A few months ago, I built up an All-City Big Block as a sort of tracklocross bike. I wanted to have a swept-back bar and make the bike look a little more utilitarian than a more racey build. I’m now ready to admit that I got the build wrong.
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time riding my Octane One Kode build. It was a cheap build, and I love it. It is a bike that fits like a glove, and I don’t get any niggles riding it, it is my sofa bike. I have though set it in a slightly more racey way than my All-City, with only the upward sloping stem as my concession to comfort.
The Kode is more than the sum of its parts. It is a bike I’ve used a lot over the last couple of years. Sometimes though I forget just how good a bike it is. I’ve been using it as a tracklocoss bike for a couple of weeks now, and I’m hooked on it.
When I was going for a ride yesterday, I jumped on my Big Block thanks to all the ice (it has studded tyres fitted). I got a few wee niggles I used to get riding. I got a little bit of hotfoot, I thought this was my shoes originally, but since I don’t get it on the Kode, I’m guessing there is something wrong with my Big Block fit.
My hands also went a bit, and my wrists weren’t enjoying it. What I’m guessing here is that the swept-back bars don’t suit me. It might also be what is throwing my fit off and causing the foot issues. I’m also wondering if the downward sloping stem is also adding to the issue. I definitely like the upward sloping stems on my other bikes.
I’m thinking a slight upward rise on the stem, and a flat bar should put all my contact positions into similar places to where they are on the Kode. I was thinking more about the flat bar when I did a few little sprints yesterday, not for training just as a fun little bit of speed.
The swept-back bar just felt wrong for this. It put me in a weird position, and I didn’t like it. I also found it turned my wrist in a peculiar way when I was sprinting up small inclines. Sprinting up small inclines gets them over and done with quickly, allowing you to have more fun on the downhills.
I think my bars and stem were both nods to fashion rather than function here. I’ve made a mistake, and now I’m going to fix it. It might not be a cool fashion, but I was trying to make an “unracer” statement, and now I feel this has backfired on me.
I’m now going to take some measurements and try to replicate my Kode position as closely as possible. I’ll then be going with a silver stem and bars, trying to avoid every temptation to buy Thomson. I’ll have to ask myself though am I not buying them because they are so cool at the moment, or because I don’t believe they are one of the best options.