Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New bike is no more

On Sunday, I went for a ride on the old, faithful Cannondale.  And frankly, it was a delight to get on it again, after a week or riding on the Gotham.  It was on that ride that I made up my mind to avail myself of REI's "100% Satisfaction Guarantee."

It was disappointing; after all, I've been pondering getting the Gotham for the better part of three years.  But there were some insurmountable issues... for me!  For another cyclist, they would probably be non-issues.

1) It didn't "fit" me well.  And REI seemed unwilling to provide much assistance in that.  I purchased a longer 400mm seat post on my own.  That made the saddle high enough, but then the handlebars felt too low and too close.  An aftermarket stem probably would've got me taken care of, but at that point I was somewhat frustrated with the process.  (In the accompanying photos, you'll see the post-adjustment saddle height.  The frame is the "L-XL" size, which is supposedly sized for riders 5'11" to 6'3" - since I'm 6'2" with 32" inseam, it should've fit me just right.)

2) My BOB trailer was/is unusable with a Gotham.  The proper-size "Nutz" are available (10mm), but the rear dropouts on the Gotham are wider than a more standard bike by probably 20mm, to accommodate the NuVinci hub and belt drive.  (I probably could've bent the trailer to fit, but then it would've been unusable on any bike but the Gotham.)

3) Disc brake issues filled my heart with trepidation.  Much of the charm of the Gotham was the notion that it would be essentially maintenance-free, what with the belt drive.  When the brakes were already "dragging" with less than 100 miles on the clock, it worried me.  (Maybe the good people at REI could've adjusted them and sent me on my way for 10,000 trouble-free miles... I don't know.  By comparison, my low-tech cable-operated cantilever brakes seemed pretty charming to my luddite eyes.)

The bike went back this evening.  Delightfully, there was absolutely NO "static" - the guy just entered stuff into his cash register and I swiped my bankcard for the refund.

I do NOT want to suggest that the belt or NuVinci were unsatisfactory.  The belt was uncannily quiet (until the swish of rubbing brakes caught my attention), and the NuVinci is an awesome piece of technology.  I tried out its full range... I "down-twisted" on several occasions to ride up hills, and on one occasion I "up-twisted" to the top end... I was putting pressure on the pedals, but barely, riding downhill at 30mph.  So the range is indeed comparable to pretty much any multi-gear bicycle.  Unfortunately, I won't be giving it the long-term road test I'd imagined.

And thus ends a brief but interesting chapter in my riding history.

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