My Rides

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mountain Bike Shifters on a Road Bike

My new "Road Bike" can best be described as a hybrid.  Cyclocross frame, fork, wheels & tires, with a mountain bike drivetrain.  I'm a fan of bullhorn handle-bars, most comfortable/familiar with SRAM mountain trigger shifters, wanted to give reverse levers a try, and didn't want to spend the money on road combo brake/shift levers.

I knew the new(er) SRAM shifters have detachable clamp, which gave me the idea to find a way to use them.  I picked up a pair used, on ebay for $35, which is about 50% of the street price.  The total price for brake/shift levers is about $65, compared to $200 for an entry level road combo lever.  
I tried finding a larger clamp, for this purpose, but had no luck.  I had some 1/2" thick aluminum in the garage, and ultimately the clamp I need is a refinement of a piece of aluminum with a 23.8-26.0 mm hole in it.  
That's how the machining (on a drill press) started - I drilled a couple of 1" holes in my 1/2" aluminum plate.  I added the through-hole and counter-bore for the clamp/fastener bolt.  Then I trimmed away some excess material.
It's not finished.  I still need to make a groove where it mounts to the shifter mechanism (keeping the shifter from twisting), trim away more material, and generally clean it up.  But a quick mock-up illustrates that it's on it's way to doing the intended job.

Update:  June, 2013

I've had these on the bike for over a year now.  

As you can see I cleaned them up, rounded them off, etc.  
There's not a lot to say - life with them has been uneventful.  They work well, feel comfortable and "right" on the bike.  As you can see they're pushed in pretty close.  A mountain bike bar is a lot wider than the 40cm bullhorn I have on these.  The up-shift levers hit my bar tape a little, and sometimes the lever sticks in the forward position. 
From the front you can see that the shifters overlap each other.  The shifter for the front 3 rings is cocked at an angle to clear his neighbor (the shifter for the rear 9).  That was something I sorted out when mocking it up.  In the time I've ridden them, I haven't really longed for a different shifting system.

Recently, I signed up for a century, and in training I realize that my hand discomfort on the bike starts to bother me after about 3 hours of riding.  That motivated me to try out aerobars (with a wider, 46cm, bullhorn bar) - for one more riding position, and secondarily to make those 100 miles go by a little faster (presuming I'm going alone a few times throughout the day).  
As it turns out, those areobars will fit the mountain shifters, with their original brackets.  I've only done a few rides with these, but I can't say there are any real draw-backs, related to them being mountain shifters, and given my goals & expectations.  

Road Bike - The Build


Bill of materials (initial)

  • "Custom" Painted Dolan Cyclocross Frame (used)
  • Ritchey Carbon Cross fork (aluminum steerer) (new)
  • Wheels (new):
    • Alex Adventurer 700c (36H)
    • Shimano M590 Hubs (36H)
    • Wheelsmith double-butted spokes with brass nipples
  • Dimension 70mm Stem (new)
  • Cervelo cowhorn bars (new)
  • Cane Creek Reverse/TT Brake Levers (new)
  • Avid Shorty 4 Rim Brakes (used)

Update:  June 2013

Got a little busy last year job hunting, and moving, so I never really wrapped up the progress on this bike.  In terms of BOM (bill or materials), the following have been added:
  • Shimano XTR Cassette (11-34t)
  • Shimano XT Crankset (44-32-22t)
  • KMC X9SL Chain
  • SRAM X7 Long Cage Rear Derailleur (MTB)
  • SRAM X7 Shifters (MTB)
  • Thomson Elite Seatpost
  • Brooks B17 Special Saddle 
  • Profile Design AquaRack (holds 2 bottles behind seat-post) 
  • Planet Bike 1 watt LED tail-light (I have these on all 3 bikes)
  • Yokozuna brake and deraileur cables
  • Michelin CIty 700 x 40 tires (usually)
  • Some thingy to hold my phone
It had been my goal with this bike to keep things light(er) where there was a good value proposition.  Where I decided to spend a little more was on the fork, crankset, cassette, chain, seat-post and seat.  I figured, across all of those components I could save 1 lb (over what I itemized as "best value" components), without breaking the bank (+$300-400 over "LX Level" components).  The cost for having a "robust" bike that weighed significantly less (i.e. a 15 lb bike), I decided, involved starting with a lighter frame and fork (more carbon) - something I wasn't ready to do.

I bid on Brooks Swallow seats, with Ti rails for months, and finally got one for $180.  I applied Obenauf's Leather Protector, and rode a few hundred miles, but never achieved the comfort of my Brooks B17s on the other bikes.  It really looked beautiful - right for the bike, but I ended up getting another B17 - this one a green special (with copper rivets).  It was more comfortable "out of the box", and now with a few hundred miles on it, the sitbones take at least 4 hours to feel sore.

I ride mainly on gravel trail, and on some rough roads, so I put big ol' Michelin City 700 x 40C tires on the bike - usually kept at 40-50 psi.  I figure'd I'd ease into speed, and hang on to some comfort.  It always feels so much faster than my mountain bike or my utility/commuter bike, that I haven't thought much about it.  With a century coming up, I finally ordered some fast (low rolling resistance) road tires - Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 700 x 28C.

On some training rides for an upcoming century, I decided I'd try aerobars.  Primarily for another riding position, and secondarily for an aero position for the time I spend riding alone.  I've done 75 miles with them, making adjustments and feeling them out.  I had to find a wide and raised position for the arm-rests so my knees clear my gut.  For hard "sprints" the position feels good, but for "spinning along" in an alternate position, I bounce a bit more.  I've done most of my riding, and learning a good "spin" in an upright position - I'm not as smooth leaned over.

With the aerobars, I've raised the seat 1/4", and tilted the nose down (from a somewhat tilted up position) about 1/4".  I think it will move forward a little as well before I'm done.

In terms of speed/efficiency - each time I drop onto the aerobars, I shift up 1 gear to keep the effort about the same.  Looking at gear ratios, that's around a 10% reduction in effort - which could prove pretty significant, even if I'm only "alone" and able to use the aerobars 10% of my time in the century.

I love the bike.  It's comfortable, fast, quiet, smooth, and wierd - but perfect for me.

Barry Roubaix 2012 - Training Progress

Update (3/3/2012):

Back on track.  I'm working hard to do all of my "intense" work for each week - bike intervals get the highest priority, with strength training getting 2nd.  I'm putting in about 8 hours per week - the minimum for my workout plan.  I haven't yet hit a 10 hour per week peak...  I'm feeling pretty worn out.  I caught a cold, had a sick day, and am feeling the workload.  
I'm nearly complete with 3 weeks of training (5 weeks to go to the race), and I'm feeling great.  I've been tracking my progress - which is generally a good idea for any endeavor where some form of growth or development is expected.  The chart tells some of the story - I'm not hitting the goals I set.  I'm doing 100% of my on-the-bike intervals, but falling short on the strength training and my "Endurance Miles."

I set out to increase my training volume from 6-8 hours per week - focused on on-the-bike endurance training -  by adding to that 1.5-2 hours per week of strength/balance training.  My perfectly reasonable excuses (future me) are:

  • (this one I don't feel guilty about) Healing from my hernia surgery is holding me back from some of the strength training.  Starting at the same time as this training, I started picking up the kids, again, and the combination leaves my stomach sore.  The last thing I want to do is slow that recover, or worse, cause another hernia.  When sore, I back off, and give myself more recovery time.  Push-ups are just now back in the routine, but true core exercises are still out...  
  • Basically, I poorly planned the progression, and "super-setting" of leg exercises with my intervals.  As the cycling intervals progressed, I was wiped out after a couple of progressions, and skipped the leg exercises (side lunges, squats) I was "super-setting" with the intervals.  I didn't want to do more than I could recover from, so I skipped a couple.  This is part of learning what kind of program will work.  
  • Work has been hectic, and frustrating.  
    • Some good people have left the company, and the stress, added to reactionary resume, LinkedIn, etc. updating has disturbed my schedule and focus.  This is something I've never been good at - maintaining overall health when career or family health is impacted.  One takes a hit, and I let the others be impacted...  I'm working on breaking those linkages for a healthier me.
    • I've been working late, and bringing work home trying to get ahead of a few things.
  • It will just plain take a while to find a good way to establish a training volume close to 10 hours per week.  There's school and work, kid's bedtimes, errands to run, and those few late nights at work.  I'm going to have to consider morning or lunch workouts (I'm lucky to be 5 min from work), or maybe those electrode things that let me just "twitch" my way to great fitness, while writing code.
This week felt great.  Power Intervals (go as hard as you can for 3 min at a time) on Tuesday were a killer.  On Thursday, the same intervals felt great, and I did my Bulgarian Split Squats.  Saturday's Over-Under's felt like a piece of cake, and I did some push-ups and pull-ups.

So, while my chart is trending downward now, I feel the progress, and I think next week's will reverse the trend.