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  1. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Tom, will centerpull Mafac racers install on unaleona's frame, and do they require less hand pressure than dual-pivots? If so, I may have a set she can have. She'd need the cable housing stops, but those are cheaper than new brake calipers.

    That presumes that unaleona decides she needs better brakes, and likes the way Mafacs look. Pictures all over the web, including http://www.google.com/imgres?start=1...CKIBEK0DMDQ4ZA
    Thanks so much for the offer. I'd love to hear what Tom has to say about this, since I personally have no idea whether they are compatible or whether they'd help solve the problem. I've definitely decided to change the brakes, and they look fine to me!

  2. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    Just curious, why?
    I'm loving the speed and agile feel of the drops after all this time with my former upright three speed. It's not that I'll never consider upright bars again, but I really want to make drops work for this bike, at least for now. I see lots of women biking with drop bars around here, so I'm sure it's not something that is impossible to overcome! It seems like I've just made it harder for myself starting with a vintage bike rather than a new one, but I'll figure it out eventually.

    I'm going to try to go to the shop tomorrow to go over these issues with the person who refurbished and sold me the bike. He's a C&V buff and has all sorts of creative solutions to problems, so hopefully he'll be able to help me sort through the issues and all the great advice. It's a LBS but it's not especially convenient for me to get to on a daily basis, so I hope I won't have to go back constantly to sort this all out.

  3. #128
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Jyl, MAFAC brakes might be my all time favorites, but I don't recommend them here. First, they're one of the hardest to set up. Second, it's not clear where she would mount the rear cable hanger. Third, to get around the seat tube, the yoke may need to really far from the caliper, which turns the brake back into a low-leverage brake. Fourth, yes, they're higher leverage than the single pivot side-pulls, but not as high as dual pivot side-pulls.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  4. #129
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Jyl, MAFAC brakes might be my all time favorites, but I don't recommend them here. First, they're one of the hardest to set up. Second, it's not clear where she would mount the rear cable hanger. Third, to get around the seat tube, the yoke may need to really far from the caliper, which turns the brake back into a low-leverage brake. Fourth, yes, they're higher leverage than the single pivot side-pulls, but not as high as dual pivot side-pulls.
    Thanks. Sorry, leona, but the LBS should be able to fix you up. A nice double-pivot caliper is not too expensive ($30), nor are inline/interrupter levers ($30-40) should you want braking from the tops You likely saved significant money getting the vintage mixte, and it was a very good choice IMO. BTW there is a certain cult appeal to Univegas.
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  5. #130
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    By the way, I dealt you a question backhandedly, so here it is, straight-up: Are you interested in learning how to do your own bike maintenance and repairs? I recommend you do, because bikes need this more than cars. If bikes were as reliable as cars are, they would be too heavy to ride. Some knowledge and skill is almost required, unless you're wealthy. Even if you are wealthy enough to pay for all of your repairs, you're missing out on some fun, and you are at risk if you ride far from bike shops and emergency transportation.

    You could buy just a single caliper, for the front. Try your hand at installing it. If it doesn't go well, take pictures and post them here, and we'll tell you what to do. Or bring the caliper and bike to the shop and have them do it. Better yet, have them teach you to do it.

    If you like the improvement, you can decide if you want to do the same to the rear, you'll know how. The improvement won't be as dramatic on the rear as on the front. The front brake is the one you should use as a primary brake.

    Speaking of which, did you know that? Your front brake is probably wired to the left lever. It's easy to switch it to the right. Think about what you'd like. It really doesn't matter which way your brakes are wired. What matters is that you know that you should rely mostly on the front brake and you should know which hand operates it.

    Some people are afraid to rely mostly on their front brakes because they fear flipping over. That danger is real. But it is also very slight. Know your brake well. Practice with it. Get a feel for how hard you can apply it. Get a feel for how hard to apply it in each kind of situation. Once you know that, you will never flip over.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  6. #131
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    I'm loving the speed and agile feel of the drops after all this time with my former upright three speed. It's not that I'll never consider upright bars again, but I really want to make drops work for this bike, at least for now. I see lots of women biking with drop bars around here, so I'm sure it's not something that is impossible to overcome!
    Cool. Makes sense. It will take some getting use to, but you'll get there.

    BTW, the reason I think you see so many people, men and women, riding drop bars in the U.S. has more to do with what's available in bike shops and what people view as 'the style'—I'm on a road so I should ride a proper road bike. Drop bar bikes, mtn bikes, and hybrids are readily available in Europe, are less expensive than uprights, yet nearly everyone rides uprights because they are safer and more comfortable for typical everyday riding. I'm looking forward to hearing how your experience goes and how soon or if you go back to upright.

  7. #132
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    because bikes need this more than cars. If bikes were as reliable as cars are, they would be too heavy to ride. Some knowledge and skill is almost required, unless you're wealthy.
    I think I quite strongly disagree. A well made city/Dutch bike with internal gear and brake hubs, enclosed chaincase and good tires is probably much more reliable than a car and also requires less routine maintenance. Likely the primary maintenance an owner might ever need to do is change or patch a tube and even someone below the poverty line in the U.S. can likely afford to pay a shop to do that.

  8. #133
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    A well made city/Dutch bike with internal gear and brake hubs, enclosed chaincase and good tires is probably much more reliable than a car and also requires less routine maintenance. Likely the primary maintenance an owner might ever need to do is change or patch a tube
    I've had Euro-style bikes come into my clinic(some actually from Europe). I would much rather change the wheel on a car than fix a flat on some of those. I've also had folks bring bikes into my clinic and I've had to give them bad news about things needing replacement. Many times they comment that they've been riding the bike for years and it's never had any issues before. All bikes need regular maintenance. Putting it off only makes the inevitable problem more expensive. And yes,even coaster brakes need to be looked at occasionally.

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  9. #134
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    I've had Euro-style bikes come into my clinic(some actually from Europe). I would much rather change the wheel on a car than fix a flat on some of those...
    . There's a vast difference in a euro-style bike and an actual euro or Dutch city bike. That said, there are junk bikes made everywhere. Firstly, I didn't say no routine maintenance, I said less than a car. It's certainly a good idea to take it in to the shop for yearly or maybe at least every three or five year clean/lube/adjust. I think most do not and yet their bikes still go for 20 or more years. I agree with you that this shouldn't be put off, but consider the car comparison that Tom made, if you don't do any routine maintenance on your car you won't go too far beyond a missed oil change before your engine seizes or miss changing the timing belt and guess what happens? Both require routine maintenance, the car about every 3 to 6 months, the bike about every 3 years, the car costs about $1400/yr for maintenance, the bike about $40, the car likely won't go more than a few months past a missed service, the bike likely not more than 20 years.

    As to flats, if it's just patching a tube it shouldn't take but about 3 minutes for a decent mechanic, maybe 10 minutes for the average inexperienced person. Changing a tube or tire is 5 minutes on the front, 15 on the back for an experienced wrench, maybe an hour for inexperienced. Thats worse than doing any of the same on a car? A car does have the benefit of carrying a spare tire but sadly most drivers apparently cannot change it themselves and must call a tow company or friend.

  10. #135
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    CrankyOne, you're right that a Dutch bike needs less maintenance than other bikes. My statement applies to the rest of the bikes in existence.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  11. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    I'm looking forward to hearing how your experience goes and how soon or if you go back to upright.

    Hey now! That sounds awfully pessimistic...

    I'm a pretty stubborn person, so I'm going to work on this for a while at least. I think some of it is also just readjusting my understanding of riding a bike to get comfortable with this pretty drastically different position. I also want to point out that it's not that I've developed some aversion to upright bikes, it's just that there are serious hills around here, including on my daily commute and I've found the positioning on this bike is making a huge difference in being able to get to the top without feeling like I'm about to keel over. The wider gear range helps too, of course, but I just don't think that for my range of daily city riding it makes sense to be in a fully upright position like those European bikes you are talking about.

    Update: I took the bike back to the shop last night, and they tightened all the cables (shifter and brake) as they said they had stretched since they were all brand new. They also changed the brake pads, and admitted that they should have changed them before selling it but hadn't noticed that they were dried out because they still looked fine. They confirmed that the levers that are on there are the "compact ones", Origin8 but I guess really just the same as Tektros. They didn't think that the issue would be particularly resolved by switching to dual pivot brakes, I think because they confirmed that the brakes were stopping to their satisfaction. I decided to test it out a bit further with their adjustments before switching, though they did say that if I wanted to switch to dual pivots they would install them for me at cost. They readjusted the brakes first so that they were very close to the wheels, but as someone (I think Tom) mentioned earlier, this actually made it worse because I couldn't pull the shifters back much distance at all from the hoods, so they moved them back slightly.

    It does feel better now, but coming to a full stop from the hood still hurts my hands. It feels like in order to get enough leverage I have to contort my hands around and squeeze as hard as I can. I have started to experiment with braking from the drops, which I'd been nervous about, and I do have one or two finger braking from there, even on the downhill. That's helpful for me to know that it's an angle thing and not a braking power thing, but the problem doesn't feel totally solved. Something I'm hoping to try is asking another lady who is comfortable on a drop bar bike to ride mine and let me know if she feels like the braking from the hoods is comparable, and it's just an angle/strength issue, or if she has an easier time on her setup. The helpful guys at the shop have much bigger hands than I do, and I think it's hard for them to tell how difficult it is for me to brake! I'm starting to wonder if I'll need to use the hoods to slow down, the drops for braking on descents, and install cross levers for short stops.

    And then Tom, in answer to your question, the answer is well, yes and and no. In theory, I am interested in learning to do the work myself, particularly to save money in the long run. The local bike clinic is starting up operations again this week after the winter break, and there are several LBS that have basic maintenance classes nearly every week. On the other hand, right now I don't own any tools besides one wrench and a tire lever, and I've barely got any experience. So I worry that in the process of trying to adjust this bike to my needs, I'd spend more money getting the tools I need and messing things up, or installing the brake properly and messing up the cable tension of the shifters in the process, etc. I'm a bit torn.

    I did know that my front brake is my left hand and my back brake is my right hand but I hadn't really thought about how that affects where I should be putting the most pressure when braking until they were discussing that at the shop last night. I'm trying to start playing around with using the front brake more. Even if I haven't learned to do my own repairs yet, I've certainly been learning a ton about bikes and riding on here.

  12. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    BD makes cheap and high end bikes. I had one of their Ti cross bikes(only bike I've had stolen,done by a pro) and it was my favorite bike.
    Care to relate that story? Like how did you determine it was done by a pro, etc.
    65% of all statistics are made up on the spot. - DD

  13. #138
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    Hey now! That sounds awfully pessimistic...
    Note that I did say 'if' you go back. :-) Glad the shop got things sorted for you.

  14. #139
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    You can get a feel for someone else's grip by starting from the shaking-hands position (hands interlocked) and both of you squeeze as hard as possible. It's possible that these guys don't understand the difference in hand strength between them and typical women. I say dual pivots will be a welcome change to you. They gave you a great offer, so accept it.

    Next, buy a pair of needle nose pliers and a couple of screwdrivers. You're ready to do a great deal of repairs.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  15. #140
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    There's a vast difference in a euro-style bike and an actual euro or Dutch city bike.
    I've worked on both.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    As to flats, if it's just patching a tube it shouldn't take but about 3 minutes for a decent mechanic, maybe 10 minutes for the average inexperienced person. Changing a tube or tire is 5 minutes on the front, 15 on the back for an experienced wrench, maybe an hour for inexperienced. Thats worse than doing any of the same on a car?
    First,not all tire/rim combos play well together;some go right on by hand,some need the bead jack and a liberal dose of cuss words. Second,I've spent 15-20min or more just getting the wheel off a Euro bike. Chain guards/cases,IGH's,and drum brakes,esp Shimano's,all can require multiple tools and leave loose parts to keep track of. Had a Euro bike with Euro spec Shimano roller brakes that had the goofiest connector I'd ever seen. Had to actually look up the tech doc online. Took both hands doing three things at once,and then you still needed to unbolt the torque arm. I would much rather change the wheel of a car than that particular bike. Most 'normal' bikes,you just open the brake and pop the wheel,no tools or parts laying around.

    Quote Originally Posted by CenturionIM View Post
    Care to relate that story? Like how did you determine it was done by a pro, etc.
    Pro snuck into our lower garage level in front of multiple cameras and used power tools to cut a heavy chain and Krypto Fuggetaboutit U lock. Just left the other bike it was locked to sitting there.

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  16. #141
    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Next, buy a pair of needle nose pliers and a couple of screwdrivers. You're ready to do a great deal of repairs.
    And some hex keys!

    Screwdrivers, crescent wrench, pliars, couple of tyre levers and a set of hex keys will let you do pretty much all common repairs I can think of.

    If this is an older bike with older rims it's probably using cup and cone bearings, which require cone wrenches if you ever want to try repacking your own hubs. It's actually really easy once you've got the right wrenches (which are only really special because they're very thin).

    A pedal wrench (also only special because thin) will let you swap pedals out but I've seen people do this with some off-the-shelf box wrenches before.

    Chain breaker if you ever want to do your own chain repairs. Chains are really cheap, though, unless you get some uber high grade ones so chain repair is probably just a full on chain swap.

    Maybe a crank puller if you ever want to swap out your other drive train components.

    But now we're getting into the realm of special tools...

    M.

  17. #142
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    While having the tools to do repairs is great I think the OP may best start by getting the tools necessary to adjust the seat and bars. My experience is that a new bike, or a change on an existing bike, will necessitate a round of adjusting, fiddling and tweaking. Having to haul a bike to the LBS just to raise the seat a 1/2" must be aggravating.

    With vintage bikes usually only a few metric wrenches and perhaps a few hex keys will let you adjust the seat and bars up, down, forward, back and tilt. If you have a Brooks saddle you can also adjust the seat tension which can make a big difference in comfort.

    Get a combination open end/ box end metric wrench set, a 3 way hex wrench and you're set.

  18. #143
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    Im scanning this forum late, I haven't read every post, so if this is redundant, I apologize---
    The Linus Gaston 5 looks like a really nice bike. If I was going to purchase a new bike(not likely ), this would be a the top of the list.
    Flat bars to me, are just for hanging stuff off of. I am simply uncomfortable with them. The moustache'rs on the Gaston look like they
    might be good for upright and letting you lean over a little for downhill/wind related stuff.
    If anyone reading this has a first-hand, real life experience with a Gaston, I would appreciate reading it

  19. #144
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    jyl asked

    centerpull Mafac racers install on ..., and do they require less hand pressure than dual-pivots?
    you will note your transverse cable pulls on the opposite side from the pivot, and the brake pad beneath the pivot..

    as such it is like a wrap-over cantilever. type 1 lever.. effort-fulcrum-work ..
    You can measure the relative lengths .

    you may combine that with aero brake levers which also offer mechanical advantage
    comparing lever stroke: cable pulled..

  20. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    You can get a feel for someone else's grip by starting from the shaking-hands position (hands interlocked) and both of you squeeze as hard as possible. It's possible that these guys don't understand the difference in hand strength between them and typical women. I say dual pivots will be a welcome change to you. They gave you a great offer, so accept it.

    Next, buy a pair of needle nose pliers and a couple of screwdrivers. You're ready to do a great deal of repairs.

    I've got some screw drivers and some pliers so I guess I'm set to go! Looks like I'll do at least one more round at the shop though. I went to a different LBS on Friday that stocks Brooks saddles to look into getting a B17 or a Flyer. While I was there, I talked to a mechanic there to get her opinions on the issues I was having, and it was great to get another point of view and from a woman with smaller hands than my own! She pointed out one thing that I certainly hadn't noticed, that the shop installed the levers on the wrong sides. She says this wouldn't make a huge difference but that it's making it more difficult to get a grip. She also suggested (as did some folks here) that the bars should be angled further down, with the hoods higher up on the bars. This made sense to me, as the position in the hooks is quite awkward.

    So I think after that convo and after taking a longer ride yesterday, I've decided that I want to take it back to ask them to swap the levers, but then while I'm at it I might as well make all the changes: get a new stem, take them up on their offer of the dual pivot brakes, have them re-angle and re-wrap the bars, and install cross levers. Each day I ride it, I'm getting more comfortable with the braking and the hand positions, but I also realize that these are changes I'll need to make eventually and I don't want to do lots of individual changes at a time
    .
    Unfortunately a snow storm is coming and it sounds like the conditions may be too poor to commute for most of the rest of the week. May be a while before I can even ride it to the shop.

    My big outstanding question now is: do I go with an adjustable stem or a technomic? I like the idea of still being able to play with the height/length of the stem a bit over time, since I'm clearly still getting used to this bike. On the other hand, I know it's supposed to be less strong than a normal stem, and I figure that with the height range on the technomic I should be able to find something that fits. If it's helpful, we measured the length of the stem when I was in the shop last week and it was 60cm I believe. So quite short now. Thoughts?
    Last edited by unaleona; 03-02-14 at 01:45 PM.

  21. #146
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I'm glad you decided to do these things. I think they're excellent decisions. You'll be talking like a bike nut soon.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Oh, and as for stem, I used an adjustable stem once, and was very disconcerted at how wobbly it was. Maybe they're not all like that. I hope not. I've done all my experiments by buying new stems until I have one that fits. It's slow and expensive, and now I have an oversized collection. Maybe you should try the adjustable stem first. It may work. If it leads you to buy one last stem afterwards, it wouldn't be such a bad thing.

    i wish there were such a thing as a rigid, lightweight, inexpensive, adjustable stem. But there isn't.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  23. #148
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Are you going to try a Brooks saddle? I don't know which Brooks is good for women, as I don't currently know any women who ride Brooks. Whatever you try, bear in mind that it will be surprisingly hard at first. It doesn't get softer. You just learn to like it over time. The more you ride, the more you like a hard saddle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Oh, and as for stem, I used an adjustable stem once, and was very disconcerted at how wobbly it was. Maybe they're not all like that. I hope not. I've done all my experiments by buying new stems until I have one that fits. It's slow and expensive, and now I have an oversized collection. Maybe you should try the adjustable stem first. It may work. If it leads you to buy one last stem afterwards, it wouldn't be such a bad thing.

    i wish there were such a thing as a rigid, lightweight, inexpensive, adjustable stem. But there isn't.
    I don't love the idea of the slow and expensive process at the moment, so sounds like the way to go is with the adjustable stem for now and then once I've fiddled with absolutely everything, buy another one later. Anyone have recommendations for which one?

    And yes, I'm thinking of getting a Brooks, though probably won't commit to it until I am totally sorted out in terms of height and reach. The saddle I have now doesn't seem to have a brand name on it anywhere, it is leather-esque vinyl. It has a small amount of padding, but not much. It's not particularly uncomfortable, but I've definitely felt that it could be better at times. I thought the idea with the Brooks was that it would soften up over time! At this point based on reading and seeing the saddles in person, I'm leaning towards the B17 in the S women's model. I thought initially that I'd want the Flyer, but I've been riding around with this saddle without springs and haven't felt the bumps from the huge potholes in my seat particularly.

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The B-17S sounds like a good idea. And so does waiting. You already have a lightly padded seat, so you won't be going from lots of padding to none. That transition could be hard.

    A leather saddle doesn't get softer, but as it breaks in and fits your body more fully, it increases the surface area of contact, which reduces pressure. But you also have to break in your butt. This is by strengthening the teeny tiny little muscles around your sit bones. If you are sore after riding at those points for a week or so, that's a good sign. Your genitalia should not experience pain or numbness, though. If they do, change your saddle immediately.

    Just to make sure you know, there are basically two dimensions to be concerned with when choosing a stem (or adjusting an adjustable stem). One is reach, which is fore-aft measurement. The other is height. The adjustable stems that I think you are talking about allow you to pivot the extension of the stem. By raising it, you also shorten the reach. This can give you an idea of what you need, but it doesn't allow full experimentation. For example, if you are using a stem that is the right height but the wrong reach, the adjustable one may or may not lead you to realize this. In other words, it doesn't let you change one measurement at a time. It only lets you change both at the same time, so it is far from perfect. But it is probably your best next move, besides the stuff the bike shop is about to do for you.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

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