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Midgery  //   Tuesday - March 15, 2005

Through nobody's fault but my own, I have a neckache. Y'see, I recently threw on some Midge bars onto my newish Karate Monkey, and I didn't have the foresight to leave more room at the top of my steerer tube when I initially installed flat bars. Now with the extra drop of the curves (the primary holding position), I'm hunched over like a monkey, true to form of the bike's moniker. As it stands, the tops of the bars are level with the top of the saddle, but I need way more altitude. I've heard from various sources that the curves should be as high as the top of the saddle! If that's the case then I'm easily two inches too low.

I've put about 50 miles on the Midges so far. Half of it has been on really rocky riding, a quarter on swoopy singletrack, and the remainder on the road. These provide better control than my old WTB Dirt Drops because in the drops of the Midge, your hands sit further apart. Also, you aren't down as low. The flat top part is wider as well, so it is actually usable as long as you aren't hammering or going through a rock garden.

On the road, they're sweet; I feel good being down that low. It provides a comfortable, wide, open-chested position that makes it easy to suck in all that city smog.

Swoopy singletrack is not so bad either, but you have to be careful amongst tight trees. I've already clipped my fingers on some wayward branches. It'll just take some getting used to, much like trying to park that too-big rental car for the first time.

Now for the good stuff. How does it perform on rocks and technical playgrounds? Before you read on I want you to know that you should skip the grain of salt and swallow a teaspoonfull. I have spent relatively little time on them and these are so completely different from flatties that some, like me, will need more than the average-person learning curve to get used to them. Also, like I stated in the beginning, I'm definitely too low.

Anyways, the position has made it more difficult to handle my Monkey. What was the best handling bike on its first two rides (w/ flattie), is now a handful since I've installed them. I've managed to flip the allegedly un-flippable 29er. No faceplants because I have good mastery of unclipping, but I had to bail four different times on aborted logover attempts. I was just too dang far forward in the front. I'm so low that a I catch myself looking at my tire instead of straight ahead.

My hands spent a lot of time in the crook, so my palms hurt on the inner and outer edges. Maybe my callouses will build up. Also, when ripping down a screaming rocky downhill, I feel like I'll slip off the end, thus the snugging up closer to the lever.

I know this is completely unfair, but it's not intended as a complete evaluation. It's just a first blush review. Keep in mind if you are getting a new fork and are thinking about getting a Midge, leave some room on the steerer to play around. I'd say at least two inches higher than where you'd cut if setting up with a flat bar. That, or just get used to riding with a geeky 45+ degree stem. Excuse me while I rustle through my basement for one.

- rickyd


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