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My bike is too small - what are my options?

Old 04-21-11, 06:34 AM
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NotTheOne
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My bike is too small - what are my options?

Hi all - I'm new to bicycle commuting, and am currently working up to doing 30-40 miles per day by the start of summer classes. I've come to the unfortunate realization that the bike I've been using, which I bought years ago when I didn't know anything about bicycling, is too small.
I have a mountain bike with a 13" seat post (This is the bike: http://fisherbikes.com/bike/archivemodel/234 )- I'm 5'6". After riding and adjusting several times, I've realized that the optimal position is 2" PAST the minimum insertion point on my seat post. Is it possible to put a longer seat post in it? Or do I need to give in and get a bike with a larger frame? I'm pretty much out of money to spend on this for a few months.
TIA for any help.

Last edited by NotTheOne; 04-24-11 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 04-21-11, 06:47 AM
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scroca
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A picture of the bike with you on it might help.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:01 AM
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NotTheOne
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Sure, I'll try and get one later today. All I have is a camera phone and no one else in my house is awake right now.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:32 AM
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I have a mountain bike with a 13" stem

Do you mean a 13" seat post? You might be able to find a longer one but it's definitely a bad idea to violate the minimum insertion mark on your current post by that much; you'd be better off with the seat too low. Even if you do find a longer post your bike won't fit right. There are no good answers that don't involve a different bike.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:58 AM
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With that long of a commute, effeciency and comfort are very important. Get a new bike that fits you properly.
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Old 04-21-11, 08:07 AM
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If you want, you could either get a bigger bike, or have a shop rebuild it with a bigger frame. Warning: they are going to want you to buy a whole new bike, and if you're thinking of upgrading, now would be a good time. But if you're hard up for money, a bigger frame is just about your only good choice. You can get a decent frome for $100 from Nashbar.com
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Old 04-21-11, 08:09 AM
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you might be able to just buy a longer seat post

another option is to get shorter
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Old 04-21-11, 08:11 AM
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Yep get a nashbar frame for <100$

Or a new seat post for like 30$

Or a new bike for a couple hundred+
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Old 04-21-11, 08:16 AM
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My bike is just a tad too small for me, but I've been riding it for 11 years. A couple of things that I've tried- Put the seat all the way back on the rails put the seat post to the very edge of the min insertion line, cheat a bit and don't mate the top of the seat bracket to the top of the seatpost (I wouldn't do this too far, a mm or so). Not that this will gain you 2", but you might buy yourself a 1/4 - 1/2 inch leg extension if you do all of them. All of my stuff is pretty heavy duty steel, I'm not much of a weight weenie. Your gear may vary greatly from mine, and it might not be a good idea to put it to the test. A new frame isn't hard to come by. There are dudes all over the place with old used frames on CL.
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Old 04-21-11, 08:26 AM
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At 5'6 you're certainly in the zone where most smaller bikes should suit you. My wife is 5'6 and rides a 48-50cm or XS size frame. Unless you have disproportionately long legs (or torso) your bike must be quite small.

I would think that a longer seatpost might be what you need - pay attention to the relationship between the seat and the handlebars - as you raise the saddle the horizontal distance to the bars increases (because of the angle) - if you have a short torso, this could cause you to be too stretched out without changes to the handlebar stem/bars.

What type of bike is it? Mountain bike, road bike, hybrid?
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Old 04-21-11, 09:09 AM
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Sounds like you are a student, am I right? Look around campus. There's bound to be someone riding around who's smaller than you on a bike worth about what your's is worth. Offer a trade! Maybe post a trade ad in Craigslist, or just on a bulletin board on campus. Should be easy to find one!
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Old 04-21-11, 09:11 AM
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Oops, I meant to say someone smaller than you on a bike that's too big for them...
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Old 04-21-11, 06:13 PM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I do have a longer torso, and it's a mountain bike. I think I'll try moving the seat back then getting a new seat post if that doesn't work. Hopefully I can get by on that until I can find a new frame or bike.
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Old 04-22-11, 10:16 AM
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You can try a longer seatpost and a longer stem (to move the handlebars farther forward). 30-40 miles/day will be long enough to show you if what you're doing will or won't work for you. Good luck.
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Old 04-22-11, 10:22 AM
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Get a bike that fits.
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Old 04-22-11, 10:31 AM
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You can buy a longer seat post with more set back. You can also purchase a different stem.

Without knowing your area you can try Craigslist, pawn shops, coops, auctions and LBS that sell used and pick up something more suitable for not a lot of $$$. You can also ask mom & dad to help out as an early christmas/birthday present.
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Old 04-22-11, 09:02 PM
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Yes, you can get a longer seatpost. A new budget part should cost around $20, maybe you get lucky and find a part on CL or in the bike shop used/takeoff bin.

Beyond that determining fit will likely be hard for you to guess. Raising your seat 2" will move you further from the bars and lower them in relation to your seat. This is will be a significant change and will likely require some time to adjust.
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Old 04-22-11, 09:36 PM
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safer to get another frame... longer seat post can also increase torque on the frame and crack the frame lower down on some sort of jolt or crash.
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Old 04-23-11, 07:43 PM
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In the old days frame size was much more important because of the limited length of available seatposts. Now with 400mm seat posts available, you will probably be able to make your frame work for you. You might eventually consider a dedicated commuting bike. I know when I was commuting, the roads I used were often very rough and I used larger section tires to prevent pinch flats and flat spotted rims. Moderate tires on your mountain bike will work well for that, but riding in the dirt is compromised unless you change tires or have a spare set of wheels with dirt tires mounted.
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Old 04-23-11, 10:30 PM
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Longer seatpost with setback, longer hi rise stem, and be sure your saddle rails let you push the saddle all the way back. Don't rush to buy another bike, you might just end up with another that doesn't fit. Make this bike work for you now, then take your time finding a replacement bike.
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Old 04-23-11, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NotTheOne View Post
Hi all - I'm new to bicycle commuting, and am currently working up to doing 30-40 miles per day by the start of summer classes. I've come to the unfortunate realization that the bike I've been using, which I bought years ago when I didn't know anything about bicycling, is too small.
I have a mountain bike with a 13" stem - I'm 5'6". After riding and adjusting several times, I've realized that the optimal position is 2" PAST the minimum insertion point on my seat post. Is it possible to put a longer seat post in it? Or do I need to give in and get a bike with a larger frame? I'm pretty much out of money to spend on this for a few months.
TIA for any help.
That's alot of mileage for a commute on an mtb. Unless it's all or mostly urban. A longer seatpost will certainly help and be the cheapest resolution, but you'll need to get street tires, rack, fenders, etc., etc. if you're going to commute in all weather. Commuter gear threads are available by the hundreds on this sub-forum.

By 'stem' I'm assuming you mean the seatpost. The stem is the part the handlebars go through that connects to the headtube/fork assembly.
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