I have a conundrum. I'm going on the road (by car, at least at first), leaving my parents house for good, and I am delivering at least one, probably two other bikes to friends on my trip. So really I can only bring one bike for myself (maybe two, but my rack is just something I found at the dump and rigged up).
I want it to be able to do haul stuff, if not tour. I've got a couple oyster bucket panniers plus some of my own making.
I want a comfortable bike. Whether it's an upright non-drop handlebar position, or drops, I just want a comfortable bike. One that feels right to ride, and has at least one hand position that feels right.
I am 6 feet tall.
What I have to work with:
19.5" Bridgestone MB-4 converted to singlespeed. Currently has riser handlebars. 100psi road tires with kevlar belts. No racks, but it has the mounts. I got a 15 cm stem for this bike so the fit is pretty comfortable. Its got vertical dropouts so 36x16 is just about the only gear combination that I can do without a tensioner (I have a half-link). I haven't ridden this much, mainly short distances/around town (its handling is a blast). I find myself getting frustrated at the 36x16 on wide open road because it is geared too low for me to go fast, or even really pedal consistently without my legs going hyperspeed because I overpedal and then need to coast. Not neccesarily a bad thing I guess. I have a tensioner so gearing it up is a possibility, but I do like the quiet smoothness of no tensioner riding.
23" Bridgestone Road Bike converted to single speed. I got this for a dollar at an auction because it was a bridgestone. Nothing fancy, hi-ten steel. No rack mounts. Crappy center pull brakes, the kind that don't go on mounts but in the one hole. Brakes poorly. But my god...this bike fits me like it was made for me. The drop handlebars with the dual position brakes are perfect for my hands. My butt sits on the right parts (which is really an act of god, you should see the adjustment mechanism on the seat in this thing - it requires taking the whole seat apart and you practically need a vise and a 4-leaf clover to get it back together). The gearing is perfect. I like the handling. The bike is really "junk" by most people's standards but it's hands down my favorite bike to ride for mid-length road rides. I almost wish I hadn't made this bike because then I wouldn't realize how much better my other bike could feel. My body just feels right on the bike. And I really like the "hornet blue" color.
21" Raleigh Touring 18 speed. Beautiful bike. This was my first "serious bike" and I went all out. Fenders, front and rear racks, butterfly bars (I regret having gotten these I think). Rides and shifts smooth. Lots of gear options for going really fast or riding uphill loaded. The one thing that pisses me off is it doesn't feel right. Especially after riding the Bridgestone RB. I feel kind of cramped in. And the butterfly bars are goofy, I got them when I was still afraid of drops. There's a 14 cm GORGEOUS cinelli raised angle stem on this thing, as I tried to get the handlebars out and away from me. But I'm still cramped. The closest position on the bars almost has my back vertical. The stem won't drop any lower. My arms are also too wide apart. But the bike is so pretty, and I've ridden probably 300 miles on it fully loaded, so it's not like it's so cramped its unridable....it's just...my bridgestone....it doesn't compare.
And I have a ****-ton of parts. Drops, risers, cruiser-bars, brakes (I have a set of sidepulls I could put on the bridgestone which MIGHT enable me to switch the raleigh's rack over to it), gears, saddles, levers, blah blah blah. Even a spare rack. Even a 22-23" raleigh frame (egh...I'm really attached to my bikes now and really don't want to frankenstein them...plus the raleigh grand prix I have is ugly) I don't know what to do. I really like riding my singlespeeds more than my touring bike, but the raleigh has this association of chore-dom (like, oh yay, another not really comfortable ride just so I can have the privelage of carrying a bunch of my stuff) to it. I put up my MB-4 on craigslist and just took it off tonight, thinking maybe I could put racks on it (and maybe drop bars). Is a fully loaded single-speed just silly?
My only idea right now is to swap the 15 cm stem (which has less of a rise than the 14 cm cinelli in the raleigh) into the raleigh, and put drop bars on it, or the risers that are on the mb-4. I'm just chafing at the idea of pretty much overhauling the bike (I'd need to use my spare set of new brake cables/housing as the ones in there now aren't the right lengths for a different set of bars) 2 days before I'm about to leave. I'm also worried I'll just make it worse...I want a simple solution! Anyone have similar experience with bike reduction woes?