The first impression was that it was surprisingly difficult to brake by back-pedalling. The muscles just didn’t seem to like putting power in a backwards way. It sorted itself out after a couple of rides though and maybe also the kick-brake bedded in and became more effective helping in the process.
The reviews on the SA front drum brake were on the mark in that the brake was not very effective out of the box. The brake actually bites instantly as the lever is applied but the bite just doesn’t increase much when the lever is pressed harder. After a couple of weeks the brake has become noticeably more efficient, though, so it remains to be seen how it compares with disc in the months to come.
The frame didn’t give any surprises. A solid, very practical steel frame. Loads of clearance on the forks etc. The 60cm size seemed to be an ok choice for the 186cm rider but to get the top of the bar at the level of the saddle it needed a stem with a good rise. Currently the bike has an adjustable stem but once the most comfortable position is figured out, a corresponding fixed stem will be installed. So far it seems that a stem with a roughly 10cm extension and a 45 degree rise works best.
The Midge bars with the lever setup of one reverse at the drop and another at the top, both actuating the front drum brake, give two nice hand positions with an instant access to the levers. It was thought that the use of an interrupter type lever clamping to the bar, rather than a bar end lever, especially with the short drops, might compromise the hand position, but it really hasn’t been the case. One can feel the clamp and especially the bolt in the clamp but if the lever is rotated slightly away from the vertical so that the bolt moves downwards, the clamp doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Some recommend that with the Midge bars the tips of the drops should roughly be pointing towards the rear dropouts but from our experience the tips need to be pointing more upwards than that to achieve a more comfortable hand position. If the tips are pointing too much downwards one gets the feeling of hands slipping down and losing grip which is especially apparent riding in a standing position. Nevertheless, the quest for the perfect cock-pit length vs. bar height vs, bar angle continues.