I went to great lengths to set my rain bike and my fair weather racer up as close as I could get them to each other. They’re vastly different bikes, fourteen years apart in technology and geometry advancements, but this photo messed me up when I took it last year:
When I set the bikes up, I wanted them so that I could ride either bike, then hop on the other and not feel a difference… and I just hoped they looked pretty cool. My main concerns were saddle height and fore/aft location and where the hoods came in in relation to each other.
There’s no question, at just fifteen pounds and some change, my Venge is awesome. A spectacular custom built rig that I put a lot of heart into building that bike. I felt the cool factor was missing something in the cockpit, though…
This was a source of consternation since I’d taken that first photo of both bikes, head to head. For the purist, I don’t think there’s any doubt the Trek had a considerably cooler cockpit:
So that got me to thinking about how I could improve the Venge on something that was already spectacularly comfortable, if not quite as pleasing to the eye as I might hope… I’d been eyeing 12 degree stems ever since I took the above photos, but just hadn’t pulled the trigger on one. For several years, I was quite happy with the negative 6 degree stem that followed the slope of the top tube, but my tastes changed. Without rehashing the next steps, I ended up lucking out and installing the stem that originally came with the bike, but swapping out the stem’s inner shim from a +4 to a -4 and installing it upside down so it’s a -10. And that gave me what I was looking for:
So, for the stack and reach specs, I’ll get right to it. I don’t necessarily know if I agree with the measurement style because it doesn’t take into account differences in frame geometry (as we’ll see in a minute). Still, it’s supposed to be all the rage, so we’ll go with that. There will be two sets of measurements. The stack is off the floor, the reach is off the wall with the rear wheel against it. Don’t ask me why, that’s how they do it.
Venge stack: 35-7/8″ to the top of bar. 35-1/2 to center of bar top. 35-3/4″ to the crook of the hood. 30″ on the nose to the bottom of the drop. 30-1/2″ to center of drop bar.
Trek stack: 35-7/8″ to the top of bar. 35-3/8″ to center of bar top. 35-3/4″ to the crook of the hood. 30-1/4″ to the bottom of the drop. 30-5/8″ to center of drop bar.
Venge reach: 26″ to saddle nose. 29″ to CoCrank. 49″ to CoStem. 54-3/4″ to crook of the hood.
Trek Reach: 26-1/2″ to saddle nose. 29-1/2″ to CoCrank. 49-1/2″ to CoStem. 54-3/4″ to crook of hood.
The final reach analysis suggests the Trek is a 1/2″ stretched on the wheelbase. This, of course, makes sense as the Specialized is a compact frame and the Trek is traditional/standard frame. Also, the numbers show the reach on the Trek’s bar is shorter.
All in all, this was a neat exercise that really needed to be done before next season. In the end, the looks of a bike are important, but fit is the key and the Specialized with the new cockpit will work. As the great Donald Duck Dunn once said in the greatest musical known to humankind, “If the shit fits, wear it”. I agree, Donald Duck Dunn. When Venge Day arrives in the spring, I can roll the bike out with confidence knowing that it’ll fit like a glove.
Notice the two most important measurements, the top of bar and to the crook of the hoods, are identical… this wasn’t exactly planned and borders on “luck”. Be that as it may, “luck” is good enough.
Earlier this last season, I wrote about how I’d managed to make my Trek more comfortable to ride than the Venge. That was the first time since I brought the Venge home that the Trek was more comfortable to ride. This was entirely due to the way I had the Trek’s cockpit set up. By switching from a -6 degree stem to a -10 on the Venge, I was able to get the Venge even closer to the Trek. I have no doubt the comfort advantage will tip back to the Venge again.