How can I do a self bike fit [for the handlebars]?
I saw a cool video of someone taping a weight to a string to use as a plumb line to make sure his knee cap was inline with the crank arm when forward. I've got seat height and setback covered.
What I want to know is, how can I best determine if a bike's handlebar position fits me correctly, and if adjusting or swapping out the handlebars is a worthwhile option? Other than not having too much weight on my wrists, what am I looking for? I'm starting to get some lower back pain. Thanks!
How old are you? how much do you weigh, What size shirt do you wear? Shat sleeve length? Etc. Without knowing these things its hard to even guess. What length stem is on the bike now? How high are the bars? Are you comfortable? Does anything hurt? We don't even know if you are rocking flat-bars or drops. Lower back pain is a core (abdominal muscle) issue. Trust me on this. People do some wacky things to their bike ergonomics in a vain quest to eliminate back pain. Work up to 200 crunches or sit-ups and thank me via my Paypal account.
Originally Posted by CompleteStreets
PS in general i.e. don't hold me to it, in general. if you have your seat position covered... if you put your elbow against the nose of the seat, your longest finger should just about reach the back of the bars. If you are 55 like me you might need them a tiny bit closer, if you are 20 something you might be ok with them further away and lower than someone less limber.
Cat 5 field stuffer
When does your back start hurting?
Originally Posted by CompleteStreets
There are two main aspects of handlebar position: height and reach. There's no "rule" for reach, but if it's wrong, you'll probably know it. If you feel stretched out or crunched up, reach needs to be adjusted by getting a longer/shorter stem. Some fitters suggest your upper arm will be at a 90 degree angle to your torso if you have the proper reach, but letting comfort be your guide on reach is just as effective.
Height comes down to how "functional" you are. You generally want the bars at the minimum height at which you can remain comfortable on your longest ride. The amount of flexibility you have to tilt your pelvis forward will determine how low you can have your bars. The goal is to have a relatively straight spine when riding. Core strengthening (particularly abs) may help correct muscle imbalances that contribute to poor pelvic flexibility, but that's not the only possible cause. If you have to significantly arch your back to ride, then your bars are too low.
Photograph yourself on the bike can be helpful for checking your bar fit. If you have a stationary trainer this is relatively easy. If not, you can try to prop yourself up next to a wall (but note that holding yourself in this position may cause things to be a little different than when you're actually riding). With your hands on the bars and arms slightly bent, you should have a relatively straight back. But in the long run, the only way to find the "best" position is trial and error.
Also note that bar height affects reach. As you move the bars up/down, the reach will shorten/lengthen due to the angle of the head tube. As such, it's best to get height worked out first, then fine tune reach.
Live, in person, in the bike shop you hold them in your hands and over your bike ..
threadless stems are easy swaps, though if you need more height, a stem raiser may require longer cables ..
We in the shops do that for people, often.
when I hear someone saying, "lower back pain," I think of the pain I get when I wear out my lower back muscles. If it's after climbing or other hard efforts, you just need more training. Your position is probably fine.
Knee over pedal spindle is pretty much fully discredited at this point. As a starting point, you need to make sure your seat is at a good setback. Peter White explains it pretty well.
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They don't cover bar drop though, let your flexibility determine that somewhat.