Thursday, July 14, 2011

Public Bikes: Minor Modifications and Experiments

We've been playing a bit more with the Public Bikes J7 because there were a couple of things I wasn't entirely sure I loved on the bike. I had mentioned that I wasn't completely sold on the "use the same handlebar on every bike model" idea, so I decided to experiment with some North Road handlebars to see if it improved the bike.
Nitto North Road handlebars
**Image from RideMonkey
When we first put the handlebars on, I thought it looked much better, but after an initial short ride down the block to test them out, they seemed to make the handling quite squirrely. Not ready to give up on the modified handlebars, I took the bike for a longer ride to see how it did. After noting that they were tipped entirely too high, I opted to tilt them down significantly, which seems to have resolved the handling issue (though I'll have to test this again on a longer ride).
Front view with the North Road bars
Handlebar view from riders position
Side view with new handlebars
To remind myself what the bike looked like with the original handlebars, I had to take another look to see what sort of difference it made. Here is a side view...
and this is the view that the rider would have prior to changing out the handlebars...
From the riders position, it doesn't appear that there is much of a change because the bars bend similarly, however, instead of the riders' hands being out in front they are now more to the side. Whether this will work out in the long run remains to be seen.
The observant viewer may also have noted that we changed out the tires and grips on the J7. While the Kenda tires on the bike were doing fine, I just have a good past with the Delta Cruisers from Schwalbe, so it puts my mind at east not having to worry about flats riding around the city (I suppose I should knock on some wood here). The Kenda's will be used as spare tires in the event of a puncture, or on another bicycle.

Still loving this bike... now if I can just figure out how to keep the springs from squeaking when riding on the Brooks saddle. :o)


  1. I would say that it has more of that "classic" look with the nitto bars, and brooks grips/saddle. I'm hoping that this config works going forward, the tires are just a peace of mind thing, you don't worry, and it won't worry : )

  2. Definitely more classic looking, but we'll see how it goes as far as functionality. After all, that's far more important than the looks (though I do love a pretty bike!).

  3. Interested in an update about your experience with this handlebar experiment. I'm considering a similar mod to my Public mixte.

  4. Absolutely - feel free to ask any questions if you have something specifically in mind. The main reason I changed out the handlebars is that I tend not to do well (hand-wise) with flat bars, or even curved flat bars (basically anything that places my hands fairly parallel to my body. While it's not as much of a concern with such an upright style bike, I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. Plus, I just liked the look better. :o) As noted, the change of handlebars does change the handling of the bike. I think I would be less likely to use the word "squirrely" now, but there is definitely a looser feeling to the steering of the bike. It doesn't feel unstable, but there just isn't the balance of weight any longer, as it's now more focused on the saddle and pedals. I think it has to do somewhat with changing where the weight of the body is focused (though I'm certainly not an expert in bike geometry). I haven't ridden the Public mixte's, but they do appear to have a bit more balance between sitting directly, bolt upright and being completely leaned over, so it may not have such a noticeable change on your model. I do think that changes such as these almost always have some affect on the bike though. For me, it was worth the attempt to see what happened. If I was to do it over again, I would still make the change, simply because it resolves my hand issues.

    I hope that helps, but again, if you have specific questions, please feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.

  5. I swapped out the saddle and handlebars on my Public C7 almost immediately. The saddle was probably fine, but the textured surface kept catching on my clothes (and taking me with it!), and I just could not get used to the flat handlebars when I was used to the North Road style on my previous bike. For me, the flat bars made the reach and handling uncomfortable. Thank you for posting your modifications, they gave me the confidence to know it could be done and would look great! I've been much happier with my Public since making those changes, and I wouldn't hesitate to swap the handlebars if I'd gotten (or ever get) the mixte version.

  6. Heather, I'm so glad to hear that the changes worked out well on your C7. I have enjoyed the North Road bars, and think they can be an excellent choice. Thanks for sharing your experience - I'm sure it will be helpful for others! :O)


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