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Old 08-24-07, 10:08 PM   #1
europa
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Das fit ... is better

I won't bore you with the long and tortuous story that's resulted in the setup my bike currently enjoys. Mind you, I'm still fiddling and the test ride on the latest effort (the one shown) was just up the street and back.

However, things are finally making sense.

The bike is my Trek520.
There's a long, sad story about how I got caught with this one, but in my case, a fine bike has been ruined by buying a frame that's too small. The efforts reported here have been attempts to fix this.

Saddle height has been long settled and is right for me. I may find myself lowering it a tad but I'll have to see how my legs extend on the road before looking at that - we'd only be talking a cm anyway.

Saddle fore and aft has always been an issue. The method I'm using now is espoused by Steve Hogg and is similar to Peter White's. The aim is to have your body balanced between bars, saddle and pedals. KOPS and other such rubbish doesn't come into it. Basically, with your hands on the drops and pedalling in a highish gear (to put pressure in your legs - a wind trainer is very useful sometimes), you remove your hands from the bars. You should be able to keep riding with either none or just a bit of movement on the shoulders. I can now manage that, but the saddle is jammed back as far as it can go on the rails. However, when you consider my svelte figure, I'm guessing the safety airbags around my tummy are shoving my cg forward. But I like it because one of my problems has been hand pain.

Then I tackled bar extension and height. I won't go through all the permutations and their results (it's taken six months of experimentation and a lot of kms), but the setup shown here has a neck extender plus the longest adjustable neck you can buy set up fairly high. The bars are now 2" above the saddle ... and thanks to the too small frame, 10" above the top bar

Looks weird.

However, on the bike it seems to make sense. If you look at the photos, it turns out I've got a 45 degree slope on my back when on the hoods - I measured this by putting a grid over the photo and counting the squares and it came out exact Not that the number means anything but I like the symetry of it I was also pleased to note that despite my ample middle, my back was straight in all photos suggesting my posture isn't all that bad, and I've finally got plenty of room when deep into the front of the drops.





Now all I have to do is finalise the brake positions, replace the brake cables (currently they won't even tape to the bars, that's how high the bars have come up) and retape the bars ... again

Yes, going lower will improve the aerodynamics but the price is pressure on my hands. Yes, I do have a death grip on the brakes but no, I don't ride that way - I was leaning against the wall and on a slight down hill slope And yes, I am working on the safety airbags around the tummy

Any thoughts are welcomed, particularly if you either agree or disagree with what I've done. Once I get this bike working for me, I'm going to get a frame made that doesn't need endless extensions bolted to it.

Richard
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Old 08-24-07, 11:03 PM   #2
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Old 08-24-07, 11:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by europa View Post
I won't bore you with the long and tortuous story that's resulted in the setup my bike currently enjoys. Mind you, I'm still fiddling and the test ride on the latest effort (the one shown) was just up the street and back.

However, things are finally making sense.

The bike is my Trek520.
There's a long, sad story about how I got caught with this one, but in my case, a fine bike has been ruined by buying a frame that's too small. The efforts reported here have been attempts to fix this.

Saddle height has been long settled and is right for me. I may find myself lowering it a tad but I'll have to see how my legs extend on the road before looking at that - we'd only be talking a cm anyway.

Saddle fore and aft has always been an issue. The method I'm using now is espoused by Steve Hogg and is similar to Peter White's. The aim is to have your body balanced between bars, saddle and pedals. KOPS and other such rubbish doesn't come into it. Basically, with your hands on the drops and pedalling in a highish gear (to put pressure in your legs - a wind trainer is very useful sometimes), you remove your hands from the bars. You should be able to keep riding with either none or just a bit of movement on the shoulders. I can now manage that, but the saddle is jammed back as far as it can go on the rails. However, when you consider my svelte figure, I'm guessing the safety airbags around my tummy are shoving my cg forward. But I like it because one of my problems has been hand pain.

Then I tackled bar extension and height. I won't go through all the permutations and their results (it's taken six months of experimentation and a lot of kms), but the setup shown here has a neck extender plus the longest adjustable neck you can buy set up fairly high. The bars are now 2" above the saddle ... and thanks to the too small frame, 10" above the top bar

Looks weird.

However, on the bike it seems to make sense. If you look at the photos, it turns out I've got a 45 degree slope on my back when on the hoods - I measured this by putting a grid over the photo and counting the squares and it came out exact Not that the number means anything but I like the symetry of it I was also pleased to note that despite my ample middle, my back was straight in all photos suggesting my posture isn't all that bad, and I've finally got plenty of room when deep into the front of the drops.





Now all I have to do is finalise the brake positions, replace the brake cables (currently they won't even tape to the bars, that's how high the bars have come up) and retape the bars ... again

Yes, going lower will improve the aerodynamics but the price is pressure on my hands. Yes, I do have a death grip on the brakes but no, I don't ride that way - I was leaning against the wall and on a slight down hill slope And yes, I am working on the safety airbags around the tummy

Any thoughts are welcomed, particularly if you either agree or disagree with what I've done. Once I get this bike working for me, I'm going to get a frame made that doesn't need endless extensions bolted to it.

Richard

Buy a recumbent and forget about the technical aspects you are dealing with. Someone on this forum that said I should be more concerned with "smiles per mile." I think that was good advice.

Seriously, find something comfortable. We are over 50!!!! Find something you WANT to ride that you can take to the grocery store w/panniers, take on the rides daily for health, tour on and take on bike ralleys. If you can do it on one bike, more power to you. If it takes more bikes, OK. I've narrowed my stable down from 5 to 3 bikes. I think it's very possible to eleminate another bike.

Don't listen to this forum. Listen to the feedback from you body about the bikes you ride. Try to discern if you are just trying to justify the desire for a new bike, or the fact that you really are trying to fill a need--unfortunately, I am speaking from too much experience here.

And the last hard truth.
If you are financially rich, you can reduce you bike below 14 lbs; however, why would we want to be a "weight weenie" when we have one or more bicycles's total weight on our bodies that is useless fat.

So to boil it down to one sentence, find a bike you like and to hell w/others' opinions.
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Old 08-25-07, 03:26 AM   #4
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Buy a recumbent and forget about the technical aspects you are dealing with.

So to boil it down to one sentence, find a bike you like and to hell w/others' opinions.
I'm too much out of step with the 'normal world' to get too wound up about other's opinions - I've been ignoring them for years. However, they can provide some interesting insights into my own solutions.

I must confess to be surprised at where this has led me as far as saddle set back and bar height goes - I honestly thought bars level with saddle and seat a tad rearward is where I'd be. A friend has suggested a mountain bike but that's not where I want to go. At this point a lugged steel compact frame with a high head makes a lot of sense, but only custom builders make them ... don't they?

This bike is the one I'm trying to make do everything. I've got an mtb for the bush and a fixie for my sportster, this girl is supposed to do the rest.

Where is this journey going to take me?

Yeah, maybe I've reached the point where a recumbent is the smart move.

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On the dining room table It's protecting something, I'm sure of it.

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Old 08-25-07, 06:03 AM   #5
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Glad to see that you have finally got the frame to fit. All a frame is for is to attach the rest of the bits to. If the frame is too large- then a different problem will come about by Some parts of the body not fitting but with a bit of adaption- a small frame can be made to to fit anyone. Just takes a bit of searching to find those bits.

Well done
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Old 08-25-07, 06:23 AM   #6
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Been there done that have the old bike in the cellar...
I tried and tried, it never quite got right. Wound up buying
a new frame and throwing the parts on it.

Good luck.
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Old 08-25-07, 07:41 PM   #7
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I've tried what you are doing, and it worked out pretty well for a while. Then I started getting some knee pain, asked a fitter to help me nail a good saddle position for knee integrity, and ended up more forward at a KOPS position. I'm staying there for now; in that position I'v enoticed power gains I didn't have before. Was it due to those fast 35 milers? Well maybe just a little!

I found that the lower I wanted to place my back, with low hand pressure, the farther back I would place my saddle. But something does not work out right when I follow the Peter White approach.

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Old 08-25-07, 08:43 PM   #8
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The farther back you sit, the greater and sharper your waist/back is going to have to bend to reach the handlebars, hence, this is when you can't be reasonably comfortable unless your handlebars are higher than the saddle. This is Ok to ride, but personally, I don't like my handlebars higher than the saddle on a road bike. It seems to adversely affect bike handling too much. I don't like them too much lower either. About saddle level is good for me. I have relatively long thighs compared to my overall leg length. If I'm too forward, I can easily feel the loss of power I can apply to the pedals. But if I'm too far back, I bend over too much and find my breathing is constricted (and while you can always get a very short stem, there's a limit to this). So, for me, KOPS makes for good pedaling mechanics and at the same time, avoid too much of a bend at the waist. It's a good compromise. In my opinion, based on decades of experimenting with this, I don't believe there is any one ideal position for anyone on a bike, just a series of reasonable compromises. If your compromises work for you, then you're good to go... but I don't really buy the argument that knee-over-pedal is not a good rule of thumb. I guess I'm a debunker of the debunkers. I don't think you want to be too much farther back than this, but I also think that even a cm more forward of KOPS makes it very hard to be comfortable on longer rides unless you are going flat out all the time. It puts way too much pressure on the hands, and probably also on the crotch, simply because you tend to scooch forward all the time.
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Old 08-26-07, 06:40 AM   #9
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The standard sizing and fitting rules are only frist-approximation guidelines, because we all differ so much in various ways, from flexibility to muscles used to the degree of "ankling" whilst pedaling. Do what works for you, and worry more about how it feels after a 25mi / 40km ride than how it may look to anyone else.
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Old 08-26-07, 06:43 AM   #10
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... but I also think that even a cm more forward of KOPS makes it very hard to be comfortable on longer rides unless you are going flat out all the time. It puts way too much pressure on the hands, and probably also on the crotch, simply because you tend to scooch forward all the time.
Pointing the nose of the saddle slightly upward or riding a very old, nicely sagging Brooks can help.
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Old 08-26-07, 07:15 AM   #11
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I had a pro fitting by an recognized expert some years ago. Now, same body, same bike, but my positioning on the bike is significantly different in saddle height, fore-and-aft, and stem. I'm actually back more to how I rode the first 30 years before the fitting. You just have to do what works for you. Still, I would be careful about deviating too much from KOPS. It became a rule of thumb because it made sense as a good compromise between the requirements of weight balance and knee mechanics.
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Old 08-26-07, 01:43 PM   #12
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KOPS is pretty good, but it is only a rough approximation, because it depends so heavily on various aspects of your own body geometry.
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Old 08-27-07, 06:23 PM   #13
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Doesn't look too small to me. Reach looks pretty good. I wouldn't worry about the height extenders. If you ride bunches the middle should reduce steadily and your fit will change. At close to 190 lbs I was riding 57 cm top tube. Seat forward a bit, bars fairly high. At 155 lbs, I'm riding 54.7 cm TT with 105 mm stem and bars at 9 cm drop - my saddle is back more and I'm working very comfortably. Totally different fit, with steady change in between. I rode a 56 cm TT for a bit in the middle!

My wife also went through two bikes in losing only 25 lbs and becoming more fit.

I'd just start riding as much as possible, try to cut weight & see what changes happen.
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Old 08-27-07, 07:52 PM   #14
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I see no problem with a high stem on my 520. This one has a nitto 200mm quill with 50mm stem, which brings it up high and back for me. I changed it out after having two shoulder surgeries last year.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:02 PM   #15
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Advice from a bike racer of over 35 years, for what that's worth:

Experience has shown that it takes about six bikes before you get the fit right.

Don't tilt the saddle. Saddle has to be DEAD LEVEL.

If you're not racing, though, it doesn't really matter. The human body is good at one thing, and that's adapting. The reason you train is to make the body adapt to the stress. The bike can be set up all wrong, but your body will adapt to it. So you might as well make it comfortable for the purpose you're using it for.

My bike is set up to get a 40/60 front/rear weight distribution. My upper body and back has to support 40% of my body weight, but this puts less weight on the saddle and makes me very aerodynamic. I am way lower and more stretched out than you are, but I arrived at my position when I was in my 20's, and I've ridden enough since then that I can still ride this way 30+ years later. (I also do 30 pushups every morning!)

Looking at your position, it seems to me that your drop bars are set too high. But that's OK. You can actually set them lower because you don't need to use the drops("the hooks," the bottom portion). Here's the dirty secret of drop bars that only bike racers know: You never put your hands in the drops unless you are hammering or sprinting. I haven't done any road races this year (only track races), and I cannot remember the last time I put my hands into the drops on my road bike. All the hand positions I use are at the tops and the brake hoods, and I use at least three hand positions in this area. (That's one way you can identify real bike racers - when they are just out riding, they NEVER put their hands in the drops!) Even when climbing, I'm on the tops when seated and on the brake hoods when standing. The white tape in the drop portion of my bars is always cleaner than white tape at the tops...

- L.
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