New Bike!

January 14, 2012

I’m a little late in posting this, but I finally upgraded my bicycle.

I needed a bike with several improvements over my existing starter Wal Mart bike.  First, it should not be a girl’s bike  🙂  Second, it needed the ability to add a rack for panniers for long trails and touring. Third, the gearing needed to be more robust.  Fourth, it needed to be lighter (the performance-to-weight ratio of my WM Schwinn is shockingly bad).  Fifth, it needed to be more efficient (higher speed for equivalent or lower effort).  Finally, with flat tires being a major concern with me, it needed to have the most puncture resistance I could reasonably equip it with.

I went with the Specialized Crosstrail.  The bike pictured in the link is yellow/black, while mine is white/black.   I actually purchased the bike last Friday (January 6th), but for varying reasons (see below), didn’t actually pick it up till Tuesday.

I bought the bike at BikeSource Kansas City.  The guy who sold it to me, and patiently answered my dozens of questions was Tyler – he was great and knows his stuff. If you’re in the market, drop by their shop.

The Crosstrail is a well-thought-of hybrid bike, offering comfort, flexibility, ease of use, and a confident ride on road or trail.  Internet reviews of the bike are generally quite good, and the strong consensus is that it’s a fine value for the money.

The 700x45c tires are at once larger and thinner than my existing tires, with a “hybrid-style” surface featuring a smoother center strip for road riding and grip on the edges for grab on trails. The seat or “saddle” to use the cycling community lexicon is actually quite comfortable.  The 24-speed gearing (8 gears in the back) on the bike is beautiful, smooth and powerful.  I rarely get higher than 5th rear gear, and somewhere around 3rd-4th gear produces a comparable pace to my top sustained speed on the starter bike.  I’ve tried the higher gears, of course, and they produce handsomely, with a brisk pacing.

Among the few downsides to the bike at time of purchase was the color scheme (I would have preferred probably all-black, but I didn’t actually dislike this scheme, and I can always have it repainted if desired) and the option for only a single water-bottle cage versus the common two.  The last wasn’t a major concern as (a) the bottle I bought holds a good volume, (b) I won’t soon be riding the divide or any such route with long distances between fortifications, and (c) I can always carry a backup in the panniers or rear rack case.

At the time of purchase, I didn’t have means to get the bike home, plus there was a bit of work to do at the shop.  The local bike shop (LBS in cycling lexicon) performs a final tune-up (wheel truing, tire pressure, gear testing, proper lubrication, etc) at the shop prior to “delivery”, and additionally I wanted the following 3 things done:

  • Install a rear rack for touring panniers.  I purchased the rack at the store.  I’ve not yet purchased panniers or rack case, as I won’t need them for some time yet and want to evaluate options.
  • Install a water bottle cage.  The bike allows the option for a water bottle cage but doesn’t come with one attached. I purchased a cage and double-insulated water bottle.
  • Protect those tires. I had them install “stop flats” 2-layer tire liner (a layer of puncture-resistant material circling the tire between the tube and the outer wheel covering) on both tires, after injecting both tires with Stans tire sealant – a liquid sealant that remains inside the tire tube and expands to re-seal the tube following punctures of up to 1/4 inch.  Assuming I don’t roll over a knife, the combination of these modifications, plus attention to maintaining proper air pressure, should greatly reduce flatting.

Arguably I could have done all of these myself and saved a bit of money, but I’m not particularly mechanically inclined and had no heartburn in considering these modifications as components of the price of purchasing the bike.

The LBS’s guy that works on the bikes doesn’t work on the weekends, so I picked up the bike on Tuesday afternoon.  My buddy Jason thoughtfully carpooled us to work in his van so that I could pick her up and take her back home.  Thanks Jason!

I feel comfortable and confident in this bike, with no intention to upgrade for quite some time.  I’ll plan to ride this bike on the PST, Katy Trail and probably longer rides.  Yeah, this is the one.

Here’s a picture of my new baby from this morning’s ride.


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