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Can't get enough setback - Are my femurs really as long as they seem to be?

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Can't get enough setback - Are my femurs really as long as they seem to be?

Old 10-03-17, 08:50 PM
  #1  
agmetal
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Can't get enough setback - Are my femurs really as long as they seem to be?

I always struggle to get my saddle back far enough. I'm about 5'6", so I'm mostly on smaller frames with steeper seat tube angles, and I like leather saddles. I recently picked up an old SR MTE-100 seatpost with adjustable setback, and put it on one of my bikes yesterday to play around with it. The bike is a 53cm Bianchi Sport SX. It has a 74° seat tube angle, and is currently equipped with a 165mm crankset. I usually use 170mm cranks, but this is a temporary build using parts from a scrapped bike to see if I like this frame enough to keep it and put some money into really building it up.

Anyway, while I was out test-riding it with the adjustable seatpost, I ran into a photographer friend and had him get a couple pictures of me on the bike. I'm slightly surprised that it took as much setback as it did to even get to what appears to be approximately KOPS position. Are my femurs really that disproportionately long?
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Old 10-03-17, 09:22 PM
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And I thought I had trouble getting my Brookses back far enough!

Just shooting from the hip before the experts get here... your feet look like they're well back on the pedals. Are the balls of your feet over the pedal spindles?

What is your standover clearance? If you have room to move up to the 55cm frame, the seat tube angle would go to 73° and that would certainly help a little.

The whole KOPS thing is a decent starting point, but I wouldn't be afraid to let the knee end up ahead of the pedal spindle if it doesn't cause pain or get in the way of your riding otherwise.
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Old 10-03-17, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
And I thought I had trouble getting my Brookses back far enough!

Just shooting from the hip before the experts get here... your feet look like they're well back on the pedals. Are the balls of your feet over the pedal spindles?
Yes, balls of feet are over the spindles, but my feet tend to point outward so it might look like the outside of my shoe is further back. Also worth reiterating that I usually ride 5mm longer cranks.

What is your standover clearance? If you have room to move up to the 55cm frame, the seat tube angle would go to 73° and that would certainly help a little.
I tried to measure my PBH yesterday, and I'm not sure I did it correctly, because it varied depending on what i used to mark the height on the wall. The thinnest object used (a metal yardstick) gave me about 32", and something about an inch and a half thick gave me closer to 31"....so it's somewhere in that range. I'm fine with standing over a taller frame, but my usual concern is the top tube being longer and STA not decreasing by enough to accommodate it for me.

The whole KOPS thing is a decent starting point, but I wouldn't be afraid to let the knee end up ahead of the pedal spindle if it doesn't cause pain or get in the way of your riding otherwise.
I mean, I've ridden thousands of miles with less setback - I wouldn't say it causes "pain", per se, but my neck and shoulders are often killing me after a 50+ mile ride, and lately I've been finding myself needing to spend a bit more time in a more upright position. That may have more to do with putting on some weight over the last year or so, though. I was looking for KOPS as a reference point because I've always been curious how close I am to it normally, since I often feel like I'm not as planted on the saddle as I could be - or, more accurately, I don't feel like I'm balanced as well as I could be.

I tried to find pictures of myself on one of my more typically-set-up bikes, but there's nothing recent from the right kind of angle.
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Old 10-03-17, 10:59 PM
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It’s hard to tell exactly in those photos but it sure looks to me like that’s way behind KOPS. I would expect much more of an angle at the ankle for the bump below the knee to be over the ball of your foot. You can always tape a piece of string to your knee with a weight on the bottom and let it fall so it passes to the inside of your foot and then sit on the bike leaning against the wall a bit (or heck, ride around carefully) and see where the string is when you have the cranks level. Is it really the pedal spindle or is it way back behind your arch even?

Of course it doesn’t really matter as long as you are comfortable and injury free.
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Old 10-04-17, 06:32 AM
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Hello,

Best of luck with your bike fit.

I had a friend who thought he had to set up a bike like that and it was pretty spectacular when the seat post broke. If an adjustment range is maxed out, it is never a good thing. I vote pass on it.
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Old 10-04-17, 07:28 AM
  #6  
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To my eye you look like you are already behind KOPS. A 74 degree seat tube angle is pretty steep anyway so I'm not surprised that you need a radical seatpost to get the saddle back far enough. I have a custom frame with a 70 degree seat tube angle which I had built to get the saddle back far enough.

What is the outright saddle setback measurement? Measure from the tip of the saddle to the line running vertical from the centre of the bottom bracket.

A saddle setback of 50-70mm is kind of normal. If its in that range then its just that a seat tube angle of 74 degrees is just too steep for you.
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Old 10-04-17, 12:46 PM
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KOPS is just a first approximation. Basically, ignore it. Go by balance, i.e. the weight on your hands. If you feel like you have adequate weight on the front wheel, but not so much that it bothers your hands, you're fine. The fit you have looks good. Nice find on that seatpost.
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Old 10-04-17, 01:31 PM
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Your femurs don't look that long, and a 3rd vote for 'you look like you're behind KOPS.'
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Old 10-04-17, 06:53 PM
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I took some time last night to play around with the saddle position, and something I was able to use as a makeshift plumb bob. Those suggesting I'm behind KOPS in the pictures above are correct - I found myself moving the saddle forward significantly. However, to be able to get to that point (recognizing that it's only a starting point), it does take me about 55-60mm of setback beyond a 74º STA to get me there, with the clamp on the center of the saddle rails.
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Old 10-04-17, 10:01 PM
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My opinion is that setback is more about placing the hips where you feel balanced over your feet. If your center of gravity falls forward of your feet, you will have to support the upper body with your arms to keep your chin off the handlebar. If your're too far back, you sacrifice power and the bike handles funny.
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Old 10-05-17, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat View Post
My opinion is that setback is more about placing the hips where you feel balanced over your feet. If your center of gravity falls forward of your feet, you will have to support the upper body with your arms to keep your chin off the handlebar. If your're too far back, you sacrifice power and the bike handles funny.
I agree! I think the "optimal" setback is dependent on the individual's build and the bike's geometry. So the KOPS standard is just a starting point. My personal "optimal" setback is best described as "just far enough back so that I can ride no hands at low speed while in a crouch".
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Old 10-07-17, 08:27 PM
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Hey, know if I can get a seatpost like that anywhere?!?! With an inseam of 92cm/36+in., I need the saddle pretty far rearward. And I'm always messing around with my fit . . . that quick-release on the clamp would make things sooooo much easier for me!
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Old 10-11-17, 07:07 AM
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Another vote for you look like you're riding behind your KOPS.

Instead, move your seat Forward and Higher.
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Old 10-11-17, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Panza View Post
Another vote for you look like you're riding behind your KOPS.

Instead, move your seat Forward and Higher.
I'm guessing this is why fit starts with a provisional saddle height. Then KOPS for a provisional fore/aft. Then balance to refine fore/aft, dropping the height as the saddle is pushed aft.
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Old 10-11-17, 04:34 PM
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I'd worry about that seatpost breaking from the load moment being so far back. I suppose it was designed with that in mind. But I hate to think what will be ripped off my body if it fails.

I too think you look too far back. Frame looks tiny.
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Old 10-14-17, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I'd worry about that seatpost breaking from the load moment being so far back. I suppose it was designed with that in mind. But I hate to think what will be ripped off my body if it fails.

I too think you look too far back. Frame looks tiny.
If reach becomes an issue, chances are you can just get a longer stem. All the pro's are on tiny frames with really long stems : ) Why not join them.

Edit: you have a quill stem and these are hard to find longer stems for... but they are out there.
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Old 10-14-17, 01:48 PM
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The 74 degree seat angle would amount to about .5” less offset compared to a more common 73 degree.
The shorter crank about .2”. So that is an extra 18mm of seatpost offset required. If a common 25mm offset post is already needed, that makes for a lot of offset.

Originally Posted by pakossa View Post
Hey, know if I can get a seatpost like that anywhere?!?! With an inseam of 92cm/36+in., I need the saddle pretty far rearward. And I'm always messing around with my fit . . . that quick-release on the clamp would make things sooooo much easier for me!
I have 37” inseam and recently switched to a 200mm crank. Besides a huge improvement in comfort, power and endurance, it also shifted my seat forward. 20mm on one bike that had 180mm cranks, and 25mm on one with 175. I have always used 73 degree seat tubes, offset seatpost, and slammed the saddle rearward. Now they are mid rail and forward.
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Old 10-14-17, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Panza View Post
If reach becomes an issue, chances are you can just get a longer stem. All the pro's are on tiny frames with really long stems : ) Why not join them.

Edit: you have a quill stem and these are hard to find longer stems for... but they are out there.
Thanks, but it's not a reach issue.

Originally Posted by catgita View Post
The 74 degree seat angle would amount to about .5” less offset compared to a more common 73 degree.
The shorter crank about .2”. So that is an extra 18mm of seatpost offset required. If a common 25mm offset post is already needed, that makes for a lot of offset.



I have 37” inseam and recently switched to a 200mm crank. Besides a huge improvement in comfort, power and endurance, it also shifted my seat forward. 20mm on one bike that had 180mm cranks, and 25mm on one with 175. I have always used 73 degree seat tubes, offset seatpost, and slammed the saddle rearward. Now they are mid rail and forward.
73º seat tube angle may be common for someone with your inseam, but at approx. 32", most bikes that will otherwise fit me have 74º or steeper.
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Old 10-15-17, 05:03 PM
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The reason you need so much setback is because your bars are too high. Slam the stem. Lower bars will redistribute weight more evenly between the front and back, the bike will handle much better, and you'll be more comfortable. The pain in your shoulders and neck is caused by the strain and compression of having the handlebar WAAAAY too high. You're compensating for that with saddle setback but that isn't the best response to it. That will only makes things worse elsewhere, for example creating numbness in your hands. Instead you try to put your bars as low as possible, perhaps even trying deep drop bars or vintage classical bars that drop sharply at an angle from the stem like track bars. You could also try a Nitto Jaguar stem to achieve more drop. I know you won't believe a word I said because bike fit is counter-intuitive and almost everyone initially has a fervent belief that high bars will make them more comfortable but the opposite is usually true. Some people never achieve a comfortable fit because they don't go low enough. Grant Peterson is delusional about this fit issue. Every professional successful racing cyclist in the world counters his claims by example. One way to force yourself into a better riding posture is by using clip-in pedals and installing the cleats all the way back. That will force you to sit forward on the saddle and you'll naturally desire lower bars. Experiment with a radical bar drop posture. It's also possible that your handlebar reach is too great. Those vintage handlebars sometimes have enormous reach like 120mm, and if they're too far away there's a tendency to compensate by moving the saddle backwards for balance, like a triangle. You can decrease the handlebar reach by pivoting the bar forward until the lowers are parallel to the ground and installing the brakes lower. Those vintage bars don't really lend themselves to the modern compact-bar setup of flat ramps prior to the hoods. I've noticed you can buy compact bars now that fit vintage stems though. I think Uno makes some.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 10-15-17 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 10-15-17, 06:52 PM
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Handlebar height has NOTHING to do with KOPS, of positioning your legs properly.

Nowadays its a fashion to have the handlebars low compared to the saddle yet years ago elite cyclists won the TDF with handlebars kind of level with the seat. There's nothing that unusual with the handlebar height on his bike.

What's out of whack is the 74 degree seat tube angle which is WAY too steep for small bikes. I've RANTED about this before so I won't do it again here suffice to say the 74 degree seat tube angle is more about putting a short top tube length on a spec sheet than it is about positioning the legs properly.
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Old 10-16-17, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
Thanks, but it's not a reach issue.
It was an add on to my former post.

If you move your seat forward by 2-3 inches and up by 1-2 inches, you bike will have less reach and it may feel short.

This could be why you keep searching for more and more room off the rear of the bike rather than the front.
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Old 10-16-17, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
The reason you need so much setback is because your bars are too high. Slam the stem. Lower bars will redistribute weight more evenly between the front and back, the bike will handle much better, and you'll be more comfortable. The pain in your shoulders and neck is caused by the strain and compression of having the handlebar WAAAAY too high. You're compensating for that with saddle setback but that isn't the best response to it. That will only makes things worse elsewhere, for example creating numbness in your hands. Instead you try to put your bars as low as possible, perhaps even trying deep drop bars or vintage classical bars that drop sharply at an angle from the stem like track bars. You could also try a Nitto Jaguar stem to achieve more drop. I know you won't believe a word I said because bike fit is counter-intuitive and almost everyone initially has a fervent belief that high bars will make them more comfortable but the opposite is usually true. Some people never achieve a comfortable fit because they don't go low enough. Grant Peterson is delusional about this fit issue. Every professional successful racing cyclist in the world counters his claims by example. One way to force yourself into a better riding posture is by using clip-in pedals and installing the cleats all the way back. That will force you to sit forward on the saddle and you'll naturally desire lower bars. Experiment with a radical bar drop posture. It's also possible that your handlebar reach is too great. Those vintage handlebars sometimes have enormous reach like 120mm, and if they're too far away there's a tendency to compensate by moving the saddle backwards for balance, like a triangle. You can decrease the handlebar reach by pivoting the bar forward until the lowers are parallel to the ground and installing the brakes lower. Those vintage bars don't really lend themselves to the modern compact-bar setup of flat ramps prior to the hoods. I've noticed you can buy compact bars now that fit vintage stems though. I think Uno makes some.
The handlebar is set a bit higher, but still below saddle height, to help counteract the fact that the saddle is too far forward. Also, I'm not a racer.

Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
Handlebar height has NOTHING to do with KOPS, of positioning your legs properly.

Nowadays its a fashion to have the handlebars low compared to the saddle yet years ago elite cyclists won the TDF with handlebars kind of level with the seat. There's nothing that unusual with the handlebar height on his bike.

What's out of whack is the 74 degree seat tube angle which is WAY too steep for small bikes. I've RANTED about this before so I won't do it again here suffice to say the 74 degree seat tube angle is more about putting a short top tube length on a spec sheet than it is about positioning the legs properly.
This guy gets it

Originally Posted by Panza View Post
It was an add on to my former post.

If you move your seat forward by 2-3 inches and up by 1-2 inches, you bike will have less reach and it may feel short.

This could be why you keep searching for more and more room off the rear of the bike rather than the front.
Again, it's not a reach issue. If I can't get the saddle back far enough, I have too much weight on my hands, and the bike is only "comfortable" if I'm riding HARD...but guess what? I'm not a racer and have no aspirations to be one, so that's not how I prefer to ride.
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Old 10-16-17, 12:32 PM
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Have I mentioned, by the way, that this bike is an experiment? I have multiple drop bar bikes, and I have this problem on all of them. I've been able to work out, multiple times with multiple bikes, that to get the saddle clamp in the center of the rails of a typical leather saddle with a standard seatpost and have myself feeling reasonably well balanced in terms of weight distribution, I need something like a 71º seat tube angle.
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Old 10-16-17, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
Have I mentioned, by the way, that this bike is an experiment? I have multiple drop bar bikes, and I have this problem on all of them. I've been able to work out, multiple times with multiple bikes, that to get the saddle clamp in the center of the rails of a typical leather saddle with a standard seatpost and have myself feeling reasonably well balanced in terms of weight distribution, I need something like a 71º seat tube angle.
If I ever get a custom bike made, a slacker seat tube will be on the list. I'm fortunate that I can usually make Brooks saddles work with my 73° seat tubes, but the saddle is all the way back on the rails. A 72° seat tube would put the clamps closer to the middle.

Also, LOL @ the "slam your stem" advice above. Umm, right.
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Old 10-16-17, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
And I thought I had trouble getting my Brookses back far enough!

Just shooting from the hip before the experts get here... your feet look like they're well back on the pedals. Are the balls of your feet over the pedal spindles?
Moving the feet further back on the pedals would be like moving the seat forward, so that won't help much here.

Larger frames often have an slacker seat tube angle, so that is always a possibility. You don't have to have a lot of clearance.

That is a pretty short stem. If you think reach is a problem, then you could try a longer stem. 110mm or 120mm?

Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
I mean, I've ridden thousands of miles with less setback - I wouldn't say it causes "pain", per se, but my neck and shoulders are often killing me after a 50+ mile ride, and lately I've been finding myself needing to spend a bit more time in a more upright position.
Try your bike like you have it, and see if you like it. But, also look at other things. Core body strength?

How much weight are you putting on your hands? Perhaps try gripping the bars in other positions like leaning forward, gripping the tops of the levers, and letting your forearms rest on the handlebars.
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