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Old 06-15-11, 06:56 PM   #1
indycar
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Advice from 50+ roadies

Hi guys. First post on this site. I need some advice. I am 63. In my late 40's I was an avid road rider, usually with a bunch of younger guys. One reason I sold the road bike and moved to a more upright mountain bike was because my lower back hurt after an hour or so. Turns out I have a herniated disc I now have a hybrid (Trek FX7.3), and my back is fine.....but I am tempted to buy another road bike because I am getting tired of being passed by roadies. Two questions. 1. Any advice regarding bike geometry? 2. I am looking at a new 2010 Opus Alto (carbon forks, seat stay & chain stay on an aluminum frame). Any comments? Thanks.
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Old 06-15-11, 07:05 PM   #2
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Get something with a relaxed geometry and a relatively short top tube (or even a downward-sloping one, if you can stand the look). Get drop bars, but with a short-reach but tall stem.
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Old 06-15-11, 07:11 PM   #3
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I am usually don't recommend dropping the money for a professional fit but you sound like your a good candidate, although I would make sure the fitter is one that truely understands and has worked with riders with your issues.
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Old 06-15-11, 07:50 PM   #4
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John E. Thanks. I understand a "short top tube", but not "relaxed geometry". Can you please define what this is?

Cyclinfool. Good suggestion. Thanks.

The Opus does have a taller stem than normal, and appears to have a shorter top tube. I'll check the spec's.

Thanks guys. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-16-11, 10:36 AM   #5
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After 16 years of MTB's and 6 years after a couple of medical problems- I went road. Just to see what it was like. Never had one before although I had borrowed a few for a couple of rides. I followed the route of short top tube and it wasn't long before the bars got raised with a high rise stem. 6 months later and the bike was still not really comfortable and that was with plenty of riding getting in. I enjoyed road riding though and after a full year of road decided to get a far better road bike. Custom build on a Race geometry frame and forks. Got to the shop to pick it up and what a shock. The Bars were 4" below the saddle and those bars felt miles away from the saddle. Shop told me to ride it and come back. Only a 5 mile ride and up a respectable hill and went back to the shop "What needs Changing?" They asked. "Nothing" was my reply. That shop knew me and knew my body better than I did.

Must admit that the first bike was basic. A GOOD basic in a Giant OCR3 but I did go too small on frame size. I followed the "Traditional" route of---Back Ache? Raise the bars. But that bike worked- did 6,000miles in the first year and got me up a few decent hills. Just a pity it was never comfortable

Don't know the Opus but there is a rule on the first bike and after the lay off you have had- this could be counted as your first bike. All the first bike is there for is to tell you what the 2nd bike is going to be. What size will you require? What components will it have to fit your body? (Crank length- Bar width- wheel quality etc) And finally is the fit of the thing going to suit.

You may be lucky and get the right bike first time out but N+1 comes round pretty soon when you start.
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Old 06-16-11, 11:42 AM   #6
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The angle of the top tube has no bearing on the frame geometry, even though it's called "compact geometry". You only contact the bike via the pedals, seat, and bars. How those points are connected doesn't matter for bike fit, only style preference (and standover height, which is not an issuse for most road riders).

"relaxed geometry" means a taller head tube (allowing the bars to go higher) and sometimes a shorter top tube (allowing the bars to be closer to the rider). What you need will depend on your body shape and how low and stretched out you want to be. A good fitter can work with you to figure out the proper position for you.

I'd also look into strengthening your back and core muscles so they supprort your spine better. A road bike is only faster than a hybrid because the position is more aerodynamic, i.e. the bars are lower. If you want that speed you're going to have to figure out how make it comfortable.
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Old 06-16-11, 11:51 AM   #7
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CyclinFool is right. You do sound like a candidate for a "Professional Fit." I hurt my back when I was doing martial arts at 42 to the point where I could no longer continue doing it. I have not done any type of physical exercise since then because of the back issues. I can't run because my knees start hurting after a day or so and they hurt for several days afterward. My wife got me a comfort bike for my 63rd birthday and everything changed.

I have posted about professional fittings on other threads, so I may as well do it here. You have to be very careful what you call "Professional Fitting." Some shops have fittings that are merely sit on the bike and lets get the seat height correct. Others have a myriad of tools to do all sorts of measurements and make adjustments accordingly. Those are not really "Professional Fittings", although they may claim to be. If you want a true "Professional Fit" then you need to check out this web site. It doesn't get any more professional than this. If there is a bike shop in your area (even if you have to drive a little to get to one) that provides this service, do yourself and your body a favor and get it fit right the first time.

All of the fitters are certified by the company and must have their certifications hanging on the wall of the fitting area. The fitting is not a one time thing. It takes several one to one-and-a-half hour sittings and you ride for a few weeks in-between. Your fitting is done in your riding clothes and shoes (if you are clipping in). The cost is pretty much set by the company at $250.00, but if you are going to spend that much money on a road bike, the cost of the fitting shouldn't burn a bigger hole in your pocket then the cost of the bike.

I don't work for the company or any bike shop that provides the service, but I have had the fitting. I purchased my first road bike at 64 and it has a compact geometry (angled down tube) and medium frame. When I bought it, I took it out riding and had aches and pains all over because of the posture and the fact that the bike was not fitted correctly. I was very disappointed and was about to sell the bike and stick with my hybrid. I happen to be browsing the internet one day for different bike shops in my area just to see what they carried incase I needed to know where to find something that my bike shop didn't have. I saw this ad for this Retul fitting and checked it out further. I again saw it in Bicycling Magazine and found that this is the fitting method used for the pro cyclist in the Tour de France and at Lance Armstrong's camp. I am by no means that caliper of rider but I thought, "these guys have to have a perfect fit or they couldn't be riding as much as they do and not be in constant pain."

I went and talked to the fitter for around an hour to find out more and then went for the fitting. The fitter, in my case is a semi-pro road racer and has several podium trophies for state competitions so he was not just a sales guy at the bike shop. It took me four visits and three months to get myself and my bike to as perfect a fit as I was ever going to get. I am now doing at at least one distance (100K and century rides) charity ride a month and have already signed up for 5 more at the end of summer. I can ride the same bike that gave me aches and pains through out my body and not feel a thing when I get done with a ride. Occasionally, I tend to straighten my arms and put a bit too much pressure on my hands and they start going numb, but that is me and not the bike's fault.
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Old 06-16-11, 12:03 PM   #8
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The angle of the top tube has no bearing on the frame geometry,
Bikes with compact frames (geometry) are a bit shorter in length than regular geometry bikes. The compact frames bring the handle bars closer to the rider and changes your seating position, giving you a little more of an upright posture. Normally you won't notice this unless you ride on the drops of the handlebar when going into headwinds or wanting more speed. The difference in position is very noticeable. My Defy is a compact and I notice the difference right away whenever I ride someone else's regular geometry bike.
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Old 06-16-11, 12:14 PM   #9
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The angle of the top tube has no bearing on the frame geometry, even though it's called "compact geometry". You only contact the bike via the pedals, seat, and bars. How those points are connected doesn't matter for bike fit, only style preference (and standover height, which is not an issuse for most road riders).

"relaxed geometry" means a taller head tube (allowing the bars to go higher) and sometimes a shorter top tube (allowing the bars to be closer to the rider)....

... A road bike is only faster than a hybrid because the position is more aerodynamic, i.e. the bars are lower. If you want that speed you're going to have to figure out how make it comfortable.
I agree with the statement about compact geometry being unrelated to frame geometry.

Relaxed geometry also can refer to slacker head tube and seat tube angles and longer chainstays and wheelbase which can result in slower steering and a smoother ride.

The rider's position on a road bike also allows for better transfer of muscle power to the pedals making the bike more responsive and faster.
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Old 06-16-11, 12:39 PM   #10
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I agree with the statement about compact geometry being unrelated to frame geometry.

Relaxed geometry also can refer to slacker head tube and seat tube angles and longer chainstays and wheelbase which can result in less twitchy, smoother steering and a more comfortable ride.

The rider's position on a road bike also allows for better transfer of muscle power to the pedals making the bike more responsive and faster.
ftfy. Minor correction - otherwise spot on.

I've been a user of Bianchi bikes (I'm on my third road frame) because they seem to have a good geometry for me. I have no idea what your budget is or if there is a Bianchi dealer in your market. Check out something like this:http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/coas...finito-athena/

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Old 06-16-11, 12:57 PM   #11
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I agree with BD about the slower steering. I ride a couple of bikes and one is Race Geometry. The steering is so responsive on the race geometry and I like it that way. The other is not relaxed geometry but I do find that I have to think about steering more as it just does not turn as quick. May seem stupid to say that but that is how the bikes feel. Of course if I used the other bike more- It could be that the race Geometry bike would be Twitchy But for me that is not the case.

And Compact frame -- You either like it or you don't. You generally find that us shorter riders prefer the compact frame as it allows more Clearance over a Standard frame. Position of bars- saddle and pedals can be set the same on a compact as on a standard frame.
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Old 06-16-11, 12:59 PM   #12
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I am usually don't recommend dropping the money for a professional fit but you sound like your a good candidate, although I would make sure the fitter is one that truely understands and has worked with riders with your issues.
+2. I went with a Pro fit and it allows me to ride 200k without issue. Best cycling related investment I have made.

These guys are considered to be the best around and it may be worth a trip to Chicago: http://www.getagripcycles.com/index....&id=5&Itemid=4

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Old 06-16-11, 01:10 PM   #13
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+2. I went with a Pro fit and it allows me to ride 200k without issue. Best cycling related investment I have made.
+3. I was hesitant to spend the $ as I really thought I had dialed the bike in really close based on videos and reading a lot. And while the adjustments were very minor they made a big difference in comfort and power.

My fitter has done thousands of fittings. He uses the Retul system.
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Old 06-16-11, 02:03 PM   #14
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I tried my home state, California and could not find a dealer. On the Opus web site, I hit New York, Texas, Utah, all with zero dealers.
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Old 06-16-11, 04:39 PM   #15
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The first time I'd ever laid eyes on a bike from Opus was a couple of weeks ago when I popped into a bike shop close to my cottage up north. Opus is based in Montreal and isn't as well known as Cervelo, Argon18 or Norco. There aren't that many dealers outside of Quebec and Ontario. The bike I was looking at was a cyclocross bike

http://www.opusbike.com/en/bikes_5_33-66-sentiero.html

It had a sort of frankenbike collection of drivetrain components with a mixture of Shimano Tiagra, 105 and Ultegra (or so the sales guy told me although I didn't see any evidence of any Ultegra components anywhere). It appeared to be a pretty decent bike with a nice fit and finish. The price wasn't bad and seemed to be pretty competitive with the other bike makers and all the other components were pretty conventional for that price range.

The 2011 Alto is full carbon and appears to have a fairly agressive geometry. I'm not sure if that's something you really want but the only way you'll find out is to give it a test ride.
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Old 06-16-11, 06:40 PM   #16
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Wow. Can't believe the number of useful responses. I took a few of them to the bike store with the 2010 Opus Alto. Shorter top tube...yup. Longer head tube....yup. And for @alanknm, the 2010 and 2011 bikes are different. The 2011 is much more aggressive. There are two Retul fitters in my area (Greater Vancouver....scene of the very embarassing Stanley Cup riots). I will be taking the Opus for a test ride in the next few days, and will let you know the outcome. In the meantime.....thanks for the advice!
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Old 07-01-11, 08:55 PM   #17
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Still haven't made a decision. It is down to a new 2010 Opus Alto (aluminum frame with carbon forks and rear triangle) and a 2011 Trek 3.1 Madone that has just been reduced by my LBS. Please give me your comments and opinions.
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Old 07-01-11, 09:16 PM   #18
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I tried my home state, California and could not find a dealer. On the Opus web site, I hit New York, Texas, Utah, all with zero dealers.
Opus is a house brand belonging to Outdoor Gear, a multi line distributor based in Montreal. I'm not surprised they didn't show up in a search for US dealers.
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Old 07-02-11, 12:15 AM   #19
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Still haven't made a decision. It is down to a new 2010 Opus Alto (aluminum frame with carbon forks and rear triangle) and a 2011 Trek 3.1 Madone that has just been reduced by my LBS. Please give me your comments and opinions.
Still down to a test ride I am afraid. Forget about the material and concentrate on how it fits- feels and finally the components. Inhouse parts fitted to most bikes are not the best around and bontrager is the inhouse name for trek.

I like the spec on the 2011 Alto and the Madone series do have a good following- So no preference here- Just test ride and see for yourself.
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Old 07-02-11, 04:23 AM   #20
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I would ask the LBS and fitter to not cut the steerer tube to a "final" length until you have ridden the bike for a while. In my estimation, it's better to leave an inch or more of steerer and fill the top with spacers so that you have the flexibility to move the stem up or down if you find things aren't quite right. It saves having to fiddle about with stem angles.

Personally, I've not used a fitter except for our Santana tandem (that was part of the purchase deal, and the fit was no different to what I would have come to). But with the back issues and age of the OP, a full fit might be worth the cost.

And I will join others in saying that the slope of the top tube in compact frames is irrelevant to the geometry of the rest of the bike except for standover height.
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Old 07-02-11, 05:48 AM   #21
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Maintaining a flat back is necessary in many sporting activities. For example, in doing squats, a rounded back will promote a tendency toward herniated discs because weight on the discs is not evenly distributed. Similarly, in cycling, it is recommended by sport physiologists that the back be straight and that the forward lean be accomplished by bending at the hips. The best example of poor posture on the bike is Lance Armstrong who has a pronounced arch in his back. http://www.doobybrain.com/2009/07/24...a-trek-madone/ As a man who also has back problems I'm always careful with my back. Maintaining a flat back keeps me pain free on the bike. It may be that this approach will work for you.
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Old 07-05-11, 06:59 PM   #22
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Went for a test drive on the Trek 3.1 Madone today. I had forgotten how quickly road bikes steer, how quickly a lighter bike accelerates, and how skinny road bike saddles are. I must admit to being initially a little nervous on the ride because of this responsiveness. I haven't ridden a road bike for a few years. After a few kilo's I got more comfortable. I may not ride in the drops much, but putting my hands on the hoods or handle bars didn't feel that much different than my hybrid. Got a discount on everything else I needed....road shoes, 105 pedals, wireless w/cadence. So my new toy is in the garage. Thanks everyone for your comments and your help.
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Old 07-05-11, 07:02 PM   #23
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Old 07-06-11, 01:10 AM   #24
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I may not ride in the drops much, but putting my hands on the hoods or handle bars didn't feel that much different than my hybrid.
Ah, you have discovered the secret of riding drop handlebars. Most people think that you ride normally in the drops. This is why they want to keep raising the bars higher and higher! If you look at most experienced roadies, though, the only time they're in the drops is in a race, usually during the final sprint. At all other times, like about 99.9% of the time for me, who no longer races, the hands are on the brake hoods or the tops. So it's like having flat bars, but with way more possible hand positions, and an extra position (the drops) for sprinting or riding into headwinds.

It's sort of counterintuitive when you look at the drop bars. Those drops just look so inviting to put your hands on. But only beginners use the drops as the default position. Always ride with your hands on the top portion of the bars!

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Old 07-06-11, 08:10 AM   #25
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Oops. See you already got a bike....

I got my 20 year old Cannondale R400(criterium bike) out last fall to get back into riding. My back KILLED me. I bought a Specialized Allez. It is kind of an "aggressive" relaxed geometry bike. At first I thought it might be too relaxed but have become very comfortable on the bike. The back pain is gone but then again that Cannondale was known as a "back-killer".
Tell the shop people what you are looking for. Make sure they don't just assume you want an upright bike, that you want something a little aggressive, yet forgiving. They should be able to match you up to the correct bike. Then the fitting should be done pretty meticulously. I had a young guy do mine and he did a fantastic job, that impressed a friend of mine that is very picky about bike set up.

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