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  1. #1
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    Sizing and frame types

    I am having difficulty getting my handle bars up close to level with the seat. I have tried a 63 cm diamond type frame and this gets the bar up level with the seat but I have absolutely zero standover clearance. I have a 58 cm diamond type frame and have adequate standover clearance but the bar is at least 5 cm below the seat height. This is on a road bike. So can I get a mountain bike quil that will raise the bars? All the road bike quils even the nitto seem too short to make the correct adjustment. Maybe I need to go with a compact frame design to get around this problem. I am 6 feet tall and have an inseam of 87 cm so what is going on. I can only guess that the diamond frame is not to built to get the bars level with the seat for most riders.

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    They do indeed make quill stems with extra tall columns that will give you more height. There are also other options - take a look at this site: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/s...x.html#raisers

  3. #3
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    From what you have told us, it seems you have a relatively long torso and short legs compared to the "average" person for whom most bike dimensions are designed. I would guess that the bikes that give you good standover clearance also seem pretty cramped from their short top tubes.
    You may be able to find a compact design bike in a larger size that would give you the right reach, handlebar height and standover.

    Does your present bike use a quill stem or a threadless type?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  4. #4
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    I understand your frustration Jim and the modern threadless lunacy makes it even harder ... well, more expensive and frustrating anyway. Why did they do away with the quill?

    Try a few bikes with a compact frame. Ignore all your other considerations, just look at bikes that get the bars in the right place. The Trek Pilot series for example. Hopefully this will help you get a handle on this question. As an example of what can be done, here's the Velosmith Great Southern made by a Tasmanian custom builder.
    As you can see, he uses the 'compact' frame to get the bars up high enough.

    I ride a Trek520 and have had to resort to the longest adjustable neck I can find set to the highest angle it'll take to get the right position - but I got caught by the modern trend towards selling you too small a frame. This is why I suggest you look around JUST looking at frames that put the bars where you want them. That'll give you a few twists on what to look for, then you can start looking at the rest of the rig. I missed out on the Pilot (with drops) because I wanted a steel frame - possibly a mistake now I think about it.

    Rivendell's site was a revelation for me. For twenty years, I've ridden a bike (the Europa in my avatar) I thought was too big for me, but somehow, it worked. Now that I'm old and overweight and underfit and ... (okay kiddies, enough of the scourge for today ), all I've had to do is lift her quill stem up to seat height. However, once I read Rivendell's comments about 'standover height' and how it relates to the pelvic bone, not the soft tissue, that bike started to make sense. You see, when I straddle my beloved Europa, my groin touches the top bar, yet there is still a lot of clearance to the pelvic bone. Further, I've had her since I bought her new in the eighties and she has never 'bitten' me ie, the high top bar isn't a problem.

    So I suspect that your answers will lie in either a larger traditional diamond framed bike than you've been game enough to consider so far (as per Rivendell), or a carefully chosen 'compact' frame, one that gives you the standover clearance and the bar height you need. If all else fails, stupid stems and stem raisers work, but they aren't an example of engineering elegance.

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  5. #5
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    His inseam of 87 cm, or 34.25", is normal for a 6'0" person. While the numbers can vary all over the map, the typical man has an inseam that is about 47%-48% of their height. That would be a range of 33.8"-34.6" for a 6' man. He is in the dead center of this range. So he really couldn't be any more "normal."

    I, OTOH, am A. B. Normal.

  6. #6
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    I met a 'normal' man once ... the men in white coats were dragging him away to a padded van

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    Thanks for the tips. From the fit calculators, I thought that I fell in the normal/typical range. This is why I was wondering what was going on. The 63 cm bike with me standing over it has my pelvic bone resting solidly on the top bar. With this bike I think that I have the quil at the top of its limit just to get the bars level with the seat. This is why I was thinking that someone had decided to design road bikes with the bars low for more speed and maybe more comfort for younger riders. I am fairly flexible but with all the weight on my hands and the arthritis and other problems I am more comfortable with higher bars. For a temporary fix I have rotated my handle bars so that the hoods are about 3" higher than the middle of the bar. This looks crazy and only give me a couple of hand positions but it takes the weight off my hands and it is helping me decide how high I really need the bars to be for over all comfort and function.

    I have a threaded headset with the quil stem in my 58 cm bike which seems to fit except for maybe needing the seat setback seat post and a taller quil. I am going to take a look at some of the sites you have suggested and see what I can find.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I am having difficulty getting my handle bars up close to level with the seat. ..... I can only guess that the diamond frame is not to built to get the bars level with the seat for most riders.
    http://www.rivbike.com/webalog/handlebars_stems_tape/

    At least 3 quill stems at Rivendell to solve your problem.
    Concur with the compact frame geometry recommendations.
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '86 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, '87 DeRosa Professional, '99 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

  9. #9
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    His inseam of 87 cm, or 34.25", is normal for a 6'0" person. While the numbers can vary all over the map, the typical man has an inseam that is about 47%-48% of their height. That would be a range of 33.8"-34.6" for a 6' man. He is in the dead center of this range. So he really couldn't be any more "normal."

    I, OTOH, am A. B. Normal.
    My bad. I seem to be misreading and misstating things all over today. I think I saw 87 cm and was thinking 37". Odd thing is, those are my measurements too. I must be more tired than I thought!
    Sorry to have suggested you are oddly sized, Jim. You sure seem normal to me.

    Anyway, I'm surprised you're not finding better fit. I find that most 58 cm bikes fit me just fine. My old Bridgestone is a 57.5 and with a Nitto Technomic Deluxe stem, I have the bars set at 1" below saddle height with enough adjustment left to raise them another 1/2" or so. The standard technomic stem is a little longer still.




    As others have said, modern racing bikes are set up for low bars, but even with them I can get the bars up to a reasonable height by flipping the stem. I would think that any of the more comfort oriented road bikes (Roubaix, Pilot, Sequoia, Fierte etc.) would work just fine. Or go for a Soma Smoothie ES frame, or a Rivendell, or a Salsa Casseroll or something along those lines.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Thanks Bluesdawg for the information. It is good to know that we are approximately the same dimensions and that the nitto delux works for you. This is probably the route that I need to go. Or I might go with the taller nitto. Now all I have to decide is what length stem to get. Do you have any suggestions on how to determine stem length.

  11. #11
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    In the case of road bikes with threadless stems (no quill). It is very common for the folks in 50+ to turn the stem upside down to raise the bars to near saddle height.

    In fact, it seems to be so common that the manufacturers now double up on the graphics so the stem looks right either way.

    Down for aero racers, up for the comfortable crowd.

  12. #12
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    There are 2 types of stems discussed here. When the OP says "quill", I think he means "stem". Quill stems are the older, archaic type. Modern bikes use threadless headsets and clamp on stems because they are lighter, stronger, and better in just about every way.
    With the threadless setup, the bar height is determined mostly by the length of the steertube,the part of the fork that the stem clamps on to. If you have an ideal frame, except the bars are too low, get a new fork and don't cut the steer tube until you find your position.
    I use an uncut steer tube to get the bars as high as possible, and an up-angled stem.
    (edit) OK, re-read and found you are talking about quill stems, but if you ever buy a newer frame, don't cut the steer tube!

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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    Why did they do away with the quill?
    The threadless headset is both cheaper and easier to manufacture.

    Cut the tube, slap on little rings to space it, and clamp on a stem and cap (after praying that the wing nut is correctly installed). Compare that to a threaded steerer, where those fine threads need to be located just exactly right to accept a headset nut but stay out of the bearings, a nut on the headset to thread on to it, and then the threads and machining of the stem.

    Then again, you can't put strong threads on a carbon steer tube, now can you?
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    There are 2 types of stems discussed here. When the OP says "quill", I think he means "stem". Quill stems are the older, archaic type. Modern bikes use threadless headsets and clamp on stems because they are lighter, stronger, and better in just about every way.
    With the threadless setup, the bar height is determined mostly by the length of the steertube,the part of the fork that the stem clamps on to. If you have an ideal frame, except the bars are too low, get a new fork and don't cut the steer tube until you find your position.
    I use an uncut steer tube to get the bars as high as possible, and an up-angled stem.
    (edit) OK, re-read and found you are talking about quill stems, but if you ever buy a newer frame, don't cut the steer tube!

    Sorry to disagree on the practicality of the quill.

    As you point out, to change the height significantly on a threadless headset you must actually change out the front fork. This is not necessary on a threaded headset, you can simply adjust it with an allen wrench or, at the most, change out the quill. I agree that the threadless headset is lighter, and also cheaper. I'm not certain it is stronger or better in just about every way. Who wants to buy a new fork to change the height? They do make extensions for threadless headsets, but boy are they ugly looking when installed on a bike.

    Also, in shopping for newer bikes many, but not all, off-the-shelf bikes are shipped to the LBS with the steerer tube already cut by the manufacturer as part of their quality control. I'm not sure your last suggestion (to buy an uncut steerer) is always practical.
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    With stems of every angle available and even high quality adjustable stems I don't think its usually necessary to go out and get a newer uncut steerer tube (with attached fork).

    I suspect that the threadless steerer tube is also inherently stronger as it has no stress risers originating from the tips of the cut threads. It does start out thinner and lighter so perhaps that factor is a wash.

    Carbon steerer tubes fall into the same catagory as carbon seatposts and bars. Why go there unless you have to.

  16. #16
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post

    Carbon steerer tubes fall into the same catagory as carbon seatposts and bars. Why go there unless you have to.

    There is a reason to go with a carbon seatpost ... vibration damping. Especially if you have an aluminum frame bike. Of course, if one has a cushy saddle, that would take care of far more of the vibration damping than what a carbon seatpost would.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    Quill stems are the older, archaic type. Modern bikes use threadless headsets and clamp on stems because they are lighter, stronger, and better in just about every way.
    With the threadless setup, the bar height is determined mostly by the length of the steertube,the part of the fork that the stem clamps on to. If you have an ideal frame, except the bars are too low, get a new fork and don't cut the steer tube until you find your position.


    Sorry if this seems unfriendly, but this is the most hilarious thing I've read in a long time.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    In the case of road bikes with threadless stems (no quill). It is very common for the folks in 50+ to turn the stem upside down to raise the bars to near saddle height.

    In fact, it seems to be so common that the manufacturers now double up on the graphics so the stem looks right either way.

    Down for aero racers, up for the comfortable crowd.
    Attached are two pics of my Giant- As it was supplied from the shop and the red tyred version is also with the 100mm stem with a bigger rise in it. Daft thing is taht the giant was only comfortable with the bars at the same height as the Saddle- wheras the new bike has the bars at least 2" below the saddle and is more comfortable.

    The giant by the way is a compact frame in 42 cm- and the Boreas is 51cm- in conventional sizing. Makes no difference as saddle height is the same and bars- Other than height , are the same distance from the saddle.
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  19. #19
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    There is a reason to go with a carbon seatpost ... vibration damping. Especially if you have an aluminum frame bike. Of course, if one has a cushy saddle, that would take care of far more of the vibration damping than what a carbon seatpost would.
    But Aluminium frames are old hat nowadays- Who in their right mind would go and buy an aluminium framed bike when you can go retro with Steel or get the latest up to date material in Carbon Fibre.

    Saying that- There are a few people around that Do prefer the other characteristics of Alumium in that pedal power does get transmitted to the rear wheel without loss- The frame does not flex- and it is not fragile. You just have to make certain that the Butt can take the punishment it gets. And after 6 years of Pain from Prostate Surgery- I seem to have found comfy saddles.

    Giant OCR3--Aluminium

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  20. #20
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post


    Sorry if this seems unfriendly, but this is the most hilarious thing I've read in a long time.
    Which part? O.K., maybe I sounded like advertising hype, and I do have quill stems on 2 of my bikes, 1 of them a Nitto with about 6 inches exposed, ( just can't get as low as I used to).
    The point that I was trying top make was that instead of buying a frame too big, get the frame smaller and leave the fork longer. Yes, I know, off the shelf bikes will have the steer tube cut, and yes, it's more to buy a fork than a stem.
    On the other hand, I have cracked a quill stem, threadless setup is much stiffer, and I've had a quill stem stuck in the fork before.

  21. #21
    Queen of France Indolent58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    Also, in shopping for newer bikes many, but not all, off-the-shelf bikes are shipped to the LBS with the steerer tube already cut by the manufacturer as part of their quality control. I'm not sure your last suggestion (to buy an uncut steerer) is always practical.
    I am not aware of any major brand bikes that are shipped with uncut steerer tubes. The only way to get an uncut stock fork from Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc is to buy a frameset if they sell them in the model you want.

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    FWIW, the French cyclotouring bikes -- and hell, most racing bikes up until the 60s or so -- were sized by the "fistful of seatpost" method. IOW, frames used to be a lot bigger. I guess the CPSC decided that top tubes were a leading cause of smashed nads, so now we're all riding around on the smallest possible frames. Which is fine, but the point I'm trying to make is that the world got away with riding frames 3-5c m larger than is currently in vogue, and got away with it for a long time.

    I'm not 50+ yet, but I am old enough that riding around with me arse in the air and me nose in the spokes no longer makes as much sense as it used to. My frames are getting bigger all the time: I raced a 58 and am now up to a 61 -- and maybe a 62 in my future. If I straddle the top tube with both feet flat on the ground, I'm in uncomfortable territory -- but why I would ever need to do that escapes me. And I'm able to get the bars up to a reasonable level without having to resort to Sears Tower sized stems.

    HTH!

    <Edit> Threadless stems suck out loud, unless you're using a carbon fork. And thanks for letting me share!
    Last edited by Six jours; 08-09-07 at 12:08 AM.

  23. #23
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indolent58 View Post
    I am not aware of any major brand bikes that are shipped with uncut steerer tubes. The only way to get an uncut stock fork from Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc is to buy a frameset if they sell them in the model you want.
    Um, my Trek520, yes, the US built one (says so on the crooked sticker on the chainstay ) came with an uncut steerer tube. My son's GiantOCR2 came with an uncut steerer tube. Uncut steerer tubes are the norm here in Australia, though you do have to tell the shops not to cut them down because many do it automatically.

    Richard
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  24. #24
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    Um, my Trek520, yes, the US built one (says so on the crooked sticker on the chainstay ) came with an uncut steerer tube. My son's GiantOCR2 came with an uncut steerer tube. Uncut steerer tubes are the norm here in Australia, though you do have to tell the shops not to cut them down because many do it automatically.

    Richard
    Just for giggles, I wrote to Trek. They said they do cut the steer tubes except on the Project One bikes.
    BTW, Performance has a carbon fork with alloy steerer for 75 bucks.

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