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Old 02-26-14, 01:34 PM   #1
Sunsanvil
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Trek DS 8.4 fit issues

Last spring I bought a DS 8.4. Had a very hard time choosing between the 19.5 and 21", ending up with the 21" since when hammering down I felt like my bum was falling off the back of the 19.5's seat during test rides around the block. From the first "real" ride I started having misgivings about the fit. I just felt like I had too much weight on my arms. Infinite seat adjustments later, the store graciously shortened the stem and I left with the notion that I just needed to "give it a chance". Months go by and while its been ridable, I never felt thrilled to hop on it because I new in 20 minutes I'd be riding with my neck sunk between my shoulders. I went back to the store towards the end of the summer and they again graciously did an "impromptu" fitting for me, taking pictures etc, and was advised the bike was fine, my posture wasn't: I needed to roll my pelvis forward in order to flatten out my back. Desperately wanting to "make it work" I rode out the rest of the season till it got too cold to bike, all the while my wife telling me I looked tense...because I was, forcing myself into a posture which didn't come naturally.

Well, spring is coming again and its time to make a (very) hard decision: Keep riding in the hopes that the posture will eventually feel comfortable, OR Frankenbike it, OR take a (huge) loss and buy something else.

Questions for the community:

Anyone else with last years DS series, what do you think of the geometry and posture of the bike? Has anyone else found them....not quite right?

The Cannondale Quick CX3 has been tabled as a potential replacement, being of similar cost and appointment, but with radically different geometry (per the diagrams for both companies). Any thoughts from the experts as to how one might expect the two to differ?

I know, I know, I should try the Cannodale but as I've discovered, there is only so much one can glean from half and hour, or even an hour, of test riding (while desperately trying not to get a scratch or spec of dirt on a bike you don't know if you are buying). As my wife put it to me "this is it!" If I swap for the Cannodale (or any other bike) its going to be a one way street and I don't want to end up the same or (heaven forbid) worse.....

Oh the woes of bike buying...

Last edited by Sunsanvil; 02-27-14 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:14 PM   #2
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The DS line, even the older ones, have a pretty long top tube length. This will cause you to put more weight on your arms to hold yourself up. On my 8.3 I ended up installing a shorter stem which also has a 30deg upsweep. This effectively knocked almost an inch and a half off my reach. Made the bike much more comfortable.

Your 21" 8.4 has an effective top tube length of 24.41 inches.

A 20.5" CX3 has an effective top tube length of 23".

This would take some weight off your arms and you could go even further with a shorter stem.

Just out of curiousity, how tall are you? With a 21" frame I would think you would be over 6'.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:27 PM   #3
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The DS line, even the older ones, have a pretty long top tube length.
Thats what jumped out at me when comparing to the Cannodale (on paper). That and the Trek's headtube seem short in relation.

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Just out of curiosity, how tall are you? With a 21" frame I would think you would be over 6'.
5'-11.5" to be exact. The stock 105/10 stem was swapped for a 90/10 which made a bit of difference, but like I said not enough to make me happy.

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Old 02-26-14, 03:06 PM   #4
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Either your shop sold you, or you chose, the wrong size. The 21" DS is too big for someone 5' 11.5.

If I were you, I'd cut my losses and change to a new bike, one that is the correct size so that it can be properly fitted to 'you' so that you as you are are comfortable. You might find this link interesting: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
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Old 02-26-14, 08:45 PM   #5
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Either your shop sold you, or you chose, the wrong size. The 21" DS is too big for someone 5' 11.5.

If I were you, I'd cut my losses and change to a new bike, one that is the correct size so that it can be properly fitted to 'you' so that you as you are are comfortable. You might find this link interesting: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
And that "21" DS" part is important! Because if you hopped on my 21.3' (XL) Cannondale Quick you might feel great! I'm 6'2" and I could ride most bikes between 20" and 22" frame. However, combine that into a Giant's XL frame which is actually 23" (more than most frames are at XL size) and then the Giant's longer top tube, shorter top tube, neck and lower stem rise and the bike feels 2 sizes too big. (at least to someone like me).

When you ride any other brands, make sure you keep those considerations in mind because all those variables I mentioned above can make a difference, 21" for 21", 19" for 19", etc. etc.

Then again, with enough work, you might.......in fact I'll even say, inspired by the Peter White article even.......that you could PROBABLY get your DS to fit you with a few changes in neck, stem, rise and saddle. But another bike is always an option too.
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Old 02-26-14, 09:00 PM   #6
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I rode a 2012 8.3 DS for a couple of years, in a 19.5" frame size (I'm 5' 10.5"). I rode it with the stock stem and all, and it was an extremely comfortable bike for me. That being said, if I were sizing up a customer at my shop for a DS, I typically wouldn't put them on a 21" frame unless they were at least six feet tall.
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Old 02-26-14, 09:27 PM   #7
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And that "21" DS" part is important! Because if you hopped on my 21.3' (XL) Cannondale Quick you might feel great! I'm 6'2" and I could ride most bikes between 20" and 22" frame. However, combine that into a Giant's XL frame which is actually 23" (more than most frames are at XL size) and then the Giant's longer top tube, shorter top tube, neck and lower stem rise and the bike feels 2 sizes too big. (at least to someone like me).

When you ride any other brands, make sure you keep those considerations in mind because all those variables I mentioned above can make a difference, 21" for 21", 19" for 19", etc. etc.

Then again, with enough work, you might.......in fact I'll even say, inspired by the Peter White article even.......that you could PROBABLY get your DS to fit you with a few changes in neck, stem, rise and saddle. But another bike is always an option too.
Bike sizes and frame geometry is like shoe sizes...I wear 11-13 lol
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Old 02-26-14, 10:39 PM   #8
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Giant bikes are a pain to get right size wise, I have a Medium Sirrus and a Small Defy and the small Defy feels too big at times- my seat is scooted up a lot. They make great bikes, but someone has to tell me their sizing is really bad.
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Old 02-27-14, 06:46 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Tough decisions ahead. Its a real shame because I do like the hardware but you've all reinforced what I suspected: the posture this bike wants just doesn't click with my physique. It was (for me) a very expensive bike that was supposed to be "it" for a while. Live and learn I guess. As an aside, my wife has found her 18.5" Neko SL to be dam near perfect (she's 5'-10").
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Old 02-27-14, 06:50 AM   #10
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Giant bikes are a pain to get right size wise, I have a Medium Sirrus and a Small Defy and the small Defy feels too big at times- my seat is scooted up a lot. They make great bikes, but someone has to tell me their sizing is really bad.
No, they are not; and no, no one has any reason at all to tell you 'their sizing is really bad'.

Giant's road bike sizing is pretty standard for compact-geometry frames: they use a 'XS-S-M-M/L-L-XL' pattern with dimensions standardized to statistical averages (proportions). This pattern can miss the rider who falls way outside those averages, but for most us there will be one (usually two) of these sizes that will fit correctly with a few minor adjustments. If your Small Defy doesn't fit you, either you fall way outside those averages and should go custom (unlikely but possible), or you bought the wrong size (quite likely).
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Old 02-27-14, 09:44 AM   #11
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Giant bikes are a pain to get right size wise, I have a Medium Sirrus and a Small Defy and the small Defy feels too big at times- my seat is scooted up a lot. They make great bikes, but someone has to tell me their sizing is really bad.
I remember a while back you posted a pick of your Escape 0. In looking at how you had it set-up, my first thought was that you were either really short or you picked a bike that was too big for you. You had the seat much lower than most people set theirs on Hybrid bikes.

Meanwhile, back to the OP's original question. If you like the Quick CX3 I think you should give it a test run. In looking at the dimensions, and based on your complaints with the DS8.4, I think you would find it a lot more comfortable. You could step back to a 19" DS, this may feel much better also. I realize you had already test ridden the 19" but as you found out, it's hard to tell until you put a fair amount of miles on a bike.

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Old 02-27-14, 09:49 AM   #12
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My seat is much higher now, like what you see with those guys on roadbikes. Took one guy to tell me the advantages of a high seat and not what the average person who buys a Walmart bike would put the seat at. I think its all in my head with fitting and I am not use to reaching out more on road bikes. Its one hell of a road bike!

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Old 02-27-14, 10:39 AM   #13
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cbr9927,

That pic above shows you've adjusted your saddle height to (roughly) what it would normally look like for someone who fits a 'Small' Defy ... so you might well be in the ballpark for sizing. However, I also notice your saddle is way forward on the rails. So may I make a couple of suggestions? Feel free to ignore me if you know all this! Nothing below is original: its all out there on the net and/or at your LBS.

1. Re-set your saddle height. To do this, level the saddle and centre the rails on the clamp (i.e. slide it back a bit). If that neat looking stand thingy will safely hold you upright, use it, otherwise get someone to support you/bike.

2. Get on bike, wearing your cycling shoes, and adjust saddle height so that when you line the cranks up with the seat tube, the heel of your down foot just keeps contact with the pedal. At that height, you should be able to spin the pedals backwards with your heels without losing contact. If you can't, lower the saddle a tiny bit (no more than 5 mms) and try again. It's just an 'approximately right' position -- you can fine tune it later. If you end up with it looking more or less like the pic above, your Defy is very likely the right size.

3. Then, back to saddle fore-and-aft. Ride bike. You are aiming for a 'balanced' position on the saddle. Check this by riding along then lifting your hands momentarily off the bars. You shouldn't feel like you are falling forward -- that indicates you're putting too much weight on your arms/hands. If you do, move the saddle back -- not forward -- again no more than 5 mms or so, and try again. At some point, that falling forward feeling (if it's present) should stop. You want to get to a point where you don't have that falling forward feeling. If you feel balanced with the saddle centred (where you started), leave it, or even try moving it forward a tiny bit if you like.

4. Once your saddle is at the right height (for power, pedalling efficiency etc), and you feel balanced on it, then adjust reach to the bars if necessary by changing stem length and/or bar shape, but don't do it by moving your saddle: the two bits of set-up should be kept separate. For example, if you feel as though you have to reach too far to the hoods/have trouble braking, bring the bars in by shortening the stem and/or changing to a compact reach/drop bar (those stock Giant bars tend to be standard/long reach/deepish drop). Conversely, if you feel cramped -- well, you know ... longer stem.

As I said, ignore if you know this stuff; I've had to learn it over the past 10 years or so because I have to pay close attention to bike fit/geometry: I'm old, and very arthritic, and 'fit' that's even a few mms. off 'for me' can really cause some pain. The above is one tried/true 'starting point' from which you can fine-tune as you increase your distances. You should also do the same 'set up' on your Sirrus; the principles are exactly the same.
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Old 02-27-14, 01:46 PM   #14
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My seat is much higher now, like what you see with those guys on roadbikes. Took one guy to tell me the advantages of a high seat and not what the average person who buys a Walmart bike would put the seat at. I think its all in my head with fitting and I am not use to reaching out more on road bikes. Its one hell of a road bike!
That is one beautiful looking bike.
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Old 02-28-14, 08:44 AM   #15
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My seat is much higher now, like what you see with those guys on roadbikes. Took one guy to tell me the advantages of a high seat and not what the average person who buys a Walmart bike would put the seat at. I think its all in my head with fitting and I am not use to reaching out more on road bikes. Its one hell of a road bike!
My apologies, you were caught in the learning curve. Been there, done that. My first bike was a Trek 7100 and I realized quickly I hated that bike when my wife could go faster than I on long downhills on dirtroads. It felt so unstable. She has a Crosstrail, I sold the 7100 and bought a DS8.3, life was better. Unfortunately you can't always test ride bikes for every situation and learn after the fact "Hey, maybe this isn't such a good bike".
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Old 02-28-14, 08:59 AM   #16
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I sold the 7100 and bought a DS8.3, life was better.
Just curious, what are your proportions and which size 8.3 did you go with?
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Old 02-28-14, 09:02 AM   #17
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I am 5' 9.5" and got the 17.5" frame. I had test ridden the 19" but was a little too stretched out. As I mentioned earlier, the DS's run a long frame compared to a lot of other brands.
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Old 02-28-14, 09:29 AM   #18
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Yea its really strange. I like the kit and price enough that I'd consider flipping it for a 19...but 23.8" still seems like a generous amount of (effective) top tube. I wouldn't dare go any smaller with them though since the smaller head tubes are bound to leave me with the bars too low. In retrospect I really wonder what Trek's design philosophy was with these...

On the other hand the Cannondale's 23.0" TT (on the "L") seems like a dramatic change, and of course my fear will now be overdoing it and going too small. Heaven help me.

For what its worth my previous bike of 5 years was a 08 Giant Rincon (with 23.3" of TT and more than 6" of HT). There was nothing wrong with it except that I wanted to go faster on the commutes and weekend trail bike-hikes...which the DS certainly delivered on....in spades.

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Old 02-28-14, 03:18 PM   #19
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"In retrospect I really wonder what Trek's design philosophy was with these..."

The DS bikes, at least the older ones, seem to be modeled after cross country mountain bikes. These bikes tend to have a little longer wheelbase, which makes them more stable over bumpy terrain at speed. This was why my wife's Crosstrail was faster/more stable on the downhill rough stuff than my 7100 was. The cross trails are a tad on the long side also.

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Old 02-28-14, 03:24 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=deerfly;16536295][QUOTE=Sunsanvil;16535052] In retrospect I really wonder what Trek's design philosophy was with these...
Quote:

The DS bikes, at least the older ones, seem to be modeled after cross country mountain bikes. These bikes tend to have a little longer wheelbase, which makes them more stable over bumpy terrain at speed. This was why my wife's Crosstrail was faster on the downhill rough stuff than my 7100 was. The cross trails are a tad on the long side also.
Correct. The DS bikes are, for all practical purposes, a continuation of what were the 'Gary Fisher Dual Sport' bikes, which were designed as '29er Light' bikes. They had (and have) a version of the GF 'Genesis' geometry (still present in the Trek Superfly bikes as well): v. long t/t (even for an xc bike) designed to be used with a short stem, combined with a relatively compact rear centre. I think you're right as well re. the Crosstrails, though the new ones have been slightly shortened in effective t/t??
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Old 03-03-14, 06:49 AM   #21
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Thats very interesting. In my research which followed my purchase, I looked at all sort of geometry tables trying to figure out what the deal was and noted that correlation: that the DSs seemed to share frame proportions with "hardcore" cross-country models (very different from Giant or Cannodale's which seem framed for a more "casual" posture).

Curious about your note on the stem: The "L/21" DS came with a 105mm which I'd have thought to be on the long side. As an aside I shortened mine to a 90 but while I wished it was shorter still I assumed the handling would get twitchy if I went any shorter.
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Old 03-07-14, 12:18 PM   #22
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Just as a bit of a follow up, I popped into the LBS today and while its still too messy out for test rides I checked out a Quick CX2...oh my what a sweet ride that would be! Just doing the quick sit-over it felt radically different geometry-wise than my too-big DS 8.4. Trouble is its $200 more (and I've figured out the CX3 would be a step down in spec from what I've got now). The question will be can the 19" DS 8.4 be adjusted to feel the same as the CX2? (ie: might need a shorter and slightly steeper stem to make up for the .8" effective TT difference). They didn't have any DSs build yet so it will be a few weeks before I can compare and actually roll on both...
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Old 03-07-14, 02:29 PM   #23
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If you are going to stay with the bike you have, you may want to try a stem like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Eleven81-Hi-Ri...words=eleven81

This is what I have in the 75mm. My bike is a 25.4mm clamp, I think yours is a 31.8mm. You can get the 70 and 110mm in a 31.8 clamp.
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Old 03-07-14, 02:58 PM   #24
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Yea, if, IF I cant sell the 21", my only choice will be to buy an abnormally short stem (though I fear handling would be a tad twitchy).
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Old 03-07-14, 08:41 PM   #25
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I went through this problem last year. My first bike had a long TT and my neck and shoulders were always sore after I rode for a long time. I, too, tried to recreate the shorter TT feeling on my old bike with different stems, seatposts, and handlebars, but in the end the thing that fixed it was to simply buy a new bike with a much shorter TT.

Take my advice and just get a new bike like the Quick CX. Unless you are just trying to shave a 0.5" off, you'll only get so far with component swaps and it never really gets you where you want to go.
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