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Commuter bike fit question

Old 04-03-23, 12:01 PM
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aliasfox
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Commuter bike fit question

Hi all,


I'm an in-season member over on the Roadie side of this forum, but have a question that probably pertains more to commuting, so figured I should come here.


Later this year, I may be moving somewhere that has a lot of flat ground, has a temperate climate, and is bike friendly with lots of MUPs and bike boulevards. For trips and errands that are 7-8 miles or less in each direction, I'm considering assembling a bike that can do comfortable duty as a commuter - fairly upright/comfortable positioning, with a flat handlebar, where I could install a rack on the back to stash a bag. Figure I can save on gas for most small errands.


Why assemble a bike, rather than buy a fitness/commuter/hybrid fully assembled? Because I already have a fair number of parts from prior upgrade/fit changes that I can probably adapt, including wheels, brake rotors, cassette, and chain that still have life left in them. I even have some cockpit components that could get reused, though that's more fit dependent. Additionally, I'd prefer to look for something in steel.


My main question is this: how would I translate my understanding of roadie geometry into a more relaxing bike?


For reference, my rides right now:

- Lynskey R270, and IIRC, the stack and reach figures are ~575mm and ~380mm. I run a 100mm stem and 5mm of spacers. This results in a comfortable position cruising in the drops.

- Cannondale CAAD8 (2016), with 555mm and ~380mm of stack and reach. I run a 120mm stem and 15mm of spacers. This bike feels a bit aggressive while cruising, but good for quick accelerations and descending.


The Giant Fastroad has a 407mm reach in an ML, and a Specialized Sirrus is pretty similar at 398mm in M, both with stacks that are close to 600mm. Is that what I should look for if I'm planning on pairing with a short stem and straight handlebars? Would getting a road frame that's a size up from what I normally ride give me something similar from a fit perspective?


I've been looking at options such as the State 4130 All Road and Twin Six Rando 2.0 - but they both have reach numbers that are much shorter, even though they're also sold with flat bars and short stems, so would love some insight here!


Thanks!
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Old 04-03-23, 01:29 PM
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storckm
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I'm not a geometry expert, but I'd recommend test riding a few commuterish frames to get an idea what you want.
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Old 04-03-23, 01:37 PM
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Why not just get a road bike with the proper stack and reach with rack mounts?
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Old 04-03-23, 02:05 PM
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storckm, I may test ride some - just not eager to do so when I'm in still in Manhattan. Was hoping to get some thoughts on this from someone who may already have a drop bar bike and a flat bar bike. My thinking is that I can start looking for a frame (new or lightly used) now, and be ready to pull the trigger as soon as the move is confirmed. If I'm in the right ballpark, then fine tuning is a matter of stem and spacers, which are inexpensive and easy to swap.

Germany_chris - I'm actually looking at a lot of gravel or endurance frames, and that's what prompted the question - does the switch to a flat bar really necessitate the big jump in reach. And the big reason not to build this next bike as a drop bar road bike is that I'm concerned that I won't ever want to ride the slower, heavier, more upright road bike when I have faster and lower bikes in the garage. Currently, all of my bikes have dedicated purposes/locations, but if this move happens, I'll have two road bikes and a commuter bike all in the same garage.
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Old 04-04-23, 10:26 AM
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As a year round commuter in an area with four season my thought on commuter bikes is this: I'd want to have the lightest, fastest, and most modern bike I can afford to have it ravaged by wintry elements, or in the case where the bike needs to be locked up, to have it stolen.

As far as comfort is concerned, after riding so many years on exclusively drop bar bikes, I would never ride a flat bar bike for any length of time if I can avoid doing so. You just have to go with whatever you find comfortable with your road and gravel bikes, and stick with that.
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Old 04-04-23, 12:27 PM
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Dedicated flat bar frames have more reach because the hands are not as far in front of the steering as you do with a drop bar. You can add reach to a road frame with a reachy handlebar that has a neutral hand angle like a Salsa Bend. It might not be dead on but it will be an improvement

Flat bar controls have different cable pull. Usually the easiest way to deal with this is to use the compatible derailleurs and brakes. That will blow up your parts bin savings in short order
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Old 04-04-23, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006
As a year round commuter in an area with four season my thought on commuter bikes is this: I'd want to have the lightest, fastest, and most modern bike I can afford to have it ravaged by wintry elements, or in the case where the bike needs to be locked up, to have it stolen.

As far as comfort is concerned, after riding so many years on exclusively drop bar bikes, I would never ride a flat bar bike for any length of time if I can avoid doing so. You just have to go with whatever you find comfortable with your road and gravel bikes, and stick with that.
That's the purpose for this build - a relatively inexpensive build, with some parts quite literally from my parts bin. With a GRX600 drivetrain, it will be less expensive than my Ultegra equipped road bikes, and a steel frame ought to be able to take a few knocks. I can either run it with a rack and go around town, or strip off the rack and ride on some hardpack MUPs with the wife.

I wouldn't plan on riding this for 'any length of time-' this would be purpose built for rides <10 mi. Anything longer and I'll break out the Lynskey.

My current frontrunner might be a Ragley Trig frame - 400mm reach and roughly 590mm stack ought to be more relaxed with a flat bar and a short stem than my road bikes with longer stems and drop bars.
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Old 04-04-23, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
Dedicated flat bar frames have more reach because the hands are not as far in front of the steering as you do with a drop bar. You can add reach to a road frame with a reachy handlebar that has a neutral hand angle like a Salsa Bend. It might not be dead on but it will be an improvement

Flat bar controls have different cable pull. Usually the easiest way to deal with this is to use the compatible derailleurs and brakes. That will blow up your parts bin savings in short order
Thanks - this is what I was looking for. So would my true reach on my Lynskey be frame reach + stem + handlebar reach? ie, 379 + 100 + 80 = 559mm total reach?
Would my reach on a large Ragley Trig be frame reach + stem, assuming a flat bar? So 402 + 80 = 482mm total reach? In other words, my hands would be about 77mm closer than when on the road bike? Is that a good difference?

As for flat bar controls, I would grab Shimano RS700 shifters, which are their flat bar road shifters. That way, I can still use the same 11-speed cassette that I have, and keep road compatibility between my bikes (the wheels and cassette were original equipment on the Lynskey).

My expectation is that with the parts I have, I can build up a 105/GRX600 level bike for comparable cost to a Sirrus 4.0. 105/GRX600 instead of 10-sp Microshift, Deore 6100 brakes instead of Tektro. So not a bargain basement bike, but hopefully good value for an around-town bike.
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Old 04-04-23, 05:09 PM
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6100 calipers are post mount. You can hook up pretty much any Shimano hydraulic lever to any caliper, though, they all use the same master cylinder piston

When I did my conversion I found some Tektro flat mounts with flat bar levers but they are definitely nothing special.
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Old 04-05-23, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
6100 calipers are post mount. You can hook up pretty much any Shimano hydraulic lever to any caliper, though, they all use the same master cylinder piston

When I did my conversion I found some Tektro flat mounts with flat bar levers but they are definitely nothing special.
That's what I get for assuming that the pre-bled flat-bar kits mount the same way as the road calipers... thanks for the heads up. Does Shimano not sell flat mount/flat bar kits? Picked the Deore for its combination of price and ease of installation.

Post mount isn't necessarily an issue, just need to drop $50 on the adapters. Alternatively, I could buy 105 flat mount calipers and SLX levers I guess, for about the same upcharg, though I would need to get a bleed kit at that point, too. I haven't bled hydraulic brakes since my MTB Maguras 20+ years ago...
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Old 04-05-23, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
My main question is this: how would I translate my understanding of roadie geometry into a more relaxing bike?
Not that this "translation" will necessarily apply, since our specific riding postures might well differ significantly, but in my case I went from a mid-'90s factory-spec Trek 970 in a smaller size to: a fork with a much taller steerer tube, a stem with much greater rise, and swept Nitto Bosco bars, resulting in a nearly upright position. As compared to the customary athletic/aggressive forward riding posture, it's night and day.

I would think that for many bikes, ^that sort of change could be possible. Assuming, of course, your own frameset's balance didn't get upset to much by the change in weighting (fore/aft).

In general, I would look at the specific riding position you're considering. Then try to estimate the comparative stack and reach measurements that the desired position would have. Then think of what changes that frameset could tolerate. Might not be possible, if the change is too severe. In my case it was achievable, but I started by acquiring a frame small enough for the change, knowing I would be changing it.

The nice thing is, there are several different stem shapes, and many different bars. If the frame's in the range, you might well find a stem+bar combination that'll work with what you've got. (If not, the worst thing is it'd be a different frameset for that purpose [of a much-different riding position.)

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Old 04-05-23, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox
That's what I get for assuming that the pre-bled flat-bar kits mount the same way as the road calipers... thanks for the heads up. Does Shimano not sell flat mount/flat bar kits? Picked the Deore for its combination of price and ease of installation.

Post mount isn't necessarily an issue, just need to drop $50 on the adapters. Alternatively, I could buy 105 flat mount calipers and SLX levers I guess, for about the same upcharg, though I would need to get a bleed kit at that point, too. I haven't bled hydraulic brakes since my MTB Maguras 20+ years ago...
Alfine

Metrea (RIP)

There are Altus, SLX, XT, and XTR flat mount calipers but they don't come in sets with levers that I can find. And all the road groups

The new low end group whose name I'm forgetting right now probably has a flat mount caliper. Or it will soon? I don't know if they've launched the brakes yet, everyone was only talking about the drivetrain

Besides that, there's Hope. $$$ blingbling

so you definitely have plenty of choice for styling.

There are front and rear standards for flat mount but most frames use only the rear style at both ends with an adapter on the front.
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Old 04-05-23, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820
Not that this "translation" will necessarily apply, since our specific riding postures might well differ significantly, but in my case I went from a mid-'90s factory-spec Trek 970 in a smaller size to: a fork with a much taller steerer tube, a stem with much greater rise, and swept Nitto Bosco bars, resulting in a nearly upright position. As compared to the customary athletic/aggressive forward riding posture, it's night and day.

I would think that for many bikes, ^that sort of change could be possible. Assuming, of course, your own frameset's balance didn't get upset to much by the change in weighting (fore/aft).

In general, I would look at the specific riding position you're considering. Then try to estimate the comparative stack and reach measurements that the desired position would have. Then think of what changes that frameset could tolerate. Might not be possible, if the change is too severe. In my case it was achievable, but I started by acquiring a frame small enough for the change, knowing I would be changing it.

The nice thing is, there are several different stem shapes, and many different bars. If the frame's in the range, you might well find a stem+bar combination that'll work with what you've got. (If not, the worst thing is it'd be a different frameset for that purpose [of a much-different riding position.)
I'm not translating an existing bike, but trying to figure out what I should look for in a new one. My Lynskey will stay the way she is because I've finally gotten her set up in a way that I like, my Bianchi should get to enjoy her old age without being ripped apart (19 years old, and original except for tires and tubes, brake pads, shifter cables, and handlebar tape!), and my Cannondale is far too low in front for this kind of consideration.

My current frontrunner for frame and stem setup would put the handlebar about 3"/80mm closer to the saddle than on my endurance geometry Lynskey, and with 20mm of spacers, would put me about 30mm taller, as well. Just curious if anybody has any opinions on whether or not that sounds reasonable when going from a bike where I spend most of my time in the drops to a bike where I can sit up and admire the scenery comfortably.
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Old 04-05-23, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
Alfine

Metrea (RIP)

There are Altus, SLX, XT, and XTR flat mount calipers but they don't come in sets with levers that I can find. And all the road groups

The new low end group whose name I'm forgetting right now probably has a flat mount caliper. Or it will soon? I don't know if they've launched the brakes yet, everyone was only talking about the drivetrain

Besides that, there's Hope. $$$ blingbling

so you definitely have plenty of choice for styling.

There are front and rear standards for flat mount but most frames use only the rear style at both ends with an adapter on the front.
Yeah, I'll have no issue finding flat mount calipers, but was just hoping to avoid the hassle of bleeding the brakes or the ugliness of adapters. I rather enjoyed building my Cannondale, just never cared much for bleeding brakes back in the day.

I'll probably throw something like 105 or GRX600 calipers and SLX or XT levers on to maintain groupset parity/consistency. You mentioned Alfine for brakes - I did like the idea of the Alfine crank, actually, and if I can find a 39T, 11-sp model in 172.5mm, it would probably suit my build perfectly. Wouldn't really need 2 chainrings, and the chainguard would definitely be a plus for street clothes. And at a touch over 800g, it wouldn't give up much weight to a 105 or GRX600 crank (and actually save a bit of weight overall, considering I wouldn't have to mount a front derailleur or shifter).
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Old 04-06-23, 10:52 AM
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I just assembled "dry" brakes for the first time ever last weekend and didn't find it much of a hassle. Shimano brand. The only thing I wish is that the funnel that came with the Amazon bleeding set was solid yellow and should have been clear, and the included tube for the syringe should have been longer.

Internal routing of the hoses I thought would be a lot harder but with the fork out and a couple thoughtful tricks it was no biggie
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