Reconfiguring my ANT with drop handlebars turned out to be more of a process than first expected. Initially, John installed handlebars and stem donated by his new used Rambouillet. We added brake levers and leather bar tape. After a couple of rides with the new set up, I was reasonably confident handling the bike. However I was too “stretched out” and had to reach too far to get to the brake levers. That was hard on my shoulders and hands. Plus it gave me the unpleasant sense that I might topple over the bars, which was accentuated when going downhill. I keep saying “we” here but it was John, not me providing the talent here. While the transition to drop bars had a lot of pluses (more comfort and power in riding uphill, and some overall if slight gain in speed) it was time to try some more changes.
When moving the saddle didn’t solve the problem, we sought out some new components: a stem that would bring the handlebars a bit closer, and interrupter levers to give options in braking. After conferring with Chris at the newly opened C’ville Bikes and The Hub (a new bike shop right in town!) I asked him to replace the current bar-ends and brake levers with Shimano brifters.
Chris thought I needed narrower handlebars. John thought I didn’t. I wavered back and forth on this question (really what do I know?) but decided to keep the same handlebars. During the week it took to get the work done, I did my bit by worrying. What if I hated the brifters? What if the new stem made my position too upright? Maybe I should have opted for the narrower bars?
The verdict: it all worked out. My ANT is once again comfortable to ride. My posture is a little more upright than before but not so much that I’ve lost the advantage of the drop bars. Maybe I will eventually want to lower the new stem by a half inch or so, but we’ll see. The brifters have been easy to use and it turns out that I like them! I also like the interrupters which let me quickly find the levers from any hand position. I still have the very comfortable and attractive leather bar tape, and now also lovely new blue cable housing on the interruptor brake cables. Maybe later on I will spring for matching housing for the other cables. For now though, the ANT updates are done, and I am enjoying the new riding experience.