Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A proper handlebar at last!

 Arrivederci FSA!

A proper handlebar at last! Zio Lorenzo tried to like the OEM spec'd FSA K-WING carbon handlebar, he really did! Especially when he thought about the PITA involved in changing it.

But after a couple of months and more than 1000 kms of trying he caved-in and ordered a more normal-shaped aluminum road bend handlebar by Ritchey. Heather likes their 31 mm bars OK as they have a reasonable shape and bend while Zio ordered the same FSA model stem but 10 cm vs the shorty OEM 7 cm. The hoses/cables/wires are no longer inside the stem (or bar), instead under a plastic cover that fits under the stem and under the bar tape. Does it really look all that untidy? Not to Zio!

The bike looks a lot more "normal" now, but the real benefit is the change in position. The distance from the tip of the saddle to the center of the handlebar is now Zio's normal spec while when he's down on the drops the front hub is hidden from view, just as they used to tell us was proper back-in-the-day.

Not too ugly, eh? Zio decided not to cut the steerer tube when he removed the 2 cm of spacers underneath, at least for now. But he's really liking the lowered bars despite them still being higher than normal due to modern frame design with higher headtubes and sloping top tubes.

An old-time round style top-cap and spacers ABOVE the stem don't look too bad, do they?

This was Zio's first project like this. He dreaded pulling hoses/cables/wires out of the insides of a bar and stem. It threatened to be a lot of work...and it was! The e-shifter wires had to be unplugged (once the plugs were finally found, deep inside the frame'a toptube!) and then snaked back through headtube and frame to be reconnected. 

The brake hoses have banjo-type fittings at the brake lever and Zio feared they wouldn't fit through the holes in the bar, but fortunately he was wrong, but they still had to be disconnected, which meant a time-consuming brake-bleeding session was required to finish-up. 

Meanwhile, the shift cable inner wire had to come out of it's housing so it too could be yanked out of the bar, then replaced, the entire time with Zio sort-of holding his breath as he pushed the inner cable back through all that housing - through the entire frame, hoping it would pop out rather than get stuck and frayed, requiring replacement with a new one. 

Super-duper, extra-slick cables are needed (Campagnolo call's 'em "Maximum Smoothness" which sounds like a men's shaving product) to deal with all the twists, turns and bends required for internal routing and the replacement cable/housing for this bike costs $100!

Zio breathed a sigh of relief when the cable popped out in good shape, especially as the super-slick aftermarket replacement (he forgot to order with stem/bar) wasn't going to arrive for a few days. From that point it was just running everything along the handlebar, then under the stem (where the extra wiring that didn't like being stuffed back into the headtube was coiled-up) where it's all hidden by a plastic cover. 

Zio had saved the original bar tape when he switched to the red cork (which didn't come off in one piece) to match the red SMP Glider saddle he tried before going back to the white Plus, so it went back on, easily covering the simple round bar vs the extra surface of the multi-shaped FSA thing.

The bike now fits properly. Zio likes the less flexy feeling with hands down in the drops along with the general shape and feel he's familiar with. The levers are no longer slanted/tilted/skewed, though it's unfashionable for sure. 

This damn near all-day project certainly would go more quickly next time, but even then it would likely still be a half-day project. But now with everything under the bar tape or under the stem cover, unless something goes wrong inside the headtube, any repairs or parts changes should be quick and easy in comparison!!

Best of all, when he hops on this bike it feels pretty much like his other bikes...finally!!!



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