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  1. #1
    ****ist lazzarello's Avatar
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    Changing frames before PBP

    I just completed a 400k PBP qualifier in New Jersey last Saturday. Most challenging thing I've ever done for more reasons than the cycling part. Weight distribution became a serious issue in the last 60 miles. Right now my wrist and sit bones are killing me. My two riding partners had very smart rando-style set ups. Custom steel frames made by David Kirk with slack geo, brooks saddles, wide bags on front and rear. Me however, had a aluminum Specialized Transition from 2005. Short wheel base, 700x23 tires, compact geo and a long rear rack that makes turning feel terrible.

    Even though I've become accustomed to this bike after completing the first three brevets with it, I feel like it's less than ideal for not only the 600k but PBP. Actually, I feel like I'm be punishing myself if I took it to France. On the other hand, I'm hesitant to change bikes this far into the qualifiers. I've read an initial warning against this in the RUSA handbook.

    So here's my logic. I take all the measurements of this current frame then find a new one that isn't as aggressive in the wheelbase. Then I can fit some wide tires and english style touring bags on the front and back, ditch the long rear rack and get a Brooks saddle for that extra something. If I can do all this in a week and a half, I can fit in a century before the 600k and break everything in.

    What am I missing? Is this a worse idea than slugging it out with a tri-style bike that I already know fits?

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Are you running the stock cowhorns or road bars? If you have changed it over to road bars, do you have clip-ons? Why do you think a Brooks is going to be The Saddle? What saddle are you using now? Why do you think you're going to do better with less aero equipment? How about a Moots rack bag and lighten up the load in it? AFAIK in the first 30 riders in my recent 400 there were only two bikes running tires wider than 23 or 25 and one was Jan Heine. Most were running 23s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lazzarello
    What am I missing? Is this a worse idea than slugging it out with a tri-style bike that I already know fits?
    I've never ridden a tri bike, but my impression was that their geometry is specifically oriented around being ridden with aerobars. Since you say that you're aiming for PBP and since PBP bans the use of aerobars, I think that your idea of how your current bike fits might not be applicable to what you would experience in France.

    To that end, I would point out that, while you should take measurements of your current frame, that would only be a baseline. More than just a longer wheelbase, you might want something with a slacker seat tube angle and a slightly less aero position, to get the weight off your wrists.

    I also agree with CFB's skepticism about the Brooks. You're already changing a lot as it is; if you already have a saddle that works for you, change that only after you change the bike and only if you find that the new riding position somehow made your butt incompatible with your old saddle.

  4. #4
    ****ist lazzarello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    Are you running the stock cowhorns or road bars? If you have changed it over to road bars, do you have clip-ons?
    I bought it used with only road bars. I don't know what clip-ons are so I don't know if I have them or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    Why do you think a Brooks is going to be The Saddle? What saddle are you using now?
    It doesn't have to be a Brooks but I need something that'll mold to the sit bones better. I'm currently on this old skool Italian plastic touring saddle. It looks like a Brooks knock-off. All it says in the rear is "S. Marco".

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    AFAIK in the first 30 riders in my recent 400 there were only two bikes running tires wider than 23 or 25 and one was Jan Heine. Most were running 23s.
    I know I'll finish with skinny tires but I'm shooting for comfort, not speed for the 600k. I took my buddy's bike for a few circles at a rest stop and it felt much more comfortable with 30s. My frame's max is 23.

  5. #5
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    S'good. That's supposed to be a tri-road combo bike. I don't think it has tri-specific geometry. You might check on the seat tube angle. I think 73 would be a normal road angle.

    How far are your bars below the saddle? If more than 2" I think you could benefit from raising them. A lot of people ride with bars level with the saddle. If you bring them up, lengthen the stem, too.

    There are lots and lots of saddle threads on here and Road Cycling. I don't think you have time to break in a Brooks even if it was a good saddle for you. I use a Terry Fly Ti, which works for me, but everyone is different. Definitely change out the saddle - many LBS will let you try different saddles and bring them back. Get something with a little padding, but not much. I'd go for the saddle first, and finding one that might work, put it on one of those bike-fit thingies at an LBS where they can move everything around to check your fit.

    You might look at other bar shapes. Some of my buddies swear by ITM bars because it's easy to set up the brifters and bar tops so that they make a level place to rest your wrists. Look at the bar shapes on the Under $750 sticky thread on the Road Cycling forum and you'll see what I mean. You want your setup to look like what's shown for the Felt or Newest bikes.

    Otherwise, change hand positions frequently, exercise and stretch your shoulders on the bike, ride one-handed and flex your hands and forearms, etc.

    Shorts can make a big difference. I've been using a pair of Sugoi shorts for my long rides.

  6. #6
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    I don't think you really have time to break in a brooks, and doing it on a century will make you not want to use it.

    I think you're better off raising the bars, getting a more modern saddle without a break in time for now and some really nice shorts or bibs, maybe even Assos if you have the jingle. Raising the bars will help take weight off your hands and a nicer saddle and shorts will help with the sit bone issues. As far as your rack goes, you might want to try something that sits closer to the saddle like a carradice. They make an adapter for saddles without bag loops.

    A new stem, different saddle and a really nice pair of bibs might cost 400 bucks. A carradice bag would be around a hundred or more depending on the make. 500 is a lot less than completely changing your frame and you'd probably want a new bag too. I bet it would make a huge difference without screwing up your fit on the bike.
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  7. #7
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    A new stem, different saddle and a really nice pair of bibs might cost 400 bucks. A carradice bag would be around a hundred or more depending on the make. 500 is a lot less than completely changing your frame and you'd probably want a new bag too. I bet it would make a huge difference without screwing up your fit on the bike.
    ...

    *notes that he spent $450 on his most recent bike purchase* (yes, the whole bike)
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  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If I were you, I'd start by getting a Brooks B-17 from Wallingford (6 month return policy) and give it a try. You DO have lots of time to break it in. I got mine in early July 2004, and rode a 1000K in early August 2004 with no problems. Get it by the middle of June and you've got two whole months (twice as long as I had) to break it in. And some people find them comfortable right from the start!

    Then I'd play around with your setup. Raise the handlebars, etc. etc.

    And while you're at it, keep an eye out for a more touring-style bicycle. It doesn't have to be anything expensive right now, just something so you can try out a steel bicycle with a more relaxed geometry and see how you like it. It's not a bad idea to try different things to find out what you like. You might go to the PBP with what you have, but for next year you might have idea what you'd like to order for a long distance bicycle.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazzarello
    Even though I've become accustomed to this bike after completing the first three brevets with it, I feel like it's less than ideal for not only the 600k but PBP. Actually, I feel like I'm be punishing myself if I took it to France. On the other hand, I'm hesitant to change bikes this far into the qualifiers. I've read an initial warning against this in the RUSA handbook.
    You're in a tough spot. On the one hand, you don't want to make a changes to your proven rig, but on the other hand the brevets have taught you that your rig is far from ideal.

    That warning is mostly against changing things unnecessarily. Making adjustments based on experience and learning from your mistakes is at the core of the randonneur ethos.

    Quote Originally Posted by lazzarello
    My two riding partners had very smart rando-style set ups. Custom steel frames made by David Kirk with slack geo, brooks saddles, wide bags on front and rear.
    A bike like that is more than the sum of its parts, but you should be able to achieve most of the comfort and utility on a production frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by lazzarello
    So here's my logic. I take all the measurements of this current frame then find a new one that isn't as aggressive in the wheelbase. Then I can fit some wide tires and english style touring bags on the front and back, ditch the long rear rack and get a Brooks saddle for that extra something. If I can do all this in a week and a half, I can fit in a century before the 600k and break everything in.
    Do it. Get a Surly Pacer or Crosscheck, or a Kogswell P/R if you're man enough to rock the 650b's. The Pacer will have the advantage of accepting almost all of your components, and maximizes clearance with short reach brakes. The Crosscheck has more clearance and fittings for rack and fenders. The Kogswell comes with matching fenders and is surely the best bang-for-the-buck rando bike anywhere, but you'll need new wheels.

    Forget about the big front bag, but do get a Carradice saddle bag. Grant's front bag is French, not English, and this setup really needs that little rack and slightly different front-end geometry to work perfectly.

    I don't believe in Brooks saddle break-in. The angle and position has to be exactly right, but once that's set they are comfortable right out of the box. I've also heard good things about the Fizik Airone, but I'd be very cautious about changing saddle until you're really sure the new one is an improvement.

    If you can't get a new frame/bike, find a way to move the saddle back and the handlebar up, while keeping the distance between saddle and bar roughly constant.

    By the way, I was the fourth fixed gear rider on Saturday, on a big green Quickbeam, and we rode together for a while, although we didn't chat. From what I saw, you struck me as an experienced and strong rider, so I'm sure you'll do well in future events.

  10. #10
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    Second aye to Surly Cross-Check. I quit my Italian aluminun racing frame last year and changed it to Surly.
    I took all other parts but brakes and put them to Surly. I bought Avid cantilevers, new Brooks saddle and Tubus Flu rack.
    Now I think, I have best bike I ever had. Itīs not the lightes bike but Itīs so smooth to ride and very practical. The geomery is very good for sitting all day (and night) on the saddle. I can use as wide tyres as I want. I have fenders, rack, saddle bag.
    Of course there is several other brands that fills same terms but i have expriense only for Surly and itīs not a bad choise. The frame is easy to find and itīs inexpencive.

    If you consider a brooks saddle, you can choose pre aged saddle. But standard B17 model is also very comfortable and easy to break in. B17 champion special is hardest of those three, itīs made of thicker leather.
    Last edited by Jellyroll; 05-15-07 at 06:36 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    What am I missing? Is this a worse idea than slugging it out with a tri-style bike that I already know fits?
    Wow, this is weird. Did I get this right? You're riding a tri-bike on Brevets?

    Yeah, you still don't get it. Don't take any measurements from that bike.

    Go get some old lugged steel frame, put some bullet-proof wheels on it and ride. And don't get all stupid with the bags. Use the rear-rack and a trunk rack bag, never put crap, except your lights, computer on your handle bars.....

    If you have to guess about the stem, go short, be ready to play with the saddle adjustment a couple of times on the 600k.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Wow, this is weird. Did I get this right? You're riding a tri-bike on Brevets?
    First of all, I've seen folks ride long, hilly brevets quite ably on full tri bikes. I sn!ggered a bit when I saw them at the depart, but I stopped when they finished hours ahead of me. On the other hand, I've also seen tri guys flame out spectacularly, but I keep my prejudices in check now.

    Secondly, this guy's bike does not look like a tri bike. It looks like your garden-variety garishly painted aluminum zero-clearance "race" frame. Plenty of those on brevets. To each his own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Yeah, you still don't get it. Don't take any measurements from that bike.
    No, I think he does get it. He's got his saddle height and reach dialed in, and I would not just throw that out the window, especially at this point in the brevet season. At the very least it's a good starting point.

    This case illustrates perfectly how a bike can "fit" and still be uncomfortable over long distance. The relationship of the contact points to each other may be right on, but the body needs to be rotated backward a bit for better balance and weight distribution.

    The advice to just get "some old lugged steel bike" is, frankly, unwise and condescending because:

    1. Lugs have nothing to do with it (and, trust me, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool luggite)
    2. The last thing he needs is a frame with maybe a chainstay crack hidden under a layer of grime
    3. When you're under this kind of time crunch, you go with a known property

    Anyway, I've seen this guy ride a little bit, and he's finished some very tough events to get to where he is. He's not a complete schmuck, and fellow randonneurs should be treated with just a smidgen of respect, imo.

    To the OP: If you have a lead on a good old frame, like a Specialized Sequoia or Bridgestone RB-T or even a decent Nishiki or Univega, or whatever, go for it. Also, consider sizing up a bit (as long as it doesn't get too long), as this may help get your handlebars in a comfortable position. Those Kirks, for example, didn't have a whole lot of seatpost showing, IIRC. Whatever you do, bring tools and expect to tinker a bit with the setup on the 600 km.

    edit: sheesh, "sn!iggering" is a prohibited expression of mirth around here.

  13. #13
    ****ist lazzarello's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, especially goonster. I'm commited to the brooks, not so committed to a whole new frame. I feel like I have a very clear idea of what direction to look in now.

    I'm not taking Mr. Cranium's condescensions personally. Previous posts have the same tone. Actually, I had his same sentiments on the 200k. I had no idea what kind of culture there was surrounding randonneuring, so I just jumped in with the only geared bike I had and climbed more in one day than I did all winter. There was a large number of race bikes out there. Then on the 300k I invited a city riding buddy and he did the whole thing on his carbon Look with a compact crank and was the 4th finisher!

    It's fun to learn all this stuff in such a direct way, by winging it on the road with some best guesses. I got this far so there's obviously more than one way to do it.

    Sorry for the digression. I'm off to get a B17!

  14. #14
    gentleman cyclist mrmatta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyroll
    If you consider a brooks saddle, ... standard B17 model is also very comfortable and easy to break in. B17 champion special is hardest of those three, itīs made of thicker leather.

    Is this true???

    I have a Champion Special that I really like, but, at 150 lbs., I'm over 500 miles towards breaking it in and feel like it has at least several more hundred to go.

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    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmatta
    Is this true???
    Maybe.

    The Brooks leather has varied widely over the years, and model to model.

    It has always been my understanding that the B17 and the B17 Champ Special use the same leather, and the only difference is the skiving at the edges, the larger rivets and the color of the rails. Personal experience supports this.

    However, I wouldn't be surprised at all if B17's from different years had leather of varying thickness.

    If you are not comfortable on your Brooks after 500 miles, I would highly reccommend adjusting the angle. Texture is nothing; shape and position is everything.

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    I tryed to do some measurements. The leather of the both saddles seems to be 4,8 - 5 mm thick. Both seems to be same thickenss but the leather of the B17 champion special feels much harder than the leather of the Standard models.

    I have got two Standard model saddles and the leather of both saddles is very soft. The sides of the saddles has turning out, the saddles feels wider than a new ones, and they also sag from the middle. They became soft after couple of thousand kilometers. (I didnīt proofide too much, just normal. Four times during break in period and once a year after that)
    But they are not bad saddles, I was very pleased of them until I tryed The Champion Special model. Now they feels soft for me. Because they are soft and sag, they need to be slightly different angle than hard saddle.

    I have ridden The Champion special model more than 3000 km and itīs still hard as a rock. But itīs very comfortable. If I press by thumps to the sitting bone places the leather give up. But itīs still looks like a new. The sides of the saddle are still where they should be.

    Maybe there is different Champion Special models on the market.

    People from Rivendell factory has notice the same thing. Here is what they say on their webpage:

    "They're back, and we've got 'em. The B.17 Champion Special saddles in Honey with Copper-covered steel rails. One of Brooks's older models, much older than the Pro, and for many riders, it's the most comfortable, least genital-numbing saddle out there. Ours is a spiffed up B.17 with thicker leather than the normal B.17, 13mm hand-set copper rivets, and a skived lower edge. Wide enough and flat enough in back to support your sit bones, and shaped right so if you set it up properly with the rear portion slightly higher than the neck, it won't cut off flow to your plumbing or crush your folds."
    Last edited by Jellyroll; 05-17-07 at 10:39 PM.

  17. #17
    Elemental Child Elderberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    Go get some old lugged steel frame, put some bullet-proof wheels on it and ride. And don't get all stupid with the bags. Use the rear-rack and a trunk rack bag, never put crap, except your lights, computer on your handle bars.....
    I agree with the old lugged steel here, as I put my distance bike together around an old Schwinn World frame found at the local co-op, but what's with your vendetta against handlebar bags? I find it kind of funny.

    EDIT: I also think a B-17'd be worth a try. I never felt any unnatural pain in my break-in period, and many folks find it to be the best saddle possible for distance riding.

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    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elderberry View Post
    I agree with the old lugged steel here, as I put my distance bike together around an old Schwinn World frame found at the local co-op, but what's with your vendetta against handlebar bags? I find it kind of funny.
    You too, eh? Sounds to me like somebody who's never ridden a bike designed to handle a front load. 'Tain't rocket science (they had it figured out 60 years ago in France), but most bikes available these days are designed around carrying ZERO luggage.

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  19. #19
    convert TommyL's Avatar
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    This is not meant as a slam on Elderberry but a question out of pure curiosity: Are you intentionally posting to a two year old thread? This happens from time to time and I am always curious why. Often times I don't notice, but the subject of PBP got my attention.

  20. #20
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyL View Post
    This is not meant as a slam on Elderberry but a question out of pure curiosity: Are you intentionally posting to a two year old thread? This happens from time to time and I am always curious why. Often times I don't notice, but the subject of PBP got my attention.
    Not my intention to keep this thread going, but I was just about to tell the OP his brevets weren't PBP qualifiers and he had plenty of time to break in a Brooks before 2011!
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  21. #21
    Elemental Child Elderberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbycorno
    You too, eh? Sounds to me like somebody who's never ridden a bike designed to handle a front load. 'Tain't rocket science (they had it figured out 60 years ago in France), but most bikes available these days are designed around carrying ZERO luggage.
    What you say is true, but I wasn't referring to carrying a large payload on one's handlebars- rather a bag just big enough for a bit of food, phone, map, etc. I should have been more specific. Most bikes today are indeed very race-centric, made to go fast, handle snappy, and not much else, but there are still quite a few touring and rando bikes that can hold loads and retain stability just fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by TommyL View Post
    This is not meant as a slam on Elderberry but a question out of pure curiosity: Are you intentionally posting to a two year old thread? This happens from time to time and I am always curious why. Often times I don't notice, but the subject of PBP got my attention.
    Whoa... I didn't notice the date of this thread at all. Thank you for pointing this out, and I'll pay a little closer attention to this in the future, as there's really no use in opening these things back up, eh? To be fair, it isn't quite two years old just yet...

  22. #22
    convert TommyL's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with bringing things back up I suppose. I know I am usually just browsing anyway. I'm just curious when it happens.

  23. #23
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    but now I wanna know what happened

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