Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clive's Handlebars and Brake Levers

I consider my handlebars to be the one compensation for my otherwise incredibly annoying experience with the Velo Orange Randonneur. While I was waiting (and waiting) for the frame (which of course never materialized) Chris K. posted on his blog about a treasure-trove of handlebars he had discovered. Among them was an all-black Philippe randonneur bar. I'd never seen one before and haven't since. I wrote to Chris right away to ask if he would sell it to me, and he, wishing to see it on one of one of his VO bikes, sold it to me. (NB: I continue to like Chris K. and VO very much. My "beef" with the framebuilder himself, however, remains!)

Besides being pretty, the bars have a nice shape: a long reach, shallow drop, medium flare, and flattish-but-not-flat ramps. They're about 40cm wide at the hoods and 42 at the drops. I think they'd look pretty bad on anything but a black bike—but since mine is black, I think they'll look very nice indeed! I'll use amber-shellacqued orange cloth tape on the bars, though at various points I've also considered white and black.

The brake levers are Mavic-branded Modolos with anatomic Modolo hoods. I bought them together on eBay, but they're actually not a proper pair. One of the two has a "hinged" cable anchor that can serve either in aero or non-aero mode. I will, of course, be opting for non-aero. The cable adjusters were taken from some Dia Compe Grand Compe levers. I had the Mavic levers threaded to accept them, since it didn't seem like I could put adjusters anywhere else. Hopefully they'll work well. (The adjusters still need little rubber o-rings.)

Further note: Why did I decide to use the adjusters from a pair of Grand Compe levers, but not to use the levers themselves? Well, a big reason is that I have a Mavic derailleur and skewers, and like for things to match. Another is the damning condemnation of Grand Compe levers in Eugene A. Sloane's legendary All New Complete Book of Bicycling (3rd edn., 1980). He compares the GC levers very unfavourably with Campagnolo levers (of which the Modolos are copies). His reason is that the Campagnolos have independent fittings of clamp and spindle—so the lever turns easily regardless of how tightly it's clamped, which isn't the case with the GCs. See pages 424-5. And for a glowing report on the GC's adjusters, see p. 440. (He's a thorough man!)


Jim C said...

AH -

Nice bars! The adjusters from the Gran Compes can have the O ring fitted by heading off to Canadian Tire's plumbing section and buying a package of correctly sized rings.
Measure with calipers before you go and voila ! cheap,fully functioning adjusters. They work great on my Gran Compe centre pull

AH said...

Many thanks for the tip! I shall be off to Canadian Tire (or perhaps Home Hardware) soon!