Saturday, February 4, 2017

Almost new

I think many people riding bikes thinks about a new or different bike to ride. Sometimes one desires a completely different style of ride (road bike or mountain) or just an upgrade on what you currently have. People post up about the N+1 theory of bike ownership and many posts and memes are pretty funny about that. I currently have three bikes that I own and find I ride all three and like them. A road bike, a touring bike, and a do-all adventure bike. I use the do-all bike for most of my daily commuting with the touring bike filling in for that duty when I am up for a change. That bike has disc brakes (my only one) and I found that when I got the bike I really liked them. So, when riding my road bike for fun this last summer I was thinking how I would like to have disc brakes on a road bike. This of course leads me to the computer doing research and shopping for disc brake road bikes. I love doing that!!! Looking at bikes and all the good stuff out there is just a great internet time waster!! That said, cooler heads prevailed and I wrote down on a legal pad what I really like and wanted in a road bike ride. I am a bit different than most road bike riders on how I want my ride to be set up. A bit more of an upright riding position, wider tires that I can run at a lower pressure, 32 tire at 80 psi. That's all OK because the beauty of cycling is everyone can have their own individual ride for themselves.
After looking at my list, at my current bike and at what is offered out there for disc brake road bikes I felt I had most of what I wanted in a perfect fitting bike that I had already tweaked for me in my current bike. After a few more changes I would have my ideal ride except for no disc brakes.

Let's see how it all turns out!!

Winter in Estes Park is a good time to work on bikes. Riding weather is very hit and miss and I can turn on the heater I have in the garage to make it very workable in there on all but the super single digit temperature days.

Here is where I start.
I've never really liked the brake lever shifters (brifters) combo. They have always made me nervous after reading about guys having cables break off inside the mechanism after some wear and their advice was to replace cables every year so you would not face that issue out on the road. I had never kept up with that kind of preventative maintenance and now I worried with every clunky shift. I am going to convert to my favorite, bar-end shifters set up with manual, not indexed shifting. I've had it on my LHT since I got it and I have had it on bikes back to the bike I rode in high school and college years.
New Shimano bar-end shifters
Of course, since the brifters were going away I needed some simple new brake levers that were just.......brake levers. I found these very nice looking black Tectro levers.
To go with the new changes I wanted a different bar set up. With my old bars I found I never rode on the lower part of the bar. Just not comfortable and I find I was always on the top bar or on the hoods. Let's go with something a bit different with the Salsa cowchipper bar with the splayed out lower bars for a more usable hand position.
I will use all new cables and sleeves to give it a fresh new shifting function. I go with classy red cable sleeves to match the red bike and set off from my tradition black double wrap bar tape.
It is a quick job to get the old stripped off.
The new bar went on and the first thing I tackled were installing the brake levers and running cables to the brakes. There I had to take a pause because my brake pads had some pretty good wear on them and looked like it was a trip to the LBS for new pads. I did take the opportunity to switch them to the longer mountain bike pads for a little more stopping power.

  I cabled up the new shifters without any trouble at all. I already like the way those bar-ends go on and function.
After getting everything all adjusted with the shifting and braking it was time to finish up with new bar wrap. I like the feel of cloth wrap but also the soft feel of padded wrap. I use a single wrap of cloth on the lower part of the bar and then on the top part of bar a wrap of the padded tape and then go over it with a wrap of cloth. It gives it a bit of a clunky look, but that is OK by me and my hands!!
Accessories like ride computer and handle bar bag finish my job and I am ready to ride!!
I get the chance to head out for a ride down the mountain starting in Lyons and I am not two minutes down the road and I realize that I forgot to attach my handlebar rear view mirror. I sure am used to riding with it that I find myself glancing down to where it should be. I'll get it on for the next ride. The ride was great, bars are a good fit for me, everything shifting smoothly and braking efficiently. I miss having the disc brakes but I am very happy about the $120 I spent on new parts instead of the $1500 on a new bike that I would have had to spend more on to get it just how I want it.

Action shot riding down the road

Thanks for reading along!!
Everybody enjoy your rides as spring makes a comeback here!!


  1. Great Post Jim you are a using alot of my favorite parts! Durace bar ends in friction mode, tektro brake levers, Wide handle bars, Jagwire cable and housing (love the red) and nice thick bar tape wrap. You Le Tour is now truly Elite, you may just inspire me to get going on the Schwinn Passage - I have all the parts.

    1. Thanks Ryan, It was a good decision to modify and upgrade the bike I already had. I've had it out on two rides now, one about 25 miles and the other about 12. I like the ride and I think I have the fit pretty dialed in for some good long road rides in the future as it turns to spring and then summer.

  2. Nice looking bike. And a good idea to adapt what you have instead of spending a significant amount of money to get something similar. And it's a great feeling to have fixed a bike up yourself, to make it just the way you want it.

    I spent some time in the fall rehab-ing an old 2002 Giant Sonoma frame that my wife found on the curb. With a good cleaning first, then new seat, new tires, a different set of wheels, rehab-ed handle bars & shifters, new chain, and new brake pads I have a nice bike that is ready for rail trail riding, and also comfortable enough for my wife to ride on the occasions that I get her out to join me.

    The curb find Trek however, was rusted completely solid. Couldn't get the seat post out, or even get the kickstand off. It went to the recycler...

    Steve Z

    1. Thanks for stopping by Steve. You are right, fun to ride a bike that you worked in the shop to get it right for your own use. Hey!! If you are 50-50 on curb finds you are 100% ahead of the game!!

    2. I am 0-2 on curb find bike as far as usable frames but I have alot of rust parts on the parts bin lol

  3. Turn that into a steel frame and we would both be riding pretty much the same bike, albeit from different generations. I put on the Origin 8 Gary bars, which are basically re-branded Woodchippers. What a difference! Suddenly the drops are comfortable! And the added width is very welcome, too.

    I noticed the stem extension. I went with a new, longer stem with a high-angle rise. I have the bars barely level with the seat...I would like a few more cm of handle bar height, but a few more miles a week in the saddle would make that a moot point. I find it unfortunate that Bikes Direct and Bicycle Warehouse ship the bikes with pre-cut steerer tubes. And cut too short, at that.

    The bar-ends are just cool as hell, although I still find myself reaching for the down-tube from time to time. Old habits die hard.

    I am running 40's on Little Miss. I like them, but lately have considered going back to the 35's I ran for the last five years.

    Oddly, I have been spending my time and money trying to turn my '81 SLT into an LHT. And here YOU are already in possession of an LHT but seem to consider her strictly a touring bicycle. My '81 is, of course, steel and lugged and has almost the same geometry as the LHT. So three years ago, while I was fondling my credit card and gazing with lust in my heart at the Disc Trucker, the Voice chimed in and said, "That LHT may have discs, but she doesn't have lugs. And for a couple hundred bucks, you can transform Little Miss into a bicycle that will do just fine."

    The Voice was right (as usual). It took me three long years to accumulate the parts, but I did it. Just recently I got it all together. (BTW, I am listening to Trump talk to the Saudi's as I type this. So the tone may go askew here in a minute.)

    Also, the re-build was powerfully determined by my constant habit of anthropomorphizing my bicycles. I felt a familial and moral obligation to do the best I could for Little Miss Dangerous. (I named her that because when I traded her for a twenty dollar bill and a half pint of rum, I had a sneaky feeling that she would be dangerous, indeed, to my bank account. I was right.)

    If I had it all to do over again, would I do anything differently?
    No. I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted. The choices of new bikes was staggering, and except for the disc brakes, I new I already had a high quality bicycle and I knew I could build her just the way I wanted her. Plus I bought a disc brake single speed that I will be riding on the beach in about an hour...

    I am happy with my Schwinn Super Letour II, Coach. I hope you are happy with yours as well.


    1. You know Tim Joe no one is going to believe the transformation of the SLT until you post some pixels ;-)

    2. Oh yeah!! I am happy as hell!!
      Both with my choices on this rebuild and to hear from you tj.
      I just got back yesterday from my annual trip down to Albuquerque where some golf was played, a lot of fine micro-brew was consumed and of course, the Santa Fe Century was ridden on my rebuilt ride.
      Ryan, you would have really enjoyed the new classic ride category they had. Your bike had to be 30 years old to get the special badge for the ride. They had them set up on Saturday afternoon at registration. Some of the bikes were either originals or rebuilt with period parts. There were other bikes that the frame was the only thing that was 30 years old with modern components. Whatever it was cool to see them all. Some classic60's and 70's ten speed era that we all know about, Puegeots and Raleigh's and a few Motobecane's. Some bikes that I had never seen or heard of. European brands. There was a guy with an Italian bike that I don't remember the name of but I do remember the all original Campy components and he had it all polished up that looked like new. It was beautiful.
      You are right TJ, I don't ride LHT as much now. Ogre is my daily driver and the Schwinn is the take out for fun rides. Next week I will be boxing up Ogre and shipping it off to Leesburg, VA. for my trip down the GAP/C&O ride I have planned for last week of June, so, LHT will fill in as the daily commuter for a month or so.
      Little Miss Dangerous for 20 bucks and some rum could be the buy of the century. You are smart to get her built up.
      Good to hear that you are turning the cranks

    3. Jim that Century ride sounds cool and I would have been drooling over all those classic bikes! One day I am going to ride one of those L'Erocia rides on the Motobecane. Hope you post about your GAP ride that one sounds like alot of fun.