Bicycle on a balcony, leaning against a glass banister. Buildings are visible far below through the glass. The bicycle is a flat-bar model, turquoise, with fat tan-wall tires. The legend "Billy Bonkers" is visible on both tires.

Where is my comfort zone?

After riding a grand total of zero kilometers since January 8, this morning the stars aligned and I commuted to the office on Dionysus, sporting her new Billy Bonkers skins.

With the change from the 28mm Conti slicks I shod Dionysus with on the upgrade from Ol’ Paint, I had three basic expectations:

  • More comfortable ride
  • A reduction in the steering sensitivity
  • A slight degradation of performance

Cutting to the chase, then, the ride was quite a bit more comfortable, particularly over broken pavement and assorted bumps. Where the ride was jarring on the Contis, it was downright cushiony with the Billy Bonkers. So mission accomplished as far as the upgrade is concerned.

The performance toll was more than I had expected. With the Contis, Dionysus was an agile, fast accelerator. Now she’s slower on the uptake than Kuroko, with her 42mm tires. The change was noticeable starting out this morning, and on the slight rises in the morning commute. By the evening return, I’d become used to the change and didn’t notice it quite as much. I was still putting more effort into getting off the line from stop lights, and quicker to shift down on whatever modest hills I encountered.

As for the steering, Ol’ Paint was twitchy. With the upgrade to Dionysus, with smaller tires and shorter handlebars, the handling nearly had a mind of its own: great for sudden maneuvering in traffic, not so good for keeping a line in traffic while your mind wandered. Significantly larger tires should tame this a bit, and there was a small change with the Bonkers. Easier to push the bike through the parking with my hand on the seat, and less likely for the wheel to flop over when I’m waiting at a traffic light and let go of the bars to have a sip of water.

Little things

The new water bottle cages are satisfyingly grippy, which was not really in my mind when I bought them — it was a libation-influenced purchasing decision. (For that matter, so were the Billy Bonkers … ) The previous cages, which I bought because the color was a near match for the paint, were a bit loosey-goosey. Never a problem while riding, but the bottle might fall out while I was carrying the bike upstairs to my office.

The brakes remain stiff, which is certainly down to the cables. I should have them out for cleaning and a bit of oil or grease. The braking performance was a worry with the return to the original, longer Deore units. It’s fine on the front. The rear is still a bit soft. I probably need to look at a smaller noodle on the rear, and recut the cable housing to achieve a straighter line.

Other than that, perfectly satisfied with the upgrade. People have noticed the change, and most approve.

New tires? I thought you got a new bike!


Garmie didn’t start recording until I was about 400m into the morning ride, and then skipped about the first 700m on the evening return. Based on a moving time of 38:04, I averaged 19.7km/h in the morning, and 37:47 for 19.3km/h on the return. These times are not out of line with historical records, which is probably evidence that the commute is more dependent on traffic lights than anything else.

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