Technically, I was hoping for snow, but it’s a little early for that down here. Rain will do, though. These are my favorite days of the winter – days no sane human would go out for a ride. My buddy Chuck
likely will, though did… dude is freaking nuts – I actually passed him on the way to pick up pizza last night. He’s admirably nuts, but nuts nonetheless. It was raining and just barely above freezing (37 F or 2 C).
These days are the days I tinker with bikes.
Oh, there was some general maintenance to take care of first, things like cleaning drivetrains and such. I rolled the mountain bike out to clean it as it’s been on a few dusty rides of late but it was surprisingly clean. I did adjust the rear brake a little bit after tinkering with the rear derailleur’s adjustment that was just a touch off. I didn’t know it, but when I had my ear down by the rotor at high wheel speeds, there was a slight rub in the rotor and the inner pad. That took all of two minutes.
I put in an hour on the trainer, with my wife while we watched Iron Man. Then I took a nap around between 2 & 2:30. Oh how I love weekend naps! Then I turned my attention to the Venge.
Now, this is going to be exceptionally nitpicky, but we all know, if anything, I’m that. When I look at the lines on the Trek, I see fantastic. Smooth, crisp, aggressive… the bike simply looks sharp. The Specialized is superior to the Trek in every single way but one. It’s got a better drivetrain, a better crankset, better pedals, brakes, handlebar, stem (both bikes have the same saddle)… it’s lighter, faster, sleeker, quieter and quicker (yes, quick and fast are two different things) than is the Trek. But the stem and handlebar angle just don’t look right on the Venge. They’re not right. Something is hinky. Wonky.
I took a trip to the shop and borrowed a 17° x 110mm stem from their stock to kick the tires on… to see if I might want to change stems. I swapped out the old stem and had it on the trainer in short order (with my trainer wheel, of course – because the Trek and Venge both have 10-sp transmissions, I can swap wheels between the bikes). The front end went from slightly raised with the 6° stem (flipped) to dead nuts level with the ground with the flipped 17°… and I hated it. Not, “I simply didn’t like it”, hated it. It just didn’t look right, like the “organics” of the bike were just completely… off. The 6°, the way it follows the slope of the top tube, looks like it belongs, at least. The flipped 17° looked like it belonged on a different bike.
The problem, I think, is last year I rotated the handlebar forward a little bit during one of my tinkering exercises to maximize my drop to the hoods. I was under the impression the hoods, where my hands rest, should be level with the ground. I’ve since found out that was a mistake. So yesterday, when I put my old stem back on the bike, I rotated the bar back up a little bit to where I once had it back in 2018:
Now, you may not see a difference, but I do. The easiest “tell” is the bottom of the handlebar drop. In reality, we’re only talking maybe a centimeter’s difference in the height of the hoods, but I think the looks were cleaned up substantially – and my hands will likely be a little happier after next year’s centuries.
I’d noticed at the end of last season the front brake had developed a bit of drag in the line. This presents itself with just a few millimeters of play in the lever when the brake is applied and released. The lever should have a little bit of snap to its rebound. No snap? You’ve got drag in the line. On close inspection, the angle that the angle that the housing entered the brake caliper was slightly off. The housing was too long (btw, too long is good… too short is a much longer post). If the cable housing is too long, especially for the front brake, it puts a strain on the cable to make the odd turn into the brake caliper.
To fix this is quite simple. I took off the cable end, disconnected the cable from the brake’s lock nut, threaded the brake line out the hood to a point I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t be trimming the brake cable, then trimmed the end of the cable housing off, pushed the cable back through, reconnected everything, set the brakes, and presto. Perfect braking. The interesting part in the last two paragraphs is the length of the piece of housing that had to be removed:
To demonstrate size, I’ve got an end-cap to a presta valve innertube, the lock nut, a pair of needle-nosed pliers and my housing/cable snippers. The length is about 10mm, maybe a half-inch. I probably could have taken a little more but I didn’t want to run into issues with the housing too short for the handlebar to be turned. Probably a touch over-nervous, but I can wear that.
And with that, I’m done with the Venge till 2021’s Venge Day. I’ve cleaned and lubed everything that can be cleaned and lubed, fixed the fork length, taken apart the headset for its yearly cleaning, and attended to even the tiniest of issues to make sure the bike’s good to go for next year.
… Although, thinking about it… maybe I shouldn’t close the door on a 100mm 12° S-Works stem for the Venge. Hmmmm…