We spent more time than I’d thought necessary at the bike shop, but the service was excellent. They moved the pedals from Ol’ Paint to the new mount for me, went over operation and maintenance tips, adjusted the saddle height, and helped me inspect for scratches or chips in the paint. (There were none.) Added the police registration tag. And spent some time working with the bottle cages to get two bottles to fit — the main triangle is rather smaller than Ol’ Paint’s, which is apparent when they’re side by side.
(Calling her “Kuroko” is a bit of a laugh as she’s gloss black with accents of grey and orange, while Ol’ Paint is matte black everywhere — everywhere she isn’t rust … )
The drop handlebars are a very welcome change. We only did 20km today (in part because it took two hours to get out of the bike shop), but I didn’t have even a hint of the finger numbness I get with Ol’ Paint. I did stop for a rest after 10km, but after gulping down some water I was fine. I didn’t feel I needed the stop.
How about the ride? I’m more bent over, like I used to ride when I was a younger man, and I need to get used to it again. But she pedals faster than Ol’ Paint, almost effortlessly. The gear spacing is closer, which adds to the impression. And she’s a lot more responsive. If I fail to shift down before stopping and then need to power back up to speed, Kuroko comes along willingly and I’m soon back on top of the gear without feeling I’ve done myself in. And when I’m coasting, there’s that excellent heavy metal ratcheting sound from the freewheel.
She’s much happier to climb, too. There was one brutal incline on the way home, a hill I usually avoid, and I rose smoothly to the top with a couple of gears in reserve. I may need to swap the cassette for one with bigger cogs on the low end before we go on a loaded tour. Meanwhile, I’ve got a month to decide if I can do the Tour de Tohoku with the existing gearing.
The tires are large — bulbous. I’ve been reading reviews about how comfortable they are, and this was borne out in today’s ride. Together with the drop bars, they should allow me to ride farther without have to stop and rest my hands. I had questions about the performance of such larger tires, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue. In every regard — accelerating, climbing and flat-out straights — Kuroko is a better performer than Ol’ Paint ever was. As evidence, Mr Garmin tells me I hit 50km/h on a downhill today, and I was holding it back because of the traffic. Ol’ Paint would top out at about 45 and feel less stable above 40 than Kuroko was at 50.
Now I can’t wait to get out and put Kuroko through her paces!