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  1. #1
    Senior Member skyzo's Avatar
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    Touring handlebar height

    I had a question I've been meaning to ask. A friend of mine who does a bit of touring was telling me that my handlebars need to be higher. I currently have my seat maybe about an inch or so higher than the flat of the handlebars.

    Heres what it looks like now:
    Untitled-d1.jpg
    (note that for some reason my camera distorts the top and bottom of an image, so the top tube looks like its slightly bent, its actually not)

    What I was wondering is if that quill I have on there right now would be sufficient?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    For touring, your handlebars should be at whatever height you're comfortable with for riding several hours a day. For some, that means above the saddle level. For others, it means level or below. Was your friend trying to help you solve a problem? I.e., were you complaining about being uncomfortable?

    It's hard to tell how far your existing quill can be raised. All of the quills I've ever seen have a minimum insertion mark. Don't exceed that. If you want to raise your bars higher than your current quill will allow, there are several long-quill stems available.

  4. #4
    Senior Member skyzo's Avatar
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    OK thanks, the only issue that I've had is that when I go on longer rides (30 - 50 miles) my back gets real stiff. I have really long arms though, so I figured that the handlebar height was good. I think I'm going to raise my seat a little too, and so I'll raise the bars some to compensate for that.

    I'm going to raise the seat because I'm having a problem with my left knee popping, and the people at the LBS said that it could be because my legs need to extend more?
    Figure I might as well try.

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    I agree with xyzzy. If you're happy with your fit, then your fit is exactly as it "should" be.

    If you haven't done much touring yet, don't change things preemptively. Ride the bike you're happy with until you're not happy with it anymore, THEN start adjusting things.

  6. #6
    Senior Member skyzo's Avatar
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    I've done a few short tours now (200-300 miles), but nothing major. Ive got a 1500 mile one coming up though in a couple months, so I'm trying to get all the kinks worked out before that.

  7. #7
    tip
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    skyzo, I'm in the same boat. My arms are way too long for my body, and I find most of the bike-fitting "rule of thumbs" don't seem to apply to me. Just going to keep messing around with it until I get it...

    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    there are several long-quill stems available.
    Where is a good place to find them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tip View Post
    Where is a good place to find them?
    Check out the Nitto stems at Rivendell and other retailers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skyzo View Post

    I'm going to raise the seat because I'm having a problem with my left knee popping, and the people at the LBS said that it could be because my legs need to extend more?
    Figure I might as well try.
    start with getting your seat at the correct height. It's a pretty specific range, not determined by bracketing from symptoms of pain/noise/discomfort. AFTER that play with handlebar length/height. Stiff back may or may not be a function of incorrect bar/seat dimensions. Get someone at a shop to assist in checking your posture. Just looking at the picture you provided I'd think you're on a frame that was too big but it's unclear if the seat/height position is too low.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Nitto makes long quill stems , QBP stocks them, [a distributor]
    so any shop with a QBP account can order one.

  11. #11
    Senior Member skyzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    start with getting your seat at the correct height. It's a pretty specific range, not determined by bracketing from symptoms of pain/noise/discomfort. AFTER that play with handlebar length/height. Stiff back may or may not be a function of incorrect bar/seat dimensions. Get someone at a shop to assist in checking your posture. Just looking at the picture you provided I'd think you're on a frame that was too big but it's unclear if the seat/height position is too low.
    I'm pretty sure I'm real close to having the right frame size. Im 6'0 and long legs, and that bike is a 58cm. I think I'll do what you said though and have the LBS check my posture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skyzo View Post
    I'm pretty sure I'm real close to having the right frame size. Im 6'0 and long legs, and that bike is a 58cm. I think I'll do what you said though and have the LBS check my posture.
    ok, I'm 5'9 1/2" with long arms, size 11ft and I had a 58cm(c-top of top tube) bike at one time with more seat post showing. Search up how to determine correct seat height. My general observation is that the average person who just gets on a bike and rides tends to have their seat a smidge low. Sore lower back can sometimes come from too arched of a back where the person isn't putting weight on bent arms and they're trying to sit up and reach at the same time making their back bent too much and not straightened out. If you had a big gut to where leaning forward is uncomfortable you might desire a higher bar but looking at the bike won't tell that. I've got a big gut and bars 1" below the seat is perfect, when I was skinny it was 3" below the seat but that is coming from a racing back ground where putting out relatively large amounts of effort made that position efficient.

  13. #13
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    Top of my bar is 2" lower than my saddle on my touring bike. My TCR is 4" of drop. What works for you may be different than your friend. Pretty much already said above.

    Has as much to do with body proportion and flexibility as anything. Also, if newer to cycling you may find over time that you will want to lower the bars more..... and as you get older they may just go upwards. No one size fits all.
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    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I was having some issues with hand numbness on my old tourer. The thing that made the most difference was raising my bars. I got a Nitto stem (Technomic? Something like that.) I ended up with them slightly below my saddle, but the numbness mostly went away. I'm from the "tweak it" school of bike fit. I like to tweak my fit a little at a time, ride, tweak again, etc. It gradually gets nicer and nicer.

    I don't adjust my bike because someone says I should, but if a person whose opinion I value suggests something, I try it.

  15. #15
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    As I get older, the bars get higher and the seat lower. The bars are now an inch or two above the seat.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    My hand and wrist issues disappeared when I double wrapped the bullhorn bars and set them at saddle level. The addition of aerobars provided a 4th comfortable position with greater pedalling efficiency and aerodynamics.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member skyzo's Avatar
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    I lifted the seat at about 1/2" incremenets today until I felt comfortable on a 10 miles ride, and after just 1 inch difference, it started to feel a bit more natural and my back wasnt sore. Its in the shop right now getting a headset replaced (they had old NOS 600 headsets for $5, and mine was getting pitted, so why not? )

    Another question I had that I figured I would ask here instead of making a new thread is, I was going to replace my stem with more of an upright one for touring, and i was at the LBS looking for quills, and the only ones they have are 25.4mm, and when I measure my handlebars, the diameter right next to the quill clamp was only 22mm. Is this some wierd size or am I measuring it in the wrong place? The bars are just some Bontragers that were on the bike when I bought it.

  18. #18
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClemY View Post
    As I get older, the bars get higher and the seat lower.
    have you had leg length reduction operations lately in your old age? If not, I can see (maybe) seeing raising bar height, but lower seat.......dont get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skyzo View Post
    I lifted the seat at about 1/2" incremenets today until I felt comfortable on a 10 miles ride, and after just 1 inch difference, it started to feel a bit more natural and my back wasnt sore. Its in the shop right now getting a headset replaced (they had old NOS 600 headsets for $5, and mine was getting pitted, so why not? )

    Another question I had that I figured I would ask here instead of making a new thread is, I was going to replace my stem with more of an upright one for touring, and i was at the LBS looking for quills, and the only ones they have are 25.4mm, and when I measure my handlebars, the diameter right next to the quill clamp was only 22mm. Is this some wierd size or am I measuring it in the wrong place? The bars are just some Bontragers that were on the bike when I bought it.
    ok 1" isn't a smidge, that should help you rotate your pelvis down and flatten your lower back. You should get someone at the shop to look at your posture on the bike. Then you should read up on it. You should know if your seat is high/low by over 1/4" range right off the bat without measuring. It's like putting on shoes/gloves that are too tight or loose.

    I would think the bars are 25.4 instead of 22. but calipers and the shop won't lie. Do you have bar end extensions so you can put your hands in different positions? Instead of getting a different quill stem consider getting an adaptor for threaded steerer tube to clamp on stems. That way you'll find a larger variety of stems retail and in the shops trash pile.

    If you're looking at aluminum quill stems like the Nitto it'll be very flexy compared to a clamp on.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    have you had leg length reduction operations lately in your old age? If not, I can see (maybe) seeing raising bar height, but lower seat.......dont get it.
    My legs, particularly my knees, don't care for the motion and prefer a slightly lower seat.

  21. #21
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I'd also suggest looking for a threaded-to-threadless converter. Gives you the height adjustability of a quill stem, but the greater bar choice of a threadless. Of course it weighs more then either on it's own and means you have two things to buy instead of one, but as long as you aren't a weight weenie the weight shouldn't be a big deal and the converters aren't all that pricey either (~$20 or less).

  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Trekking bars on my trekking bike are higher and closer, bit, to saddle,
    than the road bars on my touring bike.
    to get the bars in the right position I used a BBB BHP 21, its a stem riser,
    that is a Quill +spacer shims..
    height is adjustable, an assortment of shims sit on top of the steerer tube
    stem clamps on to them , they are keyed to fit the groove in the quill.
    use all or just some.

    I used the 9/8" version there is still the compression cap on top,
    quill bolt is threaded internally on top.
    my headset, integrated, fork, threadless.

    the BHP 20 is for 1" steerers, threaded or threadless, Id 7/8" OD 1.0" ,
    1>9/8" shims often come with the stem.

    Others ... a lot of quill adapters are short , Soma has a tall one .
    Velo Orange's looks medium height, and shiny.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-02-11 at 12:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I'd also suggest looking for a threaded-to-threadless converter. Gives you the height adjustability of a quill stem, but the greater bar choice of a threadless. Of course it weighs more then either on it's own and means you have two things to buy instead of one, but as long as you aren't a weight weenie the weight shouldn't be a big deal and the converters aren't all that pricey either (~$20 or less).
    that's clearer than what I said. I had a custom touring bike with 26" wheels and regular quill road stem where the tops of the drop bars were 3" below the saddle. With my bigger gut I switched to a tall Nitto stem but the reach still wasn't right. What surprised me was how flexible the whole set-up was which wasn't what I wanted for a bike that already had a shimmy with heavy rear loads. Once I put on the adaptor and used clamp on stems it was a much more solid set-up.

  24. #24
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    1) Strengthen the core.

    2) Pay for a proper fitting.

    3) You may need a size larger.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
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  25. #25
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyzo View Post
    OK thanks, the only issue that I've had is that when I go on longer rides (30 - 50 miles) my back gets real stiff. I have really long arms though, so I figured that the handlebar height was good. I think I'm going to raise my seat a little too, and so I'll raise the bars some to compensate for that.

    I'm going to raise the seat because I'm having a problem with my left knee popping, and the people at the LBS said that it could be because my legs need to extend more?
    Figure I might as well try.
    For what it's worth, here are my suggestions. From my experience (and I owned a bike shop) some bike shop workers might not know how to fit you on your bike.

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