Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lovely Bicycle?

Did everyone get what is going on in Kao's last post?
I didn't really get it until Kao asked me if I saw it. I won't say what it is, but the title may give you a clue.

"My" new bike

I mentioned before that I was planning to convert Kao's bike into more of a city bike. To do this, I had ordered some parts from Velo Orange. They finally arrived on Saturday.

parts from Velo Orange
I ordered the Milano bar, Cork grips, and Tektro FL730 levers

After about an hour of tinkering, this is how it turned out.

Kao's bike v2.0

Well, I'm not sure if it works visually or not. The cork grips seems to throw off the balance from what was mostly a red and black bike, but functionally speaking, it's a lot closer to a city bike than before. I emailed Velo Orange before making the order to ask what kind of a bar they recommended and the answer was the Milano bar. It is apparently designed to be used with a road frame like this and it gives you a more upright position. What I noticed immediately is that it really changes your whole mentality while riding. On the road bike, I think my main concern is to ride and focus on the physical experience of riding, but with this new set up, the physical activity was more secondary and I found myself looking around a lot and enjoying being able to do that with ease. Most importantly, this new set up is much easier on my left arm and hand. (FYI, I had a fall a couple of weeks ago and riding my road bike had been difficult) It's not completely pain free as little bumps on the road still can be felt with pain, but with the new set up, I can move my hand to minimize the shock with much more ease than before. It's not like I was constantly worrying about my hand, but I noticed that I felt much less pain over all, so that I actually felt like riding further than I needed to. Since I had that little accident, I'd only been riding to the store to get the necessities and I didn't feel like riding any more than that which was kind of bumming me out. I'd also been feeling a slightly unhealthy which I don't feel at all usually as I get enough exercise just riding around. So while I'm not quite sure about the new looks, the conversion was a success in that I am eager to be riding again.

Kao's bike v2.0

The all important question though is, is this a Lovely bicycle? I'd been following and enjoying the Lovely Bicycle blog and I am now looking at their Criteria for a Lovely Bicycle as I write this and I am sad to see that the bike does not meet the criteria. I guess it's maybe not possible to convert a road bike into a Lovely bicycle, but the intention was not only to make it more comfortable, but to make it "Lovelier" as well.

I think I might keep on tinkering with it still. The Milano bar is definitely more comfortable than a drop bar, but I'm thinking an even more swept back bar like the VO Tourist Bar might make it even more comfortable. Ultimately though, I think using a road frame as a base has its limits. I don't know about the the engineering behind frame designs, but I think a road bike frame is designed for the rider to put some weight on the front while a city bike with an upright position puts all of the rider's weight on the back end, so riding the road bike frame with an upright position seems to make the handling feel a bit strange. I think getting wider tires may make it handle better and keep the rear tire from bottoming out under load, but really to make a good city bike, it's best to start with a city bike frame. So, maybe pursuing this further is futile, but I actually enjoy thinking about these kinds of things. I don't know if I'll invest any more into the bike as this is Kao's bike after all, but if I do, I'll most likely tell you all about it here.


  1. i saw it. i thought it was a set up.

  2. the guy in blue is walking backwards, the cyclist forward. then pictures or video shown backwards. imo

  3. A correct answer!
    the guy in blue walking backwards for health.

  4. What a nice surprise to search for the Milano bars and find a reference to my site! I may need to replace the drops on my mixte and have been wondering what bars to get if this indeed comes to pass. My concern was that the Milanos would be too upright, but based on your comments it looks like this is not the case. These bars certainly look nice on the bike.

    I know that someone out there sells black cork grips, but can't remember who. Red bikes are very hard to accessorise though. If you had unlimited funds for this, I'd say go for the red-and-cream look: pale cork grips, cream tires, Honjo fenders, Brooks B17 in honey, etc. But who has infinite funds!

    It is possible to achieve an upright posture with roadbike geometry, but you will need a longer stem (so as to place the bars higher than the saddle). That, plus a set of Albatross/ North Road bars should do the trick. Even the bars alone might do it.

  5. Thank you for the "lovely" comment and suggestions!

    I have replaced the stem with a taller one since then, so now I can ride much more upright with this bike. I think the VO Tourist bar might give me an even more preferable position, but since this bike is technically not mine and I'm just borrowing it, I'm holing out on further tinkering with it.

    It's really up to Kao (my "co-habitant") to do more to it. I'm not sure if she wants to ride it as a city bike or a road bike. The problem she had with the drop bar set-up was that she had a hard time with braking. With the new set up, it's much easier to brake, but it's maybe not the best set up for longer rides. If we could, it's probably best to have 2 bikes for different uses, but money and storage space is an issue, so if we could do everything with 1 bike, that might be the best thing for us.