Friday, June 10, 2011

Gearing Up

I love my Tricross single speed. Not worrying about shifting and the silence of the drive train are magical. The only trouble with a single speed is that you need to be in good enough shape to complete your ride in the bike's gear. It was becoming obvious to me that I was not in good enough shape to complete my commute to and from work in the bike's gear. It was also obvious that I was not going to be able to get into good enough shape if I kept trying to do it on the single speed.
I needed gears.
I have an old geared bike, but I just don't like riding it. The drive train is twitchy and the aluminum frame rattles my bones over the smallest bumps. I could have done some upgrading by putting better components into the drive train and getting a carbon fork, but that seemed like a lot of money to put into a cheap bike.
So I decided to buy a new bike. I knew what I wanted: my single speed with gears. I considered putting an internally geared hub on the single speed, but there are no shifter choices for drop bars. I wasn't really prepared to spend the money needed to switch to straight bars. Nor was I convinced that I wanted to ride on straight bars.
Then I saw that my local bike shop had a new Tricross Comp in stock. It is the same frame as my single speed, but with a Shimano 105 drive train. I figured I'd give it a test ride and see if it felt right. While I was there I also tried out a few other cross bikes, just to make sure.
Two of the other bikes that I tried had SRAM components, but I really didn't like the double tap shifting. Remembering that one tap did something and two taps did something else and a long tap did a third thing just wasn't working for me. The other bikes were also more traditional cross racing frames and felt twitchy.
The Tricross' shudders are easy to understand and smooth as butter to shift. The geometry is nice as well. It is a slightly relaxed cross racing geometry. It is a little longer and more stable which is what I was looking for in a commuting bike. The Triccross frame also is fender and rack ready. O e other nice feature of the Tricross is the triple from ring. The granny gears come in handy on the big hill between the bike path and home after a long day at work.
After two weeks and 200 miles on the bike, I am very happy with the upgrade. It really is just like riding the single speed, but with gears. I thought that I would be bothered by needing to constantly think about the gears and the clicking of the cassette. Instead I find that I appreciate the gears because I can commute to work in a reasonable amount of time without nearly killing myself.
In fact, I hardly even think about the gears. I just tap the lever when I feel like I'm struggling. The click of the cassette is a pleasant chant reminding me that all is well. Good gears are great.

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