i changed the handlebar on my trek 800 today. if you're easily tired of bike talk, you may want to skip this post.

i wasn't sure if the upgrade would go smoothly, so i used the trek one last time to deposit some seltzer cans and get a few groceries. because it was still cold outside (32°F this morning), i wheeled the bike inside the house so i could work on it comfortably.

to remove the old handlebar, i first had to take off the hand grip, the old brake lever and the gripshifter from one side. normally hand grips are hard to remove but this one was loose anyway so i just simply had to peel it off. underneath was a pristine length of handlebar, not covered in rust like the exposed parts. after i did that i realized i had to take everything off because the attached cables wasn't long enough for me to get enough clearance to remove the handlebar.

with the old handlebar removed, i detached the bike stem and scrubbed it with a brillo pad to get rid of some of the rust. made of chromoly, it wasn't in too bad a shape. with the stem cleaned and dried, next came the moment of truth. i put some grease inside the pinch clamp and slid the new handlebar through. the clearance was perfect, it fit without any problems. i tightened the bolt and re-installed it back onto the bike fork. i set the stem about an inch lower than before since the new north road style handlebar doesn't require me to lean forward as much.

i installed the new shifters and the new hand levers. the hand grips needed more finesse. just pushing them on didn't work; the trick is to use hairspray. unfortunately i didn't have any, but liquid hand sanitizer also works just as well. i squirted some inside of the grips and it slipped right onto the handlebar. a few minutes later, when the sanitizer dried up, the grips were stuck in place.

once the hardware was installed on the handlebar, it came time to do the wiring. the brake cables were easy; i just moved them from the old levers onto the new ones. the shifter cables required more work. since the new shifters came with their own cables, i didn't need the old cables; not that i'd want to use them anyway because the exposed portions were already rusty. taking them off required clipping off the cable ends and then snaking them through the cable housing. the housing looked fine, the only thing i did was drip a few drops of triflow oil and run a clean cable through to clean it out. this meant i didn't have to visit my local bike shop to get new housing (saved me a few bucks).

i moved the chains onto the smallest cogs before i installed the new shifter cables: the smallest chainring corresponds to 1 while the smallest cassette sprocket corresponds to 7. i was looking for the pair of new pliers i bought a few weeks ago but i couldn't find them (used to tighten the wires). once i clamped the cables and snipped off the tail ends, the bike was ready for a test ride.

i rode up and down the street a few times. the thing i noticed right away was the handlebar was sloped too far down. the brakes also weren't engaging even when i pulled the levers all the way back (only the back brake worked, fortunately there wasn't any cars). even though the new handlebar is larger than my old one, it felt lighter; this may have something to do with the hand grips, which are much thinner. the shifters worked well, although one time when i tried to back up the rear gears it didn't catch at first and i had to shift forward and back before it worked again.

back at home, i adjusted the tilt of the handlebar, made it more horizontal.

next i adjusted the brakes. i'll need to replace the cable/housing for the front brake at some point because it's a bit short. the u-tube is pulling so much that it looks like it's coming out of the v-brake cage. to fix the brake problem, i just shortened the cable by a little bit. the cable/housing for the rear brake is fine but the nut on the brake was so rusted i couldn't get to release so i couldn't fix it (rear brake is working anyway, so not a big deal, and my replacement brakes will arrive in a few weeks).

i never really noticed it before, but the brakes on my trek 800 have the best stopping power of all my bikes. the pads are bigger and the rims are in better shape, compared to my 2 road bikes.

the brake/shift assembly is big, but riding the bike i don't see it. all i see are the gear displays, which are conveniently facing me when i ride. it's ironic that i'm spending all this time and energy to update my shifters when in fact i hardly shift nowadays when i ride, preferring to stay in a single speed (for hills, i just peddle standing up for extra power).

i should've worn gloves because i washed my hands so many times to get rid of the grease that they got really dry and began cracking.

i finished the last of my mexican chicken soup for dinner. my roommate didn't get home until after 9:00, we both grunted hellos then he disappeared into his room. later he took a shower, which for those who are keeping score, is his 5th shower in 25 days.