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  1. #1
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    English bike fit ideas. Different from USA?

    Was reading an article by a Rando-chap and saw his slammed handlebars and seatpillar on his touring bike.

    Thought this was odd looking, and he mentioned something in the article about the British riding bigger frames than we in the USA do. He noted his bars and saddle are level and minimal seat pillar or stem showing. Low down on the TT.

    I was wondering if this is a normal setup in the UK, and was wondering what the fit idea was behind it.
    Is this only a tourist biking thing? Seems like the men in TdeF from the UK ride the same way as everyone else.

    Just curious.

  2. #2
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Dunno about the size of the frameage, but I've lived here (USA) since 1983, having lived in the UK for 30+ years until then. I've been an avid cyclist since I was about 4, and the only big difference I've noticed (apart from riding on the other side of the road), is the brake set-up over here being instinctively wrong, especially if you're a motorcyclist! I changed all mine to right-front, left-rear, as is doesn't really make sense to have them the other way around!

    - Wil
    Last edited by Wil Davis; 01-02-13 at 11:45 PM. Reason: correction
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    That is a good thing to know in case I ever rent a bike in England so I don't throw myself over the bars as soon as I grab what I think is the "rear" brake on the handlebar.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I don't think that setup is unique to the British. Years ago people used to ride larger frames before the advent of the sloping top tube. When I first started racing/riding back in the early 70's the rule was a "fistful" of seat post and no more, then racers started using smaller frames in an attempt to shed weight. Handlebars below the seat level are more aerodynamic up to a point. Currently my bikes with drop handlebars have them at or slightly above seat level for my comfort. I no longer worry about weight or aerodynamics. I also have my brakes set up with the front on the right hand side, been doing it that way since I started cycling.

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  5. #5
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    I think it has more to do with touring or randonneuring than with other kinds of road cycling. You can get neck trouble from riding too long with your bars too low, so a lot of touring and brevet bikes are set up with handles close to seat height so the riders can ride all day (and sometimes all night).

  6. #6
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    …throw myself over the bars as soon as I grab what I think is the "rear" brake on the handlebar.
    Check out Sheldon Brown's web-site to read how he debunks that myth…

    - Wil
    "" - Marcel Marceau

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I don't think that setup is unique to the British. Years ago people used to ride larger frames before the advent of the sloping top tube. When I first started racing/riding back in the early 70's the rule was a "fistful" of seat post and no more, then racers started using smaller frames in an attempt to shed weight. Handlebars below the seat level are more aerodynamic up to a point. Currently my bikes with drop handlebars have them at or slightly above seat level for my comfort. I no longer worry about weight or aerodynamics. I also have my brakes set up with the front on the right hand side, been doing it that way since I started cycling.

    Aaron
    Sorry but people didn't ride 'larger frames' before the advent of the sloping top tube. The frame 'size', i.e. the proportions for all frame measurements, is just the same as it was before with the slight difference that the seat tube is a little shorter. But the saddle height, the reach to the handlebars, the standover height, etc. are still the same. If you are riding a bike with no seatpost showing, you are riding a bike that is too large or you have the saddle set too low. If the bike is that large, I'll bet the guy is doing a Superman wherever he goes. On the other hand, if the saddle is set too low, he probably looks like Abe Lincoln on a Shetland. I see all kinds of people riding around now who are on bikes that are the wrong size. Lots of Supermen and lots of Abes on Shetlands.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wil Davis View Post
    Check out Sheldon Brown's web-site to read how he debunks that myth…

    - Wil
    That you can use the front brake to put yourself over the bars isn't a 'myth'. You can do it without too much effort. Saying that you shouldn't use the front brake because it will put you over the bars is the myth part as is the idea that you should only ever use the front brake. Effective braking is accomplished by knowing how to use both brakes and how to position the rider to get the most out of what the bike is equipped with.

    I would say, however, that having a bike that has reversed brakes could cause an unsuspecting rider problems. Especially if the rider depended heavily on one brake over the other.
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  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Of course English bike fit is different. The bikes are nothing like the U.S. ones

    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    So what do "slammed handlebars" look like?
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  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Seems, as I read the post, the OP has taken a single example and expanded it into a broad generalization..

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    Bike fit styles change over time. Currently most seem to be what I would call "competitive/performance" designed for people who will be riding in groups and pacelines. For various reasons I prefer a slightly more upright position.
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    When I first started racing/riding back in the early 70's the rule was a "fistful" of seat post and no more,

    Aaron
    I like this as a starting point when you have a horizontal top tube. I was fitted for a bike and rode it for two years without ever being able to get completely comfortable. Finally gave up and got a new bike using the old standover/seat tube method and went up 2cm in frame size from what the fitting indicated, which happens to be pretty close to what I rode back in the 70s. I have found that bike to be quite comfortable.
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member loubapache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Beautiful!

    Are there any modern frames that are similar or close to those Raleigh Roadsters? It is rather difficult to find one of these DL-1 now.

    Thanks,

  15. #15
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    India, and perhaps similar from ChIna, the traditional,
    Ala 'Flying Pidgin', not the current contract export bikes.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-05-13 at 11:42 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member loubapache's Avatar
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    Thanks. I rode Flying Pigeon for about 10 years as a transportation but it is also difficult to find here in the USA. Shipping is high for these bikes. Right now, the bike is about $200 in US (In China, it is about $80 - $120 nowadays in the retail market) but shipping is another $140. Ideally, I can find a roadster frame and then build it up because I have many components.

    I have three English 3-speed "light" roadsters but they are all 21" in size so it is a bit small.

    I also have a 1981 Fuji Gran Tourer (CRMO frame) in 23" but it is not being used much because I am a big fan of the IGH 3-speeds (Shimano or Sturmey Archer). I always wanted to convert it to a IGH three speeds but it does have a 126 mm rear dropout spacing.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Captain Blight's Avatar
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    Interesting that the OP points to an English bike as an example. I believe that the longer seat tube/shorter seatpost/taller stem combo is known as the "French fit." It's popular among randonneurs as it allows a slightly lower bottom bracket and a bit more-upright riding position. I've never ridden much more than a century, but the reports coming out of PBP are rife with examples of people having to quit because their neck muscles just plain give out on them.
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    OP, Can you post a picture of what you are talking about? Maybe it was a crankforward bike like a Townie? For me slammed means all the way down for seat and handlebars.

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    It was a Jack Taylor and the bars and saddle were all the way down. Minimal to no seatpost/stem visible. Traditional steel 10-speed looking frame.

    He said the the British ride larger frames than people in the USA do.

    I was just wondering if Brits had different fit ideas than we do also.

  20. #20
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blight View Post
    Interesting that the OP points to an English bike as an example. I believe that the longer seat tube/shorter seatpost/taller stem combo is known as the "French fit." It's popular among randonneurs as it allows a slightly lower bottom bracket and a bit more-upright riding position. I've never ridden much more than a century, but the reports coming out of PBP are rife with examples of people having to quit because their neck muscles just plain give out on them.
    +1. The idea of using as big a frame as possible is more of a French thing -- you end up with a couple cm of stem and seatpost, at most:



    I think British sizing tended more toward the traditional "fistful of seatpost" and a little more stem, although the lines are blurry between styles:



    Personally, I've gone to more of a "traditional" setup on my bikes (although not all the way to a French fit), and it has really made a difference for long-distance comfort. I officially don't give a **** if it looks goofy by modern standards.
    Last edited by ThermionicScott; 01-12-13 at 12:53 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Personally, I've gone to more of a "traditional" setup on my bikes (although not all the way to a French fit), and it has really made a difference for long-distance comfort. I officially don't give a **** if it looks goofy by modern standards.
    Actually, I think the modern standard is the one that looks goofy
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