Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Revised Radish

Greetings and happy Friday!

If you'd told me at the beginning of the year I'd have a major "bikeyface" day on December 1st, I:
(a) Would have no idea what you meant by that; and
(b) Would not believe you even if I did know what you meant by that.

Amazing, how quickly things can change, yes?

I hope everyone in the States had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with a little time to focus on our gratitude instead of our shopping lists, and if possible, to spend time with people you love (whether or not you were related to them). I traveled to mid-MO and suburban KC, KS with the hubster to visit his family and mine. It was a good weekend, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, for it's truly a chance to do little more than reconnect, stuff yourself, and think about all of the things that are wonderful in your life.

When we left St. Louis on Thursday, it was cold. When we returned early Sunday, it was already in the 50s. My drive across the gret stet of Missouri had left me frustrated and grumpy (highway 70 traffic gets worse every year, and drivers are aggressive and greatly overestimate their skills, which makes defensive driving both a necessary and somewhat-futile exercise). I sat on my couch and contemplated the beautiful weekend day with one of the last bits of warm sunshine for the season, and I knew what I needed to do: it was time for a bike ride.

I thought first of Fleur, because she is so comfortable to ride, and then realized this would be a wonderful chance to take the newly-refurbished Radish out for a spin! Honestly, it was a little scary at first - I haven't ridden a ten-speed in forever (high school?), and compared to the fat, stable tires of a mountain bike, or the bolt-upright position offered by the Dutch-style bicycle, I felt like I was basically lying prone right over the front wheel. However, I was immediately struck by how good the bike felt - my LBS did a great job fixing it up, and in the two miles from my home to the place I hop on Grant's Trail, I became very comfortable on the bike. I did notice one small annoyance - I added a kickstand to the ten-speed, and the left crank knocks it when it passes so it makes a small "tap" sound every time I pedal around. I am not sure how to fix it; nor am I sure that it bothers me so much that I will. I love the convenience of a kickstand. 

It felt good enough that I cycled the whole of the trail (about 17 miles up and back again). The bike performed splendidly, and I also got used to the (utterly terrifying) downtube shifters. I liked riding a lighter bicycle (Fleur is starting to feel quite heavy and a bit unwieldy for non-riding purposes with all her storage and accessories), and having access to additional gears. HOWEVER, I was struck by how much more comfortable Fleur is for a 2.5 hour ride -- shortly after I turned around after reaching the Mehlville end of Grant's Trail, I began to really feel an ache from the ancient padding (or relative lack thereof) in my sit bones, my back and neck were becoming stiff from the aggressive riding position, and I wished I'd only done about half the trail. This was exacerbated by the fact that I'd neglected to bring water and was thirsty when I left the house, and I was beyond ready to be home by the time I rolled into my driveway.

So where does that leave us? 
1. With a kickstand and rear rack, The Radish will be the go-to for rides I need to drive to.
2. I want more gears, not adjusted gears, on the Linus. I will be looking into replacing the 3-speed wheel/shifter with 8 speeds after the holidays.

So I continue to feel that Fleur is the right bicycle for most of my rides, but I'm thrilled to get a sense of where the Radish fits. I think I need to adjust the saddle northwards about an inch, and I'd like to move the handlebars up quite a bit, too, to make the riding position a little less aggressive.

I am on the fence about what to do with the mountain bike. As snow has arrived in St. Louis, I think having a bike with larger tires will be beneficial and wonder if I want smooth or knobby tires for this purpose. I am having fit concerns with the mountain bike and need to consider what I want to do with the Trek's handlebars. I know I want fenders and a kickstand, but do I want a rack, too? I think I probably do - I don't like riding with backpacks, cross-body bags, or bulky items in my pocket, and the tiny rack is perfect for attaching a small purse as a mini pannier. So, stay tuned. 

In the meantime, at home, with Thanksgiving behind us, we have decorated for Christmas and I think bicycles may make for the best ornaments. Yes?


  1. Your mixte is looking lovely!
    The kickstand tick you can fix yourself. Put the kickstand up, then grab the "foot" of the stand and push it towards your wheel just enough that it no longer gets in the way of your pedal. You should be able to do this without loosening the bolt that clamps the kickstand to your frame.
    Happy Holidays and happy riding!

  2. Nathan - THANK YOU! I will try this as soon as I get home.

  3. Such a great use of the nice weather we had that day!

    I swapped the stock stem that came on my Kona Jake for a stem that angles up slightly, thus affording a slightly more upright/slightly less aggressive riding position, and it's a good set-up for me.

    I think easing into the different bike makes sense. It might, eventually, be relatively comfortable for longer rides, after your body and muscles get used to the position.


Let the bicycle talk begin...