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Old 09-23-09, 04:49 PM   #1
keesue
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Those pesky millimeters

My Cannondale F600, which I have set up for fast street riding with conti 1.3 street slicks, has a reach to the bars that is 30 millimeters longer than my road bikes (a result of a 2" longer top tube and a 120mm stem). In all other respects, the bike is dialed-in the same as my other bikes; i.e., the saddle height, bar height and relationship to the pedals. That little 30 mm distance causes me a bit of pain in the lower back whenever I ride for any distance greater than 30 mins. I'm now either faced with spending money for a 30 millimeter shorter stem or sucking it up and stretching. That shorter stem would be more appropriate to the bike by putting me in the right relationship to the front end anyway. I've decided to standup and stretch while pedaling rather than springing for a new Headshok stem. If get lucky and find one on eBay for a song I'll spring for it.

I say this to empathize with all my fellow riders who post questions about bicycle fit. Those millimeters DO make ALOT of difference when riding for any length of time. The relationship to the pedals and reach are so critical to the enjoyment of the bike over greater distances. Now, whenever I entertain the notion of buying another bike, I have the exact template for the measurements to put me precisely where I need to be. It takes alot of the guesswork out of it. If one buys online, having these measurements will ensure a good fit.

Back to the ride...
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Old 09-23-09, 05:32 PM   #2
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You didn't put that as a question, but if you had, I would say to spring for the right stem as soon as possible. My reasoning is that I wasn't put on earth to accommodate the bike; it was put here to accommodate me.
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Old 09-23-09, 06:28 PM   #3
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Yeah, I know, and well said. I guess I just needed someone to help me justify the purchase. Thanks for the nudge.

Heck, it's not like I haven't spent the money on all my other bikes to dial them in just right. It is really an artifiact of not working at the moment. The reality is I am going to pay for it out of the savings I have realized since I quit driving: no gas, no insurance and no maintenance. I might just wait a bit to see if one pops up on eBay. If not, I found the best deal and its waiting in the wings.

I really like the fact that all my bikes measure exactly the same. It makes riding one the same as the others in terms of fit so that I can enjoy the differences in the ride.


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You didn't put that as a question, but if you had, I would say to spring for the right stem as soon as possible. My reasoning is that I wasn't put on earth to accommodate the bike; it was put here to accommodate me.
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Old 09-23-09, 06:48 PM   #4
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Being in pain on the bike for the sake of a stem, particularly after the effort of getting the bike set up just right in every other aspect, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
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Old 09-24-09, 08:13 AM   #5
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In the world of bike fitting, 30mm off from ideal is a huge amount. It's surprising how adjustments of a few millimeters can make a big impact in the comfort of a bike.
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Old 09-24-09, 07:30 PM   #6
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In the world of bike fitting, 30mm off from ideal is a huge amount. It's surprising how adjustments of a few millimeters can make a big impact in the comfort of a bike.
Yeah, that's what prompted me to post. It is dedicated to all those who post questions about fit and have no idea what those pesky millimeters can mean. Riding past 50 miles will tell you all you need to know about millimeters, that's for sure. And yes, it makes no sense to be uncomfortable on a bike. I just got off my road bike and comfortable it is indeed.

I ordered that stem. I was just draggin' my feet on pulling the trigger.
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Old 09-25-09, 06:23 AM   #7
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I ordered that stem.
Good move.
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Old 09-26-09, 07:57 PM   #8
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Cancelled order. My LBS, who sold me the bike and subsequently ended his relationship with Cannondale, had a stem he found during inventory and tucked it away for me. Ahhhh, the joy of having things right.
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Old 09-26-09, 09:38 PM   #9
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Better and better.
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Old 09-26-09, 09:48 PM   #10
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Better and better.
Thanks. I took it out for a spin tonight to check out my new magicshine light. I am as comfortable on it now as I am on all my other bikes. I just 'settled in' for the ride and quit thinking about those pesky millimeters. Oh, and that light is incredible for the price. It is like having a car light.
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Old 09-27-09, 07:59 PM   #11
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What a great LBS owner, working with their clients!
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Old 09-28-09, 07:35 AM   #12
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i'm sure it took you years of riding & trying out different set ups and several bikes before you figured out your perfect fit...so i will have to go through all that time & trial before i know the fit to the centimeter. i'm a young dude so i'm fairly flexible and this actually complicates things do to greater options. on top of that, i have a hybrid which doesn't have a specific set posture like a road bike demands.

now if i want to set up two bikes exactly like one another, i check for...

1. saddle height
2. handlebar height from the ground
3. saddle fore-aft position in relation to the center of crank?
4. handlebar horizontal position in relation to the center of crank

is that right?
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Old 09-29-09, 09:39 PM   #13
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Yes, those are the ones that make or break the comfort of the ride. The only part you may have to buy/trade is the stem. The rest are simple adjustments. I found as I rode more and got stronger, the saddle height changed which in turn changed the relationship to the pedals. Once I got that straight, the reach to the bars came last. That comes once you are settled in on the bike (saddle height and the peddles). Consider it the icing on the cake if-you-will. It really shows up on distances. Oh, and when you change saddles, you just put it in the same height/reach dimension and you're good to go.

I am fortunate with my LBS. There are three in my city that I frequent and they are all good about loaning stems and saddles so you can get dialed in.
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Old 10-18-09, 11:49 AM   #14
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Update:

The stem I got was a 80mm with a 26 degree rise which replaced my 120/5 degree. I wanted a 90/5 degree but this one was free so I have been riding it. The reach was good and the rise seemed fine but after a while I realized that the front end was much too quick - twitchy more like; so, on a lark before taking it back, I flipped the stem down and voila! Weight shifted back over the front wheel and jeez did it change the bike! Immediately changed it. The reach is spot on and it induces me to hammer much better which is why I bought it in the first place. Compared to the old stem, the steering was slower and the reach was a bit of a stretch. This lowered the bars, brought them in and has the right amount of weight over the front wheel.

Pesky millimeters...

(I added to this post for all those who search as I did to learn more about stems)

Last edited by keesue; 10-18-09 at 11:57 AM.
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