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Am I shrinking, wising up, or just getting old?

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Am I shrinking, wising up, or just getting old?

Old 05-06-19, 10:59 AM
  #26  
canklecat
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Yeah, at 61, 5'11" and 150 lbs, with a bum back, neck and shoulders, my comfort and efficiency are often at odds.

I didn't realize my Ironman is 58cm until @texaspandj pointed it out recently. I just eyeballed it when I bought it in 2017, and it appeared to be the same size frame as my early 1990s Univega Via Carisma -- same head tube length, although the Univega has a slightly longer top tube. But I'd mistakenly assumed both were 56cm or 57cm and never measured. Measured c-t-c, the top tube on the Ironman is 58cm, the Univega 59cm. But there never seems to be any agreement on how frames are measured.

The Ironman *feels* right, especially with the shorter 90mm stem @RobbieTunes sent me last year or so. Much more comfortable than the longish original stem (which is now on my Univega with albatross bar). And I'm not even sure how stems are supposed to be measured -- end to end? Center to center? Forward end of the stem to center of the headset? I dunno. My measurements of the original Ironman stem don't match the Centurion catalog measurements, although it appears to be the original stem.

But the slightly smaller 56cm Trekenstein 5900 feels right too. Yeah, it's a bit lower to the ground with more straddle room over the top tube. But the longish Ibis stem and brifters combine to stretch out the reach a bit. So it feels approximately the same as the Ironman.

The main differences I noticed is in saddle fore/aft positioning. I adjust the saddles to suit my knees and butt, not my preferred reach. My main bikes all have Selle Italia saddles -- narrow, long noses, same basic shape, etc. On the 58cm Ironman I prefer sliding the saddle all the way forward on the original seat post. On the Trekenstein I prefer the saddle slid all the way back, partly due to the shorter top tube/reach, partly due to the seat post. Either I don't weigh enough for the extreme saddle positions to affect the rails, or the rails are strong enough to handle it.

Awhile back a friend said I looked stretched out on my bikes, but when I checked photos and videos of me riding, my position looks about typical for those bikes when compared with folks who raced them when new. I just move the stem up a bit to suit myself, but otherwise my position looks normal.

But I've noticed a trend with newer bikes toward smaller frames and choosing stem length and handlebar height to compensate for the difference. I haven't ridden any newer bike long enough to tell whether there's any advantage to that current bike fit paradigm.

Most of my rides on the road bikes are 20-30 miles, not really long enough to say much about long term fit and comfort. For longer casual rides I usually go for the Univega with albatross bars. It's pleasant to ride, a nice compromise between comfort and efficiency. Kinda tempts me to convert an Ironman frame to a mutant hybrid with albatross or North Roads bars. It would shave 5 lbs off my Univega's weight.
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Old 05-06-19, 11:02 AM
  #27  
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Ditto, @rhm's comments on flexibility. I've been back in physical therapy for 2-3 weeks. It's been a year since I was hit by a car and my neck and shoulder didn't seem to be improving. But it has gradually gotten better the past week or so. I'm less stiff while riding and less miserable afterward. I seem to be hunching my shoulders less over longer rides, a bad habit I'd developed the past year or so. I'm waiting for insurance approval for massage therapy as well, which will help with the knotted up muscles that I can't reach even with a foam roller.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:00 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
@RobbieTunes, possibly you were formerly in the habit of stretching more than you do now? I ask 'cuz at various points in the last five, ten, fifteen years, I have made a point of doing a lot of stretching, like getting to the point where I could put the palms of my hands flat on the floor when standing up, then stretching my neck so i could look as far forward/up as possible. It's always painful, but after doing that (and similar things) several times a week for a few months, I get a lot more flexible.. and this helps fitting the bike. I'm out of the habit now, and I see I like my handlebars higher now than I did a few years ago. Not a good sign!
This is good advice. I take a basic yoga class(off and on) on Friday evenings. It really helps, particularly with the Saturday morning runs during marathon training. Same for the cycling. The area I have a problem with is where the glutes connect with the lower back and spine. There are some deep muscles there that only seem get worked swimming, doing yoga or grinding up a hill on a bike at low cadence. You keep those muscles in shape and I think the hamstring/lower back pain stays away. It does for me anyway.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:25 PM
  #29  
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To answer your questions.
Yes you're shrinking. Yes you're getting old(er). And finally, the jury still out on whether you're getting wiser.

At your current rate of deterioration perhaps you should go straight to the 52s.

Nothing like kicking a man when he's down.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:26 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
On C&V bars, mostly Cinellis and Nittos, not getting as much flex on my arms on the hoods.
I can't decide if I was tougher then, and dealt with it, or shorter now.

I swear I used to be able to read the front hub on a 56cm. Now I can't even see it.
If I am reading this right, your arms are almost locked straight when you are gripping the hoods? If so, you could rotate the bars so the ends are pointing closer to the ground. That would bring the hoods a little higher and closer to you.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:27 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
On C&V bars, mostly Cinellis and Nittos, not getting as much flex on my arms on the hoods.
I can't decide if I was tougher then, and dealt with it, or shorter now.

I swear I used to be able to read the front hub on a 56cm. Now I can't even see it.
Maybe you could try switching the cockpit on one of your 56cm bikes to use a more modern shaped handlebar with a shorter reach to the hoods and less drop? Lots of folks here like the Soma Highway 1 bar, I'm thinking of trying it myself.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:36 PM
  #32  
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As the 56cm vultures begin to circle . . . . . . .
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Old 05-06-19, 12:48 PM
  #33  
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I don't know how you determine the fit setup on your bikes. Do you have some measurements that are constant between the frame sizes? I have 3 that I take with my setup. They are the same within the frame sizes. Center of BB through ST to top of saddle. Center of BB to center of handlebars axis. Front of saddle to center of handlebar axis. I get those 3 right and the bike fits. Maybe you do something like that. Or not.
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Old 05-06-19, 01:03 PM
  #34  
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I always feel that I am too stretched out at the beginning of the season. After I lose a little winter fat everything feels right again.
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Old 05-06-19, 02:08 PM
  #35  
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I’ve lost about 1-1/2” in height over the last several decades or so, thankfully mostly above the hips so my big frames with short TT (always my preference) can still be ridden quite comfortably with changes in the stem height and bar reach. And then there’s the loss of flexibility, as well as recovery from all those life/surgery events. My saddle-to-BB dimension hasn’t changed, but 5mm shorter cranks feel/spin better.

Here I am 27 years ago at age 43 on the too-small 60cm Klein that was great for 11 years, albeit with stem changes over that time.



And here’s how I fit now on the 62cm 1979 Miyata (shown with it’s Gugificazione mods to the front end) that I’ve had since new. Long setback seatposts have also helped tremendously, since I’ve learned that leather saddles with their short rails are a requirement for my odd posterior.


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Old 05-06-19, 02:57 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
If I am reading this right, your arms are almost locked straight when you are gripping the hoods? If so, you could rotate the bars so the ends are pointing closer to the ground. That would bring the hoods a little higher and closer to you.
And would look so inappropriate, me being a slave to fashion.
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Old 05-06-19, 03:00 PM
  #37  
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...I do yoga, stretch after or during rides, and swim a little to stay loose. I even do some Tai Chi from time to time. In spite of all this effort to stay flexible, I have seen my saddle position lowered by about an inch (relative to the pedals), and my stems have gotten shorter, so that where I used to go for a n initial setup of about 28" or 28.5" measured from center of the bar to the seatpost clamp on the saddle, I now shoot for about 27" on something I want to go fast on, all the way down to about 25" on something I want to set up for touring or town.

So based on my own experience, it's not your imagination. But depending on the stem lengths you chose initially, you ought to be able to make those 56 frames work with a change in stem length, if you can take it down an inch or so. Or so I've discovered here. I have a wide size range in the frames I ride, from about 58 to 61. I can fit them all to feel pretty good to me by fiddling with the saddle height and the stem length.

I don't use much in the way of bar drop any more either. Used to go for an inch, now I'm looking for level with the saddle. That said, the 58's feel faster to me now, and it was not always the case. Time marches on.

I've been looking for a place to post this ever since someone sent me the link, so your thread gets it as a reminder that we are all just here for a little fun for a while.

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Old 05-06-19, 03:03 PM
  #38  
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All this work. I think I'll just remove the lower rib on each side.

I do believe in yoga, as my son is buff, flexible, and swears by it. Kind of scares me just to put on the pants.

I'm not sure i can do it. I've broken so many bones over time, some things just don't bend any more.
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Old 05-06-19, 03:14 PM
  #39  
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This article might be helpful:

https://momentummag.com/find-bike-short-people/
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Old 05-06-19, 03:26 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
All this work. I think I'll just remove the lower rib on each side.

I do believe in yoga, as my son is buff, flexible, and swears by it. Kind of scares me just to put on the pants.

I'm not sure i can do it. I've broken so many bones over time, some things just don't bend any more.
Get into a class, workshop or PT session. The peer pressure and cute younger humans provide plenty of incentive.

My physical therapist cleverly had cute young women assistants. They hand me the green stretch band and say "Three sets of 15."

Hah. I grab the stiffer black band do three sets of 20. Pay no attention to that belly pudge. Look at my Popeye biceps... okay, wait 'til the spinach kicks in...

But if I was home I'd grab a rubber band off an envelope, do 2 sets of 5, call it a day and take a nap. Or do a few cat lifts -- get outta my spot on the sofa, furball.

Going on three weeks now and it really has helped. I don't feel quite so stiff and cramped during rides, and feel better afterward rather than wrung out.

I don't feel any taller, tho.
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Old 05-06-19, 03:32 PM
  #41  
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I've shrunk 3/4" of the recent years. Spinal column. My legs have changed little (And why would they; bones don't shrink and there is little between them to get smaller/thinner). And like my legs. my daddylonglegs arms still go on forever.

Now, I have been learning over the past 25 years that most of the bikes I rode previously were too short, sometimes way too short. And I have not picked up any weight and can still get low comfortably. So I will continue to ride bikes with reaches longer than I once could have imagined for a while. But I also size up all potential bikes for a good ride with the bars closer or higher because that day is coming. And days happen now when the bars are just too far away. One of the reasons I love quill stems. The quick raise for this ride is so easy.
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Old 05-06-19, 03:49 PM
  #42  
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Well if theyre 56 (my size), sounds like its a size thing and you need to sell ASAP and cheap.

Really, though, maybe, to keep it simple, you could try bringing the stem up out of the steering tube a little and that will effectively shorten the reach some.I am not a fit expert though.
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Old 05-06-19, 03:51 PM
  #43  
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Old 05-06-19, 06:57 PM
  #44  
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A good part of me, without seeing side shots of bikes that do and don't fit well in their current configuration, thinks you can hold on to the 56cm fleet, with minor changes and perhaps a good bit of measuring things. It's work, yes, but in the name of saving the work of selling a fleet and building a new one or, Heaven forbid, contemplating the fate of your dark grey Ironman (shudder!), I think it's worthwhile. It's a problem that's solvable and not purely magic.

If you ride in the drops constantly, maybe it's time to switch to the hoods. And given that, adjusting STI/Ergo levers and/or brake levers to accommodate that. A few of your STI builds have the tops of the hoods angled downward, which helps in the drops, but riding on the hoods makes one feel like their going to slide off their bike. The tops of the hoods angled slightly up (a few degrees, not 30) will make them feel a bit natural.

I would find the one or several bikes that you like the fit on--regardless of size--and measure them. You may find some commonalities. From there you can create a benchmark to measure the rest of your fleet and see where those other bikes fall.

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My personal fit criteria from a touch-points standpoint are thus, and thus only with a 175mm crankset:

1) Center of BB spindle to "bullseye" sit bone position (along center line of saddle) on the top surface of the saddle = 33.0" --- I may run a fleet of Prologo Scratch Pros, but this "bullseye" allows me to measure properly with any saddle. All saddle lengths are different, so measuring off the noses of different saddles to end up at a correct fit is, to me, folly.

2) "Bullseye" sit bone position to center of BB spindle set back: 11.25-11.50" --- Hang a plumb or use a wall to 'draw' a vertical line from the "bullseye" to the ground or chainstay. Measure that horizontal distance to the BB spindle's center. Too far back and the tops of my knees etc. hurt. Too far forward and I'm going to fall off the saddle/quads burn.

3) "Bullseye" sit bone position to STI/Ergo or brake lever "notch" (where the top of the hood kicks up 80-90 to stop your hand from moving forward): 36.0" --- This makes room for different bar widths and types, as well as saddle-to-bar drop heights.

These measurements have been refined over time and have served me very well, allowing me to say yea or nay to a frame.

******

Like you, I am also a lover of aesthetics, even as they may wrestle with fit a good bit. This is where top tube length, among other things, comes into play. Also, 63-66cm frames, with an outlying 62cm as an exception. But back to top tubes. Given a 73 seat tube angle--the frame as constructed, or a "normalized" 73 based off the tall-bike constant of 1 of angle change = 1cm of top tube length--my preferred top tube length is between 57cm to 60cm. On longer top tubes, I refrain from going shorter than 100mm on my stems if possible. Shorter than that on a tall frame starts to look weird, quickly.

Stem length (generally CTC), bar reach (critical thing to consider/measure!), and hood length (new STIs have longer hood bodies than previous) all add to the variables. As does a common saddle angle or "feel" as that can lengthen or shorten reach.

If you can find some common dimensions, that I think will help a lot, and you can work from there, a more concrete position of knowledge and feel.
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Old 05-06-19, 07:43 PM
  #45  
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I was fitted to a 23-1/2" Raleigh as a young adult, and currently have a few that size. I realize I am an inch or so shorter than I was as a young guy, but normally assume the height is lost in my spine length. It is harder to clear the saddle with my leg now, and I am converting several bikes to upright bars, primarily because of neck discomfort. One bike still has drop bars, but got a tall Nitto Technomic stem, set as high as I could get it. You just have to do whatever you can to compensate as you age, I guess. Maybe our bikes are not the only thing that is vintage.

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Old 05-06-19, 09:00 PM
  #46  
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Most people can ride a range of sizes dependent upon the type of bicycle and intended purpose. I am 65, I have not shrunk that I notice and not sure that is important. I ride anything between 54cm to 58cm. I vary the saddle fore and aft and stem length to adjust the bike to the purpose, my saddle height I hold pretty constant adjusting somewhat for the pedal system/stack height. The more performance oriented the bicycle the more I prefer the smaller frame sizes. Open road bicycles, longer distance riding, I start to prefer the larger end of my fit range. Cyclecross and ATBs, I decidedly prefer smaller frames. I do not get hung up on the stamped size of the frame but how it suits when I get it outfitted and adjusted.
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Old 05-06-19, 09:11 PM
  #47  
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I’m thankful to have found this thread as I recently restored a 23” frame set that I’ve owned since I was 17. The bike was basically in storage for the past 25 years and I’ve just resumed riding it now that I’ve restored it. I was quite surprised to see that I’ve had to drop the saddle more than an inch compared to riding in my teens and twenties. More surprising is that my leg length appears to be an inch shorter as I can’t straddle the frame anymore with any clearance. I had no idea that leg length could actually shorten w/time but I clearly remember this bike fitting me in my youth—I never used to touch the frame as I stood over it. Glad to read that others appear shorter as well—and not just from spinal compression.
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Old 05-06-19, 09:24 PM
  #48  
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This is easy: older - yes
shrinking - probably
wiser? not a chance
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Old 05-06-19, 09:34 PM
  #49  
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At under 6 and straddling frames of 60cm+ Im a bit of an outlier. Ive always ridden stretched out but Im finding those 140mm stems a wee bit much these days.

My French fits are getting Frenchier each year.
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Old 05-06-19, 10:02 PM
  #50  
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