Monday, April 5, 2010

Special K ver 3.0 (?)


I think it was wishful thinking that we would have enjoyed more sunny Spring days lately. We had a few days of nice weather a couple of weeks ago, but it's been mostly coludy rainy days since. It's my third Spring here in Portland, but I guess I'm still not used to having so many cold rainy days in the Spring.

I thought I would have done some rides to places I haven't been to and written about them, but with the uninspiring weather, I haven't ridden as much as I would have liked.

Instead of writing about rides I haven't done, I thought I would write about modifications I made to my bike. So, this is going to be a bit tech oriented post. I sort of feel unsure about what this blog should be with posts that only may interest "avid cyclists" though. Recently, Copenhagenize blogged that "avid cyclists" are unnecessary for advocating cycling. I can understand that, but it doesn't mean that I can be less of an "avid cyclist" or be less interested in bicycles. I'm neither here nor there. I'm not a full on racer nor a cycle chic utility rider, but in between. It's not like this blog has so many readers and there's a clear mission, so for now I'll just write about things that interest me.

Anyway, so I have made a couple of modifications to Special K. Can you tell what they are in the picture above?

I replaced the stem and the pedals.

This is what the stem looked like before.

I felt a bit stretched out with this stem and recently, I've moved the saddle back a bit which made the reach even longer, so I wanted to get a shorter stem to get a more comfortable position. I looked around a bit for a new stem and my first thought was to get something more understated without the graphics. I looked at velo orange, but they didn't have any stems that could accommodate my bars. I also wanted to get a stem that could be adjusted to find the right position. There are stems that have pivots, but they were quite expensive and I wasn't sure about their reliability. Then I looked at Specialized stems because I knew they were adjustable with a inner sleeve. I am not loyal to the Specialized brand at all, but it seemed like the most adjustable and reasonably priced of all the ones I saw, so I decided to get it. I got the 90mm Comp-Set stem.

for blog use
It has 10 possible angles or something like that, so you can fine tune your position as you see fit.

So, this is how it looks after I made the switch. It still has some graphics unfortunately, but it's slightly more subtle. I can definitely do without the "Innovate or Die" copy though. I don't know why the faceplate isn't black like the main body of the stem, but it does now cover the Specialized logo on the bar, so I would say the overall look is a slight improvement. Now if I could get rid of the red lines on the bars...

The other change is the pedals.

I (think I) first saw these Time Z pedals on Bike Hugger's modal bike (can't seem to find the link) and they looked like just what I wanted which were clipless pedals which could be ridden with regular shoes. It's been an ongoing search for me to find pedals that are perfect. My last pair which were the Crank Brothers Candy C pedals were great clipless pedals, but not at all good to ride with regular shoes. These Time Z pedals did look very promising as it has a wide platform and the binding mechanism didn't seem to protrude as much as other pedals did. The only way to find out was to get them and ride them. So, I did that.

I had high expectations for these and they are more accommodating than any other clipless pedals I've ridden with regular shoes, but still they are not like platform pedals. So, I think it was a slight improvement, but I'm not sure if it was worth the price.

I thought if I had regular shoes that are specific for these pedals, maybe they would fit better. I didn't want to buy new shoes just for this purpose, so I looked for used shoes at thrift stores and got these.

What I've done here is to cut off a couple of lugs of the sole to accommodate the protrusion of the pedals. This was also just a slight improvement, but it doesn't achieve anything near the feel of regular shoes on platform pedals. It's a very simple thing, how your feet feel on pedals, but I can't say that I'm satisfied with these.

For now though, I can't think of anything else I might try with these pedals and I can't justify buying another set of pedals, so I will just get used to these. I have been riding with this set up for short rides around town and I'm starting to get used to them although they still feel a bit funny.

So, that's what's happened with Special K. I'm not sure if this is interesting reading to anyone though. One thing I have been thinking is that though this bike isn't particularly special in any way, it's becoming more special for me personally with little modifications and some TLC. There's all kinds of beautiful bikes to be seen online (like at the recent NAHBS), but I think almost any bike can be special if you want it to be.

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