Well this is a breakthrough. .. the other day we were at Cycle Shop on Michigan Avenue getting help installing fenders on the Hotrock (Uncle!) And I decided to go over some of the connections on my bike. I raised the seat post again- now that there’s no ice I feel better about it- I had set it at a lower height so I could easily “touch” to catch us before. I also decided since the bike travels well on the train and I’m pretty nervous about the bus so I figured I’d pop the OSATA frame out a little more and try a more forward stance.
Id kept it short before because i knew at that length it will fit on the CTA rack, but a few more inches in length wont affect its train travel. I wound up putting it at its second longest setting (if that makes sense) and in the process accidentally pulled the frame apart completely. Oops. Luckily Mr. Bike mechanic was done with the fenders and held the rear upright for me while I realigned the halves and it was easy enough to get back together.
We rode away a minute later and I was really surprised that the fit seemed amazingly better. But later when I had two kids on the rack again and started uphill again I was really blown away- that flex I’ve been commenting on occasionally seemed to almost disappear. So the way I’d explained it before was that I felt like some part of the bike was wobbly when I’d start up a hill or pedal hard from a stop. I wouldn’t have tried standing to climb before at all because of that sensation. (Interestingly I felt uncomfortable with a standing climb when we initially got our Yuba Mundo as well, but got over it.) Well this bike now feels super stable, and I’ve been having lots of fun stomping those pedals when the light turns green… one advantage of the small tires and lighter weight is faster acceleration, though I’m still not going to win any street races.
I guess my logic before was that by having the tube in a lower setting there would be more material overlapping, which would make the frame stronger/stiffer- but apparently it’s the geometry and weight distribution that makes a difference in how a frame feels. I’ve tried googling this and wound up at Sheldon Brown’s website, of course, and there’s a whole lot of information there but nothing that lays out simply why my ride has improved so much.
One of the things I plan to play with now is the handlebar height- I like the idea that I can adjust things for different purposes.
We rode about 7 miles on the lake the other day (hello, headwind) and being in a more “race like” position would have probably helped. Of course in an urban setting, being upright is advantageous, as it increases my visibility and I feel I can turn my head and see around me much more easily.
I think I currently have a good compromise but will definitely be experimenting!