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Need help, bike came, can't ride it!

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Need help, bike came, can't ride it!

Old 08-30-16, 05:35 PM
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cargomama
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Need help, bike came, can't ride it!

I haven't started this thread out of a desire not to tire anyone with my troubles with this bike, but I am in real need of help here!
Background...I have a short waist and have never found a bike with drop bars (something I wanted for the different hand positions available) that I could remotely get comfortable on in shops. So, in order to avoid going custom and the $$ involved with that (I really wanted lugged steel), I found long-distance and bought a late 90's de rosa about size 49, it was custom made for a woman and the tt is about the same length as the height from bb to seat post and it seemed perfectly promising.
It arrived and has been largely a disaster so far, the bike is in fantastic shape, and the full Campagnolo is beautiful, but I cannot ride this bike! It is horrifically uncomfortable...I can maybe go 1/8 of a mile before HAVING to stop due to my hands buzzing/hurting so badly (they can keep being sensitive for hours afterwards). I knew I would probably have to get a taller stem with a shorter throw/handlebar but I'm not sure it can make enough of a difference. I am so stretched out on it and concerned of causing nerve damage it's so bad. The current stem already has a pretty short throw and the bars don't extend far at all. I'm not sure if my hands are too small or what but even using the brakes from the hoods is so difficult I can barely make a mild descent safely.
The other wrinkle is I hate the shifting, hate it...the brifters, the derailer...I know Campy is great but I ride an Alfine 11 IGH and inefficient it may be, I really like it. That is on a bike that I regularly push about 100lbs though, for this one it is so light comparatively I don't need them and have given up shifting and just keep it in one gear.

What do I do? New stem, new handlebars, convert to SS and sell campy to defray expenses? Even so would it make enough of a difference? How involved would a SS conversion be? Aaarrrghh.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:42 PM
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I think you should just sell it and recoup what you paid for it. Shouldn't be that hard with a DeRosa.

The stem on there is not that long, and not terribly low either. It's a racing bike. It won't ever be something that it's not. Reconsider what your needs are. Perhaps try to find a cool vintage lightweight touring bike instead.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:45 PM
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First off, lovely bike....you made a good choice!

Second, and I am absolutely no expert here, a lot of what you are experiencing (not all) could be that this is such a new experience for you that you may want to give it some time before doing anything drastic. I do think though that much of what you are concerned about has to do with proper fit, so research how to make sure the bike is set up properly for you (or go to a reputable LBS and have them help you do this) before you decide on major change.

Full disclosure - I have never been hugely comfortable with drop bars - more of my bikes are converted to more upright/MTB position, and the ones I keep as drop bar I don't ride very far....but my discomfort is nothing like you describe. If all else fails, conversion to semi or full upright is an option. I would not go single speed unless you really want one as that will make no difference whatsoever to the fit.

Good luck...and did I mention that's a sweet looking bike?
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Old 08-30-16, 05:47 PM
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Those bars look ridiculously huge on that frame. You could try a shorter stem and traditional road bars. No offense, but how short are you? FWIW I could never ride a MTB because it killed my wrists: drop bars I can ride all day.
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Old 08-30-16, 05:59 PM
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The stem is evidently the top priority. It sounds like you need taller with shorter reach. That might be enough to fix it, as it sounds like too much of your weight is being supported by your hands. I have a couple other things to throw out there as additional considerations.

First is the bars. I wouldn't give up on drop bars yet, but you may not have the right width and drop for you on this bike. No harm in keeping them on to try it out after switching out the stem, but if the stem alone doesn't fix things, that's another variable that could be changed.

Second, is the position of the brifters on the bar. A few mm of difference in position can produce a big difference in comfort, so experiment with that too.

Third is the tires. The buzzy feeling in your hands could be the result of riding narrow tires pumped up too high. You can't go too large on the tires, because of the limited clearance at the rear with the seat tube. If you're running them at, or near max inflation, let 5 - 8 psi out and see if that improves the situation. If not, perhaps a more supple tire, or a slightly wider tire would be helpful.

Fourth thing is something that has happened to me (you didn't mention this, so maybe it's not a factor), is wearing cycling gloves that constrict blood flow. Similar to cushy saddles, gloves with a lot of cushion can conform to your hand and help make your hands get numb faster.

I have to say, that's a gorgeous bicycle. I hope you're able to get your fit and comfort issues worked out, and get to enjoy many memorable rides on it.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
Those bars look ridiculously huge on that frame. You could try a shorter stem and traditional road bars. No offense, but how short are you? FWIW I could never ride a MTB because it killed my wrists: drop bars I can ride all day.

optical illusion -- look at the size of the brifter - it also looks Paul Bunyan sized in the pic

That said, modern compact road bars may be even shallower/shorter if that's the original bars that came with the bike--

A zero offset post, a short but tall Technomic stem and shallow drop bars may have you riding in style
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Old 08-30-16, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
First off, lovely bike....you made a good choice!

Second, and I am absolutely no expert here, a lot of what you are experiencing (not all) could be that this is such a new experience for you that you may want to give it some time before doing anything drastic. I do think though that much of what you are concerned about has to do with proper fit, so research how to make sure the bike is set up properly for you (or go to a reputable LBS and have them help you do this) before you decide on major change.

Full disclosure - I have never been hugely comfortable with drop bars - more of my bikes are converted to more upright/MTB position, and the ones I keep as drop bar I don't ride very far....but my discomfort is nothing like you describe. If all else fails, conversion to semi or full upright is an option. I would not go single speed unless you really want one as that will make no difference whatsoever to the fit.

Good luck...and did I mention that's a sweet looking bike?
Thank you, I really want to keep it! I think this bike is my only shot to ever ride on drops, the size alone is small enough to give me a shot...of course it hasn't gone well so far. Is it ridiculous to turn a de rosa into an upright? Would it even work?
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Old 08-30-16, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I think you should just sell it and recoup what you paid for it. Shouldn't be that hard with a DeRosa.

The stem on there is not that long, and not terribly low either. It's a racing bike. It won't ever be something that it's not. Reconsider what your needs are. Perhaps try to find a cool vintage lightweight touring bike instead.
I am considering selling it as is, I really don't want to but I'm afraid of putting a lot of money and time into it and then just having a bike that still doesn't work for me but now no one else wants it either. What is it about it that REQUIRES it to be a "racing" bike? What fundamentally would be different about a vintage touring bike?
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Old 08-30-16, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
Those bars look ridiculously huge on that frame. You could try a shorter stem and traditional road bars. No offense, but how short are you? FWIW I could never ride a MTB because it killed my wrists: drop bars I can ride all day.
I am 5'4"...and generally a petite woman in general.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:16 PM
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You could get a MTB riser quill stem and some compact bars, or something like this:

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Old 08-30-16, 06:18 PM
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I would take it in to a local shop and pay for a professional fitting session to find out whether or not this bike can be tastefully (and ideally with period-correct components) modified to accommodate your needs. Otherwise, I would also suggest selling it and opting for a bike with hybrid-geometry akin to your Alfine 11 IGH.

Originally Posted by cargomama View Post
What is it about it that REQUIRES it to be a "racing" bike? What fundamentally would be different about a vintage touring bike?
This lovely De Rosa frame set is designed with tight geometry making it good for cornering, climbing and sprinting - consider how close the rear wheel sits to the seat tube, and the high trail on the front fork. It has no accessory braze-ons like fender eyelets or pump pegs. It's a true racing bicycle in every sense of the term. Even the Campagnolo components matched with the frame are of the same ilk, and designed for performing during hard riding at speed.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post

Third is the tires. The buzzy feeling in your hands could be the result of riding narrow tires pumped up too high. You can't go too large on the tires, because of the limited clearance at the rear with the seat tube. If you're running them at, or near max inflation, let 5 - 8 psi out and see if that improves the situation. If not, perhaps a more supple tire, or a slightly wider tire would be helpful.

Fourth thing is something that has happened to me (you didn't mention this, so maybe it's not a factor), is wearing cycling gloves that constrict blood flow. Similar to cushy saddles, gloves with a lot of cushion can conform to your hand and help make your hands get numb faster.

I have to say, that's a gorgeous bicycle. I hope you're able to get your fit and comfort issues worked out, and get to enjoy many memorable rides on it.
Oh the tires! They are 25mm I think and the bike shop pumped them tight after my first ride with it...I THOUGHT the first ride was by far the most comfortable, that must be why! I had ordered some 28mm (that widest I can go) Ruffy Tuffy's for it since the old tires are on their last legs, perhaps they may help too.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
optical illusion -- look at the size of the brifter - it also looks Paul Bunyan sized in the pic

That said, modern compact road bars may be even shallower/shorter if that's the original bars that came with the bike--

A zero offset post, a short but tall Technomic stem and shallow drop bars may have you riding in style
You are right, the bars are much smaller in person that I expected based on that picture. Does "zero offset" mean without that tab that brings it further back? That's an idea.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:24 PM
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I agree that the bars look really big, though that could be a camera trick. Also, the saddle looks like it is tipped forward. Again that might be an illusion, but if it is that would explain your hand pain.

Bike fit is a matter of getting your balance on the bike exactly right, and it isn't easy. It is, however, easy to test. If you're riding the bike and you take your hands off the bars for just a second, do you feel like you're falling forward? I'm guessing so, probably quite dramatically given your hand pain.

You probably don't want to sink a lot of money into this bike until you are sure that you'll be able to fix it, but I suspect you will be able to get it to fit you. I agree with Salamandrine that you should easily be able to re-sell that bike. I also agree with markk900 that it's a beautiful bike, and if I had bought it I would probably go to some lengths before giving up on it. If you live near a good bike shop, you could schedule a professional fit. That would cost you around $150, and hopefully they'd offer a free consultation to look at you riding the bike to judge whether or not they will be able to make it comfortable for you.

Otherwise, here are some things you can try on your own:

1. Make sure the saddle is level. I use a small level from the hardware store to check this. In my experience, "looks about right" isn't close enough.

2. Make sure the saddle height is correct. You should have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

3. Try moving the saddle back as far as the rails will allow. Don't go so far that the clamp touches the bend in the rail, but try just short of that. There is a rule-of-thumb involving having your knee over the pedal spindle when the cranks are horizontal, but that's kind of arbitrary. You might feel like this is a bad idea since you already feel like you can't reach the bars, but moving the saddle back will put more of your weight behind the bottom bracket and counter-act your tendency to fall toward the bar. One way to visualize this is to stand with your back right up against a wall and try to touch your toes. Then take a step away from the wall and try it again. You'll notice that your waist goes back to maintain your balance. Moving the saddle back works the same way.

4. Buy an adjustable stem. These are incredibly ugly, but they're relatively cheap and will let you move your handlebars around while you figure out what position is comfortable. Once you figure it out you can buy a fixed stem to put them there if you don't like the adjustable stem. With any luck, your handlebars have a 25.4mm clamp diameter and you can use this stem.

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...&category=3569

If your handlebars have a 26.0 clamp diameter (and they probably do), you may need an adapter.

Moving your handlebars higher has a very similar effect to moving them closer. Either way keeps you from falling forward. Because your head tube is so short, you may have problems getting a stem that is safely inserted and as high as you would like. I think I mentioned this issue in another thread. You can work around this problem by cutting off some extra length on a very tall stem once you know the height you need. Just be sure that you have a safe minimum inserted.

The brakes are likely a different issue. If you haven't used road brakes before they take some getting used to. If your brakes are the single-pivot side pull kind, you might be happier with newer dual pivot calipers. You can change that independent of the shift/brake lever. If you don't like the Campy shifting mechanism you could try bar end shifters. There are a lot of options there, all involving more cash outlay. As markk900 mentioned, you could also install an upright/flat bar.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by cargomama View Post
Oh the tires! They are 25mm I think and the bike shop pumped them tight after my first ride with it...I THOUGHT the first ride was by far the most comfortable, that must be why! I had ordered some 28mm (that widest I can go) Ruffy Tuffy's for it since the old tires are on their last legs, perhaps they may help too.
A very good choice.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post

This lovely De Rosa frame set is designed with tight geometry making it good for cornering, climbing and sprinting - consider how close the rear wheel sits to the seat tube, and the high trail on the front fork. It has no accessory braze-ons like fender eyelets or pump pegs. It's a true racing bicycle in every sense of the term. Even the Campagnolo components matched with the frame are of the same ilk, and designed for performing during hard riding at speed.
I wanted a fun, sprightly ride. My cargo bike is so comparatively heavy I just wanted something simple and light (though ironically my Bullitt is infinitely easier to ride and more comfortable by far). I don't need the braze-ons...is its geometry so radically and decidedly racing that it cannot be used comfortably no matter what? I was hoping the frame being nearly "square" would give me a fighting chance :/
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Old 08-30-16, 06:34 PM
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I'm having phone probs and slow connect so not sure this was said but move saddle all the way forward if you have not, loosen bars and then them up a bit. If that helps you are on right track. You won't ride often in that drops. Mostly on the hoods.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cargomama View Post
I wanted a fun, sprightly ride. My cargo bike is so comparatively heavy I just wanted something simple and light (though ironically my Bullitt is infinitely easier to ride and more comfortable by far). I don't need the braze-ons...is its geometry so radically and decidedly racing that it cannot be used comfortably no matter what? I was hoping the frame being nearly "square" would give me a fighting chance :/
Comfort is of course a matter of personal preference and physique. Professional riders log several thousand miles every season on bicycles with tight geometry such as this frame has, and many amateurs and enthusiasts prefer to do so as well, considering the advantages gained in performance worth the slight sacrifices to comfort. Particular types of steel are also more compliant than others (the legendary and largely defunct Reynolds 531 being a benchmark in comfort) and coupled with a relaxed geometry can create extremely plush-riding bicycles. As a consequence such bikes will flex under the stresses of load weights and energy transference, track with less authority in corners and generally "under-perform" more race-oriented bicycles.

I guarantee you this De Rosa is not made of that sort of stuff, and is far more likely to be from one of the strongest and least-forgiving steel alloys available at the time of production - being far more suited to criterium racing than touring. If comfort is your priority then choosing a steel bicycle was a good start, but among steel bicycles you have probably chosen one that is among the least "comfortable" in the scheme of things.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:38 PM
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Just checking but you know most non-racers rarely ride in the drops?
Most riding is done with the hands on the top of the bars or hooked over the hoods. The drops are mostly used for riding into a bad headwind or when maximum control and braking is needed.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by cargomama View Post
I am considering selling it as is, I really don't want to but I'm afraid of putting a lot of money and time into it and then just having a bike that still doesn't work for me but now no one else wants it either. What is it about it that REQUIRES it to be a "racing" bike? What fundamentally would be different about a vintage touring bike?
A touring bike would typically have a shorter top tube, a longer wheelbase, and shallower head tube and seat tube angles. The first is for a more upright posture. The longer wheelbase and different angles are for softer ride and more stable handling. Perhaps my answer was overly spontaneous but I wouldn't want to see anyone drop a bunch of money on a fancy bike like this only to be unhappy with the final result.

I should ask what are you riding now? IGH hub yes, but is it a dropped bar? Perhaps you are just not used to it, as has been mentioned. Frankly it might take some time. Sure you could put an upright bar on it, but then you are putting more weight on you rear. While it might seem that bending over is stupid and uncomfortable, over the long run it will be better. Road bikes like this developed over a long period to what works best.

Other suggestions without fundamentally changing the nature of the bike: slightly shorter stem raised just a little bit higher. Rando type bars. That will effectively bring it up another couple cm. DT or bar end shifters. Actually I hate brifters too...

Finally, did you do the competitive cyclist fit test app thing? It's a pretty good calculator.
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Old 08-30-16, 06:52 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I agree that the bars look really big, though that could be a camera trick. Also, the saddle looks like it is tipped forward. Again that might be an illusion, but if it is that would explain your hand pain.

Bike fit is a matter of getting your balance on the bike exactly right, and it isn't easy. It is, however, easy to test. If you're riding the bike and you take your hands off the bars for just a second, do you feel like you're falling forward? I'm guessing so, probably quite dramatically given your hand pain.

You probably don't want to sink a lot of money into this bike until you are sure that you'll be able to fix it, but I suspect you will be able to get it to fit you. I agree with Salamandrine that you should easily be able to re-sell that bike. I also agree with markk900 that it's a beautiful bike, and if I had bought it I would probably go to some lengths before giving up on it. If you live near a good bike shop, you could schedule a professional fit. That would cost you around $150, and hopefully they'd offer a free consultation to look at you riding the bike to judge whether or not they will be able to make it comfortable for you.

Otherwise, here are some things you can try on your own:

1. Make sure the saddle is level. I use a small level from the hardware store to check this. In my experience, "looks about right" isn't close enough.

2. Make sure the saddle height is correct. You should have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

3. Try moving the saddle back as far as the rails will allow. Don't go so far that the clamp touches the bend in the rail, but try just short of that. There is a rule-of-thumb involving having your knee over the pedal spindle when the cranks are horizontal, but that's kind of arbitrary. You might feel like this is a bad idea since you already feel like you can't reach the bars, but moving the saddle back will put more of your weight behind the bottom bracket and counter-act your tendency to fall toward the bar. One way to visualize this is to stand with your back right up against a wall and try to touch your toes. Then take a step away from the wall and try it again. You'll notice that your waist goes back to maintain your balance. Moving the saddle back works the same way.

4. Buy an adjustable stem. These are incredibly ugly, but they're relatively cheap and will let you move your handlebars around while you figure out what position is comfortable. Once you figure it out you can buy a fixed stem to put them there if you don't like the adjustable stem. With any luck, your handlebars have a 25.4mm clamp diameter and you can use this stem.

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...&category=3569

If your handlebars have a 26.0 clamp diameter (and they probably do), you may need an adapter.

Moving your handlebars higher has a very similar effect to moving them closer. Either way keeps you from falling forward. Because your head tube is so short, you may have problems getting a stem that is safely inserted and as high as you would like. I think I mentioned this issue in another thread. You can work around this problem by cutting off some extra length on a very tall stem once you know the height you need. Just be sure that you have a safe minimum inserted.

The brakes are likely a different issue. If you haven't used road brakes before they take some getting used to. If your brakes are the single-pivot side pull kind, you might be happier with newer dual pivot calipers. You can change that independent of the shift/brake lever. If you don't like the Campy shifting mechanism you could try bar end shifters. There are a lot of options there, all involving more cash outlay. As markk900 mentioned, you could also install an upright/flat bar.
To answer your bike fit question, if I even thought of taking my hands off the bar I would immediately go careening forward, I don't think I could even hold myself up at that angle! Your second paragraph is exactly my quandary...sell it how people will want it and be done or sink some $$ into trying to make it work and possibly have a bike only I would want.
I have thought about bar end or downtube shifters...I guess I really don't like external gearing, I hate to spend the money on redoing the gearing when I don't want it but... I don't know. I guess there aren't many single speed de rosas...I could always keep the campy group to bring it back if I chose couldn't I?
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Old 08-30-16, 07:02 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by cargomama View Post
I'm not sure if my hands are too small or what but even using the brakes from the hoods is so difficult I can barely make a mild descent safely.
DO NOT DESCEND WHILE USING BRAKES FROM THE HOODS!!!!! not with old school brake levers anyway. I would say that those brifters are transitional. You can do this with modern brake levers and brifters, but absolutely a no no with vintage brake levers. Brake from the drops only. You can brake from the hoods for non critical situations, cruising around town, etc, but you won't get anywhere near full stopping power.
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Old 08-30-16, 07:08 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Comfort is of course a matter of personal preference and physique. Professional riders log several thousand miles every season on bicycles with tight geometry such as this frame has, and many amateurs and enthusiasts prefer to do so as well, considering the advantages gained in performance worth the slight sacrifices to comfort. Particular types of steel are also more compliant than others (the legendary and largely defunct Reynolds 531 being a benchmark in comfort) and coupled with a relaxed geometry can create extremely plush-riding bicycles. As a consequence such bikes will flex under the stresses of load weights and energy transference, track with less authority in corners and generally "under-perform" more race-oriented bicycles.

I guarantee you this De Rosa is not made of that sort of stuff, and is far more likely to be from one of the strongest and least-forgiving steel alloys available at the time of production - being far more suited to criterium racing than touring. If comfort is your priority then choosing a steel bicycle was a good start, but among steel bicycles you have probably chosen one that is among the least "comfortable" in the scheme of things.
The sticker on it is "Columbus SLX"...is that the uncomfortable kind? RATS I'm so frustrated, it's so hard to find bikes in my size period (without buying new). When I was looking at it folks seemed to think its geometry wasn't terribly "race-y") what would make it more relaxed geometry? Just a sloping top tube?
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Old 08-30-16, 07:10 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Bikerider007 View Post
I'm having phone probs and slow connect so not sure this was said but move saddle all the way forward if you have not, loosen bars and then them up a bit. If that helps you are on right track. You won't ride often in that drops. Mostly on the hoods.
I have hardly gotten onto the drop just once, it was so ridiculous I retreated back up to the hoods pretty quickly.
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Old 08-30-16, 07:27 PM
  #25  
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The setup in the pic is pretty unremarkable. The fact that it feels so wrong to you makes me think a few small adjustments aren't going to make it align with your expectations. But do spend a little time on it before rushing to judgement. It is radically different than your cargo bike, after all. Good luck.
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