So I have a confession to make... I have been riding Graham (my new Rivendell Sam Hillborne) almost exclusively since I got him - drop bars and all. I've now twined his bars, gave him the Carradice bag that had hitherto been on my Pashley (the Pashley will soon be getting panniers), and have ridden him for about 120 miles in total.
Every time I ride this bike, I feel that my comfort level with the diamond frame and the drop bars increases exponentially.
And the Brooks B17S Standard saddle was much easier to break in than the Flyer Special (that I'd put on my Motobecane mixte last year). I attribute this to the thicker leather on the "Special" models.
The only difficulty I've had so far, happened when I was unexpectedly caught in a downpour 13 miles from home. Minutes after the above picture was taken, it began to pour. The bicycle handled splendidly, but the problem was that my wet fingers would slip on the wet brake levers when trying to squeeze them, and I had serious trouble using the brakes. This problem might be unique to me, as I have nerve damage in my hands and a very weak grip.
Having survived the ride home, I promptly purchased a pair of full-fingered cycling gloves. The material on the fingertips is grippy and should do better on wet levers than my fingers. I will keep these in Graham's saddlebag from now on, in case I get stuck in the rain again.
Other than the rainy lever-slip issue, I have been surprised at the lack of "challenges". I am even able to use the bar-end shifters! I am keeping the giraffine stem extension for now, but in another week or so I think I will feel comfortable lowering it.
Here you can see that I really am quite leaned over as it is when reaching for the hoods. I know that the bike will look nicer if the saddle and handlebars are at the same level, but the lean will be too much. I think I will compromise and lower it half-way.
Front view showing the current reach when on the hoods.
Well, that is my progress update so far. I can't express how happy it makes me to be able to ride this bike after having anxious doubts about whether I'd really be up to it when the time came. I am in love with the drop bars and will write a separate post about them soon, discussing hand positions.