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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-16-13, 09:18 AM   #1
kingsqueak
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Don't let fit issues discourage you, some of my trials with it

Just some notes for new or returning riders about what I've been going
through with getting my fit adjusted. Don't be discouraged if you have
trouble, just keep plugging along.

I haven't ridden in 25yrs and I'm in pretty bad physical shape, poor
cardio health and poor physical health from sitting all day at work. My
lack of flexibility in my lower back and hamstrings has definitely added
to my fit issues.

I'm 6'5" and 270 so I run into likely more issues around frame size and
overall fit than most and it definitely comes into play here.

Saddle fit.

After some time playing around with my saddle fit and bars fit, I've
remembered back that I had similar issues and learning curve years
ago but I really forgot about it.

The trouble I've been having is getting the balance between where
I'm well planted on my sit bones vs either sliding forward on the
saddle or having too much pressure on the soft tissues from the nose
being too high.

Lessons I've learned (and I'm not done being set up yet)

What feels like the nose of the saddle poking up can be due to..

Bars too low, stiff back or hamstrings can rotate your hips
too far forward if you reach down to a drop below saddle
height causing the poking feeling we don't want.

Seat too high. If your seat is too high, you can wind up
reaching too far and thus bending forward over the nose.

Seat too far back or the stem on the bars is too long, again
reaching too far for your level of flexibility or physical
size comes into play.

I wound up switching to an Adamo ISM noseless saddle before
I understood all of these rather subtle and finicky and
sometimes misleading causes and effects. I like the saddle
but I think I may be able to go back to my conventional
saddle by the time I get all my factors sorted out.

Lesson learned is to be more patient and think about the
interactions of all the adjustments carefully. What may
seem to be the root cause, often is a symptom of something
else in the whole picture.

Saddle fore-aft adjustment

I was initially fit by a shop very carefully. I was locked onto
a trainer and my knee position was carefully measured with a
plum bob and set to the "standard" What I found out is that it
was causing some strain on the back of my knee. I'm running
180mm cranks and I have flexibility issues and I found through
experimenting that the muscle load on my legs/knees was much
more balanced by being a bit more forward over the pedals.

This will vary on the cyclist's physiology and fitness level
too, but I swapped out an offset seat post for a zero-offset and
gained a couple more cm in forward saddle movement and now my
knees feel much more happy. The strain I feel (I'm in bad
shape) is much more balanced and in my quads more, the way I'm
used to it feeling.

Small adjustments here and giving it time to evaluate the change
is key. Be aware of strain on the knees that is out of balance,
either too much pressure behind or in front of your knees, it's
a fine line.

Also as mentioned before the saddle height affects how this all
feels too, many interactions here.

Bar height, reach and tilt.

As already mentioned the saddle issues are a bit complex but they
are also affected by the bar height and reach as well. There is
definite interplay on all of these adjustments and even a few cm
adjustment span can make large differences.

In my own case, my setup looked similar to many others' setups in
pictures as far as the seat to bars drop and reach. However due to
my flexibility issues it was causing me all sorts of trouble. I
tried a shorter stem, I varied my height both up and down and
finally decided to try to raise my bars nearly level with the
saddle.

By raising the bars up quite a lot more, it has drastically changed
the overall feeling of the bars and saddle relationship. I dropped
out the shorty stem I got, went back to my longer stem and now I
sort of have to start over on the whole puzzle again. The ride I
did last night with the higher bars was amazingly more comfortable
for me and now I'm closing in on minor tweaks vs drastic measures.

After making this adjustment (I added actually a couple inches more
height) I can use the drops comfortably now. The sweet spot is
split between the hoods and drops and I'm evaluating another few cm
rise by shifting the spacers again.

This was a lot to read, but the main point I'm making is not to give in
quickly and don't settle for being uncomfortable on your bicycle. The
leaps and gains I've made going through this are really paying off.

I did a 13 mile ride last night and could have doubled it if I wanted
to. I ran out of daylight and forgot to bring my lights or I would have
easily added another 5-10 miles to the run. This would not have been
possible just a few weeks ago due to comfort and physical fitness
constraints.

I'm only 60 miles in on restarting cycling and in just that time I've
made a huge difference in the enjoyment of the ride, so stick to it.

The fit forum is useful reading for sure.
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Old 08-16-13, 09:23 AM   #2
kingsqueak
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One other tip...toss your allen wrenches in your pack so you can make minor adjustments on rides. Give your adjustments a few miles and make them in gradual increments. I've noticed that very small adjustments don't lend to a "feel" until I have an hour or so riding with them first. This is particularly noticeable with saddle angle adjustments. Plus or minus just one degree in tilt starts to really hit home after an hour or so in the saddle. You can barely see the change, but sit on it for a while and you will notice it.

If you are making adjustments that you can easily see in your seat angle, you may be swinging well beyond the sweet spot in either direction.
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Old 09-04-13, 04:28 PM   #3
kingsqueak
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There's a moral to this story and it's embarrassing but I'll put this here...

After juggling saddles, stems, seat posts, steerer extensions.....it turns out my seat was WAY too high.

My entire life I've ridden with my seat the way I had it adjusted on the Ogre I built. I was at wits end over fit issues on the bike and was starting to talk to builders again to get a bike that fits.

In this process I filled out a builder's fit sheet. The builder I talked to pointed out the improbable seat height measurement vs my measured inseam length. So I ran the .883*bike inseam calculation and it was 7cm lower than the saddle height I have been using all this time.

I happened to go to the LBS today for a minor repair and asked them to check my fit, didn't tell them the story above and sure enough they said my seat was way too high up. They worked with me on adjustments and wouldn't you know it...I wound up at about 82cm just as the equation estimates.

We're talking a 7cm drop in height, about half the seat post I was originally running. This negates all my fit issues around bar height, completely changes the saddle feel and reach too.

I've ridden around for years being this far out of whack. It feels like an entirely different device I'm on now and will take quite a while to adjust the body mechanics to the change.

This is absurd, but I guess it can happen if you ride alone and don't know any better.

The shop I bought the bike from put me on a trainer for fit and had me set with the jacked up seat height I started out this whole mess with...so lesson learned, sometimes a fit session isn't worth very much.
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Old 09-04-13, 05:09 PM   #4
mrodgers
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7 cm? What were you doing, rocking your rear end back and forth across the seat? 7 cm seems like an aweful lot. I've never measured myself, I just went by knee slightly bent with the ball of my feet on the pedal and leg straight with my heel on the pedal. I have no idea if that's correct, but it's always what I heard.

My bike is too small since it's just a 1 size crappy Walmart mountain bike and my seatpost is extended almost out of the seat tube. I think it could easily wobble out of the clamp if I raised it any more. I think I did try about 1 more half or whole CM and my rear end was rocking back and forth on the seat as I reached for the pedals. As it is now, it's seems pretty comfortable to me.

Last edited by mrodgers; 09-04-13 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 09-04-13, 05:30 PM   #5
kingsqueak
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No, I wasn't rocking much that I noticed but my leg was a lot straighter than it should be. Keep in mind my overall height. 7cm for me is likely closer to say 3 for others.

I've always had some hip flexor irritation from riding and there's little doubt it was from over extending my legs while pedalling.
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