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Frame fitting question

Old 03-08-13, 03:21 PM
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platypus70
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Frame fitting question

Hello fellow bikers,

(I realize the best answer to this is to get fitted for a custom bike, but the budget doesn't presently allow for that.)

I have strange body proportions and have never found a comfortably fitting bike. I'm hoping for your suggestions and/or data so that I can I know how to approach my upcoming purchase of a better-fitting (stock) bike (though I'm willing to switch out parts for different sizes). I commute each day, with a 30lb pack, so comfort is vital, especially for this aching back.

I'm 5'9" and weigh 170lbs, an average joe. But, my arms are 73" span (+4 on the ape index), and my feet are size 14. I'm sure you can imagine the problems associated with this on a bike fit for my torso. Respectively, on my 56" frame, my hands are easily out beyond the bars, even at full bar extension, and my feet continually rub or even hit my wheel on mini turns. Between the two, pain.

I like to ride more upright than not, so I've moved to hybrids in recent years.

As I said, I'm a commuter, and even though I love to go fast, comfort is the key goal.

Thanks for any input you may have!

Platypus
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Old 03-08-13, 03:40 PM
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First oblique suggestion: get a rack and panniers so you can get that damned weight off your back!

Once you get the weight off your back, you may not mind leaning forward so much. A road bike (even set up with a fairly upright position) would let you stretch out your arms better. In fact, just going to a larger frame might solve some of these problems.

Also, where are your feet on the pedals? One should ride with the balls of their feet over the pedal spindle, but flat pedals tend to encourage people to shift their feet forward, causing the toe overlap you're experiencing.

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Old 03-08-13, 03:50 PM
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If you're a commuter an prefer an upright position, you might address your problems with "cowhorn" bars, combined with a long extension. These move the hand position forward of the stem centerline by 3-4 inches, rather than even or back. Thet combined with a long, rising stem ie. 0° or a shallow angle turned upward will get your hands where you want them (or at least very close).

If you're also looking for a new bike or frame, go larger than you might otherwise might, since many frames proportion top tube lengths to the size. You might also find a longer top tube along with a higher head, in a sloping top tube hybrid.

BTW- try to do fitting experiments on your existing platform, preferably using used or borrowed parts, except maybe the handlebar, which you;re likely to stay with. That will let you dial in your needs before committing serious dollars.
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Old 03-08-13, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by platypus70 View Post
on my 56" frame, my hands are easily out beyond the bars, even at full bar extension, and my feet continually rub or even hit my wheel on mini turns. Between the two, pain.

I like to ride more upright than not, so I've moved to hybrids in recent years.
If you are referring to the bike's frame I believe you meant to say 56 cm, which may be the best size for your 5' 6" height. But how well it fits depends partially on how the particular bike manufacturer measured your bike, because that varies widely between companies. It will be best if you find a good reliable LBS to help with your fit.

As for your foot hitting the wheel, if you mean the front wheel that is known as "toe overlap". And this problem is very common and should not be of much concern. It is not possible for your toe to hit the front wheel except when riding very slowly and turning very sharply, as in a parking lot. On the road it can't happen unless you come to a sudden stop.

Your bike fit should be based on a number of variables, especially the overall size of your body, your torso vs. leg length proportions, and how upright you need to be.

Even if you have 3 fittings by 3 professionals you may get 3 widely different opinions. Still you need to have at least one expert check your fit.

edit: Good advice from others above.
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Old 03-08-13, 03:56 PM
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Wow, you sound almost exactly like my friend's dad. He started commuting a few days a week, since my friend got his license and started taking the car. You live in the same city as well. Interesting. If you happen to be Andrew, I can help you out. Just a shot in the dark....
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Old 03-08-13, 04:32 PM
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Given stated long arms, Id go with a taller frame size for the proportionally longer top tube they tend to use.

Stocking feet straddling the seat tube you can lift the front wheel 2" off the floor.
so what the Competitive cycle calls French Fit..

and you have a couple inches between You and the frame when you are flat footed.
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Old 03-08-13, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Given stated long arms, Id go with a taller frame size for the proportionally longer top tube they tend to use.

Stocking feet straddling the seat tube you can lift the front wheel 2" off the floor.
so what the Competitive cycle calls French Fit..

and you have a couple inches between You and the frame when you are flat footed.
French fit has no such 2" clearance rule -- there might not be *any* standover clearance when done properly. You must be thinking of one of the more aggressive fits.
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Old 03-08-13, 04:43 PM
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+100 on getting a rack and panniers and losing the pack. It is easier to pull a load than to carry it, especially if you have problems with your back. Let the wheels bear the weight.

Bullhorn bars as suggested by FB, or trekking bars are also great ideas for your long arm situation.
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Old 03-08-13, 05:01 PM
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Have you tried any Cyclocross and/or MTBs that have been converted for "urban" road use?

Many of these types have a higher bottom bracket shell height that might let you to select a larger/longer frame size that you can still pedal without over-extending your legs. MTBs and, some CXers, also have a lower top bar that might give you reasonable stand-over clearance..
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Old 03-08-13, 05:13 PM
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whats your standover height?

take a yardstick or broomstick or something, put it between your legs, horizontal, as high as it will go before it hits bone (dodging any junk that gets in the way), and use a tape measure to see how high this is from the ground in your normal shoes, standing up straight and tall, feet and knees together. probably need a friend to do this, but I've managed to fake it.

I come up with 32" on myself, and I'm 6' tall but with a long torso, big chest and shoulders, and relatively short legs. my ~5'6" teenage daughter is also 32", go figger, she's all leg.

anyways, since I have a long torso, I tend to like frames that have a long cockpit (seatpost to stem distance). I'm riding a Specialized Globe Vienna from 2010 (very like a base model Sirrus of that vintage), in size "L".... This has a 58cm effective top tube length, and 79cm standover (31").
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Old 03-08-13, 11:54 PM
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Arm length is another variable that tends to be overrated in my opinion. If you watch the pros ride they have their elbows bent in a relaxed position most of the time, and especially on longer stages. Leaning on the bar with stiff arms will lead to sore shoulders and joints. For people with long arms (me included) I think more arm bend is better than a longer "cockpit".
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Old 03-09-13, 12:59 AM
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Novara Safari tour bike. The longest bike there is. $899 at REI.
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Old 03-09-13, 01:18 AM
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I know this sounds like a crazy idea.. but how about a longer stem. 140mm length is not hard to find, on a 56 the original stem is probably a 100mm, so you could get another 40m of reach, which is a lot.
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Old 03-09-13, 01:39 AM
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I'll bet that with straight arms and a fully extended back you would be sitting bolt upright on your current bike, or perhaps even leaning back a bit.

The problem is to lengthen and lower the front of the cockpit enough to get a bit of forward lean. That would be by losing stem spacers, flipping the stem to negative rise, and possibly buying a longer stem. A flat, no-rise handlebar can also help. To counterbalance the forward shift of your center of gravity, slide the saddle back, and lower it a bit. This will also add to extending the reach, also.

As for your feet, we're pretty much stuck with them. Next bike, find one with a longer front center--that is, the distance from bottom bracket spindle to front axle.
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Old 03-09-13, 10:09 AM
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Hi,

Nobody has mentioned the seat position. I reckon with big feet
It should be quite far back, though some say the "KOP" system
isn't particularly meaningful, it certainly isn't for recumbants.

Seat, pedals and handlebars define you position on a bike
and some say you can get most not too large bikes to fit.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 03-09-13, 07:54 PM
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KOPS isn't a solution, it's a standard starting point for developing a seating position.
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Old 03-11-13, 01:56 AM
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You folks rock!

I'm blown away by your responses. I kept waiting for an email to arrive, telling me that somebody had posted to this thread, but since none arrived I assumed my situation was too complex or bizarre to garner an answer. (It didn't occur to me that i'd forgotten to toggle that email setting.) Stopped by tonight, and lo and behold, Christmas! Please forgive me my delayed response. I very much appreciate your thoughts and will have to go through them, one by one, so I can actually reach comprehension.

My spine thanks you heartily.
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Old 03-11-13, 03:21 PM
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Once you extend far forward you may need to move the seat back a bit to avoid too much weight on your hands, especially if the bike has steepter seat tube angle (ex: 72 degrees). I agree with the previous remark about having one's arms bent being desirable, but one needs not to feel cramped, especially on turns, and too short a reach with long arms can put excess weight on the saddle as well as force a more upright position.

KOPS, incidentally is Knee Over Pedal Axle, the idea that with the crank level and forward your knee joint should be directly over the pedal shaft. Google it if you want the whole story, but I'll say straight out you should not worry about it, as the main concern is putting your seat too far forward, and as noted about I think that's unlikely.
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Old 03-11-13, 03:37 PM
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Go here: https://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO

That will be a good starting place to find where you fit and the best sized bikes to start with.
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Old 03-11-13, 06:00 PM
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I too had toe overlap, the ft.ctr. is non adjustable, except for crank arm lingth & foot position. The last new bike I got was 7 yrs ago, the frame demention I cked first was ft. ctr. got room to clear with fenders on the LHT. I am 5-11 with 76 in. armes, I found that with keeping sholder elbo & wrists at angles like the mn. stream folks my stem is about 70 mm. below the saddle, ( short torso=short stem) I can feel the middle finger polling me to the bar on slight clime, haven't used gloves in 10 yrs. At 67 I'm glad that I addressed the toe over lap issue. Balancing a loded touring bikewith the wheel cocked over in a slow turn with the ft, wheel and your foot locked togather isn't easy at my age. long stems & high bars wern't for me!
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Old 03-11-13, 06:17 PM
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+1 Rack and panniers or other rack-mounted bag.

Backpacks are for suckers.
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Old 03-12-13, 11:19 AM
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When I built up my bikes, I too had to deal with long arms, but fortunately I am more proportional. I have found that setting up the seat all the way forward, then checking my stem length will tell me what should be too short to start with. You can sort of feel the cramped cockpit dimensions. Then I move the seat all the way back to make sure I am stretched out a little. For you, with your mismatched dimensions, you should set the seat so that it feels reasonable for the pedals, then work the arm reach. You are basically going to be limited on the seat by the short legs relative to the arms. You may find that your frame geometry may not allow enough adjustment to do both. And as folks mentioned, long wheelbase/long chain stay/long fork rake bikes are your best best for having options. Touring bicycles are your friends. And they have pannier mounts to save your back from that ill placed pack. Which said pack is pounding your scranus into the seat and reduces comfort.
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