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Old 01-30-06, 06:11 PM   #1
Hiker16
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saddle level with handlebars?

I've heard about the saddle thing, where when it is level with the handlebars it is most comfortable. How exactly is this achieved? I am assuming that it is by buying a bigger frame so your seatpost needn't be as high. But idk for sure. Thanks
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Old 01-30-06, 07:11 PM   #2
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On a touring bike, it is easily achieved by buying a properly sized frame.
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Old 01-30-06, 07:57 PM   #3
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My bicycle frame is exactly the right size for me ... and not a large frame. I just raised my handlebars so that they are about level with the saddle.
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Old 01-30-06, 09:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiker16
I've heard about the saddle thing, where when it is level with the handlebars it is most comfortable. How exactly is this achieved? I am assuming that it is by buying a bigger frame so your seatpost needn't be as high. But idk for sure. Thanks
It's a combination of frame design and sizing. There are things you can do to make a poorly sized or designed frame work, but there are comprimises involved.
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Old 01-30-06, 10:22 PM   #5
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When I look at my bikes (road, touring, mtb and cruiser) all my handlebars are nearly level with the saddles. I think it's having the right sized bike. Machka's highrise stack is an example of a good way to do it if you get your bike with an uncut fork.
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Old 01-30-06, 10:48 PM   #6
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Spend some time looking at the Rivendell website. It is very informative in the proper fitting of your bike. rivbike.com
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Old 01-31-06, 04:51 AM   #7
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In my touring club, saddles range from 3" above the saddle to 6" below. I tend to use 3" below and find that length of the stem is more critical than height. It is really a matter of personal choice.
You can achive this position using the correct stem.
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Old 01-31-06, 09:52 AM   #8
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In my touring club, saddles range from 3" above the saddle to 6" below. I tend to use 3" below and find that length of the stem is more critical than height. It is really a matter of personal choice.
You can achive this position using the correct stem.

Six inches below the handlebars...Yikes! Sounds like a super aero position, or someone is riding a frame that is way too small for them.
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Old 01-31-06, 10:50 AM   #9
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Also note how Machka's bars are rotated forward to raise the brake hoods further.
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Old 01-31-06, 04:58 PM   #10
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Also note how Machka's bars are rotated forward to raise the brake hoods further.

That's my own personal preference ... after 100,000 kms of cycling, and experimenting with different bicycles and different setups, that is how I like my bicycle to be set up. That's the way I'm comfortable.

But would you believe, I've had to fight off LBS people who keep offering to "correct" my handlebar setup for me!!! They want to level off my handlebars, lower the brake hoods, and drop the handle bars to be about 3" below the saddle .... and for me ... that is a backache waiting to happen.
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Old 01-31-06, 05:02 PM   #11
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On most bikes you can add ~ 5 mm spacer to the headset without problems. I think that as long as the top of the steerer tube sticks up past the bolts on your stem and your stem has a reasonable stack height (e.g. Bontragers have 40mm) you will be ok.
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Old 01-31-06, 05:38 PM   #12
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I feel that there is something that frequently gets ignored in saddle/bar height discussions: how you use the bars. I have a touring bike with a typical touring and commuting setup, bars only a little lower than saddle, and I use that bike for almost all riding, even unladen fast riding. Look at this pic:




The angle of the pic isn't perfect, but the tops of the bars are a little lower than the saddle. That gives me a nice upright position for certain kinds of riding. BUT, much of my riding is in the drops, which as can be seen in the picture is six inches below the saddle.

The conventional road "racy" look, which is changing a bit now, have the bars a few inches lower than the saddle. But I've noticed quite a bit of the riders, even the very dedicated ones, use the hoods and tops more than I do. I've also noticed that these bars have shallower drops in general than mine. So one position is really about the same, or close to it: the tops of low bars and the drops of my bars. And another position is available for one but not the other. My upright position, or a very low super aero position.

Since I ride a good deal in the drops, I'm not really bucking convention as much as might be thought. I simply have exchanged my alternate position for another, if you follow my description.

Having the drops where they are in the picture works really well for me, and is very useful when I take the bike on trails, especially muddy or tricky paths. Having the wide and lower position of the drops available to me without really hunching over makes it a good riding position for off-road.

In this pic you can see the flare of the drops a bit better:




I think when you set up your bike for touring, or trail riding with drop bars, you need to consider the kind of bars in addition to the bar height, and your favorite riding positions. Many road bars are very narrow, which might be very useful for certain types of riding. Mine are 46 cm in width, and the drops flare out about 4 degrees or so. Those are considered wide, but they are a good all-rounder size and fit my shoulders well. When I use a narrower set of drops now, it feels very strange and unpleasant. Mileage varies on this preference. Also, consider the kind of saddle you ride. The Brooks B17 I find so comfortable on my bike would be bloody murder for a bike where my drops were much lower. I would want a narrower saddle.

While some people may think a higher bar looks weird or lame (a small but vocal group), in use I often have a similar riding position, because they ride their tops quite a lot. This isn't true for everyone, but I certainly didn't realize this until recently.
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