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  1. #1
    Member angrystan's Avatar
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    Rider too short, handlebars too far out.

    I've got a Bianchi Ocelot, their bottom of the line generic ATB, used as an in-town daily driver. I have trouble after a few miles holding my head up and my hands hurt. After much research, trial and error and so forth I realize a stubby guy like me requires handlebars much closer than the OEM setup.

    The only changes I've made to the bike so far are replacing the tires with Specialized Nimbus EX 26-1.50s and the stock pedals with great big $8 platforms off the shelf of my LBS which fit my EEEE feet better.

    In fact, my practically antique upright tourer I can ride all day without issues. I finally looked to see that the tourer's bars are four inches and change closer to the center of the seat than the Bianchi. I want to alter the threadded-stem Bianchi, on the cheap, to acheive this effect. I presume a new/another stem and new/another handlebar are in order, but I can't work out what to get and or do.

    Basically I'm looking for a strategy, but equipment recommendations would be really swell.

  2. #2
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Maybe an adjustable stem.
    You have a 1 1/8 threaded system, called a Quill stem.

    Riser bars also can move your hands up and back.
    Last edited by jeff williams; 05-26-05 at 11:17 AM.

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Since my Peugeot PKN-10E is too big for me (57cm instead of 55, with a proportionately too-long top tube), I replaced the handlebar stem with the shortest-reach one I could find. It doesn't look as graceful as an average-reach stem, but it works out extremely well for me.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  4. #4
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    This will compromise your pedaling position but for on the cheap you could always nudge your saddle forward.

  5. #5
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    An adjustable stem may work, its a bit heavy and will not be as stiff.
    You can get quill stems down to a couple of cm in length. Is it for a 1" or 1 1/8" steerer?
    To replace, you usually have to take all the fittings off the bars and slide them through the clamp, then refit everything. Front-loading clamps make life much eaier.
    One of the better touring-style bike shops may help with a short quill.
    Try Harris, Rivendell etc.

    When comparing your MTB position to your tourer, make sure that all the points of contact match up. Check the crank length, the pedal-saddle relation, then the saddle-bar relation.

  6. #6
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    I pretty much had the same problem with my early 90s mtb. My early 90s body liked its long low cockpit for off road pounding, but now my crusty old body uses it as a commuter, so I needed to shorten the reach.

    I tried moving the saddle forward (I had previously always jammed it rear to the max - ahhh the flexibility of my past ) but with a 75 degree ST that put me in TT position! I also had trouble finding shorter stems (the original - a 1 1/8" quill - was super long). Using the old trick of standing next to the bike with an elbow at the front of the saddle, my fingers were just short of the stem bolt! (they should be within and inch or two of the bars.... )

    What I wound up doing, instead of converting to threadless stem/fork or getting a quill to thrdlss converter (which would give you a far better choice of shorter stems), was scouring all LBSs until I scored a short extension, tall quill, upward sweeping 1 1/8" quill stem (NOS, $18) from a shop's obsolete bin. I had to improvise a front brake boss, because my bike's antiquated design had the original boss/pulley built into its stem.

    It's a heavy alloy stem and it uglified the bike quite a bit, but By raising the bars to just below the saddle with the shorter stem, My elbow/saddle test is within proper range and on the bike I am much more comfy with no hand issues after rides.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    btw, the stem I found was a black generic looking Delta. It must be mid-late 90s because it does have the front bar clamp. I wound look for inexpensive stems for people who want a more upright position - hence a long quill, short extension and/or upright rise.

    Up until recently these were easy to find thru nashbar or performance but now that thrdlss is the norm, they sell converters and thrdlss stems. Not a terrible idea, but prolly more pricey in the end.

  8. #8
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Many stores sell upright bars. These will change your position to a more hybrid style and less mnt style. Essentially more upright. You will lose speed but in crease your comfort level. It will be easy to do.

  9. #9
    cab horn
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    Don't try and squeeze yourself onto a bike that's too big. You'll only end up hurting yourself. Seat position and stem length is not for compensating for a too big frame or too small frame.

  10. #10
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Don't try and squeeze yourself onto a bike that's too big. You'll only end up hurting yourself. Seat position and stem length is not for compensating for a too big frame or too small frame.

    This is true - I have been making adjustments gradually over the years and am used to my bike (bought new in '93 or so) but I would absolutely not buy that same bike today. I'd buy a shorter top tube, if not a smaller bike overall.

  11. #11
    Member angrystan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat
    I pretty much had the same problem with my early 90s mtb. My early 90s body liked its long low cockpit for off road pounding, but now my crusty old body uses it as a commuter, so I needed to shorten the reach.

    I tried moving the saddle forward (I had previously always jammed it rear to the max - ahhh the flexibility of my past ) but with a 75 degree ST that put me in TT position! I also had trouble finding shorter stems (the original - a 1 1/8" quill - was super long). Using the old trick of standing next to the bike with an elbow at the front of the saddle, my fingers were just short of the stem bolt! (they should be within and inch or two of the bars.... )

    What I wound up doing, instead of converting to threadless stem/fork or getting a quill to thrdlss converter (which would give you a far better choice of shorter stems), was scouring all LBSs until I scored a short extension, tall quill, upward sweeping 1 1/8" quill stem (NOS, $18) from a shop's obsolete bin. I had to improvise a front brake boss, because my bike's antiquated design had the original boss/pulley built into its stem.

    It's a heavy alloy stem and it uglified the bike quite a bit, but By raising the bars to just below the saddle with the shorter stem, My elbow/saddle test is within proper range and on the bike I am much more comfy with no hand issues after rides.

    Good luck!
    You know what, you were pretty much where I am. I think I know what I'm doing this weekend. Namely hitting the old school LBSes and looking for that mythic long-quill, short reach stem. Than you.

  12. #12
    Member angrystan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat
    This is true - I have been making adjustments gradually over the years and am used to my bike (bought new in '93 or so) but I would absolutely not buy that same bike today. I'd buy a shorter top tube, if not a smaller bike overall.
    Okay, I know I should have selected with greater discretion but the bike was $279 new and rides like a Cadillac. The test drive around the block sold me and it was a few weeks before I figured out something was wrong. Sure, I could dump it without sacrificing too much, but I have a need to fiddle with it before she winds up on Craig's List.

    BTW, I've already moved the saddle forward which didn't really get me where I wanted to be but I think my pedaling position is better.

  13. #13
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    They're out there, just keep looking. Try poking around craig's list too - someone may have swapped to a longer stem or converted to thrdlss at some point; a used stem in exc like new condition should be finefor you. Maybe the wtb/fs board here at BF?

    I checked this morning on my commute and my hub is pefectly obscured by the handlebar so I managed to really dial it in right. With the stock stem i was way off with locked elbows. All those tests, btw, are just gross methods of seeing if you are in the ball park. Go with what feels good, both on the bike and afterwards.

    happy hunting!!!

  14. #14
    Member angrystan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    An adjustable stem may work, its a bit heavy and will not be as stiff.
    You can get quill stems down to a couple of cm in length. Is it for a 1" or 1 1/8" steerer?
    To replace, you usually have to take all the fittings off the bars and slide them through the clamp, then refit everything. Front-loading clamps make life much eaier.
    One of the better touring-style bike shops may help with a short quill.
    Try Harris, Rivendell etc.
    I know an old school shop just up the street which carries Rivendell bikes and presumably can order parts, although I fear those might be a bit precious for my budget. I plan to go in and at least talk to them about the situation anyway ...
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    When comparing your MTB position to your tourer, make sure that all the points of contact match up. Check the crank length, the pedal-saddle relation, then the saddle-bar relation.
    I will go back and look at the geometry closer, with these tips in mind. Thank you.

  15. #15
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    This is another thought - if there is a good pro cycling shop near you, you may want to go for a fit session. Probably pricey overkill, but it would let you know if your current bike's frame is way off/unsuited for you.

    I plan to do this before my next purchase which I reckon will be a road or cyclocross bike in the 2-3 grand range.

  16. #16
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    I have the opposite problem. My reach is too short on my Raleigh C-30 (2003). I didn't realize this until I upgraded to a road bike, then got back on the Raleigh for short rides or errands. I think I need about another inch (the Raleigh is a 16, and I believe a 17 or 17.5 would have been best). I'm trying to convert the Raleigh to a commuter. Is there a part on the handebars I can replace that will extend the reach without making the handling poor? I've got the saddle and pedals adjusted ok, I just feel like I'm scrunched.

    Unrelated question - I've got 700 x 35 tires on the Raleigh. I want to reduce down to 700 x 32, but I can't figure out what the equivalent tire size is (they are not sold as 700 X 32). Sheldon Brown's site didn't clarify it either. Can someone just tell me? Is 26 x 1.25 about right?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiswell
    Is there a part on the handebars I can replace that will extend the reach without making the handling poor? I've got the saddle and pedals adjusted ok, I just feel like I'm scrunched.
    Replace your stem with one that has a couple cm more extension. Unless your stem is already very long, I don't think this will have a very big impact on handling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiswell
    Unrelated question - I've got 700 x 35 tires on the Raleigh. I want to reduce down to 700 x 32, but I can't figure out what the equivalent tire size is (they are not sold as 700 X 32). Sheldon Brown's site didn't clarify it either. Can someone just tell me? Is 26 x 1.25 about right?
    26" is not the same as or interchangeable with 700c. Keep looking, there are definitely 700c tires sold in 32 mm widths and they are not rare (see http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/tires/622.html for instance). In addition, many tires labeled "35" will actually be closer to 32mm wide when mounted on the wheel.

  18. #18
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    When you say that the bars of your tourer are closer than your MTB commuter bike, to which part of the drop bars are you measuring. If you usually cruise using the brake hoods, then you should measure to that point, which is usually about 4" further away from the tops/stem.

  19. #19
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    The picture (link) you supply shows you already have a riser stem with minimal forward reach. I doubt there's much you can do with any stem to improve your position. Your best bet is probably with handlebars that sweep back towards you. You could use handlebars that rise upward a bit, and then roll them toward you. Otherwise change bikes, or stretch your body.

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