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Old 04-17-13, 05:49 AM   #1
USMCRet
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Fit is giving me fits

Hello all...

I'm having trouble getting my bike to feel comfortable, and am soliciting your ideas. I bought a size large hybrid a little while ago and have about 350 miles in the saddle thus far. I have struggled since the beginning to feel like the bike is fitting me.

I took it to the LBS I bought it from to get some adjustments done and described what I was feeling. It feels as though my arms are bearing too high a burden. My arms tend to be straight, no bend, and I get numbness in my hands.

The LBS manager told me that my bike might be too large for me (thanks a helluva lot for selling it to me then). He said that I probably need to raise the handlebars a bit to get a more upright posture and take some of the pressure off my shoulders/arms/hands. He also made a few suggestions about saddle position. I bought and installed an adjustable stem and off I went.

This was about 2 weeks ago, and I have ridden about 75 miles since then. Each trip out, I make some small adjustment to either the stem or the saddle position, but frankly, I don't know if I'm adjusting towards the problem or away from it.

Getting frustrated...

For now, I'm leaving the stem adjusted to where it is and focusing on saddle position. I try to listen to what my body is telling me, and it's current line is this: As I am riding, my body wants to adjust itself rearward on the saddle to feel more comfortable. It seems that if I am pedaling with vigor, I tend to creep forward on the saddle, and as I crest a hill or otherwise relax, it wants to move more rearward on the saddle. I interpret this to mean that I need to move the saddle more towards the rear.

I'm 6', 208 lbs, 32" inseam, and 34/35" sleeve length.

What do you think? Any ideas?
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Old 04-17-13, 06:11 AM   #2
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I was having the same problem and am almost the exact size as you. I moved my seat forward about 1" and it seems to have helped. This was about 75 miles ago.

Last edited by msujmccorm; 04-17-13 at 10:33 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-17-13, 10:09 AM   #3
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I would give the LBS every chance to make it fit. You did not say what bike you bought, but competition is fierce, if the LBS can't help you, maybe try a different shop?
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Old 04-17-13, 10:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMCRet View Post
My arms tend to be straight, no bend, and I get numbness in my hands.
You're hands shouldn't be numb and your arms should have at least a slight bend at the elbow.
The saddle should be level so you're not prone to sliding forward or backward and your pelvic bones bear your weight.
Can you post a photo of the bike or the brand and model so we could look up the frame dimensions?
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Old 04-17-13, 11:14 AM   #5
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Occasionally I get some numbness in hands, but I attributed it more to my work history than the bike. Should I reconsider?
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Old 04-17-13, 11:43 AM   #6
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Your stem may be too long and you have to reach too far, and too low and you lean too heavy on your hands..

perhaps you need a sit up posture on the bike .. IDK , I cannot see you.

One solution, if Straight bars, is flat broad surface grips like Ergon, rather than round ones.
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Old 04-17-13, 12:13 PM   #7
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You're right, I should have mentioned that my bike is a Giant Roam 2, size large.

I just returned from my usual 17 mile route after moving the saddle rearward about 3/4". That position seems to be less burdensome on my arms and hands, but I still experienced the numbness, albeit to a lesser extent. I'll move it back a little more the next time I go out and see what happens. It feels like I need to get my center of balance more rearward.
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Old 04-17-13, 12:21 PM   #8
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Fit your saddle first, before starting to mess with the stem

- Level saddle or a very slight high nose.
- Saddle height should be adjusted to give your knee about a 25 degree bend from vertical (175 degree at the knee).
- Position saddle fore and aft position so that the large bump right below the kneecap is directly over the pedal spindle when the crank arm is at the 3 o'clock position. Use a plumb bob--fishing sinker and a piece of string.
- Then adjust the length of your stem to give your body a comfortable angle at the waist with a slight bend at the elbows.

This fitting will get you in the ball park for the fine tuning.

I had the benefit of sharing an afternoon time slot with a Physical Therapist at a wellness conference where Ii was doing a bike maintenance presentation. She specialized in bike fitting and would use the bike, my wife's, I used for my presentation on a trainer. She used my wife to demonstrate proper bike fitting principles. I did this for a couple of years, which resulted in my wife having her bikes professionally fit.
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Old 04-17-13, 12:35 PM   #9
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Large 21" shows a top tube of 23.5". I presume that's effective top tube length, as if the top tube was a traditional level/horizontal top tube.

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...8882/#geometry

Wearing bike shorts and in stocking feet, hold a length of something straight, like short piece of PVC tubing, pulled up snug to your crotch.
Have someone measure the distance from the floor to the top of that level tube.
Take that distance, multiply by 1.09.
Take that distance and transfer it to the bike:
Parallel the crank arm to the seat tube as in the website picture.
Level the crank arm horizontally.
Raise the seatpost and seat to that distance, measured from the top of the pedal level to the top of the seat.
This is an approximate rule of thumb to get roughly the best seat height.
Get some sort of plumb bob, like a small nut on the end of piece of string.
Sit on the bike in stocking feet. Level the crank horizontal. Place the ball of your foot on the pedal spindle.
Place the string on the front of your knee below the kneecap. You want the plumb line to line up with the pedal spindle.
Slide the seat, level, forward or backward till you get that.
If the numbness is still there after riding, you need a different height/length stem or a different size bike.
Fwiw.
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Old 04-17-13, 12:37 PM   #10
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Sorry Doug64, didn't see your post.
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Old 04-17-13, 07:20 PM   #11
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I'm generally familiar with your bike, my neighbor has one, and I think the Large size is reasonable for your body dimensions. Seems to me the bike shop where you bought the bike from should be taking a little more responsibility to get the bike "fit" to you. It's in their best interests to do so - if you haven't already, I would be talking with the manager. Having said this, sadly I can say from personal experience that not all bike shops are created equal.
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Old 04-17-13, 08:09 PM   #12
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I am by no means an expert but, I am having the same issue with my new hybrid. From what I can gather you and are putting too much pressure on the nerves in the palm of our hands (my hands get numb when I am struggling going uphill or against the wind). If you are not wearing padded gloves this might be a place to start as the padding provides some for the palm and thus the nerve. Another suggestion (from google) is move your hand position occasionally and don't hold on too tight. I find myself occasionally pushing my butt further back in the saddle which is telling me that I may need to move the saddle forward. Finally, I agree with the others that getting a proper fit will certainly help.

For the experts on the forum would get clipless pedals and cleats help from the standpoint of getting the hamstrings more involved the stroke?
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Old 04-17-13, 08:52 PM   #13
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You stated your inseam is 32". Is that your pants inseam or the true cycling inseam measurement from the floor to a hard hit on your pubic bone?
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Old 04-17-13, 10:51 PM   #14
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If you do post pics, one of you in riding position on the bike would be helpful too. From the side; nearside pedal at 3 o'clock.

Hybrid bikes usually have a pretty upright riding position. And assuming 32" is your pants inseam, you are tall enough, that bike shouldn't be too tall (seat tube) or too long (saddle to bar).

I'm going to guess it is the bars. Straight bars put your wrists at an odd angle, and force your hands to stay in that position all the time. Padded gloves may help. Bar ends may help (multiple hand positions). Different bars may ultimately help.
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Old 04-18-13, 12:02 AM   #15
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When pedaling hard it is pretty normal to creep forward on the saddle.

Last edited by billydonn; 04-18-13 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 04-18-13, 12:14 AM   #16
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Time for some leg raisers. It sounds like your hand problems stem from weak abdominal muscles. You shouldn't be placing any body weight on your hands; only the weight of your arms and hands should be on them, and maybe not even all of that.
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Old 04-18-13, 04:21 AM   #17
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I hope that's the issue, but if you have carpel tunnel issues, you may need to get the surgery to get relief. Had I not gotten the surgery on my right hand, I would'nt be able to ride a road bike or any bike for a good distance. Even on my comfort, I had hand issues, but that's due to the carpel tunnel. (May get the surgery on my left hand too.).
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Old 04-18-13, 06:04 AM   #18
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Like someone else mentioned, you need to start positioning the saddle first to make sure it is in the correct position to avoid future knee pain and hip issues. Once the saddle is positioned correctly, you can then start adjusting the bars and stem. I've been where you are and I'm guessing you might consider a shorter stem to bring the bars closer to you. It just sounds to me like your reach is too long and or the bars are too low. You really need to avoid riding too long with your arms in the straight position. What happens is all the road vibration is being absorbed into your shoulder joints instead of your elbows. Your elbows can bend/flex to absorb the shock whereas the vibrations are jolting the shoulder joints with your arms straight. I learned that the hard way with a few visits to the ortho. Over time I've bought smaller frames to get the reach where it really needs to be.
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Old 04-18-13, 06:09 AM   #19
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Well, as you can see that are lots of differing ideas about fit. If after another week or so of experimentation you still have no solutions, I would shift my thinking. I'd start asking about who does the best professional fitting within 100 mile radius. (Unfortunately, not all "professional" fitters have the same skill or knowledge level.)
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Old 04-18-13, 08:43 AM   #20
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Good luck. I am fairly close to your measurements, no way I could ride a large with those specs and be comfortable, even it I tricked all the contact points. Go back to the LBS and trade it for a bike that fits.

With those measurements you likely have a long torso, meaning you shoulders are significantly higher than most on any bike, and if you have a wide chest your arms have an even greater reach limit. You might find going down a size, and not up, is the ticket.

Last edited by FrenchFit; 04-18-13 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 04-18-13, 11:06 AM   #21
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I restarted my cycling last summer after a 20 year absence, age 62, and got a Trek DS hybrid as I was certain I couldn't ride on those awful road bike drop bars and the flat bars a well as sus forks seemed great for a guy like me. I found myself getting hand numbness right away and bought some padded gloves as well as ergon grips with bar ends which helped but didn't solve the problem. The bike was a 19" and I've never doubted the fit, not too stretched out. I'm 5'11 with a 33cycling inseam.I started noticing a lot of road bike riders on my usual flat farmland route noticing how much less effort they were putting out. We get some strong coastal winds and I found myself feeling like a sail with those wide flat bars. Long story short I got a road bike, a relaxed geo spesh sectuer and all hand problems disappeared as well as quadrupaling my mileage as I got fitter. I rarely ride in the drops and find the positions on the hoods and tops much more natural than flat bars with the ergons and bar ends. The hybrid will be up for sale soon as I will be replacing it with a cross type, a Salsa Vaya, which has compact drop bars. Flat bars don't work for me unless for short trips around town. I'm sure building my core strength also has a lot to do with it as I am stretched out more on my road bikes but seem to be able to hold myself up better without using my arms to support me.
Good luck solving your fit challenges so you can really enjoy your riding.
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Old 04-18-13, 02:04 PM   #22
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Try this website:
cyclingtips.com.au and go to the science of bike fitting.It's put together from an mit professor's findings.
I've been riding forever and had all the problems,sore hands ,arms butt, neck and shoulders you name it.
It's a low tech way of putting you close to all the fit systems there are and worked well for me correlating exactly with the 25 degree knee angle set up.
It worked great for a road bike and almost as good for a mountain bike and took less than 5 minutes.You may need a stem change.
You'll know you're there when you feel balanced on the bike.
Oh and be sure to wear proper bike shorts.
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Old 04-18-13, 07:10 PM   #23
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What a great thread. Thanks to all of the experts who have contributed their knowledge to this subject. As new rider I gleaned a few nuggets of information. First, I find that my hands get numb is when I am trying to go uphill or riding against a strong headwind. I am basically pushing my weight forward onto my hands an wrists. I need to use my abs more (can you say get in the gym) and not lean on the wrists to keep me in position on those tough climbs or stiff headwinds. Second, I could benefit from a good pair of padded gloves. Third, I think my brake handle and shifter positions are too high which is promoting a poor wrist angle. Bottom line here is that I need a good bike fit, my LBS tells me that when I go to clipless pedals and shoes I should seriously consider getting really dialed in on the bike (my plan is to get pedals and shoes when I get to 30 miles, this might have to be moved up).

FYI - There does not seem to be an end of things to buy with my extra money

Need to buy:
1. clipless pedals
2. shoes
3. bike fit
4. On the road repair kit (this is actually first and will be purchased tomorrow)
5. More bike shorts (summer is coming, need I say more )
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Old 04-19-13, 04:56 AM   #24
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Thanks for all of the advice. I shall endeavor to persevere.
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Old 04-19-13, 05:53 AM   #25
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In your endeavor to persevere in seeking bike fit you might want to read up on how to fit yourself and some details about 50+ riders. Here are two authors I like, and I own several books by both of them:
Joe Friel:http:http://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Past-A...ords=Joe+friel Cycling Past 50 is excellent, it was the first book I got when I began returning to bicycling in 2008. I also have and use his book, "The Cyclist Training Bible" , http://www.amazon.com/The-Cyclists-T...ords=Joe+friel
Lennard Zinn:http://www.amazon.com/Zinns-Cycling-...s=Lennard+Zinn Lennard Zinn has several books on bicycle maintenance, this is his beginning rider's book, I use this and his Zen and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance as shop references.

There are many other authors and their books that make for good reference and learning for anyone returning to cycling or wanting to learn the mechanics of bicycling. Sorry for the deletion and re-post, I had messed up some links and information on the first try.

Bill
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