The winter bike I will officially use for snow free pavement this year is the 94 XO-4 that I just picked up off Craigslist this past Thursday. I have already had one mishap. I had a blinky light on a newly installed rear rack somehow get caught in the tire tread. It was a sudden friction like a tire going flat. I have no idea how this happened. Otherwise I took the bike for a ride to the river and back today to simulate a long commute.
After 15 miles I think commuting on this factory set up through the winter should be tolerable. Here is what my thoughts are and why it is important to evaluate the static hand position once again. As the readers know on this blog my preferred handlebar set up is the REV2 for flat land commuting. I have 3 bikes that I have been riding now for over a year with the REV2. I have made critical judgements regarding the static handlebar that were my own experience before riding the REV2. Now I feel it is just as important to re-examine those judgements after having the extensive riding experience of the REV2. So this winter testing is an after examination of the static hand position and my evaluation of riding postures and positions.
This is the perverbial one step forward and two steps back. I admit that my message to ride and leave your car behind has strayed often on this blog. So I just need to prove that riding a good steel bike that is maintained can be very enjoyable. I am honored to ride the Bridgestone nameplate. For people familiar with the Bridgestone name you know Grant Peterson is synonymous with the design and marketing of the brand in the USA. For anyone wanting to know about the brand all you have to do is Google Bridgestone Bicycles and check out the catalog selection on Sheldon Browns website. The catalogs tell a story not only about Bridgestone but the bike industry from the mid 1980’s until 1994 when Bridgestone quit importing into the USA.
Here is the bike as I have set it up for saddlebags and wet weather. Both fender and rack were old purchases. I snagged the fenders from the Raleigh while it sits out the winter and gets overhauled for next year. There are a few similarities in the two bikes. The Raleigh is a steel frame and improved with the REV2 bars, platform pedals and it was marginally maintained to really take a beating. ie; a beater bike. The X0-4 is steel with plateform pedals and will get periodic maintenance that a loving bike deserves. This bike came to me as clean as a new bike off a showroom floor.
First impressions of the bike is that I really like the geometry. I know I could ride this all day if it was set up with the REV2. What I experienced with the standard ARC handlebar is a slight fatigue that comes from holding on in one position. The fatigue is specific to shoulder and neck aches. For short rides probably no biggy. The other noticeable experience associated with the static position and the upright posture is rigid pelvic positioning. Unlike the REV2 where the riders midsection moves in accordance on the seat whenever the hands are repositioned on the handlebars, this static position feels as if it is suppressing my energy. In layman terms, the tool makes you work harder. Although, the ARC bar is slightly different from a straight bar in that the rider can pull on it quite a bit while seated and pushing the pedals. Going up hill was tight! Heading into the wind was tolerable although I would not want to be riding for long without having the option of dropping low like the rider can with the REV2.
One last photo for the post. Just for fun. Note all the photo’s were taken with an IPhone 4 with Camera+ app. Final edit in IPhoto. Sunday November 13th 2011 in Minneapolis MN