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  1. #1
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    Adjustments To Riding Position

    Hello all. I have some questions and need some ideas on adjustments/modifications I can make to my bike to get a more aggressive or forward leaning position on my hybrid bike.

    I currently have a Trek Verve 3, which is obviously on the comfort end of hybrid bikes. It has a very upright riding position and suspension fork/seatpost which is great for when you just want to cruise around the neighborhood. I initially thought I needed a bike like this because I haven't ridden in a long time, have chronic neck/shoulder pain from bad posture and working a desk job, and I have a bad knee. I thought I wouldn't be able to ride a performance hybrid bike or worse a road bike. Well I was wrong. After a few months of riding the Trek Verve 3, I didn't really have any problems with my neck/shoulder or knee. However, I have found that the upright riding position is not ideal for doing fitness rides. It is hard to generate power when you're sitting upright as opposed to leaning forward, and it is hard to ride against the wind with such an upright riding position. Oh and I have long arms/shoulders too, which I believe just makes me sit more upright. I want to get a road bike, and I will, but not in a year or so.

    In the meantime, I have been looking into making some adjustments on the Verve 3, again to try and get a more aggressive or forward leaning position.

    - I have already pushed the seat back all the way to try and force my body to lean forward. My kneecap and pedal axle doesn't seem to be out of alignment so I think I am good here.

    - The bike has an adjustable stem and as of now, I have it angled a little downward. It does help me lean forward and I want to lower it some more, but I'm worried that I might be compromising the bike's handling or my safety, due to it having a front suspension fork. It has a SR Suntour NEX fork with 50mm travel that does not have a lockout. How low do you think can I adjust it to?

    - I thought of lowering the stem too or getting a longer stem, but I guess that depends on the answer to my question above.

    - The Verve 4 has a front suspension fork with lockout, so if that one is not too expensive I might just get that as I don't want to deal with possible fitting problems with a rigid fork. Would that be a good idea?

    - My handlebar is a riser bar with 50mm rise. I was thinking of maybe getting something with a lower rise like 5mm or 15mm, similar to the ones on the Trek FX bikes. Would that be a worthy modification?

    My riding position right now is not as upright as when I bought the bike, but it still is too upright for my liking. I understand that I might be trying to fight against the bike's design/geometry but I just wanted to see how much adjustments I can make. As I said at the top, I will get a road bike, but not in a year or so. Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited by finch204; 05-21-14 at 11:03 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by finch204 View Post
    Hello all. I have some questions and need some ideas on adjustments/modifications I can make to my bike to get a more aggressive or forward leaning position on my hybrid bike.

    I currently have a Trek Verve 3, which is obviously on the comfort end of hybrid bikes. It has a very upright riding position and suspension fork/seatpost which is great for when you just want to cruise around the neighborhood. I initially thought I needed a bike like this because I haven't ridden in a long time, have chronic neck/shoulder pain from bad posture and working a desk job, and I have a bad knee. I thought I wouldn't be able to ride a performance hybrid bike or worse a road bike. Well I was wrong. After a few months of riding the Trek Verve 3, I didn't really have any problems with my neck/shoulder or knee. However, I have found that the upright riding position is not ideal for doing fitness rides. It is hard to generate power when you're sitting upright as opposed to leaning forward, and it is hard to ride against the wind with such an upright riding position. Oh and I have long arms/shoulders too, which I believe just makes me sit more upright. I want to get a road bike, and I will, but not in a year or so.

    In the meantime, I have been looking into making some adjustments on the Verve 3, again to try and get a more aggressive or forward leaning position.

    - I have already pushed the seat back all the way to try and force my body to lean forward. My kneecap and pedal axle doesn't seem to be out of alignment so I think I am good here.

    - The bike has an adjustable stem and as of now, I have it angled a little downward. It does help me lean forward and I want to lower it some more, but I'm worried that I might be compromising the bike's handling or my safety, due to it having a front suspension fork. It has a SR Suntour NEX fork with 50mm travel that does not have a lockout. How low do you think can I adjust it to?

    - I thought of lowering the stem too or getting a longer stem, but I guess that depends on the answer to my question above.

    - The Verve 4 has a front suspension fork with lockout, so if that one is not too expensive I might just get that as I don't want to deal with possible fitting problems with a rigid fork. Would that be a good idea?

    - My handlebar is a riser bar with 50mm rise. I was thinking of maybe getting something with a lower rise like 5mm or 15mm, similar to the ones on the Trek FX bikes. Would that be a worthy modification?

    My riding position right now is not as upright as when I bought the bike, but it still is too upright for my liking. I understand that I might be trying to fight against the bike's design/geometry but I just wanted to see how much adjustments I can make. As I said at the top, I will get a road bike, but not in a year or so. Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Hi Finch,
    I am not an expert, but yes, to some, or greater, extent you are fighting geometry.
    Rather than spend money on changing stems, etc, another thing you could try is to remove 1 or more of of the spacers under the head tube. This would effectively, and without a "safety issue," lower the handlebars thus making you more leaned over. You would move those spacers to over the head tube.

    Best regards
    Barry,68,New Jersey
    2012 Trek 7.4FX - Exercise for life

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by flan48 View Post
    Hi Finch,
    I am not an expert, but yes, to some, or greater, extent you are fighting geometry.
    Rather than spend money on changing stems, etc, another thing you could try is to remove 1 or more of of the spacers under the head tube. This would effectively, and without a "safety issue," lower the handlebars thus making you more leaned over. You would move those spacers to over the head tube.

    Best regards
    Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a try!

  4. #4
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I don't see why moving toward a standard MTB riding position would compromise handling. Try lowering the bars as far as your spacers and stem will allow and see how it feels. I doubt you'll need a longer stem. 50mm is a lot. I'd look at a flat bar. That wouldn't be an expensive modification. Talk to your LBS about it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    P.S. I apologize for using the wrong nomenclature. The spacers are above the head set and under the stem.
    Best regards
    Barry,68,New Jersey
    2012 Trek 7.4FX - Exercise for life

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    Thanks for the tips guys! I now have my stem lowered as far as it can go. The saddle is still level with the handlebar, darn riser bars, though my riding position has grown more to my liking.

    I will look into raising the saddle a little bit higher, though I fear that I'm almost near the limit here. It doesn't help that my saddle is one of those wide comfort gel saddles, and it keeps pushing me forward when I ride. Does anyone know if I can put a road bike saddle on my hybrid? Or should I just shop for mountain bike specific ones?

    I will also look into getting a flat bar to get my handlebar even lower.

  7. #7
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    Hi, finch. I found the following video pretty interesting. It shows how hip rotation/seat position interacts with handlebar position. The takeaway points to me is that getting the sit bones slightly off the saddle rolls you slightly forward and lets you stretch out some to breath. I have an aerodynamic feature (my beer gut) that is interfering with this notion, but I've been working on it on the trainer. Boy, do I ever have a sore neck from looking up while seeing how far I could go. This is probably old hat stuff for most BF members, but for me it was a bit of a revelation. Maybe you'll find it helpful, too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz-V...yer_detailpage

  8. #8
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by finch204 View Post
    Thanks for the tips guys! I now have my stem lowered as far as it can go. The saddle is still level with the handlebar, darn riser bars, though my riding position has grown more to my liking.

    I will look into raising the saddle a little bit higher, though I fear that I'm almost near the limit here. It doesn't help that my saddle is one of those wide comfort gel saddles, and it keeps pushing me forward when I ride. Does anyone know if I can put a road bike saddle on my hybrid? Or should I just shop for mountain bike specific ones?

    I will also look into getting a flat bar to get my handlebar even lower.
    Finch204, I want to talk to you about adjusting and changing saddles.

    I would suggest that from this point forward, don't make big changes at one time, and mark your changes or record them so you can reverse a change that does not help you.

    This is especially if you are going to raise the saddle. In 50 years I've given myself big changes and small ones, and I have far fewer aches and pains if I make small changes. There are several ways to set a baseline or starting point saddle position. The simplest one is to sit on the bike with your riding shoes on whatever they might be and place a foot on a pedal when it is at bottom. Position your foot so the heel is on the pedal and let your other foot dangle. This foot dangle makes sure your pelvis is level.

    This position means you can't hold up the bike with your feet, so you have to be next to a wall so you can lean against it without tilting the bike.

    With your heel on pedal, your leg should be straight and relaxed, touching the pedal without reaching it down. The knee should be in the locked position but not forced into that position. You set your saddle height to achieve this condition, which may take a few tries. When you get it right, check it on the other foot.

    Once you get it, go ride a lot. You should find that while riding your feet want to hit the pedal near the ball of the foot, the knee is a bit bent at full extension, it is easy to spin (pedal relatively fast, faster than one turn per second), yet you can really drive the pedal when you need to. This position isn't best for everyone and many of us have deviated away from it, but it's at least a repeatable starting point. If it's wrong, you can always go back to your original position which you marked and recorded, right? Or you can follow these simple rules (and see if they work for you): pain in the front of your knee reveals a saddle too low, and pain in the back of the knee reveals a saddle too high. Adjustments should be done in small steps at one time, 1/8" or less.

    If you get a road saddle or any other saddle, you'll need to repeat this process to reset the position. The reason you can't just use your old position is that "comfort" seats like yours compress a lot when you sit on it. Road saddles do not. The position that your butt ends up at should be about the same for both types of saddle, but for a road saddle its easier to directly measure. This need to re-fit is also driven by that fact that saddle design geometries are not identical.

    This is a lot to wade through, but my main point is to inform you about changing saddles. I think you're on a good path with adjusting your lean. One thing: many adult riders keep their handlebar tops or grips level with the saddle, with no particular need to go lower. But at that height it is possible to need a narrower saddle, sized for road touring. One good but $ solution is a Brooks B17 saddle. Many road saddles are a lot narrower than a B-17, and can be too narrow, without the bars placed considerably lower.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Road View Post
    Hi, finch. I found the following video pretty interesting. It shows how hip rotation/seat position interacts with handlebar position. The takeaway points to me is that getting the sit bones slightly off the saddle rolls you slightly forward and lets you stretch out some to breath. I have an aerodynamic feature (my beer gut) that is interfering with this notion, but I've been working on it on the trainer. Boy, do I ever have a sore neck from looking up while seeing how far I could go. This is probably old hat stuff for most BF members, but for me it was a bit of a revelation. Maybe you'll find it helpful, too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz-V...yer_detailpage
    Thanks for sharing this Dirt Road, I did find it enlightening.

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Finch204, I want to talk to you about adjusting and changing saddles.

    I would suggest that from this point forward, don't make big changes at one time, and mark your changes or record them so you can reverse a change that does not help you.

    This is especially if you are going to raise the saddle. In 50 years I've given myself big changes and small ones, and I have far fewer aches and pains if I make small changes. There are several ways to set a baseline or starting point saddle position. The simplest one is to sit on the bike with your riding shoes on whatever they might be and place a foot on a pedal when it is at bottom. Position your foot so the heel is on the pedal and let your other foot dangle. This foot dangle makes sure your pelvis is level.

    This position means you can't hold up the bike with your feet, so you have to be next to a wall so you can lean against it without tilting the bike.

    With your heel on pedal, your leg should be straight and relaxed, touching the pedal without reaching it down. The knee should be in the locked position but not forced into that position. You set your saddle height to achieve this condition, which may take a few tries. When you get it right, check it on the other foot.

    Once you get it, go ride a lot. You should find that while riding your feet want to hit the pedal near the ball of the foot, the knee is a bit bent at full extension, it is easy to spin (pedal relatively fast, faster than one turn per second), yet you can really drive the pedal when you need to. This position isn't best for everyone and many of us have deviated away from it, but it's at least a repeatable starting point. If it's wrong, you can always go back to your original position which you marked and recorded, right? Or you can follow these simple rules (and see if they work for you): pain in the front of your knee reveals a saddle too low, and pain in the back of the knee reveals a saddle too high. Adjustments should be done in small steps at one time, 1/8" or less.

    If you get a road saddle or any other saddle, you'll need to repeat this process to reset the position. The reason you can't just use your old position is that "comfort" seats like yours compress a lot when you sit on it. Road saddles do not. The position that your butt ends up at should be about the same for both types of saddle, but for a road saddle its easier to directly measure. This need to re-fit is also driven by that fact that saddle design geometries are not identical.

    This is a lot to wade through, but my main point is to inform you about changing saddles. I think you're on a good path with adjusting your lean. One thing: many adult riders keep their handlebar tops or grips level with the saddle, with no particular need to go lower. But at that height it is possible to need a narrower saddle, sized for road touring. One good but $ solution is a Brooks B17 saddle. Many road saddles are a lot narrower than a B-17, and can be too narrow, without the bars placed considerably lower.
    Thank for the detailed reply and instructions Road Fan. I'll start marking my setup before I make changes from now on.

  10. #10
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    You can flip over your riser bars to make them, um, dropper bars? A common old time move, look up "path racer". The grip position may then not suit you, but you can try it.
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