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  1. #1
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    First serious roadie for a "bike guy"

    OK, so I've decided I'm ready to drop a bit of dough on building up the nicest, fairly single-purpose road ride as makes sense for me and my riding type.

    About me: Mid-30's, 5'11", 160lbs, living in relatively-flat Boston. I have many bikes already, but I've always been more of a "bike culture" and bike mechanics person than a serious or competitive rider. I consider myself a reasonably strong rider, with a 10-mile every-day commute that I ordinarily do at about 20mph in Boston traffic on my 1983 Schwinn/Giant in 52/16 fixed-gear (brakes, not brakeless!) I like to tinker, and am completely comfortable building up a bike from its barest pieces, and own all my own tools to do so (but no welding...yet.)

    My issues: I've been finding that on relatively long road rides (40+ miles), my right knee will get sore and a bit stiff the next day. This happens equally on the fixed-gear or on my geared '01 Kona Yee-Ha running 52/42/32 triple with 11-24 in back. I will go all the way down to 32/24 to get up long hills when I get tired, but usually I'm standing. Maybe it's that I'm pounding too high gears most of the time and I ride fixed too much, or maybe it's just because I'm getting old.

    What I think I'm looking for: I suspect building up a proper, light, modern road bike might help. I'd like to get the best bang-for-my-buck, but I'm not gonna be dirt cheap about it like I usually am with my other bikes. I imagine I ought to get a professional bike fit. I have plenty of other bikes, so this bike will be used ONLY for long road rides where touring capacity and durability is not an issue (I've got the Kona and a Burley Rumba tandem for that) and theft is not an issue (I've got Schwinnie for that).

    Used stuff is fine, and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, but I suspect there may not be any real bargains to be found in the used market for this particular kind of ride. I was thinking of building up a Chinese carbon frame like www.flyxii.com , but I'm noticing that with some of the online bike outlets like bikesdirect.com, I can probably do just-as or nearly-as well pricewise and probably get a more consistent-quality product out of it. I've been reading very good things about the Cannondale CAAD9 and CAAD10 frames, so maybe that could get me a bit more bang for the buck than going with full carbon? I do all my own bike mechanic work (with occasional collaboration from the other guys at the bike coop I volunteer at) and intend to continue doing so, and I don't really buy the idea that, for example, properly-tuned Ultegra will be noticeably different from properly-tuned 105. I imagine lighter wheels, on the other hand, will make a huge difference because of rotational weight, and I might be light enough that the durability of lighter wheels isn't much of a problem. What about these new style semi-aero frames like this? The bike culture guy in me prefers the idea of titanium (just seems more soulful and is undoubtedly more durable) over aluminum or carbon, and as much as I love steel, I have plenty of that already and I want something "different". I'm understanding that similar ride characteristics can be squeezed out of any material, some more easily and more lightly than others -- but I just don't know what I should really be looking for here. I imagine these questions may be very personal and I could do well by demo-ing a bunch of bikes of different types at something like Giant Demo Day.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by pocky; 05-15-12 at 05:42 PM.

  2. #2
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Are all you bikes flatbar? Any dropbar bikes in your collection? Reason I ask is...decision as to what bike to buy in large part hinges on geometry. In the case of a drop bar bike...that means saddle to handlebar drop. Amount of drop affects head tube length...very important. Generally the amount of drop you can tolerate is a function of flexibility more than strength.
    Do you run drop on your flatbar bikes?...if so how much?
    Also...since you have your knee issue on two different bikes...one also with a lot of gears...you maybe pushing too much gear. It could also be your position on either/both bikes and also cleat alignment. Knees are fussy about proper mechanics and technique.

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    For your knees go to a 52-42-24 triple ( I have the same) and go to a 12-34 cassette.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  4. #4
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocky View Post
    My issues: I've been finding that on relatively long road rides (40+ miles), my right knee will get sore and a bit stiff the next day. This happens equally on the fixed-gear or on my geared '01 Kona Yee-Ha running 52/42/32 triple with 11-24 in back. I will go all the way down to 32/24 to get up long hills when I get tired, but usually I'm standing. Maybe it's that I'm pounding too high gears most of the time and I ride fixed too much, or maybe it's just because I'm getting old.
    Is poor adjustment/technique a possibility?

    Mashing is not good for your knees, but someone who does not have physical problems and is considerably older than you should be able to stand for miles without pain if they're in shape.

    I'm not trying to dissuade you from getting another bike. Far from it in fact. But I suspect that a lighter bike will not necessarily help with the pain.

  5. #5
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Both the Schwinn and the Burley tandem are drop bar. Schwinnie has an 8-bend Modolo X-Tenos drop bar on a 56cm frame -- erring on the side of small and nimble for me, I think, but she's got a long geometry. I keep the stem a couple inches below the saddle. I'll ride her in the drops when we're going far and fast, but most of the rest of the time I'm on the hoods. I don't think I ride the tandem enough for it to be making any difference to my knee.

    The mountain bike and the Kona are flat-bar (actually slight riser bar). I keep the Kona stem about an inch or two below the saddle, but with the riser, the grips are about even with the saddle, maybe an inch below. I've got a 150mm long stem on there, so I'm pretty far forward. (With a shorter or higher stem, the Kona feels far too different from the Schwinn, in an unpleasant way.) The MTB usually has the seat a bit lower than the stem for gnarly terrain, but it's got a quick-release seatclamp so I'll crank it up to normal height if I'm riding flat stuff. I don't think I ride MTB often enough for it to be making any difference to my knee.

    I suspect I am pushing too much gear -- I'm pretty sure I stand WAY too much even on the geared bikes, probably just out of habit from the fixed gear being my daily driver, but I also suspect the problem is starting from a stop in too high a gear. I usually start on the right foot, but I'm trying to alternate it to the left. If my theory is correct, this should help. But starting in a lower gear and spinning more in general sounds like it would make a lot of sense.

    I ride clipless SPD with 5-degree float on all my bikes, including the mountain bike and the tandem. Have several pairs of shoes -- two BMX-style for the daily drive, a pair of SPD sandals for the summer, and a pair of rigid MTB race shoes for MTB and long rides. No idea how to tune the cleat alignment other than "this feels centered to me". I don't know if there's any way to learn that outside of a proper bike fitting.
    Last edited by pocky; 05-15-12 at 06:20 PM.

  6. #6
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    ultimately, the total distance ridden on ti, aluminum and carbon will dictate your preferences. so pick one, ride it for a few thousand miles and then get another. there is no substitute for experience. you'll have to try them all. not so bad a thought, is it?

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    Suggestions? How about a cadence meter?

  8. #8
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    ultimately, the total distance ridden on ti, aluminum and carbon will dictate your preferences. so pick one, ride it for a few thousand miles and then get another. there is no substitute for experience. you'll have to try them all. not so bad a thought, is it?
    Not bad at all... as long as I'll be able to sell it for what I paid for it! But then again, he who dies with the most bikes wins, right?

    I could accomplish something similar at a demo day, but I can't imagine one day of riding could possibly be long enough to learn anything truly useful.

    The more I think about this, the more I think I might learn from a good bike fitting... I know there's lots of good fitters in Boston... So I guess I should just pick one, any one, in a 58cm frame size and take it to a good fitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Suggestions? How about a cadence meter?
    Hmm, I've thought about this. Just use it diligently and try to keep working to get my average cadence higher?

  9. #9
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    I too had issues with my right knee. Solution was to raise my seat. Cured it all.
    11' Synapse

  10. #10
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWong1200 View Post
    I too had issues with my right knee. Solution was to raise my seat. Cured it all.
    Huh, this is the easiest suggestion yet. I'll try that!

    And I think I just put two-and-two together about something: when I go for long rides, I wear the rigid MTB race shoes. These have a considerably higher sole profile and raise me further from pedal center than the BMX shoes that I use for my daily commute -- effectively, they lengthen the distance from my knee to the cleat. The saddle feels noticeably "lower" when I wear these shoes, yet I have not bothered raising the saddle to compensate. Well, now I will, and we'll see what happens...

  11. #11
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocky View Post
    Both the Schwinn and the Burley tandem are drop bar. Schwinnie has an 8-bend Modolo X-Tenos drop bar on a 56cm frame -- erring on the side of small and nimble for me, I think, but she's got a long geometry. I keep the stem a couple inches below the saddle. I'll ride her in the drops when we're going far and fast, but most of the rest of the time I'm on the hoods. I don't think I ride the tandem enough for it to be making any difference to my knee.

    The mountain bike and the Kona are flat-bar (actually slight riser bar). I keep the Kona stem about an inch or two below the saddle, but with the riser, the grips are about even with the saddle, maybe an inch below. I've got a 150mm long stem on there, so I'm pretty far forward. (With a shorter or higher stem, the Kona feels far too different from the Schwinn, in an unpleasant way.) The MTB usually has the seat a bit lower than the stem for gnarly terrain, but it's got a quick-release seatclamp so I'll crank it up to normal height if I'm riding flat stuff. I don't think I ride MTB often enough for it to be making any difference to my knee.

    I suspect I am pushing too much gear -- I'm pretty sure I stand WAY too much even on the geared bikes, probably just out of habit from the fixed gear being my daily driver, but I also suspect the problem is starting from a stop in too high a gear. I usually start on the right foot, but I'm trying to alternate it to the left. If my theory is correct, this should help. But starting in a lower gear and spinning more in general sounds like it would make a lot of sense.

    I ride clipless SPD with 5-degree float on all my bikes, including the mountain bike and the tandem. Have several pairs of shoes -- two BMX-style for the daily drive, a pair of SPD sandals for the summer, and a pair of rigid MTB race shoes for MTB and long rides. No idea how to tune the cleat alignment other than "this feels centered to me". I don't know if there's any way to learn that outside of a proper bike fitting.
    56 isn't that small for somebody 5'11" if you are average proportions. Sounds as though you are happy with the bar height of the Schwinn...which I presume is pretty close to standard roadbike geometry so flexibility isn't a big deal it sounds like. Next you will have to decide on frame material.
    You mention Ii...good all around material...my 29er flatbar is Ti and I like it. I prefer CF for a roadbike but Ti is good as well. Then there is the CAAD 10 bike. I might own one if I were a bit more flexibile but I need a long head tube for my long legs and my flexibile days are past. CAAD 10 is simply a great bike...if you are flexible and don't ride horrible roads. I am a big Specialized fan and they make a great bike...but Look, Giant, Trek etc also do.
    Consider Lynskey if you want a Ti bike...R230 is popular.
    Have fun.
    Last edited by Campag4life; 05-16-12 at 06:17 AM.

  12. #12
    Token Canadian RecceDG's Avatar
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    I suspect some - if not all - of your issues are really fit issues.

    I have a small stable as well. The road bike was professionally fitted, and the setup of my other bikes are taken from the road bike and then modified slightly to match the requirements of that bike's mission.

    For example, my commuter is set up identically to the road bike, except that I run about an inch more spacer stack on the stem for a more upright position (for visibility reasons) because I'm not going as fast on my commute, so I'll trade some aero for a better view ahead/around in city traffic. My MTB is set up exactly the same as the road bike, except the seat is a touch lower to make moving around on technical terrain a little easier, and the bars, while still narrow, are by nature a little wider than the drop bars on the the road bike.

    I find this lets me move from bike to bike easily, and leverages the time and effort spent on the road bike fit.

    DG
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  13. #13
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RecceDG View Post
    I suspect some - if not all - of your issues are really fit issues.
    I have a small stable as well. The road bike was professionally fitted, and the setup of my other bikes are taken from the road bike and then modified slightly to match the requirements of that bike's mission.
    ...
    I find this lets me move from bike to bike easily, and leverages the time and effort spent on the road bike fit.
    Yes, this sounds well worth it. The initial investment in the fit will let me fix all my bikes!

    I wonder if I could get my doctor to agree that I'm setting myself up for a knee injury, refer me to a sports medicine doctor, and maybe, just *maybe*, that could get the bike fit partially paid for by my health insurance. I have a PPO, the "good stuff", which will pay for something like 80% of non-covered costs. My wife insists they will pay for PT but there is no way in hell they'd pay for a bike fit, but I think it's worth starting down that path and seeing where it leads me. I mean, it seems counterintuitive -- shouldn't my insurance want to help me prevent an injury now rather than waiting until I actually need PT, which will cost them far more!? Of course, insurance companies don't necessarily think logically this way. I got this idea because my triathelete friend posted pictures of his fitter's office, and I said "Hmm, this looks like a legitimate medical practice! I wonder if I could get my health insurance to pay for this." And he said "If you can, I'm switching to your insurance!"

  14. #14
    Senior Member Vlaam4ever's Avatar
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    you may be well served by test riding as many bikes as you can. Boston is sure to have many bike shops. Go try every bike your size even try one a size larger and smaller, relaxed geometry, race geometry, carbon, steel, alum, titanium, 105, ultegra, Force, Red, etc. Record make sure you know understand the properties of each.

    once you understand the performance that you can expect, you can go find some good deals on Ebay. an extra 800 for Dura-Ace for some it's worth it, for some it's not. Some only buy new 105, because they think it lasts longer. Depending on what you prefer you can build a very cost effective ride for $1000, or $3000, or $5,000. I just depends what you prefer. Being able to wrench and having access to tools and experts, you really have no limits.

    Once you start getting ready to purchase, I highly recommend Ebay. Plenty of reputable sellers as long as you have some flexibility on time and brand you can find what you need. If needed you can go custom frame.

    Best of luck. look forward to seeing the build. BTW it took me 3 months of testing new and used bikes and 3 weeks of ebaying to find and build ride that was perfect. I was open to all brands and searching for a solution to what I needed and was not pigeon-holed on a certain brand and component mix.

    BTW I pick out a Giant carbon with Dura-Ace, only because it fit and was a better value than any new or used bike I tested. At some point you just have to build it, tune it, and ride it.
    Last edited by Vlaam4ever; 05-16-12 at 09:59 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlaam4ever View Post
    you may be well served by test riding as many bikes as you can. Boston is sure to have many bike shops. Go try every bike your size
    [SNIP]
    Once you start getting ready to purchase, I highly recommend Ebay. Plenty of reputable sellers as long as you have some flexibility on time and brand you can find what you need. If needed you can go custom frame.
    I don't want to do that, because the procedure you suggest feels like "abusing" local bike shops. I have many friends who work in local bike shops, so I may be able to pull some favors, but in general, I would not advocate doing what you suggest. I can always offer to the shop to be able to match the price I was able to find online, but I would need to be up-front about it and consider the possibility that they will say they could never match that. In general, I would not go into the shop and test-ride their stuff unless I seriously intended to give them my business, or unless I intend to make a significant non-bike purchase at the shop while I'm there to compensate them for the use of the test-riding service which they provide (and eBay does not).
    I might not feel too bad about doing it to the couple of shops in town that I think are populated by D-bags, though...

    I have nothing against eBay -- I bought my tandem on eBay after paying to rent a tandem at a brick-and-mortar shop and tipping the shop guy generously. I would prefer to use manufacturer demo days to try to do this same process, but the demo days may be too few and far between to do this effectively.
    Last edited by pocky; 05-16-12 at 10:27 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Vlaam4ever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocky View Post
    I don't think I'll do that, because the procedure you suggest feels like "abusing" local bike shops. I have many friends who work in local bike shops, so I may be able to pull some favors, but in general, I would not advocate doing what you suggest. I can always offer to the shop to be able to match the price I was able to find online, but I would not go into the shop and test-ride their stuff unless I seriously intended to give them my business, or unless I intend to make a significant non-bike purchase at the shop while I'm there to compensate them for the use of the test-riding service which they provide (and eBay does not).

    I have nothing against eBay -- I bought my tandem on eBay after paying to rent a tandem at a brick-and-mortar shop and tipping the shop guy generously -- but I would prefer to use manufacturer demo days to try to do this same process, but the demo days are certainly fewer and further between.
    I think you are misunderstanding my point. I suggested going to try as many bikes as possible. I never said don't buy from a bike shop. In my case I was seriously considering a new bike, but could not find a shop that could get me what I wanted. Demo days only stop by once a year or so and dont work with my travel schedule. I purchase plenty of items and services from the my LBS. If all a shop wants me to do is buy a bike from them then they are not going to get my business. I do try new bikes and buy frames and parts, tunes etc.

    I was hoping to give you options not be judged.

    But to each his own.

  17. #17
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlaam4ever View Post
    I think you are misunderstanding my point. I suggested going to try as many bikes as possible. I never said don't buy from a bike shop. In my case I was seriously considering a new bike, but could not find a shop that could get me what I wanted. Demo days only stop by once a year or so and dont work with my travel schedule. I purchase plenty of items and services from the my LBS. If all a shop wants me to do is buy a bike from them then they are not going to get my business. I do try new bikes and buy frames and parts, tunes etc.

    I was hoping to give you options not be judged.

    But to each his own.
    I agree with you. A point in time. Over time, many transactions can take place. I am a notable example. I always buy my stuff on ebay or on line shops...for the simple fact that not only the price is generally better but I can get exactly what I want. That said, I just bought a Specialized Roubaix Pro frameset from my lbs. Love the guys in there. Also bought a bike for my girlfriend last year...a lower end bike...because I couldn't build one as nice for that amount. As you say, you don't know until you know. If you don't ride different bikes with different geometries, wheelsets, component groups etc, you don't know until you know what's best. Good news for guys that don't know...ignorance is bliss and any reputable bike will be decent...its just won't be best for a given owner.

  18. #18
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I would actually start by letting your knee heal up a little bit. Use a bit of ice to tamp down the inflammation, but sparingly -- too much and you'll injure the tissues in your knees. 15 minutes of ice, at least 45 minutes without. Try not to do the kinds of rides that aggravate your knees, or take a few days off.

    Then, start figuring the issue out. My initial thoughts, as with some others, is bike fit. You can try raising the saddle, but may be better off ponying up for a real fit with someone who knows what they're doing, and perhaps make a few tweaks. I'd also think that especially if you plan to put a bike together yourself, getting the right fit will head off any issues.

    I'm not entirely convinced that an ultra-light bike will help much with the knee issues. What a different bike will offer you is just a different ride experience on those 40+ mile rides, a different rider position, and an opportunity to use lower gearing if you choose. Most of the benefits would likely be in your lower back and hands; a more flat-back position takes some weight off the saddle, and drop bars gives you more possible hand positions.

    I don't think you'll notice a big difference between steel and aluminum, especially with newer AL frames. My understanding is that Ti tends to have the same road feel as steel, but with a little less weight, more corrosion resistance and much much more expensive. CF will probably produce the biggest difference in ride feel, but unfortunately you'd have to test ride something to see if that's the case for your level of sensitivity. Plus it's spendy.

  19. #19
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlaam4ever View Post
    I do try new bikes and buy frames and parts, tunes etc.
    I was hoping to give you options not be judged.
    Wasn't meaning to be judgy, just saying that I would feel extremely weird going in with the full up-front intention of trying bikes there and then buying one online. But as I mentioned, I could probably reconcile this by telling them right up front "I do all my own maintenance so support is not an issue, and I have found these prices for these things I'm interested in test-riding online. I would love to give you the business if you can match it." Then if they say, "We can't do that but please test ride anyway" then sure, I'll test ride, or if they say "Test-ride it and we'll see what we can do", then I'll test-ride it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I would actually start by letting your knee heal up a little bit. Use a bit of ice to tamp down the inflammation, but sparingly -- too much and you'll injure the tissues in your knees. 15 minutes of ice, at least 45 minutes without. Try not to do the kinds of rides that aggravate your knees, or take a few days off.
    Oh, my knee always immediately feels better two days later, even with my daily commute. I did a long ride on Sunday and the knee felt bad towards the end of the ride. I commuted the past three days and tried to take it easy, and today it feels normal. I ice it and/or take anti-inflammatories after the long ride. But I feel like I need to actually fix the source of the problem, or maybe I *will* cause lasting damage.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Vlaam4ever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocky View Post
    just saying that I would feel extremely weird going in with the full up-front intention of trying bikes there and then buying one online.
    I understand and respect you postion, however I challange you to take the OEM's perspective aswell. How can Specialized, Moots, Trek, Cannondale etc. get you to buy their product without getting you into LBS.

    Bases on you comments I'm not sure you know that you'll be buying online, used, parts, or new. Have you?

  21. #21
    That guy over there tran.300's Avatar
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    I suggest the most advanced ride you can muster to afford and the tools that also accompany this ride. You like to tinker... so why not tinker with the newest road tech?

    Ride each type of frame material and geometries, then pick the groupset that appeals to your tinkering mindset, and finally ride. Buying parts and stuff over time is almost natural for everybody, so you will undoubtedly have stuff to mess with too.

    ... Also, when I pedal, I try a smooth effort, never forceful. Nice on the knees but I would assume (based on everyone else's response) that mashing is harsh on the knees...

  22. #22
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlaam4ever View Post
    Bases on you comments I'm not sure you know that you'll be buying online, used, parts, or new. Have you?
    That's a really good point: I really don't know yet. I could go any which way here, including getting a bike shop that wants my business enough that they'd compete with the online prices.

    Quote Originally Posted by tran.300 View Post
    Ride each type of frame material and geometries, then pick the groupset that appeals to your tinkering mindset, and finally ride.
    Sounds like a plan. What about the professional fitting? I figured in general I'd want to have the bike first so that they can fit me to *my* bike, but it would be nicer to get the numbers before I buy the bike, especially if I'm buying parts, so I can get precisely the stem, crank, and bars that I'd need to duplicate the fit.

  23. #23
    Senior Member pocky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Suggestions? How about a cadence meter?
    Quote Originally Posted by TWong1200 View Post
    I too had issues with my right knee. Solution was to raise my seat. Cured it all.
    So, shortly after you made this suggestion, I raised the seat on the Kona about two inches. Immediately felt the *back* side of that same knee hurt. I figured this was a good indicator that this was the right track, so I cut the difference so it was up about an inch, and decided to stick with that and see what happens.
    No problems on my commute during the week, but I never have problems on shorter rides, so I figured I'd wait for some longer rides and report back.
    Went to Philly the next weekend and did a ton of riding, including a 60-mile trip to Valley Forge. No obvious problems with the knee -- only thing I really noticed was some back/hand fatigue, so I bought some moustache bars at a swap meet there which ought to give me some more hand positions on the Kona, and I bought a cadence computer there too.
    Keeping my fingers crossed, but Twong1200, I think you solved my problem the cheapest and easiest way imaginable.

    I still want an expensive bike, though.
    Last edited by pocky; 06-16-12 at 04:11 PM.

  24. #24
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocky View Post
    So, shortly after you made this suggestion, I raised the seat on the Kona about two inches. Immediately felt the *back* side of that same knee hurt. I figured this was a good indicator that this was the right track, so I cut the difference so it was up about an inch, and decided to stick with that and see what happens.
    Adjustments of an inch at a time, let alone two inches, are huge. Small changes make big differences. I tend to proceed in 5 millimetre increments when adjusting saddle and other positions. So keep tweaking, but by tiny margins, and you'll find what feels ideal.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    I have a custom steel bike and A lynksey R230. I can't recommend the R230 enough, just get a fit done and order the right size. Comfy, and I'm 150 and detect no noticeable flex. but boy does it float over bumps!

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