I've just finished a road bike build for my wife, and helping her find the proper fit is a bit difficult - she has never ridden a road bike before, so she can't give me any real feedback how the bike fits her.
We got the saddle position about right (some fine tuning will be needed still, but anyway). Now the handlebar reach is the problem. We can see clearly that the reach is too much by some margin right now.
I have used Competitivecyclist's web app for a ballpark base line, but the problem is on this vintage steel-framed bike comes a classically styled handlebar, and as I've compared it to modern handlebars, I can see that the classic bar places the brifters about 3 cm further forward than is the norm on today's bars.
We have been guestimating we need to shorten the stem by 3 to 4 cm to counter for the long reach of the bars. The current stem is a 100 mm one (quill type as fits the old frame).
Now, if I replace it with a 60 mm stem, that will solve the reach problem, but will that cause handling problems for the bike? Also, would you assume the highest hand position (on the upper flat of the bars)
might become unusable with a 40mm shorter stem - becoming too cramped etc ?
I also have a bit of the same problem myself on my road bike build. Me and my wife share a common problem; we have long legs, and especially long thighs - this forces us to fit the saddle as far back as it goes in order to achieve knee-painless riding, and results in too long a reach to the brake hoods. I would NOT like to get new handlebars as the ones we have now have otherwise great shape and suit the bikes' vintage style as well.
So, is there any problem in just using shorter stems to counter the long reach?