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  1. #1
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    LHT Sizing for a Newbie

    I need some advise. I started riding again after 40 years and over the last 5 months I've put 1500 miles on a Trek Navigator 2. I've decided I want to move up to a touring bike and fancy the Long Haul Trucker, I just don't know what size to buy. I'm 6'-0" tall with a pubic bone measurement of 34.25". All the research I've done online suggest that I should probably be on 58cm frame.

    I rode a 58cm LHT at the LBS today and it felt like I was stretched out to much when I was on the hoods. I told this to the guy at the shop and he said I could put a shorter stem on it. I also rode a 56cm Crosscheck as it has the same top tube length as the 56 LHT and it felt more comfortable, but maybe a bit small. when I would pedal off the saddle the steering seemed squirrely.

    I also road a 57cm Jamis Aurora that seemed ok fit wise, but out of my budget.

    None of the 3 bikes was terribly uncomfortable, I just don't know what I should be looking for by just taking a short ride. I'm afraid the 58 is the right size, but it just feels like I'm stretched out because I'm used to the upright position of the comfort bike I've been riding. I'm guessing that the 56 crosscheck became unstable as I got out of the saddle because it is too small for me and my weight was shifting too far forward.

    I wanted to talk to the guy at the shop some more, but while I was out riding, a hot blonde came in bike shopping and I suddenly became invisible.

    I know fit is subjective, but I'm lost at this point and any advise will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    What size bike do you ride now? do you own a tape measure ?

    take data on the 2 bikes to see what may be different in the fit.

    you might just have to change the stem or something.

  3. #3
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    i assume you like the fit on the bike you currently ride. after all, you state that you've ridden 1500 miles in the last five months. so it's a starting point in my book.

    as has been mentioned. take a few measurements on it. the middle of the crank spindle to the saddle rail is a good start. and the middle of the seatpost at the saddle rail to the middle of the handlebar where it is attached to the stem, is another. then as been mentioned, compare it to bikes that you are looking to purchase.

    in my experience fitting is very personal and varies throughout ones riding career. let experience be your guide. you are unlikely to hit the nail on the head the first time. be patient.

    if you are completely lost, i would recommend going to at least three or more LBS's and ask each what size frame they would recommend, then assume the average of them is not too far off the mark. it's probably better than adhering to one approach no matter how compelling it may be.
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 02-04-12 at 01:47 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'm 6'4". I don't know my pubic bone height but my inseam is 36". I bought a 62cm LHT frame and built it up. I bought a long stem. The first time I rode the bike I felt like it was a long stretch to the bars. I also felt they were a little low. I found another stem on Amazon that had a much steeper angle - it is higher, but not so far out in front. Now it seems perfect.

    I'd guess the 58 would be perfect for you, and you can tweak the reach with your choice of stem, and how you slide the saddle fore or aft.

  5. #5
    Senior Member oldride's Avatar
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    All good suggestions but also keep in mind that different handlebars have different reach. If you prefer riding on the hoods you may need a shorter stem and possibly a short reach handlebar.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Probably best to go with the 58, ride it awhile, and then begin doing the tweaks to dial it in just right. Lots of ways to adjust effective tt length.

    You may still be tweaking after a couple of thousand miles. I was. Finally I tweaked myself onto a bent which fit perfectly out the gate.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 02-04-12 at 12:01 PM.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  7. #7
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    What size bike do you ride now? do you own a tape measure ?

    take data on the 2 bikes to see what may be different in the fit.

    you might just have to change the stem or something.
    Below is the bike I'm riding now. It has been great, but it starts to become uncomfortable after 20 miles or so. Uncomfortable being knee pain and numb hands. I was hoping a touring bike would give me comfort for longer rides with drop bars giving me more hand positions.



    I measured the bike I have from the center of the head tube to the center of the seat tube along a horizontal line and it is 23.5 inches. The 58 LHT effective top tube is 23.1 inches and on the 56cm LHT it's 22.4 inches, but because the Trek and the LHT are so different I'm not sure this dimension is telling me anything.

    I think coming from this upright position, I just don't know how a drop bar bike should feel. Is the stretched out feeling on the 58cm frame what I should expect on a bike that fits? If I ride a bike that fits should it be like a light bulb going off telling me "this is the one" or would it be something I need to get used to. The 58cm felt big and the 56 felt closer to what I'm used to, but small. Neither one had the feeling that I had found the right fit, leaving me lost on what direction to go.

    Again thanks for any help!

  8. #8
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    First, try adjusting that stem forward and down a bit. You're talking apples and oranges, and if your body is used to the upright apple, the drop bar orange is going to feel different.

    If you've found a dealer who will work with you, try again (when there's not a hot blonde in the shop). Get them to put a shorter, higher stem on, or even an adjustable stem like what you've got now. You'll probably go through a few stems in the next few years as you adjust to a road bike. The initial goal would be to find something you can tolerate now, with the expectation that you'll want to go down and out as you get used to your new bike.

    As for knee pain, it sounds like you may need to adjust your saddle height.

  9. #9
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    Surlys have really long top tubes. I think a 58 might be too big for you. I find a shorter top tube is really helpful for climbing and a more upright position is desirable for sightseeing. Imagine climbing a steep mountain road with panniers full of camping gear on the back, you'd need to get your weight over the front wheel to make it possible and a too-large frame is going to fight you in this regard. I would opt for a smaller frame with a riser stem and use drop bars with maximum drop dimension. I'm 6'2" and would be inclined to try a 56 LHT frame, or the smallest frame that didn't create toe overlap on the front wheel w/fender.

    Your current ride looks uncomfortable to me. Too much weight on your seat. For a touring bike you want better weight distribution between your seat and hands, for example maybe equal weight distribution while riding on the hoods and a bias towards the front when you're in the drops. The worst most painful thing for drop handlebars is to be too stretched out. Having bars lower than the seat is quite comfortable if they're close enough, but not so close they hit your knees when you turn.

    Back in the 60's and 70's drop-bar bicycle frames had different geometry, for example the seat tube could be 60cm but the top tube would be 55cm, but currently bikes tend to have same length tubes in both dimensions which is why you see really long seat posts compared to the old days.
    Last edited by Clem von Jones; 02-04-12 at 08:12 PM.

  10. #10
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    I am 6'0", don't know my pubic bone measurement. I have what have been described as having "normal" proportions. 58 cm LHT is perfect for me. I didn't cut the stem until I had ridden it for a month, monkeyed with stem height and dialed in seat height, setback, etc.

    Presuming your handle says you are in North Carolina, where are you and what shop are you working with? You should be able to swap stems and get a fit that works.

    Mine is an all day ride in comfort. Very happy....

  11. #11
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    NC, is your seat in the proper position to begin with on your Trek?

  12. #12
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    NC, is your seat in the proper position to begin with on your Trek?
    As far as I know it is. I have it set fore and aft so that the front of my knee is directly over the spindle when the the pedals are at 3 and 9. The height is set so that my leg is fully extended when the heel of my foot is on the pedal leaving a slight bend in my leg on the down stroke when the ball of my foot is on the pedal. Angle is set at what I found to be most comfortable. This has helped with knee pain, but it still gets me on longer rides. I would really like to get the frame sizing resolved so I can get on with ordering a LHT to fit up.

  13. #13
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    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Yeah, I've seen that. All the data there suggests I go with a 58cm and that's the way I'm leaning at this point. It's just that the 58 had me feeling stretched out when I was on the hoods. I'm hoping that's just because I'm not used to drop bars and maybe a shorter stem will feel better. I surely hate to make a $1400 dollar mistake.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCbiker View Post
    Yeah, I've seen that. All the data there suggests I go with a 58cm and that's the way I'm leaning at this point. It's just that the 58 had me feeling stretched out when I was on the hoods. I'm hoping that's just because I'm not used to drop bars and maybe a shorter stem will feel better. I surely hate to make a $1400 dollar mistake.
    I'm not sure that the 58 cm is what you'll need. Here's why, I'm 6', I ride a 23" tourer (hair over 58 cm) yet my inseam is a little over 31.5". I have a 9 cm stem with a 56 cm TT. Your upper torso is shorter than mine and the LHT's TT is 2 cm longer than my Cannondale's. It'll require a pretty short stem to obtain a proper reach unless you also have long arms. Try to test ride a 56 cm or even a 54 cm frame to be sure.

    Brad
    Last edited by bradtx; 02-05-12 at 08:20 AM. Reason: corr

  16. #16
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    I'm not sure that the 58 cm is what you'll need. Here's why, I'm 6', I ride a 23" tourer (hair over 58 cm) yet my inseam is a little over 31.5". I have a 9 cm stem with a 56 cm TT. Your upper torso is shorter than mine and the LHT's TT is 2 cm longer than my Cannondale's. It'll require a pretty short stem to obtain a proper effective TT length (reach) unless you also have long arms. Try to test ride a 56 cm or even a 54 cm frame to be sure.

    Brad
    That's got me thinking. The reach on the 58 was what I had a problem with and that is purely dependent on upper torso and arm length. So while my height and PBH may suggest a 58, my arm length is a much more critical factor as far as fitting TT which is all that matters as the stand over was fine.

    Why is this so difficult? Back in the day you just picked out your schwinn varsity by what color you wanted. I'm thinking I need to go back to LBS and ride some more. Wish they had a 56 LHT. Only thing I had to go on was a 56 crosscheck. TT on it is the same as the LHT, any reason why I should not use the Crosscheck as a gauge?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    FWIW I am also 6' with a little over a 34" inseam (pubic bone height). I feel that I have proportionally longer legs to the size of my torso. I ride a 58cm LHT, and the stock bike that I test rode also felt a little stretched out for me. When I built up my bike, a 90mm stem was used and I left the steerer tube on the long side to raise the bars higher. This combination tended to "tighten" things up. I have about 4000 miles of actual touring on this bike so far as well as a lot of training miles. I'm really happy with it. Talk to you LBS when you purchase the bike about leaving the steerer tube uncut until you get it dialed in and replacing the stem with a shorter one. Also ask him about a stem with greater angle, i.e., greater than 10 degrees. I'm not sure but, I think I used about a 10 degree stem. Also, where did the LBS have the height of the bars set in relation to the saddle height? What length stem?

    This was taken during a test ride during the build. It still needed fenders, racks, and a new front wheel. Note how the short, angled stem combined with the longer steerer tube allowed me to raise the bars level to the saddle. It is a position that many tourers, including me, prefer. That is the height that I ultimately left my bars. After 2 years, I still have not cut off the excess steering tube. I'll get around to it sometime



    This is the completed build. My wife wanted my black pedals so guess who ended up with the white ones.

    Last edited by Doug64; 02-05-12 at 03:36 PM. Reason: correction

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCbiker View Post
    As far as I know it is. I have it set fore and aft so that the front of my knee is directly over the spindle when the the pedals are at 3 and 9. The height is set so that my leg is fully extended when the heel of my foot is on the pedal leaving a slight bend in my leg on the down stroke when the ball of my foot is on the pedal. Angle is set at what I found to be most comfortable. This has helped with knee pain, but it still gets me on longer rides. I would really like to get the frame sizing resolved so I can get on with ordering a LHT to fit up.
    I would get hand pain with straight bars. Seems to me pdlamb is making a good observation that you are experienced an apples to oranges transition regarding bar to seat height change and not a frame/top tube issue. From what you've said a 58cm sounds right, i've got long arms and feet, ride a 56cm frame for 30yrs and I'm 5'9". It's a frame size I"ve used since I raced bikes from when the handlebars were 3 1/2" below the seat but now as I've gotten older/fatter the bars are 1" below the seat. You're starting with bars about 8" ABOVE the seat which might cause all kinds of issues in adjustment for your neck arms and back.

    $.02 is the 58cm is a good choice but start with the bars at a similar distance from the seat as your old bars but not as high. You may go through a couple stems to get it right as your body adjusts. Sore knees could be anything, pushing high gears and not spinning, not warming up, cold weather. Drop bars don't become useful until they get lower and you're putting weight on your hands AND stretched out for better aerodynamics and breathing, which will bring other comfort issues for parts of your body not accustomed to that postion.
    Roundabout way of saying that maybe drop bars aren't what you need but a more aerodynamic position or one suited to higher rpm pedaling and less gear mashing is what you need, drop bars may or may not be the way to get there.

  19. #19
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    Pay for a bike fit?
    ...

  20. #20
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    Doug64 has the right idea but I think he'll have to lower the bars a bit for really steep climbs. Here's another example of a touring bike for a tall person but using a smaller frame. This is what I'm aiming for on my next tourer build. I live in the mountains and need a good climber and N. Carolina as some pretty serious mountains too. http://maddogmedia.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/soma_dc_07122011.jpg Imagine this bike on a steep road and you'll see under that situation the bars and saddle would be about level with each other so long climbs would be comfortable. On flats you'd obviously loose some comfort so there is a compromise here. On descents it still works well because with the short reach you can hang off the back of the saddle and give your ass some relief.

    It looks uncomfortable but when you're on it just works. In the old days we were taught to choose a bicycle frame based on the height of the top tube. Tall people needed frames with high top tubes. But if you choose a bike on the same criteria today it likely will be far too stretched out from bar to saddle. With current geometry it's better to choose a bike based on the top tube length.

    In my opinion and experience hand pain comes from leaning against bars that are too far away. On bars that are lower but close your weight can be more evenly distributed between pedals, saddle, and grips. You can experiment changing weight distribution on your current ride by swapping out the bars for swept-back Nitto Albatross cruiser type bars with grips parallel to the frame and much closer to your saddle. Your knee pain might be caused by having too much weight on your pedals with that bar so high.
    Last edited by Clem von Jones; 02-05-12 at 12:46 PM.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the need to physically go to where you can test ride a bike with ,
    generally what setup you want cannot be overstated..
    Go to a bike shop and try some drop bar bikes ..

    you have a upright position, but still complain about hand pain..
    one thought.. just deal with the multiple hand position thing, separately..
    Trekking bars, well padded with thick tape or the premium grip/bar end set
    Ergon makes a good product, GC3, a good one..

    drop bars as high as the saddle will put more weight on you hands,
    you might need a bunch of push-ups to strengthen
    the muscles that will hold up your torso with your arms for, hours....

    Or [cue the recumbent bike owners]
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-05-12 at 12:23 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    maybe you want one of these,

    010825-B8771092.jpg

    three or four of these
    lays-barbecue.giflays-barbecue.giflays-barbecue.gif

    and a couple of these



    i've never found a problem with "fit" on these thing!

  23. #23
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    maybe you want one of these,

    010825-B8771092.jpg

    three or four of these
    lays-barbecue.giflays-barbecue.giflays-barbecue.gif

    and a couple of these



    i've never found a problem with "fit" on these thing!
    Hmmm, not sure I understand. Are you trying to be helpful in some way? If so, I don't get it.
    Last edited by NCbiker; 02-05-12 at 02:30 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    it's a joke. it's not intended to be helpful, loosen up a little.

    my well considered and thoughtful post was up a bit. the lastest one was triggered by another's recommendation of a "bent" (always a target of opportunity on many forums).
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 02-05-12 at 04:26 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    it's a joke. it's not intended to be helpful, loosen up a little.

    my well considered and thoughtful post was up a bit. the lastest one was triggered by another's recommendation of a "bent" (always a target of opportunity on many forums).
    I'm pretty laid back, I just didn't understand your post. Even after your explanation of humor, I still don't get it, but I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box either. I'm just trying to avoid ending up like this guy:

    Last edited by NCbiker; 02-05-12 at 04:45 PM.

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