May 11th, 2005 09:47 AM
Mary and Single
Mary impressions: Warning this is long
Today I rode with Mary on the trails for the first time. I should begin by writing that my impressions of how Mary handled off road may be shaded by the fact that this was also my first time riding my new bike (a KHS solo-one, rigid fork) off road. I am not familiar with how the bike handled before Mary. All my previous experiences are on an old Scott frame with Scott AT-2 bars, and a born again Trek 930 frame with a 100 mm fork and a specialized low-rise bar.
My first trail ride today with Mary began with a half mile climb including 1/3 mile of gravel road. As a climbing bar on smooth roads, the Mary is great. I liked them more than the bar end position on the Scott AT-2 bars and a lot more than the riser bar. The position is a little different than your typical bar ends because you do not shift your hands forward to grip the bars as they do with bar ends.
Right after the climb is a fairly steep, very rocky descent. On this trail there are bowling ball sized rocks interspersed among wheelbarrow sized rocks. This is where my impression of the bars may have been shaded a bit by being on a new bike, and also by being off the trails since January. My skills were a bit rusty, but when the going got rough (once it was downright frightening), I did not really notice that I was on the funky bar (this is a good thing). Possible advantages of the Mary: It is much easier to get off the back of the bike. It also felt very natural to let the bike roll under me while going up and down some of the rougher lines on the trail. I think riding these bars a bit more will give me a better impression of how specifically they handle the rougher spots.
The bike ripped on the double track. For those of you from the northeast, this section of trail is like a logging road. The bars gave lots of leverage for powering over the rises and for laying down some speed on the flatter spots. There are several areas where there are logs across the trails, and I found the bike easier to manual over the logs than the past bikes I have ridden. Even though motorized vehicles are prohibited from these trails, a Jeep or some other large 4X4 had ripped up part of the trail. The Mary bars allowed me to leverage out of the ruts easily. The smoother section of the trail that marks the final descent before turning around to head back has some water bars stretching across the trail. Once again manualing and bunny-hopping the bars were no problem with the Mary.
This particular ride was a sprint from work to my house, and back. On the way back the trail is pretty much the same as on the way out with one big exception; the rocky descent becomes a rocky climb. The Mary mars were great for getting the leverage you need to bump and power over the medium sized boulders. There was one point where my rear tire spun out and I lurched forward. My knee whacked the hell out of something up by the bars, but I am not sure what it was. It could have been the bar or the stem, but it happened too quickly to know for sure. My single speeding legs definitely need some conditioning after the winter months.
I want to ride these more.
There is one particular trail with 3-4 foot drops that are ridable (I am not a hucker), and I am dying to get out on those. There is another trail that is your typical root infested New England single track.
I am very happy I got these bars. I never had problems with the risers I was running, but the Mary’s are very comfortable and natural to hold. They are definitely not any worse than risers, and I have noticed some definite advantages, particularly on climbs and steep descents. Yesterday where they shined the most were the rapid transitions from descending to climbing, or log/rock crossing to uphill climb. I know I was thinking about them too much from time to time, but when the trail got technical, and I got forgot to think about how they felt they just plain worked.
I will post my other experiences as I have them (Today I will be tackling the trail with the drops).