I’ve been test riding bikes. My Cannondale Synapse has been great, and will continue to be a great bike, but I wanted something for more getting around and hauling things. Plus, if I could find something a wee bit more comfortable for touring, that would be a plus.
On the recommendations of friends, I tried two bikes from Salsa and one from Surly. The Salsa X9 — last year’s highest end of the Vaya line — was a nice ride but the only one available left me a bit stretched out. I loved the disc brakes and the color but those are not enough to overcome feeling too stretched, especially multiplying that by time.
On Sunday I rode the 2017 Surly Straggler in a local charity ride. I only did 40 miles but they were a sweet 40 miles. The bike practically climbed on its own over the rollers on the route. I stayed in the big ring most of the ride. The steepest grade was briefly 4% and it was no trouble whatsoever. The bike shop had used a laser and measuring tools to reproduce the angles of measurements on my Cannondale. They switched out the handlebars that come with the Straggler for a slightly smaller set (38 instead of 40). The shifters are SRAM and there are disc brakes on it. It comes in black or mint. Not inspired colors.
Today I went to test ride the 2017 Salsa Vaya Deore. The red color on the website was deceptive. I hadn’t been very excited about it, but it turned out to be a lot prettier than the monitor showed. So, point in its favor. I rode it east of Falls Church towards Arlington, climbed a few hills, and rode back.
They are both steel, and both had somewhat fatter tires (not road tires) so the cushion was about the same. I couldn’t put my finger on the difference between this one and the Straggler, but there’s definitely a difference, and it comes down in favor of the Straggler on comfort and fit.
It makes me feel more powerful, more in control, and more confident. The tires they’ve ordered for it will come in tomorrow and I can ride it again to make sure, but I’m leaning that way.
Of course, it costs more than the Deore. And I have yet to add the rack…
But my accomplishment (you ask, having waited patiently while I talk about bikes)? I promised myself that if there was a parking place at the Hunter Mill crossing of the W&OD, I’d get my bike out of the back of the car and ride up Hunter Station Road. Hunter Station has a bit with 7% grade, and it has always stymied me.
Not today — after doing the Fuller ride, this was easy. I climbed that sucker on my Cannondale without really even getting stressed. I wasn’t even in my lowest gear and I stood climbing part of the way just for fun. And I didn’t have my music playing or anything!
I laughed all the way back down to the car. Another one of my giants slain!