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Is it time for a new bike?

Old 08-19-19, 05:29 PM
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SpecK
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Is it time for a new bike?

Hi, I'm new to the forum and I'm hoping to get some help in deciding on keeping my old bike, or start looking for a new one.

This spring I got an itch to get back into biking and I pulled my trusted old (1993 I think) Gary Fisher Tassajara out from the back of the garage. This bike was a craigslist find a few years back and prior to this summer I had just been using it very sporadically on fairly short rides. As I started riding earlier this summer I also got an itch to look for a new bike, but I quite frankly got confused by all the options, so I decided to keep riding the Gary Fisher to gain more experience and hopefully figure out what kind of bike I need.

So I have spent a lot of time riding rail trails and towpaths and as I am now starting to get comfortable with going longer distances I am really leaning towards starting to do more bike touring and I want to at least do a multi day trip by next season. This would probably be fairly light touring as I'm looking at trails that have accommodations along the way.

I am no longer sure if I want to get a new bike as I really don't know if a different bike would make a huge difference, although the Tassajara has a few shortcomings.

So that's the backstory, now to the bike!

So the good things about riding the Tassajara:
- My seat height is good (I think) as I do not feel any fatigue or pain in my legs.
- Gearing feels adequate for the most part. I sometimes miss a higher gear on shorter rides when I try to go faster, but after I started going longer distances it doesn't bother me as much as I'm not pushing for speed.
- It's old and simple with what I think is mid range parts. The only parts I've replaced are shifters and brake levers and tires.

The bad things about the Tassajara:
- My bar feels too low. I am maxed out and the bar sits just below the seat. The position is not too uncomfortable and I have no back pain. However, my neck is getting a bit sore which sometimes limits me from looking up and around as much as I would like. I would like to try a slightly more upright position by bringing the bar up and slightly closer but I can't with the current setup.
- The seat is probably not my size. I am really starting to feel it after 20 miles or so.
- It has a flat bar with bar ends. I like switching my hand positions but the bar ends are too small for me as they bend in and my hand doesn't really fit comfortably on the straight parts. My hands do go numb after a while
- The chain stay is 16,5" which from what I gather is not ideal for touring. I also have large feet, so I could see fitting panniers being an issue.
- There are probably better tires than the walmart tires I put on it years ago.

So at a minimum I would be looking at replacing my stem, getting new handlebars or bar ends, getting a new seat and new tires. In addition there is the issue of chain stay length, but I think I could find a way around that by alternative packing if necessary.

So, is it worth trying to turn this old Gary Fisher into a light touring bike, or am I better off buying a new bike?

I realize you guys are probably getting these kinds of newbie questions all the time, but I would really appreciate any input!
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Old 08-19-19, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SpecK View Post
The bad things about the Tassajara:
- My bar feels too low. I am maxed out and the bar sits just below the seat. The position is not too uncomfortable and I have no back pain. However, my neck is getting a bit sore which sometimes limits me from looking up and around as much as I would like. I would like to try a slightly more upright position by bringing the bar up and slightly closer but I can't with the current setup.
- The seat is probably not my size. I am really starting to feel it after 20 miles or so.
- It has a flat bar with bar ends. I like switching my hand positions but the bar ends are too small for me as they bend in and my hand doesn't really fit comfortably on the straight parts. My hands do go numb after a while
- The chain stay is 16,5" which from what I gather is not ideal for touring. I also have large feet, so I could see fitting panniers being an issue.
- There are probably better tires than the walmart tires I put on it years ago.

So at a minimum I would be looking at replacing my stem, getting new handlebars or bar ends, getting a new seat and new tires. In addition there is the issue of chain stay length, but I think I could find a way around that by alternative packing if necessary.
First of all, welcome to the board!

I like working on old bikes of this era and find them to be pretty good templates but you have identified some issues.

Fit is most important for long hours touring. You can ride almost anything short term but after a long day and many miles poor fit will make itself known. Your neck issues are probably due to the aggressive posture of the bike with lower bars. You are a bit low and have to lift the head to see - that causes a sore neck. Not having much room for adjustment, added to the short chain stays (having looked at the 1993 bike online) that particular frame may not be so good for you.

It's a decent frame, probably chromoly steel and the drive train is good for moderate loaded touring (low geared mtb triple and decent mid grade components) and the rims are probably strong.

The bar/hand grip issue can be dealt with by either buying different bar ends or using a trekking bar, sometimes called a butterfly bar which can be had for about $20 online. They use the same diameter tubing as your mtb flat bar and the shifters and brakes can transfer across.

Seats almost always are a personal choice and get switched out from stock. There are hundreds of threads for people trying to find the right one so.. welcome to the club. Expect to spend a bit on one which isn't so bad seeing as you will sit on it all day.

Tires are consumables. Upgrading or switching is a given.

So.. frame issue aside, which for ou is a problem, the bike itself isn't bad and could serve as a reasonable budget tourer until experience lets you make a more informed decision. Upgrading too much though, trying to fix a fit issue, may wind up costing as much as buying a new budget but decent bike like the Fuji touring model (just for example).

Here's a pic of my old thrift store $50 mtb converted tourer. Beyond accesories, from stock to now it has had changed:

Shifters
Wheelset
Saddle
Cassette (11-32 7speed to 11-40 8speed)
Crankset (44/34/26 to 42/32/22)
Suspension fork
Seat post
Bottom bracket
Chain
Used pedals





And how it still serves as my hardtail single track bike

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-19-19 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 08-19-19, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post

So.. frame issue aside, which for ou is a problem, the bike itself isn't bad and could serve as a reasonable budget tourer until experience lets you make a more informed decision.
Thanks for helping me sort through this. I think it really comes down to if I can do something with the bar height or not. I found a few extra long adjustable quill stems online. Is there any reason that wouldn't work? I am thinking that along with a butterfly bar like you suggested might do the trick.

I am prepared to spend some money on a saddle. I figured that would be the case regardless of keeping this bike or buying new and if I find a saddle I like I can transfer it to any new bike I get. One of my local bike stores actually have a saddle library where you can test drive different saddles, so I might give that a shot.

I obviously can't do anything with the chain stay, but if I can get the bar height worked out I think this would work for a while and make a great second bike when and if I upgrade to something else.
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Old 08-19-19, 08:55 PM
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You are thinking logically which is good - too many rush out and buy new without understanding what they need and want long term. Experiment cheaply for a bit and learn what appeals before investing.

As that goes, saddles move from bike to bike so they are an good area to invest in first, as are pedals. Even tires to some degree, if you stay in the same wheel size, can travel bike to bike.

The stem issue can be easy or not, depending on how handy you are and if you can look for bargains. Certainly a shorter stem is possible, it's one of the first things I change on those types of mtbs because the stock ones (as in the pics of a 93 GF online) are very aggressive in terms of reach. Shorter and more of a rise. If you look at my stem you see it's actually quite a steep angle.

You can either look for a quill/stem combo like I think your bike has (but shorter) or swap that out for a threadless conversion quill and a modern stem. The problem is then finding a modern stem with the old school diameter for your current bars. Otherwise you start to need to also swap out bars, brake and shifters to match the new diameter stem. They are out there, you just have to look and want to convert/adopt components (hence the handy comment). If you take it to a shop, unless it's a family/budget business, they'll just say it can't be done and tell you to buy a new bike.

If you want to do the work on the stem then ride what you have for a bit and see what appeals to you. Look for a comfortable seat. If the goal is light/credit card touring a more road specific bike might be the ticket and if you can work on them, used bikes can be had at reasonable rates.

I have transitioned out of that mtb into my current road bike which, because I bought a last years discounted model, netted me a new Aluminum and Carbon Fiber disc brake Taigra endurance bike that retailed $1500 for $800. But, I would not have known what I wanted out of it if I hadn't spent time actually touring first. WHen I took up touring again I thought the answer was a Surly LHT at a minimum of $1500 used (local rates) which, while good, is now what I don't want in a fast touring bike.

Fully loaded


Light tour



Afternoon ramble

Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-19-19 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 08-19-19, 11:35 PM
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I also converted an old MTB to touring. I mounted an adjustable bar stem which helped quite a bit, put on 2 position bar ends, of course the Brooks B17. The bike was very comfortable for long rides. My only gripe was: When fully loaded (front and rear racks) the bike was very twitchy. Meaning under heavy peddling the bike would swerve side to side. Not the bike's fault, just the geometry.
So, after a number of week long rides and being convinced that I needed a new bike, I made the plunge into a full touring bike (LHT) and have not regretted it at all
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Old 08-20-19, 12:06 AM
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chainstays should not be a problem. you say you will be staying in hotels, which reduces the amount of stuff you gotta carry. bikepacking setup should work for you. if you prefer panniers consider going only with front bags on a lowrider.

as for tires, consider where you ride. do you need 2" tires with aggressive tread? prolly not, so think about 1.5" (maybe 1.25"?) tires with some shoulder bumps for light trail rides, with a raised center bead for pavement. could cut off a couple pounds.

as long as you're upgrading, what kinda fork do you have? cheap and heavy suspension forks are cheap and heavy, not really suited for touring. consider (in the future?) switching to a rigid fork, keep a watch on ebay, pick one up for ten or twenty bucks.
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Old 08-20-19, 03:53 AM
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I would investigate the frame fully for other cracks that you havenít seen yet and then have it fully repaired. It would be super annoying to fix this now and have another hairline appear shortly thereafter.

You might not get another 10 years but then again with a good quality repair you just might.
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Old 08-20-19, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SpecK View Post
Hi, I'm new to the forum and I'm hoping to get some help in deciding on keeping my old bike, or start looking for a new one.
...
This would probably be fairly light touring as I'm looking at trails that have accommodations along the way.
...
Many of us refer to staying indoors at motels or B&Bs or hostels as credit card touring. You only need to carry a day or two of clothing, maybe rain gear, maybe some snacks and a small toiletries kit.

Almost any kind of bike can be used for that. If you are on gravel trails (rail trails), then wider tires in the 35 to 37mm range might be preferred, but if on pavement a narrower tire would work well too.

A friend of mine used to do that kind of touring with just a large rack top bag. Some other friends of mine did a trip like that in Southern Florida where they stayed at motels every night, they used road bikes for their trip.

But if you want to carry camping gear too, then you need a bike with more weight capacity and a way to carry it.

My point is if you are always doing credit card touring, almost any kind of bike would work well. A good used bike could work well too. The most important thing would be that the bike has to fit you well.
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Old 08-20-19, 08:31 AM
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i had to google what a Tasajara looks like




so, basically the Gary Fisher Tasajara is a mountain bike. You say you want to start touring ... I am not sure you can attach a front rack to that fork. You probably (but not 100% sure) can attach a rear rack to this bike. If You pack light you might convert this bike into a bikepacking setup by adding seatpost bag, frame bag and a handlebar harness / bag
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Old 08-20-19, 08:50 AM
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Similar to my 92 Marin before I pulled the plug on it for off road touring in favor of my fat bike.
But, it's all about the fit. With that there are a great many work arounds.

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Old 08-20-19, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
...so, basically the Gary Fisher Tasajara is a mountain bike. You say you want to start touring ... I am not sure you can attach a front rack to that fork. You probably (but not 100% sure) can attach a rear rack to this bike. If You pack light you might convert this bike into a bikepacking setup by adding seatpost bag, frame bag and a handlebar harness / bag
the '93 had a rigid fork.

more like this one with single eyelets on all dropouts.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/264423605136

i got a similar old schwinn mtb set up for touring....


Last edited by saddlesores; 08-20-19 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 08-20-19, 09:59 AM
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Thanks to all of you for your replies. I will try to follow up on a few of the comments. I also tried to post a picture of my bike, but it won't let me since im new... Anyway, my bike has a rigid front fork. Also, I don't see any imperfections or problems with the frame. I will look into changing the stem and I will be doing the work myself on the bike. For now I've been doing day trips and hoping to start doing some credit card touring and then we'll see where things go from there. Most of my self sufficient camping experience is from backpacking and hiking, but I did some weeklong bike touring trips when I was much younger, but for right now I'm just trying to enjoy riding and condition myself for longer rides.

I truly appreciate all the input.
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Old 08-20-19, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by SpecK View Post
... Most of my self sufficient camping experience is from backpacking and hiking, ... .
You are fortunate that you probably already own the type of camping gear you would need if you attempt loaded touring (camping) on a bike, you already know how to use the gear, and you can estimate the volume you would take so you can estimate the volume you would need for any luggage you would need to carry.

I picked up a pair of 30 liter panniers at a garage sale a couple years ago for less than $10 USD. I did not need them, I had plenty of others, but the price was right and they were nearly new. I used those panniers in June and July on a five week tour. You can find bargains out there on occasion, but it is more luck when bargains like that appear.
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Old 08-20-19, 12:09 PM
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That bike will go far! Looks great!

Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
the '93 had a rigid fork.

more like this one with single eyelets on all dropouts.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/264423605136

i got a similar old schwinn mtb set up for touring....

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Old 08-20-19, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I would not have known what I wanted out of it if I hadn't spent time actually touring first.
This is exactly the point that I am at, and I think this rings true for a lot of things in life where you need to gain experience and skill before you can truly appreciate what tools or equipment is right for the job.

Thanks for sharing the pictures of your bike, great shots and a great looking bike!
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Old 08-20-19, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
I also converted an old MTB to touring. I mounted an adjustable bar stem which helped quite a bit, put on 2 position bar ends, of course the Brooks B17. The bike was very comfortable for long rides. My only gripe was: When fully loaded (front and rear racks) the bike was very twitchy. Meaning under heavy peddling the bike would swerve side to side. Not the bike's fault, just the geometry.
So, after a number of week long rides and being convinced that I needed a new bike, I made the plunge into a full touring bike (LHT) and have not regretted it at all
This makes sense, and that would probably be the point where I would consider upgrading as well, once I start to realize the limitations that can't be easily fixed on my current bike.
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Old 08-20-19, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SpecK View Post
This makes sense, and that would probably be the point where I would consider upgrading as well, once I start to realize the limitations that can't be easily fixed on my current bike.
Yep. Some of the expensive upgrades I did to my old mtb carried over to my next builds (rack, bags, saddle) and others just progressively made my bike easier to climb steep gravel (which was an separate goal). So while I transitioned to a different tour bike I still use the benefits on the original for fun gravel grinding/mtbing. I didn't really lose anything but sweat equity.
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Old 08-20-19, 11:12 PM
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adjustable quill stem:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Adjustable-.../273656975730?

girvin flexstem:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Girvin-flex.../254328608370?

quill-threadless adapter:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mountain-Ro.../163682636510?
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Old 08-21-19, 04:54 AM
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Thanks! I actually just ordered an adjustable stem off of ebay last night similar to the first one you posted. So we will see how that works out.

By the way, any suggestions on comfortable grips and bar ends?
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Old 08-21-19, 08:41 AM
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While a little more expensive for grips I am quite pleased with my Specialized ergo grips: https://www.evanscycles.com/speciali...-grip-00120046

Next for my fat bike I want to try a combo set like this: https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/...s/rp-prod35359 or this https://www.papa-wheelies.com/produc...5-293476-1.htm

Currently I have basic alloy bar ends but they are overkill as far as area actually held by the hand

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Old 08-21-19, 08:55 AM
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i always liked brahma bars, with thumbies and thick foam grips. you could make something similar with trekking bars.....cut off the sections not needed.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NOS-ZOOM-BR...r/291814864063

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Old 08-21-19, 10:48 AM
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on grips and bars. I looked into the Ergon grips and ended up ordering the GP 4. I like the Ergon as they can be ordered in large sizes and the GP4 looks to have longer and straighter bar ends than their other models. So with the new stem and grips on order I'm hoping that will improve my handlebar ergonomics.
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Old 08-24-19, 07:31 PM
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So I got the parts I ordered today. I am really happy with the Ergon grips, they give a lot of support to my palms, so while it remains to be seen how they hold up on longer rides, they look very promising so far.

I am not so confident in the new stem I ordered. I think maybe I cut my head off when all I needed was a shave. I can get the new stem higher which is good, but I feel the bars are too close to my knees now. Original stem is 140mm while the new one is 90mm and adjustable. I'm thinking maybe something in between the two would work better. The upright position is really comfortable, but I feel I have less control of the bike and the weight is shifted too much to the back. It looks kind of odd too.

I also found a new saddle earlier in the week. I went to a bike store and they sold me a Bontrager Sport with the stipulation that I can bring it back within 30 days and trade it for another seat if it doesn't work out. The sales guy suggested just starting with an inexpensive seat and then trade up if necessary. I thought that was pretty solid advice. The good news is that I put 50 miles on this saddle today and it actually feels pretty good. It is certainly a lot better than what I had and I can tell that this saddle is actually supporting my sit bones as opposed to my old saddle which i think was way to narrow for me. While I still feel it somewhat while riding, I do not have any discomfort as soon as I step off the bike and I had no issues with numbness so I am really happy with this for now.

I just figured I would do an update in case anyone cares and I'm hoping to get out for at least a short ride tomorrow to test out the handlebar position. I'm already thinking I will miss the more aggressive position. This in turn has me thinking that maybe I shouldn't try to turn this into a touring bike. I think it would make a very nice bike for daytrips on the trails which is essentially what im using it for now. Maybe some overnights if I pack light but that would be the extent of it I think.

So maybe I don't belong here in the touring forum, but rather in the recreational riding forum...
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Old 08-25-19, 06:01 AM
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you are getting good advice from reliable sources here, so thats a good start. Those Ergon grips, while not cheap, really are great. Ive used lots of diff grips and when I got some Ergon model similar to yours, I was immediately impressed by how the shape is very well designed, and having the bar end part is really crucial to switching hand positions regularly, for hand and back and neck slight positional changes that make a real difference.

Ive been down the same path as you, changing a late 90s mtb from its very aggressive low bar position to a more comfortable setup. That bike does have a threadless stem, so a bit easier to change stems, but in the end, I still went through numerous stem lengths and angles, and also a few diff bars, before it became more comfortable. Present bars were real cheapies, a mtb type bar but with rise (that helped get hand position higher) and also a slight angle back of the hand part, more comfortable than straight across by far.

so in other words, join the club of all of us cyclists who have a box with stems etc that were too long, too short, not angled right etc.
Dont forget used bike stores if you have one in your area, a good source for cheap stuff that will probably be scuffed, but will work fine at a fraction of price.

tires, tire choice can also help with making the bike ride nicer, but thats a whole other topic.
same with seats, as mentioned by others--not to mention using padded bike shorts, makes a huge diff in comfort, but you dont say if you use them or have ever worn them....

most important thing, ride regularly.
and use common sense for trying to determine if you need to change bar height more , or have it farther away etc.
Ride ride and ride, this is the best way for you to figure out what changes are best for you.
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Old 08-25-19, 09:40 AM
  #25  
SpecK
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
so in other words, join the club of all of us cyclists who have a box with stems etc that were too long, too short, not angled right etc.
Yeah, I can see how that would happen. I am really glad though that I'm experiencing with this bike to get some more experience before buying something new. I feel like I am starting to understand what works for me and how my preferences might be different depending on the kind of riding I'm doing. All great stuff to keep in mind when upgrading to a new bike down the road.

With that said, I just came back from my Sunday morning ride, and I have to say I like my new setup more than I thought I would. My neck felt a lot better so I think I will keep this stem for a while and get some more rides in before I make the call. The Ergon grips were also great. I finally feel like I can rest my hands more naturally rather than gripping on to a round bar. Even though I bought the large size, I still wish they were a little bit bigger, but I think I can live with it.

I do not use padded shorts. Perhaps that's that is something I should look into. I need to do more research on different shorts though. I feel like just a little bit of padding would help a lot.

Also, you mentioned tires, that is definitely on my list of stuff to look into next, so let me know if you have any suggestions.
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