Have I introduced you all to Frankenbike yet? Back in March 2011 I decided I was ready to upgrade from the commuter hybrid I used for my first year of tris (and still use to commute) to something a little speedier, like a road bike. I didn’t have much money so I looked around for some used bike deals. My mom worked with a woman whose boyfriend built bikes and he was very interested in helping me find a bike in my price range that I could buy from him. I told him what I was looking for and he totally ignored it and showed up with a triathlon bike he built for someone else but ended up not selling. Enter Frankenbike.
Now, straight up, Frankenbike and I were not initially well suited for each other. But the dude was a friend of my mom’s and the price was something I could afford, so I took it. I took him out for a few rides but quickly realized he was too uncomfortable to go very far, so I decided a bike fit was in order. I headed over to Josh at Cyclelife and spent several hours pedaling on a trainer while he hemmed and hawed at my dubious prize. In that first fit, we changed the seat, the seat post, the aerobars, the front shifters, cabling, and ALL of the positions. And we were being conservative in changing stuff because, as Josh kept reminding me, there comes a point where it’s just cheaper to buy a new bike.
But it worked, for the most part. I was able to ride and feel relatively comfortable in aero. Of course, I promptly broke my foot and didn’t get to ride much for a while, so I wasn’t able to truly put it through the paces right away. Earlier in the year I switched out my cranks to something shorter and more appropriate to my legs, and got new wheels (the bike originally came with tubulars BLEGH).
And, in prep for Alcatraz, I went ahead and made two more changes: 1) I changed my saddle again because the adamo wasn’t working out for me, and 2) I switched out the rear derailleur & cog set.
See, on really tough climbs I was running out of gears and having to mash my way slowly to the top. Given that my next race is an 18 mile hill fest, I was understandably concerned about my ability to complete the bike in a timely fashion and still be able to run 8 miles. I asked the Cyclelife dudes what they thought, and they mentioned something that they’d done for a few previous customers that worked well. Basically, they replaced my old normal derailleur with a mountain bike derailleur and added 34-11 cassette. Oh, yesssss. There will be spinning. It looks a bit funky with the giant long arm, but works like a dream.
Today was the first time I took Frankenbike out on some serious hills to see how he did, and it was ridiculously awesome. I spun my way to the top of the MacArthur climb out in Great Falls and then went back down and did it again for fun. I wasn’t even in the easiest gear.
So, yes, after many piecemeal changes, I am pretty happy with Frankenbike. There is still one outstanding thing I’d like to fix, but that’s not on the bike itself. However, I have had to stop adding up the additional money I put into him since the original purchase. Doing so would make me painfully aware that I could’ve just bought a very nice, very new road or triathlon bike for roughly the same cost.