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The seat forward on old road-bikes thread....

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The seat forward on old road-bikes thread....

Old 05-15-22, 08:21 AM
  #1  
beng1
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The seat forward on old road-bikes thread....

I am too cheap and impoverished to buy anything but old second-hand road-bikes, but I still like to ride as fast as I can, I look for tricks to increase speed, efficiency etc.. Many of the old cheap road-bikes with drop-bars have laid-back seat-tubes, so to combat this and make them more like racing bikes, I experiment with moving the seats forward. The old steel seat-posts with the separate seat-clamp on top work great for this, they can be rotated so the clamp is in front of the seat-post if need be. I have done a lot of fast miles with the yellow road-bike over the last year, but just this spring moved the seat forward as shown, and after 30 fast test-miles it seems to be in a good spot. The Fuji also feels good, and last fall I moved the seat on my 1990s Marin mountain-bike as far forward as it would go. For me the more I can get the center of my body mass over the bottom-bracket, the better the bikes feel. I also have a 1987 Schwinn Supersport I ride sometimes I am going to try this on.





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Old 05-15-22, 08:41 AM
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Here's one from the era when that was to be expected - a 1951 New Hudson Silver Arrow with laid back frame angles based on a pre-war BSA road model. I only got around to moving the seat post forward after I added a 2" stem (which was provided stock) as it came to me without an extension.

Being in that more forward position definitely helps make the saddle position feel more modern but the handling and stability characteristics are still unique.

-Gregory

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Old 05-15-22, 09:31 AM
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I always think of Varsitys when I see this setup.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:11 AM
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Over time seat tubes have become steeper.
really depends on the frame size but going from 71 to 73 degrees can move the seat tube more vertical definitely, 1.4-2.0cm forward.

I would look at it completely the other way around, evaluate ( assistant needed ) your "good" position road bike with a set mark on your knee and drop a plumb bob beyond the pedal with it forward and level to the horizon.
I will not pronounce where is should be, the goal would be to set the various bikes so the real perched setback is the same for all.
differing crank lengths need to be taken into account. I only measure the actual saddle with a molded seat such as a Cinelli of the same era. There I know all will be equal.

saddle height ( good or bad) weather one uses cleats... this is C&V so it IS toe clips and straps, yes?

basically a bit more forward encourages spinning, farther aft, mashing.

rare I think save for an old English roadster or very early mtb will the clamp require to be reversed.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
I am too cheap and impoverished to buy anything but old second-hand road-bikes, but I still like to ride as fast as I can, I look for tricks to increase speed, efficiency etc...For me the more I can get the center of my body mass over the bottom-bracket, the better the bikes feel.
Then why do you have the seat slammed all the way back on the rails (the Fuji in particular)? You seem to be working at cross-purposes here.

Instead of buying multiple cheap non-racing bikes, seems like you could save your money and eventually get a real racing bike. Then you wouldn't have to take shortcuts like turning the seat clamp backwards. A real racing bike is so much more than just the seat tube angle.

Oh...and if you want to go faster, take that reflector off the front wheel.

Last edited by smd4; 05-15-22 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
Then why do you have the seat slammed all the way back on the rails (the Fuji in particular)? You seem to be working at cross-purposes here.

Instead of buying multiple cheap non-racing bikes, seems like you could save your money and eventually get a real racing bike. Then you wouldn't have to take shortcuts like turning the seat clamp backwards. A real racing bike is so much more than just the seat tube angle.
Apparently how other people's bikes look to you is what's most important?
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Old 05-15-22, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Apparently how other people's bikes look to you is what's most important?
Is that what I said?
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Old 05-15-22, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
basically a bit more forward encourages spinning, farther aft, mashing..
yep. A forward saddle position uses quads more while rear position incorporates glutes and hamstrings more. It really boils down to personal body strength and how you want to ride.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
Is that what I said?
That's the impression I'm getting. "Buy another bike so I don't have to look at your seat clamp any more!"
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Old 05-15-22, 10:35 AM
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The images did not show prior.

the yellow bike my guess might have a decent saddle set up - that saddle is more typical of an upright riding position. At the saddle height, if you are of normal proportion, the distance to the bars is short. I would have to see you on the bikes.

if you wish to go faster, toe clips and straps.
without you are losing 30 or more degrees of pedaling thrust, and without much more likely you are in too big a gear.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:42 AM
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These past years I have made so many Non-Standard adjustments and changes to my bikes that they look nothing like they normally would. All are Franken Bikes for sure. So do what ya need to do and ride like ya want too. In the 70s it was pretty normal to see 10 speeds with Drop Bars tilled up and the Saddle slammed... Ha
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Old 05-15-22, 10:53 AM
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I look at my best fit as being a triangle. Bottom corner is the bottom bracket. Top rear, the seat. Top front, the handlebars. If I have this triangle right, I have the seat located correctly for good knee bend, the right lean forward for a good hip angle, the bars a comfortable reach that opens up my chest.

Once I know this, I can take that triangle and rotate it back to be in cruiser mode or forward for minimum wind resistance. I do this on a CAD drafting program but you could also nail together 3 sticks or do it on graph paper. New bike? I first draw it up on the CAD program. Lay the triangle on it with the rotation I want for that ride. This tells me where the seat and handlebars want to be and therefor what seatpost and stem I need. (My customs have seatpost angles and front ends designed to get the wheel locations and steering I want for that bike. I may well need unusual stems and posts to make that work.)

Three of my rides have 74 and 75 degree seat tubes and 160mm setback seat posts that put the clamp in the center of the seat rails. (I learned years ago that slamming a ti railed seat so the clamp is onto the rail curve is a good way to break the rail of a $125 seat mid ride. Me being light and long, flexy railed seats are a real blessing on poor roads.)
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Old 05-15-22, 11:10 AM
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And totally off subject - I cannot tell from the photo if that Fuji has plugs in the handlebars. If it doesn't - don't ride it! I don't care what you stuff in there but have something!

When I was 14, I hit an opening car door. Bike stopped. I didn't. Thighs came forward and hit the bar ends hard. That was the only damage to me. (Bike did well also; just spun handlebars and a twisted brake hood. Wheel between my knees and a twist of the bars and I was good to ride home. One tool and hood was straight again. But - I had two perfect 1" diameter circles of deep bruise on my thighs. Had I not had bar plugs. those would have been cookie cutters of removed flesh.

So, if nothing's on those bars, go to a bike shop and ask for some. (They tape lots of bars. Many packages of tape come with them. Most shops happily give them away.) If that isn't possible, use a cork. Or cork with handlebar tape or adhesive tape to get the diameter up. Or a bottle cap. I don't care. Just don't ride cookie cutters! (I hope this is just my screen and eyes. If so, my apologies.)
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Old 05-15-22, 11:26 AM
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...this was a common saddle mounting arrangement at one time. It was much more popular when frames basically came in one size fits all, so you needed a lot more room for adjustment.
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Old 05-15-22, 11:29 AM
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...by rotating the post, with the horizontal extension either fore or aft, it gives a pretty wide range of saddle positions.
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Old 05-15-22, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Apparently how other people's bikes look to you is what's most important?
I don't know about him, but it is to me.
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Old 05-15-22, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
I look for tricks to increase speed, efficiency etc...

I like the no bar tape trick. That's gotta save several grams off a 30+ pound bike.
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Old 05-15-22, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I like the no bar tape trick. That's gotta save several grams off a 30+ pound bike.
but now it's is easier to set the brake levers in a better position.
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Old 05-15-22, 09:30 PM
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The Fuji is a new bike for me, I am just getting it tuned and set up so it will be tweaked more. I have bar ends/tape for it, but am not sure if will use the tape or not. I have ridden with bare bars since I was a kid, just never got used to having anything on the bars.

The Fuji seat only has about 3/4" it will slide fore and aft, but turning the clamp 180-degrees moves it almost twice that, so having the seat back with the clamp forward still puts it further forward than was possible with the clamp backwards.

I like the freedom of not having any sort of toe-clip. I have size 13 shoes, and it is hard for me to find ones that fit well anyway. I know with the yellow Huffy as it is right now I can hold 20mph for quite a few miles, and that is not bad for a 60 year-old who had a heart attack and surgery last year. I have a few other speed tricks I want to try before toe-clips, such as longer crank-arms and maybe some 1 1/8" tires instead of the 1 3/8" that are on it now.

The yellow bike was $3 at a garage-sale, and it is like the one I rode as a teenager back in the 70s.. I paid ten-dollars for my Supersport, and a whopping $40 for the Fuji, so initially $53 in my three road-bikes.
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Old 05-15-22, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I like the no bar tape trick. That's gotta save several grams off a 30+ pound bike.
About 34 pounds according to a friends scale, but I weigh about 215, so the bike is a much smaller percentage of the total bike/rider weight than it would be for a rider 50 to 100 pounds lighter than myself. I usually ride around with a large messenger bag with tools, food and one or two bottles of water, so my total bike/rider weight is often probably 260 or more pounds, so having a 20 pound bike costing thousands is simply not necessary.

In hot weather a bare handlebar makes a nice heat-sink with the wind blowing over it to keep your hands cool. If i am riding in 90 degree weather the last thing I want to do is hold onto grips or tape that is keeping my hands hot.

Last edited by beng1; 05-15-22 at 09:41 PM. Reason: correcting typos
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Old 05-15-22, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
basically a bit more forward encourages spinning, farther aft, mashing..
With a laid-back seat-tube, if you are pedaling hard, you are pushing yourself off the back of the seat, it is like a recumbent with no backrest, and you can not use all of your weight on the pedals.

With the seat forward, or with a steep seat-tube and your weight over the pedals, when pedaling hard you are pushing yourself up instead of back, and the extra weight over the pedals means you can press on them harder if you are in shape and have the muscle to do so.

Also with the handlebar closer to the bottom-bracket and seat, a rider can have more force on the bars transfering to the pedals, where a rider reaching far ahead to the bars will not be able to use them for as much leverage.

As far as speed and power are concerned, it seems to me that having a steeper effecting seat-tube angle is better, and I think true racing bicycles are built that way. The poor-man's answer to not having a new racing bicycle, is to just move the seat forwards. This is my experiment, as I get in shape this summer riding season I will see how fast I can average over an old local time-trial course. I think despite my age and having had a heart-attack/surgery last year, I will be able to go over 20mph on the yellow bike as it is.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
When I was 14, I hit an opening car door. Bike stopped. I didn't. eyes. If so, my apologies.)
When I was a teenage in the 1970s, while riding a ten-speed very similar to this yellow Huffy, I was going very fast down a long steep hill on a highway, I saw the curb washed out up ahead so instead of hitting it I bailed off the back of the bike and slid down the gravel to a stop on my knees, elbows and stomach etc.., probably from 30+mph. Then a bit later I hit a railroad tie with the bike which was covered by grass, and to finish the bike off I was riding a friend on the seat while I was standing up pedaling down a very steep paved hill and my knee hit the shifter for the rear-derailleur, I lost my balance and fell forward over the bars turning the front wheel 90-degrees to the direction of travel, the bike flipped, I landed on the road head-first, my friend flipped over me and landed on his feet first. I had amnesia for a while after that and was bleeding where my teeth went through my cheek, the bike's steel front wheel and handlebars were badly bent from the force and impact with the road. My parents never took me to the hospital, just sat me in a chair until I remembered where I was and who I was. And before that were many crashes on 20" bikes, and afterwards crashes on newer bikes. I figure if I do not get into a good crash once in a while I am not really riding.
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Old 05-15-22, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
I always think of Varsitys when I see this setup.
Did somebody say Varsity? The older ones have I believe a 69-degree seat tube angle, so reversing the clamp is a no-brainer.

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Old 05-15-22, 10:33 PM
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I am about the same age as you and I never liked toe clips either. Recently I started riding more, and I realized that they really do add some efficiency. I found some old plastic ones with fairly big toes and removed the straps, and it gives me a decent percentage of the benefit while still being able to get my feet off the pedals pretty quickly.
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Old 05-16-22, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
In hot weather a bare handlebar makes a nice heat-sink with the wind blowing over it to keep your hands cool.
And here I thought it would make the bar dangerously slippery.

The full length cable housing using duct tape for stops is another interesting and unique "efficiency trick."
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