A Casual Gravel Bike – The Cockpit

We’ll call this grouping “The Cockpit”.  Mainly because at 44 years of age, I still can’t say or type the word Cockpit without giggling a little.



Tee…Hee…(the phrase “Tee Hee” also makes me giggle a little.)

Funny little word.  I have a lot going on with my Cockpit, (see what I did there??  Still laughing) so the Cockpit section will be divided into TWO posts.  No real specific order.  You’re lucky I did any overall organizing at all.  Really.  I’d go get my ADD officially diagnosed if I wasn’t 44 years old and already figured out how to live with it.



Actually (I like) it’s not (Peanut butter) that (and jelly) they (peanut butter first) are (then jelly) scattered (Star Wars) so much (never Star Trek) it’s that they are random and often interrupted by entirely different trains (I like trains) of thought at the same time.  I like it.  Keeps me from napping all the time.


Ok.  Moving on.  From an organizational angle…the cockpit section covers everything I can reach or see in front of me while on the bike.  I’m going to include my top tube bag here as well.  Yes…I can see my front tire and wheel while on the bike.  No.  I will not be discussing it in this section.  Don’t be dumb.  Have you ever tried to grab you’re wheel while riding??  It hurts like hell.  Sorry.  I shouldn’t have use the term dumb.  No one is dumb.  Maybe slightly less intelligent than another but not “dumb”.  Calling someone dumb is something you do in grade school.  Kinda like calling someone and “idiot”.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  We all suffer differently.  We all ride differently.  We all want to be safe on the bike.  No one is “dumb” or an “idiot”.  Some of us are just on a slightly different intelligence level.  Me?  #midpackattack fits me on many levels.  Not just cycling.

Let’s GO!!!

My DK 2018 Bike


Stem – Salsa – 100mm 7 degree rise (180 grams)- Stems are boring.  I have nothing really to say.  I’m sure you could go carbon here and save a few grams.  I don’t care.  My reach is perfect.  The height is perfect.  The angle positions me with a slight degree of flex in my reach so that my arms and shoulders better absorb the variable terrain.  No aches in my neck over a 16 hour ride.  #perfection


Stems are boring. Norah and Nessie are definitely NOT boring.

If you have always just accepted your stem length and stem height without giving it thought AND you experience a little pain in your neck, triceps, shoulders or wrists…this is an under appreciated little piece of bike fit right here.  Sure…it’s not as sexy as new bar wrap or bars…but it’s equally important.  Talk to your local bike shop.

HandlebarsEaston – Carbon – EC70 AX – 16 degrees of Flare (216 grams).  I love these bars.  Handlebars are one place I think the extra cost is worth the upgrade from aluminum to carbon.  The weight difference is quite noticeable if you’re into that.  Weight is easy to quantify though.  The bars come with well placed recessed areas for cable routing.  Theres nothing more annoying (okay, that’s a lie.  Lots of things are more annoying.  Like Jeffy racing to the City Limits sign without telling me its a race.) than being out on a ride and continually feeling shifting/braking cables under the bar wrap.  The ride benefits are noticeable and a major reason I upgraded.  I can feel the extra flex these bars give.  I feel it’s important to say “I can feel”.  Comfort is not quantifiable and everyone’s level of comfort is different.  If you try them and feel better on them…they are worth the upgrade cost.  Comfort equals speed for #midpackattack riders and #backofthepack riders.  We are on our bikes longer and bumps are magnified when you ride slower.  That’s gravel science!!  fullsizeoutput_1507

The 16 degrees of flare works well for me although I will say I have no idea if I’d like 15 degrees or 17 degrees a little more.  Kidding….we all know 16.5 is the sweet spot.  The flare out gives me handling confidence on rough, rocky downhills, loose gravel, high grade climbing and works well for keeping my handlebar streamers away from my knees (I love streamers!!!!).  PLUS!!!!  They give me better bare down and grit my teeth, out of the seat sprinter speed!!!  (I’ll note here that my out of the seat sprinter speed…refers to a 5 second burst followed by 5 minutes of gasping for air.  #truth  #sopro)

Bar WrapLizard Skins – 3.2 mil tape (78 grams).  DUUUUUUUUDE!! (Cool kids still say “Dude” right?  Let’s say yes) I love me some Lizard Skin!!  Well.  Not actual Lizard Skin.  Would that be illegal?  Is Lizard Skin a tradeable commodity?  Wouldn’t it be rather rough?  Real lizard skin would definitely require too much care I’m thinking.  Plus, that’s a lot of dead lizards per bike and that’s just wasteful.  Do people eat lizard meat?


Lizard Skin DSP tape has a great tacky feel.  I don’t wear gloves unless it’s cold or rainy and I have plenty of grip even on sweaty, humid, hot Kansas summer days.  I prefer the 3.2mm for the extra cush but I’ve used the 1.8mm as well.  Same great tacky feel..less cush.  I do pre wrap my drops (drops only) with some used cork bar tape.  I like the extra cush on the drops.  I don’t double wrap the top of the bars.  I prefer a tighter grip on the tops and I don’t ride there that often…usually on a hill climb or to “gather myself” after a hard effort.

OH THE COLORS!!!  THE BLING!!!  So, so, so many colors to accent your bike!  “I prefer black because black is more manly”  Screw you.  COLORS are awesome!  Bling that ride out dude!!  I personally am still waiting for the Lizard Skin/Star Wars Collaboration collection but sadly it may be awhile.  Until then I make up my own names.  I prefer the Empire Red or the R2D2 Blue.  If you have to go black though the Vader Black is pretty sweet since it’s nice a shiny. (like a newly polished Vader Helmet.  I wonder who did Vaders laundry??  Was he a stickler for shiny armor??  Seriously…everyone has underwear and socks.  Who had to wash Vaders underwear and socks?  Is that a position of power?  Like did the guy washing the Stormtroopers undies dream about some day washing Vaders undies or did he fear it??)

You:  “But Bobby…I mean…Mr Casual Cyclist dude…your bike pic above clearly shows Vader Black and a severe lack of bright coloring.  Isn’t this a little hypocritical?

Me:  “The Dark Side is strong.  Vaders grip is tight.  I promise to take revenge soon”

That’s it!!  That’s all I’ve.  More in the next post.  Cockpit 2 – Enlarged.  Cockpit 2 – The Bags.  Cockpit 2 – One’s Not Enough.  Cockpit 2….okay I’ll stop.  Comment.  Tell me what’s in your cockpit…on the bike.  We all have different Cockpits.  Shapes.  Sizes.  Colors.  There’s no right or wrong.  Good or bad.  What works for you…doesn’t work for me.  What works for me…will most likely change as soon as I see flashy new toys.

Let’s chat about Cockpits.  (Tee Hee!)

About BobbyT

Backroad cycling enthusiast, husband, father and friend. View all posts by BobbyT

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