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Old 06-05-07, 07:03 PM   #1
europa
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Bar reach

I've now done over 1500 kms on my Trek520 ... and am still fighting hand problems, particularly on the drops which are downright painful. I recently bought a new stem to raise the bars to close to saddle height. Every tilt angle known to man has been tried. It's okay, but not perfect. I probably would have just muddled along on her, but ...

I recently discovered Peter White's article on bike fitting and applied it to my old Europa (see avatar), now a fixed gear bike. Seat shifted back quite a bit, angled a tad. This old bike was dead comfortable for many, many years, but after returning to cycling last year, I began to regard her as oversized - largely due to the high top tube (which IS too high, but I can live with it). The interesting thing was, when I applied the 'secrets' in Peter's article, the reach to the bars was spot on his starting point - in other words, apart from the high top bar, this old bike ISN'T too big for me.

I took the Europa for a 25km ride yesterday ... and not a hint of hand problems. Mild numbness at one point but I'm prone to that thanks to a shoulder injury and a change in hand position sorted that. On the Trek, numb hands and pain in the wrists are a way of life (it's not bad but it's there and it shouldn't be).

So I put the Trek in the wind trainer and started having a look a the setup. Shifted the seat back (previously set using KOPS) a bit. Then the bar angle. Bars loose so I can shove the things around while sitting on the bike to find just the 'right' spot. BUT I just can't get a comfortable position for the bars when on the drops - I don't use the drops much but a mad downhill run this morning proved that the 'most comfortable' position hurts! It's obvious why when you look at the way my arms sit while on the drops - I have nowhere near enough reach.

So I ran a tape measure over the two bikes - the Europa has an extra 1" of reach.
The Europa feels comfy and over 25km, gave me no hand issues.
The Trek feels cramped and I still have hand issues.
Peter White's article supports those observations.

So, what are the options for gaining reach?

I'm already running a 35 degree neck (a BBB) to get the height and a glance at BBB's site tells me I can only find 10mm of extra length (which won't translate into that much extra reach due to the angle).
The Trek has those appalling 'ergo' bars that everyone seems to like but which I'm still wary of ... possibly because I haven't been able to get them far enough away from me. They look short, but can you buy bars with longer top tubes to push the hooks further away from you? Any thoughts on whether ergo bars really are 'ergo' or just 'horrid'?

It's early days in the search for a solution - I don't really have a good feel for how much I need to gain yet, though I reckon the full 1" of extra reach is where I need to be - any thoughts are welcome.

Richard
yes, I have considered a custom frame and just shifting the components over New bars would probably be cheaper
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Old 06-05-07, 07:09 PM   #2
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Maybe a setback seatpost and longer stem? That way you wouldn't be cramped & would still remain "centered" over the bike.
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Old 06-05-07, 09:19 PM   #3
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Sounds kind of like the Trek is too small. What are the top tube lengths of the Trek and the Europa measured center of seat post to center of head tube? What is the difference between saddle height and bar top height on each bike? Can you post pictures of the bikes? Full side shots of each as they are currently setup would help.
Opinions vary, but I don't like ergo bars. Bars are available in many shapes. Nitto Noodle bars have nice long and flat top sections and smooth curves on the drops.
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Old 06-05-07, 09:53 PM   #4
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You'd think the Trek is too small from this. Maybe the rotten thing is. Stand over height is good. Stand over on the Europa pushes the bar into my groin. The cramped conditions weren't noticeable when I bought the bike and I wondered at that time if the Europa was too long for me. At the time of purchase, I'd been off bikes for some years hence fat and unfit. I'd done 500km in a few months on the Europa (still with gears then) so was getting fitter. I knew then that the Trek was shorter than the Europa but had a proper bike fit done, the fitter was attentive and understood what I was after - if he thought I needed the next size up, he would have suggested it (we had to order the bike in anyway so it wasn't as though it was a 'stock on the floor' scenario).

I've definitely learnt a lot more since then, which is why the Trek is getting questioned. But while I haven't lost any weight (dammit), I'm a lot fitter and stronger and more settled on the bike than I was then so maybe my posture has improved with the side effect that a longer bike is necessary ... or maybe we just got it wrong.

I don't have a picture of me on the Trek, but here's me on my Europa - I didn't realise she looked so small under me until I saw this (and the look of the tummy is all due to the shirt, honest - looking at that, you wouldn't believe that I climb mountains and do 50+km rides regularly would you).




The Nitto Noodles look interesting. So do the Nitto Randonneurs, especially with the outward bend of the drops which is where my brifters point now. Both with a nice long reach. Any users like to comment?

Richard
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Old 06-05-07, 09:56 PM   #5
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On a side note, does anyone else miss quill stems?

Richard
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Old 06-06-07, 12:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by europa
...
I don't have a picture of me on the Trek, but here's me on my Europa - I didn't realise she looked so small under me until I saw this (and the look of the tummy is all due to the shirt, honest - looking at that, you wouldn't believe that I climb mountains and do 50+km rides regularly would you).




Richard
To me, you look comfortable on the Europa, but for serious riding you need to put your wallet in the left pocket

Seriously, I don't know exactly what to advise you, but for starters, as you know you should try to set up the seat on the trek where you need it vis a vis the pedals. Someone else advised a set back seat post, but I don't think that would help. You still need the seat in the right position with the pedals, the set back would help if you need the set back to get the seat there - it wouldn't change the relationship to the handlebars.

Then look at the reach + handle bars on the bike you like vs. the bike you don't like. The reach and elevation could (hopefully) be taken care of with a different stem length and/or angle. The handlebars, I'm beginning to think are very signifiant too in the overall reach to the hoods and drops, of course.

Then determine what stem would get the trek to have the same reach as the Europa. If you can't find a stem (length and angle) that will do that, then I think you could safely say the Trek is too small. With the angle you need to get the bars up where you want them, how long of a stem have you tried? Have you tried a "very long" one such as a 130 or 140 mm?
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Old 06-06-07, 12:13 AM   #7
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Nice job matching the shirt to the paint job of the bike!
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Old 06-06-07, 05:17 AM   #8
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Nice bike! I can see why you like the way the Europa fits. That fit looks just right to me. If you can get similar pictures of the Trek, maybe the differences will start to be obvious. Also side shots of both bikes alone would be good.

I used the Nitto Randonneur bars for several years before swapping them for the Noodles. I like them a lot and will be using them on another bike soon.
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Old 06-06-07, 05:51 AM   #9
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Just a few observations/comments. If the Trek is indeed smaller, it may be too small. The Europa looks to be about as small as you would want to go in a frame size. Although I ride a 58, 56, and 54 and find that they can all work for me. I'd look for a saddle with longer rails or a seat post with more rear offset. Finally, I've found that sometimes just a cm or two of difference in seat tilt can put a remarkable amount of pressure on my hands. So, I'd encourage to to explore this possibility as well.
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Old 06-06-07, 06:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Nice job matching the shirt to the paint job of the bike!
I hadn't noticed that, well spotted

Richard
oh no, does that make me a fashion god?
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Old 06-06-07, 07:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg
I used the Nitto Randonneur bars for several years before swapping them for the Noodles. I like them a lot and will be using them on another bike soon.
Any comparison between riding with the Randonneur and riding with the Noodle?

I looked up the Trek website and the bars on the 520 have a reach of 75mm. The Noodle and the Randonneur have a reach of 105mm, pretty close to what I'm looking for, plus they are shaped more for the sort of riding I do.

I think the Trek520 frame is the right size for me, but it was compromised by putting racing bars on a touring bike (a bit like the gearing that needed changing as well). The Europa is too high, but obviously not too long.

Actually, I've just checked the Trek website and the seat tube and the top tube of the 25" 520 are very close to the Europa. Hmm, maybe I should have bought that custom built Velosmith (Tasmanian frame builder - I'd love a Llewellyn but the frame alone would have cost more than the 520).

Anyway, thanks for the feedback on the Europa - it's nice to have past passions confirmed by others (I love that old bike). Maybe I've just got shortish legs for my torso. In any case, the Noodle or the Randonneur will go a long way to fixing the problem

Richard
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Old 06-06-07, 07:01 AM   #12
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Multiply your crotch to floor measurement in cm. Then multiply this measure by 0.65.
If you need your handlebar fairly high compared to the saddle for comfort, you probably need a larger frame than the above method would suggest. In that case, use 0.7 as a multiplier to find the right frame size. Use this higher multiplier also if you have a relatively long torso or arms and need a frame with a longer top tube. Frames with longer top tubes also have longer seat tubes.
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Old 06-06-07, 07:29 AM   #13
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What is the length of the stem on your Trek?

A longer stem would use a lower angle to reach the same height as a shorter stem. That is where a 100mm stem might need a 30 degree angle to reach a particular bar height, a 120mm stem might reach the same height with a 20 degree angle. I'd have to do the math to know for sure.

I don't know what the maximum is, but I've seen 150mm stems.

Even the 10mm increase that you mention, would make a significant difference. That's 4/10ths of an inch. I know when I changed a stem to being 10mm shorter, it had a big effect on how the bike felt.
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Old 06-06-07, 08:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by europa
Any comparison between riding with the Randonneur and riding with the Noodle?

Actually, I've just checked the Trek website and the seat tube and the top tube of the 25" 520 are very close to the Europa. Richard
Randonneur bars, with the flared drops were comfortable in the drops during aggressive riding, but slightly cocked the wrists when on the hoods.
I think the Noodle would work better if you are looking for more reach. The wider top section puts the hoods and drops farther from your shoulders. Also, the Noodle bars come in widths up to 48cm.
The best thing about the Noodle bar is the long flat section from the top bend to the hoods. Pure heaven.
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Old 06-06-07, 08:33 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg
The best thing about the Noodle bar is the long flat section from the top bend to the hoods. Pure heaven.
Ahh, that's the sort of thing I'm looking for. Looks like a Noodle is in my future. Now to work out a 'not so frightening' way of acquiring one (transport costs to Oz can do some weird things to prices).

Richard
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Old 06-06-07, 08:43 AM   #16
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An observation from your pictures.

The angle of the drop bar is significantly down (the ends of the bar pointing roughly toward the rear axle is known as the "new school"). The more traditional position ("old school") is for the bar ends to be parallell to the ground. More tradition would have the brake levers perpendicular to the ground at that point. It appears that this would require that you move the hoods up the bar.

From personal experience just this last week, hoods that are too flat or depressed will cause hand pain, especially between the thumb and forfinger.

My own personal cure for the problem was to dump the drops. See attachment.

Last edited by maddmaxx; 03-30-08 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 06-06-07, 08:57 AM   #17
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[QUOTE=maddmaxx]An observation from your pictures.

The angle of the drop bar is significantly down (the ends of the bar pointing roughly toward the rear asle is known as the "new school"). The more traditional position ("old school") is for the bar ends to be parallell to the ground. More tradition would have the brake levers perpendicular to the ground at that point. It appears that this would require that you move the hoods up the bar.

From personal experience just this last week, hoods that are too flat or depressed will cause hand pain, especially between the thumb and forfinger.[QUOTE]


Excellent point. This matches my experience too.
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Old 06-06-07, 10:46 AM   #18
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But the picture is from the bike that he enjoys riding, not the one giving him all of the problems.
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Old 06-06-07, 01:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddmaxx
An observation from your pictures.

The angle of the drop bar is significantly down (the ends of the bar pointing roughly toward the rear axle is known as the "new school"). The more traditional position ("old school") is for the bar ends to be parallell to the ground. More tradition would have the brake levers perpendicular to the ground at that point. It appears that this would require that you move the hoods up the bar.

From personal experience just this last week, hoods that are too flat or depressed will cause hand pain, especially between the thumb and forfinger.

My own personal cure for the problem was to dump the drops. See attachment.
I think maddmaxx has a great point. I just had my bike set up by a very good bike mechanic. He told me about "new school" and moved the angle of the drop bar and the placement of the brake levers way up. It makes a huge difference in overall comfort.
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Old 06-06-07, 01:38 PM   #20
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I have always angled the bottoms of my drop bars so that they are pointing downward toward the rear axle or even lower.

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...5&d=1181158350

I keep the TOPS of the drops horizontal, never sloping downward away from me.

Incidentally, I stand 5'8" tall, and that's a 55cm C-T frame (excluding the unique ornate integral seat clamp), which I consider a near-perfect fit.
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