Well, our "last gasp of winter" (maybe) snowstorm this past weekend, put a crimp in my riding plans, but the weather made an abrupt turnaround and we had sun and 60s today! Since our shop is still in "winter hours", I have a longish break in the afternoon, so I got out for about an hour's ride on the new bike.
You can see it here, as currently set up. It's still a work in progress, which doesn't really surprise me. Since my last post, I got the fenders and rack and saddlebag on, which makes it look really "complete" to me. I built the bike to be practical.. for touring, for commuting, for shopping, for all weather and many surface conditions. So the fenders are an essential element, as is the rack. The saddlebag, a Carradice Nelson Longflap from England, is what I carry my small daily commute load in, and its' also suitable for a quick trip to the grocery store if I need one or two items. The rack will support panniers for touring or heavier shopping loads.
At the moment, the only things "missing" from what I had originally planned for the bike are a front rack for panniers (for touring) and a cyclecomputer. Oh, and since the bike was designed to handle 42mm wide tires with fenders, I've ordered a set of Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires in that size. I've heard good things about them, and they're one of the few high quality tires made in that size.
Now, one thing that seems clear after the first few rides is that the "trekking" style bars just don't feel right on this bike. I've used them before on an old mountain bike that I used as a commuter and general knocking around bike, but they just feel awkward on this bike. Basically, they feel too upright and too wide for the uses I imagine for this bike. Some of that is because I'm most accustomed to "drop" style handlebars, so that's what feels most natural. But I think part of it is also due to the relatively short top tube of the frame. I designed it based on my old Miyata 1000, which has a short top tube compared to most modern bikes, but it fits me just fine... with drop handlebars. I could try a different stem with more reach, but I also don't really like the width of these bars, particularly in a headwind... it just feels like I really catch the wind with these bars. So once I get a new set of road brake levers, I'll put on a set of Nitto drop bars I have already.
It's not a big deal... I had actually had in mind the idea that I might swap the bars around based on how I was using the bike at a particular time. For example, if I knew I were going to do a long off-road tour, I might opt for the trekking bars, but switch back to drops for normal road use. However, I have a feeling I'm just going to settle into drop bars on this bike and be happy with them.
Keep watching this space for updates! As I said, it's a work in progress. And for you serious bike geeks out there, soon I'll spell out exactly what parts I built the bike up with.
More pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/43828356@N00/sets/72157614034677336/