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Old 09-15-07, 06:07 PM   #1
dbg
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Handlebars higher than the seat

This has sort of been my definition of aging. "You know you're too old when..." (love to hear some of these again, ..anybody have favorites). One of my unspoken ones has been:

"your handlebars are higher than your seat"

But to accomodate some shoulder pain issues, I just raised the handlebars on my commuter bike "above the seat." I've crossed that line, and... I kinda like it.

[and now another joke I can't resist telling (somebody seriously ban me from this forum)..

After repeatedly saying "sh*t, I missed" on virtually every golf swing, and being told by his golf partner --a priest-- "the lord will strike you down," after one final outburst from Mr. foulmouth, a bolt of lightning came down from the heavens and struck the priest dead. As Mr foulmouth stood there stunned, he heard a loud voice from above say, "sh*t, I missed."]
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Old 09-15-07, 06:29 PM   #2
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Ha! Great story.

Re: Handlebars--if it feels good, do it.
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Old 09-15-07, 08:56 PM   #3
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I gave up on drops years ago when I sold my old 10 spd and went for about 10 years without touching a bike. Back injury from a car accident took away any desire to ride. Then I discovered bikes like the Trek Navigator and Giant Sedona., and bought a Nav 200 in 2002. No, I will not do any centuries on a ride like that. But if there wasn't some level of consession - putting a relaxed position over optimum form, I'd still be walking.

So do what works, and keep riding!
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Old 09-15-07, 09:31 PM   #4
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Whatever a person needs to keep riding, or walking, or whatever, to get fit and enjoy life to the fullest.
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Old 09-15-07, 09:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dbg View Post
This has sort of been my definition of aging. "You know you're too old when..." (love to hear some of these again, ..anybody have favorites). One of my unspoken ones has been:

"your handlebars are higher than your seat"
Fantastic! Does this mean I'm not old since my handlebars are 1" below my seat

Cute story.
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Old 09-15-07, 10:36 PM   #6
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I've never owned a bike in my life with the handlebars positioned below the seat.
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Old 09-15-07, 11:09 PM   #7
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My wife is recovering from knee surgery and can't quite get full extension on the affected knee yet, but her surgeon wants her to ride every day. I've lowered her seat about an inch so she can pedal comfortably. About every third ARP* we pass feels compelled to slow down and tell her, "Your seat's too low."
She tried to explain to the first three or four, but it got tedious. Next guy who came by did a double take, rode along next to her for awhile, then said, "Did you know your seat's too low?"
She looked him up and down and said, "Did you know your pants are too tight?"

*Arrogant Roadie Pr!ck, the kind of riders you see (around here, anyway) in full team outfit, riding in a pack, three abreast, holding up cars, passing slower bikes close enough to brush shoulders as they go by. We've got dozens of them.
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Old 09-15-07, 11:17 PM   #8
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My wife is recovering from knee surgery and can't quite get full extension on the affected knee yet, but her surgeon wants her to ride every day. I've lowered her seat about an inch so she can pedal comfortably. About every third ARP* we pass feels compelled to slow down and tell her, "Your seat's too low."
She tried to explain to the first three or four, but it got tedious. Next guy who came by did a double take, rode along next to her for awhile, then said, "Did you know your seat's too low?"
She looked him up and down and said, "Did you know your pants are too tight?"

*Arrogant Roadie Pr!ck, the kind of riders you see (around here, anyway) in full team outfit, riding in a pack, three abreast, holding up cars, passing slower bikes close enough to brush shoulders as they go by. We've got dozens of them.
.... and doing double-takes then laughing at upright riders on hybrids.
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Old 09-16-07, 01:10 AM   #9
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Up to 98- I had my bars 2" below the saddle and that was on the MTB. Then the Bypass and not only did the bars go up= I also had to get Front suspension. Last year I got a road bike and a change of stem to bring the bars up to saddle level and it then fitted. One year later and the new bike came along- A true racing frame and high bars just would not look right up high so just flipped the stem to bring the bars 2" below the saddle. Boy was that comfortable and after a couple of month rode the old bike and it was sit up and beg time.

The other thing I noted was that when I got the road bike- I had some neck and shoulder problems but they passed. 1 years riding and the body had adapted to this new style of riding- But I am pleased to note that as I "Mature"- I will still have the option of raising the bars.
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Old 09-16-07, 01:47 AM   #10
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Is there some Platonic Ideal of a cyclist...a "real" rider must ride light (CF or Ti), has to be a wt wiennie on the gruppo selected, can't ride a triple, and has to ride a prescribed seat to HB offset, and has to look like a NASCAR billboard??? Riding is one of life's great pleasures...Just Do It!
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Old 09-16-07, 06:49 AM   #11
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Is there some Platonic Ideal of a cyclist...a "real" rider must ride light (CF or Ti), has to be a wt wiennie on the gruppo selected, can't ride a triple, and has to ride a prescribed seat to HB offset, and has to look like a NASCAR billboard??? Riding is one of life's great pleasures...Just Do It!
Yeah, but at some point in time I think that you can earn an "exemption". Lugged steel bike frame, triple crankset, friction shifters, Brooks saddle, Nitto Technomic stem, 28mm puncture resistant tires, around 24 pounds. The techno weenies that I work with may shake their heads, but if they actually scoff they have the decency to do it behind my back.
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Old 09-16-07, 07:00 AM   #12
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The bars on my Black Beast are 2cm above the saddle and guess what, I can now use the drops

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Old 09-16-07, 07:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
I've never owned a bike in my life with the handlebars positioned below the seat.
Same here.
It's all relative, anyway. Go to Amsterdam or Beijing and try to find a bike with handlebars less than six inches above the seat. Bikes are supposed to be comfortable, however high or low the handlebars.

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Old 09-16-07, 07:34 AM   #14
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So my handlebars are slightly lower than the seat on my road
bike and when riding with my hands on the hoods, my thighs slap
my belly...OOPS. Guess I'll not be using the drops anytime too soon.
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Old 09-16-07, 08:33 AM   #15
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Yeah, but at some point in time I think that you can earn an "exemption". Lugged steel bike frame, triple crankset, friction shifters, Brooks saddle, Nitto Technomic stem, 28mm puncture resistant tires, around 24 pounds. The techno weenies that I work with may shake their heads, but if they actually scoff they have the decency to do it behind my back.
That sounds very close to describing my best bike. The bars on that bike are about 1" below saddle height, up from 3-1/2" when I bought it. Another road bike I have has bars level with the saddle, but I am probably going to lower them just a hair. You have to go with what works without regard to what others might think. Who cares what they think? They aren't the ones riding the bike.
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Old 09-16-07, 08:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
My wife is recovering from knee surgery and can't quite get full extension on the affected knee yet, but her surgeon wants her to ride every day. I've lowered her seat about an inch so she can pedal comfortably. About every third ARP* we pass feels compelled to slow down and tell her, "Your seat's too low."
She tried to explain to the first three or four, but it got tedious. Next guy who came by did a double take, rode along next to her for awhile, then said, "Did you know your seat's too low?"
She looked him up and down and said, "Did you know your pants are too tight?"

*Arrogant Roadie Pr!ck, the kind of riders you see (around here, anyway) in full team outfit, riding in a pack, three abreast, holding up cars, passing slower bikes close enough to brush shoulders as they go by. We've got dozens of them.
That's a tricky situation. There are so many people around cluelessly riding with seats so low they are damaging their knees and limiting their power to the pedals. No argument about the presence of ARP's, but well meaning, helpful people also offer that kind of advice. (At least that is what I think of myself when I do it.)
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Old 09-16-07, 09:16 AM   #17
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Sure, you have to make some adaptations with bike fit if there are some medical issues involved (ie. back problems, etc.), but other than that, and assuming you don't have a huge beer belly and very poor flexibility, there is no reason that because you're over 50, you automaticallty have to ride with higher handlebars. Good bike fit is still good bike fit. You may not want it too extreme in terms of the drop between saddle and handlebars, but if you have your handlebars higher, you definitely lose some power and efficiency in your pedaling. Handlebars about an inch below the saddle is not uncomfortable at all, and if the length of the cockpit is right for you, it should enable you to put more power down on the pedals with less effort, it should help you ride through headwinds more easily, it should take some potentially painful weight off your rear end and help you get off the saddle-buying merry-go-round, and ultimately, once you get used to it, it should make your cycling more enjoyable.

Even when over 50, why would you want to set-up your road bike for less performance? Fit is always a compromise between comfort and efficiency, and how much you want to give up in either one is your decision. A road bike is about some performance. I mean, there's nothing like the feel of some spirited cycling, going up and down hills, rounding curves, etc. A road bike is very special in that regard, but you lose that if you set it up as a hybrid. If you want more leisurely riding, I would suggest keeping the road bike as a road bike and getting a fitness or flat bar hybrid for the rest of your riding.

Keep in mind that higher handlebars are sometimes just a compensation for a bike that is too long for you. If it's the right length, having the handlebars an inch below the saddle should not be too different than having the bar higher and farther away. But what will be different is that the slightly lower but closer position will allow more comfortable and more natural riding on the hoods. Those drops are not meant for long distance riding.

As an older rider, I still want to go as fast as I can within my limitations. Speed is fun. A good-handling road bike is like a fine sports car. As a person with some medical issues, as well as increasing age, I don't want to make my road bike more pokey, I want to make it easier for me to ride as a road bike. If I want to ride slow and exceptionally heavy, I'll get a cruiser for that.

This is all assuming a person wants to ride a road bike. But if it's going to be more leisurely riding, nothing wrong with that, but then it can make more sense to get a bike which is designed more for that, and then, you get a wider suspended saddle and the higher handlebars.

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Old 09-16-07, 09:21 AM   #18
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For my real roadies I'm planning to investigate shock absorption instead of raised handlebars, since I'm pretty sure long rides (100+ mi) and the pounding to my arms/shoulders is what caused my current problem. I won't give up good, efficient riding position easily. But I will stay on the bike whatever it takes.
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