I took my Rockhopper 29’er out for the group ride yesterday, and it was awesome. We hit a few miles of mucky roads, but other than those few miles, the ride was phenomenal and fun. Though I was a little perturbed I’d have to clean my bike while we were out there, I had no idea the epiphany doing so would be responsible for. Had I known what I would stumble on, I’d have been doing fishtails in the mud.
It was all high-fives and smiles as we hammered home that last mile with a nice tailwind. We put in a few extra miles to help my weekday riding buddy get his miles in. He’s going for another 12,000 mile year and needs just 25 a day to get there. We ended up with 25 for us and pulled into the driveway with a 14.1 average. Chuck hit 30 for the day. I’ve grown fond of the additional effort required when I choose the mountain bike over my gravel bike for these winter rides – it tends to keep me warm.
I wheeled the mountain bike into the living room so I could clean it after breakfast and a nap… it was during the cleanup process that I took notice of the stem. It was looking quite spectacular on the mountain bike, really. Ironically, it was the original stem that came on the Venge. And there I saw, on the back of the stem where it pinches against the fork: +4. The stem has an adjustable +4, -4 insert that can change the stem from a 6 degree to a 2 or -10. It’s the lightweight upgraded stem, too, with an alloy shim… I wondered what the stem would look like on the Venge, with the insert turned to -4. I won’t lie, I was a little giddy as I went to the bike stand for my tools.
I stripped both cockpits down. Pulled the stem from the mountain bike, flipped the insert for -10… and installed it on the Venge.
And it is glorious.
And free. Almost a 20 mm drop in the front end.
I gained a small amount of weight, but it’s negligible. Maybe 50 or 60 grams (I did switch the titanium hardware). An eighth of a pound is worth it, though. I’ve got some weight to spare for the vanity of a slammin’ cockpit.
And so, for my lightweight speed demon of a road bike, my Great Cockpit Conundrum has been solved in the simplest, unlikeliest of manners… by raiding my mountain bike for the stem that came with the bike in the first place. The solution was literally right under my nose… and it is spectacular.
So, where all of this gets fun breaks down into two pieces. First, I have no idea how this will ride after dropping the handlebar 20 millimeters. The drop when I tried the -17° stem last week was much greater (likely 40 mm) and I might have gotten used to it given some time. It was a really steep drop. I’ll likely throw it on the trainer after our morning ride to see what I think. This won’t be truly done till I get it out on the road, though.
Second, it’s a little comical to me how much I know about bikes compared to eight years ago… yet how tiny that is in the overall scheme of things. It’s no wonder most people simply buy their bike, have it fitted, and leave it alone. However, this is me I’m talking about, here. I love this stuff! I love how all of the pieces and parts go together to make the bike work. There’s no doubt, cycling has vastly improved my quality of life, but tinkering with this stuff on a day I’d normally spend lounging on the couch doubles the fun.
Good times and noodle salad, my friends.