Musical Bars

    Where I ride, in the wild lands immediately north of the city, you are liable to see all sorts of animals. There’s the deer:

    The hawk:

    And of course the Platypus:

    I’ve been doing a lot of bicycle fine-tuning lately. However, the Platypus was one bike I felt was…well, you never like to say “perfect,” because nothing’s ever perfect, so I’ll use the more irritatingly colloquial adjective “dialed.” I’d given it fatter tires, I’d rearranged the cockpit, but now it was dialed, I was done futzing with it, and that was that.

    But then I changed the bars on the A. Homer Hilsen the other day, leaving me with a perfectly good Choco bar–which I happen to really like, even if I think the drops do bring out the Homer’s full potential. This got me thinking about how the Choco would feel on the Platypus in place of the Tosco bar I was using:

    [Photo: Rivendell]

    I love the feel of this bar and have no complaints about it…though I do use the portion of it in front of the brake and shift levers fairly often (I fitted it with a second pair of grips for just this reason), and as you can see, is curved to give the bars their rise:

    Meanwhile, the Choco is similarly shaped (roughly speaking) while offering both a flatter ahead-of-the-levers section and a usable bend, corresponding with the cloth-wrapped portion:

    It seemed to me that swapping the bars might enhance both climbing and faster riding on the flats. Moreover, since the bars were of similar proportions, and since the Platypus has an open-face stem, I wouldn’t have to mess with the cables or cable length or anything like that. All I’d have to do was slide off the grips:

    [Pour a thimbleful of rubbing alcohol in there and they slide right off.]

    And pop the top:

    For all two of you looking for detailed Rivendell bar comparisons, here’s a slightly better comparison shot:

    Both bars have lots of sweep, but the Choco is a little narrower and quite a bit flatter. Rise is great if you need it, but since I don’t need any help getting the bars high enough on the 60cm Platypus, it seemed like the swap would be worthwhile if it netted me more effective hand positions in the end. Here’s how everything looked when I was done:

    First I spent a little time riding around and fiddling with the lever positions:

    Then I hit the local greenway:

    On the Homer, the generous sweep of the Choco made riding with my hands where the grips are feel a little cramped. However, on the much more generously-proportioned Platypus, I’ve got room to stretch out, and the flatter cloth-wrapped portion does indeed facilitate climbing and encourage more spirited riding–and I can assure you that despite the fancy lugs and precious paint and all the rest of it the Platypus is a lively bike that is more than happy to throw down. In fact I’m often tempted to ditch the rear bag and the lobster trap basket to lighten it up and really give the Platypus its head (that’s an equestrian expression, not to be confused with giving a platypus head, which you really shouldn’t do because they sting), but I the simple fact is that I use them too much, and even when I don’t have stuff to carry or errands to run I’m often very happy for the basket since I can dump layers in there without even getting off the bike:

    Speaking of the greenway, the north Bronx is the shared micromobility capital of New York City:

    They don’t allow shared scooters and stuff elsewhere in the New York City, but the DOT is running various pilot programs in the Bronx, so whether it’s Veo:

    Or Lime:

    Or even good old-fashioned Citi Bikes:

    You can find them all up here, strewn along the roadside.

    Anyway, the days now are shorter than a mountain biker’s stem, so night fell as I was riding:

    And by the time I emerged from the woods it was Christmas:

    I was quite pleased with the bar swap, but things look a lot different at night:

    Even when you use a flash:

    So today I headed out for another, longer ride in the blinding light of day:

    This only served to reaffirm the bar swap worked out in my favor, and now both the Homer and the Platypus are all the better for my tinkering.

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