Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Stem length
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I have a question on stem length and bike fit. Some say the handle bars should hide the front hub when in the drops and some say when on the hoods. Iím not a racer just a club rider and Iím going to try some centuries. Which way should I fit the bike?
Thanks for any help
There is no hard and fast rule because it depends on your upper body torso and arm length. It's important that your comfortable. And even more so for long events than for shorter road races. For long endurance rides a more upright position is less tiring though less aerodynamic. In my opinion it is better for endurance riders to be more upright and utilized the drop bars when a more aerodynamic position is needed.
Road racers usually want the handlebars one to three inches below seat height. For randoneering I would think about level or one inch above seat height would be good. So then you need to get a stem of the length that allows you to have your handle bars at about level or one inch above the seat height when the seat is adjusted properly. And the reach to the handlebars is comfortable.
The hub rule is arbitrary at best.
Get your body / back / legs in a comfortable / powerful position relative to the pedals (some like knee over center of pedal axel, but this is an arbitrary starting point as well...) and your saddle at the right height. Then work on your stem position - both up and out. Start with level with the saddle and work down from there. (or up, if you prefer)
As you gain or lose fitness you may raise / lower or change this position.
Personally I have my bars a bit below saddle height and I use the drops only on descents or if I'm trudging into the wind.
Comfort (for most) is king in LD events. A comfortable, non sore cyclist can keep moving up the course, and you'll spend less time off bike stretching and fussing with a sore back or neck.
I started last years brevet season with nearly a 4" drop to my bars. That crept up as the distances got longer, to a high of about 2" below my saddle. When I got a professional fitting done with my new bike we settled on just under an inch... its been comfortable for 6 centuries and long training rides.
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