few changes.

Don't worry:  I didn't give her a "fade" paint job or outfit her with carbon components.  However, I made a few more subtle alterations to her.

The most obvious, of course, is the Brooks B-67 saddle.  I chose it because of another switch I made, which I'll describe.  The seatpost is a Kalloy that looks like the Laprade post that was ubiquitous during the 1970's and 1980's.  It seems decent enough.  However, the main reason I bought it is that, I discovered, Vera takes a 27.0 seatpost. That was the standard diameter for Mercian and most other English bikes until the late '90's or thereabouts.  Around that time, Mercian and other makers switched to the 27.2 size Arielle, Tosca and Helene--as well as most other current road bikes--use. 

I decided to install the B-67 because, as you may have noticed. i"m riding a more upright bar/stem combination.  The flipped-over North Road-style bars (from Velo Orange) I had looked cute on the bike, but I felt cramped on them.  The bent-over position felt neither as comfortable nor as efficient as riding on the "hooks" or "drops" of my road handlebars.  Plus, I was using it with a Nitto Technomic, which made for one of the flexiest bar/stem combinations I've ridden in a while.  That surprised me, as other Nitto stems I've ridden were stiff, and the Velo Orange Porteur bar I've been riding on Helene seems more than stiff enough.

The new bars are Nitto Jitensha, which offer a good upright position for riding in traffic that still has the somewhat-leaning-forward attitude afforded by the bars that used to come on many French mixte bikes during the '70's and '80's.  

I paired the bars with a Velo Orange "constructeur-style" steel stem.  It's much stiffer than the Technomic it replaced.  And I couldn't resist putting that kittie-with-vase decal on the extension.

Then I changed the fenders because the ones I had--Velo Orange stainless steel--didn't fit very well.  I had a difficult time removing and installing the rear wheel because the rounded shape of the fender made it fit more snugly in the stays than the current fenders.  And, paradoxically, they rattled annoyingly, no matter how much I tightened the fittings.

So, I gave those fenders to a friend who's going to use them on a hybrid with somewhat larger clearances than those of Vera's.  As much as I prefer metal fenders, I broke down and bought a pair of SKS Longboards.  Although they're supposed to be the same width as the VO steel fenders, they fit much better.  And they look better than I expected.

Finally...I all but destroyed the Distortion BMX pedals I had on the bike. The bearings were toast, the axles were bent and the platform was caking.  I got a pair of MKS Lambda (the "Sneaker" or "Grip King" model) for 30 dollars.   I thought they just might work for commuting and errands.  They look strange, but the pedals I had weren't going to win any beauty contests, either.

I'll tell you more about those new parts as I ride them and form, I hope, more meaningful impressions.


  1. Justine, I have been eying the Jitensha handlebar, looking forward to your comments on this bar. Nice job putting everything together, Vera looks stunning!

  2. I'm a big fan of the Grip Kings with street shoes. They can get slick in the wet. Grant Peterson advocates drilling them and inserting pins. I haven't gotten around to that and may never. But these have always felt just right.

    I have the Jitensha but never managed to get a matching stem, plus my shifters took too much space. I have a bar made by Civia that is similar. It allows for good weight distribution if you like to ride forward.

    One of these days I may try a more roadish bike with the "urban pursuit" bars, the most similar to riding on the hoods.

    I've never had luck with the Brooks thing. I'm a WTB guy.

    Hope it all works out for you!

  3. Don and Chris, I'll do an update after I've been riding with the current setup for a while. Thanks for the compliments on the bike's looks.