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  1. #1
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    Should I try a new stem....

    Went to get a fitting today after three months of lower and upper back pain that never goes away, even when I am not riding for week (though not as bad as when I am on the bike). He adjusted the saddle height very little and the fore/aft of the saddle. He said the reach is probably what is causing my back pain. When I asked if I needed a shorter stem he said no because shortening the stem to where I most likely need it would change the handling of the bike in a negative way. He suggested getting different handlebars, ones with a 73mm reach. The bars that came with my bike are 112mm. I really don't want to swap out the handlebars until I try a shorter stem. I was thinking of trying a 90mm stem first, I ride with a 110mm stem now.

    Just to let you know, my bike is a 57, and I am 6 foot tall.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    MOAR WATTS incredibleting's Avatar
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    Post a picture of you on your bike.
    2012 Cannondale CAAD10

  3. #3
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    57 with a 110 stem sounds too small for a six-footer, even if you're "all torso," but yeah, a pic is what's needed to really be helpful.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  4. #4
    Senior Member island rider's Avatar
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    If he's got another stem sitting around, or you have one, or can borrow one, that seems an easier experiment than going straight to new bars. You could do it without him easily.
    "I think drivers become like dogs when they see a bicycle fly by at 40mph. Instinctively, they just want to give chase, catch them, and eat them." - Papa Tom

  5. #5
    RidingLikeCrazy! rangerdavid's Avatar
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    if you've burnt out your choreboy and pushing it doesn't help, then yes, perhaps you need a new stem
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    Rangerdavid

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    Riding the mountains of North Carolina

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  6. #6
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Also, changing stems because it will affect handling is absolutely bogus.
    I am also 6' with long arms and legs. I ride a 58 with 110 stem and relatively high handlebar.
    Best fit is discovered by experimentation and can't be determined in an hour with a so called 'fitter'.
    Don't change your handlebar yet. Experiment with some cheap stems. If the fitter won't let you borrow one or two for a week, go to another shop.
    Good luck.

  7. #7
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    I have several bikes and one of them has an 80mm stem. They always say that the bike will be a little twitchy with a short stem but I really can't tell much difference. I would try a 90mm with no hesitation.

    I also don't understand the distinction between changing to shorter reach bars vs a shorter stem. If you hands end up in exactly the same place with either option (ie. short stem/long bars vs long stem/short bars), there shouldn't be any difference in handling

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrobe View Post
    I also don't understand the distinction between changing to shorter reach bars vs a shorter stem. If you hands end up in exactly the same place with either option (ie. short stem/long bars vs long stem/short bars), there shouldn't be any difference in handling
    My thoughts exactly.

    To the OP:

    I ride a 2008 Roubaix Expert size XL, with a 58 cm equivalent top tube length, and I'm exactly 6 feet with average proportions. My bike came with a 110 mm stem which I mounted at the 16 degrees down angle, which felt OK but a little too stretched out. When I tried a 100 mm stem at the same angle it suddenly felt just right. A 90 mm stem felt a bit too cramped. Between my wife's bikes and mine we own stems in a bunch of lengths and angles, so I was able to try each size for a prolonged period.

    Even though people can look at you on the bike and give educated advice, only you can tell what feels right, and sometimes it takes a while to really tell. If the current set up feels like it may be too long, or even if you just hurt and it doesn't feel too short, then by all means you should try a shorter stem to see if it helps. We watched Craigslist in our area for extra stems and built up a small collection without spending much money.

  9. #9
    KoolAidnPizza
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    So what your saying is that you might buy something for your bike. The answer is yes. Buy something new

  10. #10
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Trying a shorter stem should be pretty low cost. Try it and if it works, you're done. If it doesn't work, then you can try swapping out the bars.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
    Trying a shorter stem should be pretty low cost.
    FSA has some good aluminum stems for < $30

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by incredibleting View Post
    Post a picture of you on your bike.
    Here is a pic of me on the bike.

    Image018.jpg

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dcmkx2000 View Post
    Here is a pic of me on the bike.

    Image018.jpg
    Everything looks fine. It must be a psychosomatic disorder.

    Just kidding!

    Really, though, nothing looks particularly troubling, so I don't have any recco.

    Does scooting your butt back, onto the rear of the saddle, during a ride provide any relief? Maybe it's just a touch short in the top tube, causing your back to bend more in the lower part, so you might try sliding the seat back on the rails or running a seatpost with a layback head if you're not already using one.

    That'll probably stretch you out too much, so maybe couple that with a compact bar (lower reach). You can see I'm trying to shift your weight rearward, and the bend in the back higher up.

    These are only thoughts, though; I've no expertise in this area. Did you ever ride this bike pain-free, or is just popping up these past few months?
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  14. #14
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    Try to make your back straight and pivot your hips forward. You are sitting really upright. All the weight and impact is going straight into your lower back. Fit looks fine if you were a little more bent.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWS Alpine View Post
    Try to make your back straight and pivot your hips forward. You are sitting really upright. All the weight and impact is going straight into your lower back. Fit looks fine if you were a little more bent.
    When I try to straighten out my back it hurts. Also when I create a slight bend in my arms its uncomfortable, I feel better with my arms locked. The Guy who fitted me told me my shoulders should be parallel with my upper body, he said I was rolling my shoulders forward.

    My last bike had a 58 toptube, and this one has a 57. They both had 110mm stems, but the 58 had shorter reach handlebars than this bike which are 112.

  16. #16
    Senior Member EdIsMe's Avatar
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    Looks to me like you're sitting really far back on your seat.

    You could try moving your seat 2 or 3 cm backwards and rotating your pelvis forward to straighten out your lower back. It really doesn't look like you're overly stretching to reach your bars though. In my opinion, it's probably more an issue of posturing. Also, I can't really tell from the picture due to your leg position, but the saddle may need to be raised or lowered.

    (Probably raised)

    A good guideline to follow is to raise the seat to the highest possible point at which it isn't necessary to rotate your hips through your pedal stroke.
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  17. #17
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    What do you mean "rotate your pelvis forward?" Also, if I move my seat back that is just going to stretch me out more. Did I mention that my back pain never goes away, its always there whether I am on my bike or not. I have been off my bike for days at a time and it doesn't go away. Its obviously worse when I ride though. I went to the Dr. and they took xrays and said nothing was damaged, but he did sign me up or PT.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dcmkx2000 View Post
    What do you mean "rotate your pelvis forward?" Also, if I move my seat back that is just going to stretch me out more. Did I mention that my back pain never goes away, its always there whether I am on my bike or not. I have been off my bike for days at a time and it doesn't go away. Its obviously worse when I ride though. I went to the Dr. and they took xrays and said nothing was damaged, but he did sign me up or PT.

    He is saying the same thing I was mentioning. Rotating your pelvis forward is basically pivoting at where your legs attach to your pelvis. Making your back much straighter.

    Now that you mention the regular back issues this makes sense. It doesn't seem like the bike fit is wrong it's just that riding requires a stable core and can put stress on your already painful back. Your doctor should really help. Increasing strength and flexibility in PT will do wonders. You might need to take some time off the bike to heal up.

  19. #19
    In vitro cyclist byrnemm's Avatar
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    time for some crunches.. work that core!

    I'm right there with you... flutter kicks, exercise!

  20. #20
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    This link may help with understanding forward pelvic tilt:

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q...p-f5_gER94k-rA

    This link deals with saddle setback and how it relates to balance. Tilting your pelvis forward effectively lengthens your torso and may require you to move your seat back to achieve good balance:

    http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/...or-road-bikes/

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