Esther has done about 3,500 miles on her Dave Yates which includes Lands End to John O’Groats last year. So everything is perfect. Well no. Just before shake-down weekend she descided that she was unhappy with the bars. Very unhappy. So new ones were bought and put on the bike and the change was greeted with joy by her and covertous glances by me. Compact bars through simple laws of geometry allow you to get down to what for me are those under employed drops with less strain on the back. This is a good thing. Some ten or twelve years ago when I had my first custom bike made I was going through a “bad back time”. Make it high at the front! I had instructed. “Well God gave you two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears – (pause ). But only one back.” There as Chas Bland, Bristol based frame builder saw it was the problem and he was right and you have to look after it.
So, I quickly bought a set of the compact bars for my Yates’ and that is where things went wrong. The whole cockpit balance, geometry and good looks were gone and so was the handling. Since then there has been a frenzy of allen key use that only Eddy Merckx could have bettered. A new stem 10 whole millimeters longer has been needed and the bars have been raised, lowered and raised again and then lowered a little. You have to be fussy and you have to try every spacer in the shed and then borrow some from a friend. If you are not then it will punish you as you will get used to it even if it is wrong in every direction. I have changed it again today and now at least it look right.
One thing that I got right straight away was my choice of “well at least you can see me “front light for the Yates’s. There was a Goldilocks thought process employed in finding a place for a light at the front. It had to be one that would not fall off but, as most of the front of the bikes are given over to luggage and lots of other places are too wet or invisible from the front, such space is at a premium. The Knog Frog has what the design department in Lahti Finland where Esther and I studied for a while kept on calling “Form equals Function”. It has it, and it has it to spare and it is also has funky styling and it weighs nothing. Look where I put it – “It’s just right”.
We were out on the bikes in East Lothian yesterday. Heavy rain overnight had required that a choice of overboots and a winter bike was made by me, with arm and knee warmers giving a flexibility in thermal regulation. A good thing too, as Esther’s computer thermometer climbed to 17*c. The ploughman forced to forgo his cheese, pickles, salad and cold meat lunch was out in the fields. It was going to be a snack in the tractor cab and long hours on a Saturday as he turned the golden stubble fields of East Lothian to dark browns and reds. Fine weather in a five day forecast featuring five raindrop icons is a bonus.