Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'm pretty good at avoiding potholes and other obstacles on the road, but around here it's difficult to miss them all together.

A couple of times lately, I've noticed that when I've taken a hit a loud "Kerrrack" sound emanates from around the handle bar area. This is worrying when you ride a full carbon frame ...

Anyway, after carefully checking forks and frame for signs of stress, I put this down to my GPS unit shaking on the handlebars, especially since the unit appeared to rotate around the bars after the hit.

Last Tuesday, the incidence seemed to be increasing, but it was not until half way through the ride I realised what was happening.

We were making a fast descent off Lindberg with my hands on the hoods, feathering the brakes, when I had the distinct sensation that my hands were sliding off the front of the levers and I was unable to brake effectively without making the position worse, so by the bottom of the hill I was pretty shaken up.

Recently I upgraded my handlebars to a carbon set. I fitted these myself, full aware that carbon is very sensitive to the torque settings of securing bolts, so it's likely I didn't have the bars secure enough.
It seems every time I have have taken a notable hit the bars have rotated a degree or so forward each time, at first imperceptibly, but eventually to the point where I began to feel very insecure.

The first picture shows the bike with the bars set correctly, with the top rails placed horizontally - I may adjust this slightly in the next few rides.
The second picture shows the extent to which the bars had rotated - and why I had this feeling my hands were going to slide off the front.

You may ask why I hadn't noticed this before, but I can only speculate that this situation arose literally by degrees and only when it went beyond my comfort zone did it become apparent.
This time I used a torque wrench to set the securing bolts, then, suffered a crisis of confidence and gave the bolts an extra tweak.

In the future I will not dismiss sounds from my bike so swiftly and try to be more aware of signs which may mean trouble.

Descending at 40mph on a bicycle is exhilarating and a little scary, but it should not be terrifying.

Be aware of your surroundings and be confident in the condition of your bicycle ... listen to it as well as look.