Since moving to South Australia, the Gunnar has been used exclusively on the road. However, the Gunnar has always been set up primarily for trail use. The small frame and low handlebars are great on the trail, but can be quite tiring and painful on longer road rides, especially on the descents.
Prior to Amy’s Ride I made some changes to better suit the Gunnar to road use. Having read many, many opinions on road frame sizing and having gone over the geometry and dimensions of my 52cm Gunnar numerous times, I was almost ready to replace the frame. However, after looking at more appropriately-sized frames, it was clear that a slightly longer and taller stem with my existing frame might be an option.
The new stem is a 120mm 17° Cinelli Via with a 26mm clamp. It is forged aluminum, cheap, functional and the right size. It isn’t as nice looking as the Salsa Cromoto, but unlike the Salsa, it was available and not part of a recall. The new stem moved the bars slightly forward and significantly higher, achieving an effect similar to a larger frame with a taller head tube. The only drawback taking this route is slightly goofy look that results from the combination of a 25mm spacer and a 17° stem.
Along with the new stem came new bar tape as the brake cables were too short to accommodate the new stem, and the old tape was too worn to reuse. I would have preferred to replace the old Salsa Goma tape with the same, but, like the Cromoto stem, it was no longer available. The thinnest most Goma-like tape I found was SRAM Superlight. The SRAM tape seems slightly thicker than the Salsa tape, but it is less dense. The texture is not as nice as the Salsa tape either, but it is better than cork. Wrapping the bars is a little tricky as the Superlight tape does not stretch, but the kinks worked themselves out after one ride.
Finally, I have new tires. The 28mm Hutchinson Top Speed tires were worn, but in decent shape except for some rips and cuts from road debris. They were replaced with a pair of Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick 25mm tires. I was a little apprehensive about going to a narrower, lower volume tire, but so far I’ve been happy with them. The 25mm wide Vittorias fit on the 22.5mm wide Salsa Delgado Cross rims without a problem, and have a nice cross section when mounted.
The combination of stem and bar tape worked well on the 100km Amy’s Ride. The taller bars were easier on my neck, descending was much less painful, and I actually looked forward to the next downhill. The SRAM bar tape was okay, but I preferred the Goma tape. While I do like the thin, “non-bulky” feel of the Superlight tape, I would prefer something with a similar thickness, but a little more solid/dense. On the other hand, the new tires worked very well. They were comfortable, cornered well, and were surprisingly quiet. The combination of these tires and an almost silent XT rear hub is a nice combination, though it is easy to startle slower riders when overtaking.