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Top tube trouble.

Old 11-09-10, 12:04 PM
  #1  
banjo_mole 
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Top tube trouble.

I just got a bike, a great bike. Pictures will come when it's ready to show itself to the world. I love it.

BUT I have a problem.

It's a 48cm frame, which is fine, but it has a 53cm top tube.

Right now that just doesn't feel good.

I have a 60cm stem on it, along with SR Randonneur bars and these levers:


Anyway, I just can't seem to get comfortable, I feel like there's too much weight on my arms.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Maybe new handlebars would help?



A wide, yet very shallow drop bar with really short reach would be great.

Alternately, I was considering moustache bars, but apparently one needs a shorter stem for those to be comfortable, and 60's already pushing it.

Please help a brother out.

-Banjo
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Old 11-09-10, 12:17 PM
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Have you moved the seat as far forward as possible?*

Mustache bars are basically drop bars without the flat top, and without the drop. So with your hands at the levers, you'll be reaching just as far forward, and almost as far down; with your hands at the sides, you'll be reaching as far forward as you would for the drops, just higher up. It's probably not the solution. A flipped northroad bar might be a better compromise, but those levers might not fit it.

*No doubt someone is going to point out that pushing the seat forward will mess up other aspects of the fit. Perfectly true. It will either make it better, or worse; but it's an easy thing to try, and costs nothing.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:26 PM
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I have a 6cm stem on my bike. It's borderline stupid looking so I agree that shorter than that would look bad. I hate randonneur bars, but some folks love them. rhm is correct in that it is super easy and free to change your saddle position, but for me this is not a fit variable. It is a constant. My saddle height and setback position get set and that's that.

Nitto Noodle bars can help slightly with your reach (and the shape is comfortable to me), but the difference is likely negligible. You may have to experiment with non-drop bars if you want to keep the bike.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:30 PM
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If there's too much weight on your hands, you could try raising the bars. You'd possibly end up more upright than you desire, but it could make the bike a lot more comfortable.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
Have you moved the seat as far forward as possible?*

Mustache bars are basically drop bars without the flat top, and without the drop. So with your hands at the levers, you'll be reaching just as far forward, and almost as far down; with your hands at the sides, you'll be reaching as far forward as you would for the drops, just higher up. It's probably not the solution. A flipped northroad bar might be a better compromise, but those levers might not fit it.

*No doubt someone is going to point out that pushing the seat forward will mess up other aspects of the fit. Perfectly true. It will either make it better, or worse; but it's an easy thing to try, and costs nothing.
I did try sliding the saddle forward on the rails, but that threw off the would-be balance of my position on the bike too much. If all else fails, I'll play with that more.

Good point on the m-bars. If I can find a pair to try out in the LBS, I'll see how they feel, but you're right- they probably won't help much.

I raised the stem on my bike really high (it's a tall one) and found it made things worse. If the top tube is too long, raising the stem acually seems to make things worse. That's counter-intuitive though.

That is to say, I know it's against All Sacred Knowledge, but making a too long setup higher just seems to feel a little "superman."

I'm sure the problem is being exacerbated by those brake levers with their long, flat hoods. But I spent $25 on them and don't want to give 'em up! I want aero and gum!

I'll play with it some more.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:38 PM
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Maybe bring the levers a bit closer - even if they end up sitting higher on the bars than looks "right"? Sound like you're running out of options. Might need to either go for surgery, or trade for something than fits better.
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Old 11-09-10, 12:58 PM
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Some frames are just long in the top tube, and smaller sizes are often worse. Lots of people never get comfortable on vintage Raleighs for just this reason. The best solution is to find a frame that fits, because no amount of fussing with bars, stems & seat position will ever get you as comfortable as starting out with a suitable frame. If you are determined to use the frame you have, your options are: taller & shorter stem, upright bars, shorter cranks & moving the saddle forward.

What bike is it?
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Old 11-09-10, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by banjo_mole View Post
I just got a bike, a great bike. Pictures will come when it's ready to show itself to the world. I love it.

BUT I have a problem.

It's a 48cm frame, which is fine, but it has a 53cm top tube.

Right now that just doesn't feel good.

I have a 60cm stem on it, along with SR Randonneur bars and these levers:


Anyway, I just can't seem to get comfortable, I feel like there's too much weight on my arms.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Maybe new handlebars would help?



A wide, yet very shallow drop bar with really short reach would be great.

Alternately, I was considering moustache bars, but apparently one needs a shorter stem for those to be comfortable, and 60's already pushing it.

Please help a brother out.

-Banjo

Northroads? They might not be "Road Racy" but they'd get your hands closer to the saddle.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Maybe bring the levers a bit closer - even if they end up sitting higher on the bars than looks "right"? Sound like you're running out of options. Might need to either go for surgery, or trade for something than fits better.
Well, I went outside and played with it for a while, and I've decided it's definitely the levers causing the trouble. I've given it another look, and the drops fit fine. The corners of the bars are fine. It's my favorite position, the hoods, that are too stretched out.

This is because the Cane Creeks' aren't dedicated aero levers as much as levers for modern bikes, so they emulate the shape of modern Ergos and STI's, which are a little bit longer than old aero brake levers, by about 2cm in this case.

The better solution would be to replace the levers, but maybe I'll try m-bars first, for fun, and then when that isn't enough, I'll put normal brake levers on.


Illustration included.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Maybe bring the levers a bit closer - even if they end up sitting higher on the bars than looks "right"? Sound like you're running out of options. Might need to either go for surgery, or trade for something than fits better.
+1 - I've done this on one bike that was a little long in the tube. Not so much by moving the brake levers on the bar but just rotating the bar a little in the stem. Didn't look exactly right, but it did help.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:32 PM
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For me, when it feels like I have too much weight on my hands it generally means my position is too far forward (my center of gravity isn't above the bottom bracket, but a head of it). Pushing the saddle back usually solves the weight distribution issue but also extends my reach to the bars. This often feels too stretched out at first, but after the first 10 miles or so I tend to relax into the bike and it feels great to lengthen out. I think bike fit tends to be alot of trial and error until your body just loosens up and confirms to the bike. Bike fit experts might argue otherwise.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by banjo_mole View Post
Well, I went outside and played with it for a while, and I've decided it's definitely the levers causing the trouble. I've given it another look, and the drops fit fine. The corners of the bars are fine. It's my favorite position, the hoods, that are too stretched out.

This is because the Cane Creeks' aren't dedicated aero levers as much as levers for modern bikes, so they emulate the shape of modern Ergos and STI's, which are a little bit longer than old aero brake levers, by about 2cm in this case.

The better solution would be to replace the levers, but maybe I'll try m-bars first, for fun, and then when that isn't enough, I'll put normal brake levers on.


Illustration included.
I have trouble getting comfy on the Tektro levers, which are the same shape, but i really love the older Shimano and Dia Compe aero levers. I have never seen the old ones with gum hoods, so good luck with that.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:45 PM
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I dislike the Tektro (Cane Creek) levers. I also think they're clunky and ugly.
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Old 11-09-10, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by aixaix View Post
If you are determined to use the frame you have, your options are: taller & shorter stem, upright bars, shorter cranks & moving the saddle forward.
I have similar problems in that I have very short arms and very small hands. I used to think the same way... shorten the stem, raise the stem which will bring it back a little toward the seat and closer to my shoulders, move the seat forward, etc. And then I realized I could trim 2 to 3 cm off my reach requirement by getting a handlebar with short reach. There are bars out there that are 75 to 80 mm reach c-c and there are many more bars that are typically 90 to 110 or more reach c-c. It is a part of the equation that many riders don't think about. To determine the reach of a handlebar, set the drops flat on a surface and push the bars against a wall and then simply measure from the wall to the edge of the bars closest to the wall at the stem mounting area and that will give you a c-c measurement for reach. Your bars could be 110 to 120 mm reach and reducing that would eliminate a major part of your problem.
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Old 11-09-10, 05:30 PM
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It's probably not what you were hoping to do, but if you really want this bike to be comfortable to ride, the suggestions above to use north road bars (or something else that's more swept-back than drops) might give you the best fit.

Or find a frame with a more suitable top-tube length.
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Old 11-09-10, 09:54 PM
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I guess some bikes end up with MTB-ish dimensions when they get that small? I saw a Fuji Touring III that had something like a 46cm ST and 52cm TT.

As for recommendations, the Midge On One bars are wide, shallow, and have short reach if you can deal with the dirt drop flair. You may also be interested in the smaller Tektro/Cane Creek levers (there's the big "brifter-ish" one and one that's meant for smaller hands).
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Old 11-10-10, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dashuaigeh View Post
You may also be interested in the smaller Tektro/Cane Creek levers (there's the big "brifter-ish" one and one that's meant for smaller hands).
I think you're mistaken. I believe the hood sizes are the same and the only difference is the size of the lever itself.
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Old 11-10-10, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelJLloyd View Post
I think you're mistaken. I believe the hood sizes are the same and the only difference is the size of the lever itself.
ah, if that's so, my bad.
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Old 11-10-10, 09:19 AM
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Nick, you may also want to consider using more of a riser-type stem like a Nitto Dirtdrop or a less-expensive copy; I solved a similar problem that way.
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Old 11-15-10, 11:08 AM
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Also, does anyone know if there's a handlebar similar to this one, (very shallow and short) with a traditional clamp diameter?




(Or a 1" threaded stem with a 31.8 clamp that can go up nice and high like the Dirtdrop or Technomic can?)
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Old 11-15-10, 08:02 PM
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A shorter reach stem will compensate for the longer reach levers, and the handling dynamics will be as before with the previous levers & stem. The dynamics on the flats, corners & drops may be a little bit "twitchier" than before. I'll leave the aesthetics to others more qualified to comment.
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Old 11-15-10, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by dashuaigeh View Post
I guess some bikes end up with MTB-ish dimensions when they get that small? I saw a Fuji Touring III that had something like a 46cm ST and 52cm TT.
I just sold a Raleigh Pursuit with a 50cm ST and a 55cm TT...seems like odd proportions.
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Old 11-15-10, 09:04 PM
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Banjo, would you be interested in my Aero Gran Compe levers w/gum-color hoods? They're a bit shorter than the Creeks.

-Kurt
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Old 11-16-10, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
A shorter reach stem will compensate for the longer reach levers, and the handling dynamics will be as before with the previous levers & stem. The dynamics on the flats, corners & drops may be a little bit "twitchier" than before. I'll leave the aesthetics to others more qualified to comment.
True, but keep in mind that although a shorter reach stem will fix the problem on the hoods, it will ruin the rather good fit that I have in the drops right now.

Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Banjo, would you be interested in my Aero Gran Compe levers w/gum-color hoods? They're a bit shorter than the Creeks.

-Kurt
PM sent!
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Old 11-16-10, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by banjo_mole View Post
True, but keep in mind that although a shorter reach stem will fix the problem on the hoods, it will ruin the rather good fit that I have in the drops right now.
Yes, I left the obvious unsaid.
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