Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

11 February 2012

Not The Bee's Knees

Since I'm not Eric Rohmer, I'm not going to make this post about Le Genou de Justine. And it may not be the bee's knees, either.  Where did that expression come from, anyway?

Anyway...My knee doesn't look particularly bad:  a couple of cuts and some swelling.  As my doctor said, it feels worse than it actually is.  Still, I don't think you want to look at it.  So, instead, I'll show you what happened to Vera:

Thankfully, the real damage isn't to Vera herself--well, not to the frame, which is to the heart and soul of the bike.  The front wheel is only slightly out of true; the rear is unscathed.  All else seems fine, except for the handlebar.  The right side is bent downward, and there are stretch marks at the point where the main body of the bar meets the center sleeve. It had actually been bent more; I bent it back as much as I could so I could ride the bike home.  But, of course, I'm not going to take any chances with it.  I once broke a handlebar and I was fortunate not to have broken anything else!

I'd been riding the bar--a Nitto Jitensha--for not much more than a month.  It had the nice, solid feel of the Nitto drop bars and stems I ride on Arielle and Tosca.  And they gave me a good position--upright, with a somewhat leaning-forward attitude--for commuting and city riding. They were a bit wider than other city/upright bars I've ridden, which gave me a bit more steering power, but were a bit more difficult to maneuver in tight spots.  That brings me to the one and only complaint I had about the Jitensha:  Given its width, I expected the grip area to be longer. Plus, the hand position it affords is something of a cross between that of a flat bar (which I find is hard on my wrists) and that of the flats or "hooks" of a dropped or "moustache" bar.  I like the drop/moustache position better.  But that, and my liking of a longer grip area, are my personal preferences; if they're not yours, the Jitensha is a nice bar for commuting and other kinds of urban riding.  

I've decided that I'm going to replace it with a bar on which I've ridden more, and like:  the Velo Orange Porteur.  It's the same bar I've been riding on Helene, and I rode it on another bike on which I commuted for a time.  However, I'm not going to use it with inverse levers, as I have on Helene, because they won't work with the brakes that are on Vera.  

Finally, when I install the Porteur bars, I'm going to try a shift lever I found on eBay.  More about that later.  Now all I have to do is heal my knee.   Will Eric Rohmer make a movie about that?


  1. According to various sources, bee's knees originated in the US in the 20's, along with "the cat's whiskers" and similar.

  2. Glad you're okay through all this (aside from your knee of course). Hopefully it'll heal soon. If it were me, Vera would get new bars and then I'd hit a few myself : >)

  3. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back.


    Mandie Hayes

  4. Steve--That's interesting. Thank you. "Cat's whiskers," I can understand. Still, I don't get "bee's knees," except for the rhyme.

    Lucky--Thank you!

    Mandie--I've added your blog to my roll. I love the illustration on your homepage, and I like the way you interpret "bikes and related things." If you want to write to me, I'm at justineisadream@gmail.com.