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how flexible for race bike?

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how flexible for race bike?

Old 11-14-20, 09:24 PM
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btppberk
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how flexible for race bike?

I'd like to buy a new bike but I'd like it to be a racier bike rather than an endurance. I know that it all depends on the body and the bike, and that a bike fit before purchasing is the way to go, but what's a rough rule of thumb for how flexible you need to be to comfortably fit a race geometry without a big stack of spacers?

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Old 11-14-20, 10:22 PM
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Touch your toes? I actually haven't heard of a real standard.

This is mine from the start of the season, I've since flipped the stem which probably dropped it another .5-.75 on an inch, nothing major though. Its still higher then my track bike and I ride that in the drops but the track has shorter cranks that keep the knees from hitting the gut and only have to maintain the position for 4000 meters at most. The race I ride the hoods and can comfortably do so for 3-4 hours. There is a limit of how much stack height you can have with a carbon steerer tube, usually 1.5" for a 1 1/8 steerer so there is that.
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Old 11-15-20, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I'd like to buy a new bike but I'd like it to be a racier bike rather than an endurance. I know that it all depends on the body and the bike, and that a bike fit before purchasing is the way to go, but what's a rough rule of thumb for how flexible you need to be to comfortably fit a race geometry without a big stack of spacers?
Nobody will be comfortable riding in race geometry, the first time they do.

Comfort in race geometry will only come after months of training in that position. Before that time, You might deal with lots of pain.

If you already have athletic level fitness and no underlying medical conditions that would badly affect flexibility, the only rule of thumb is how determined you are in adapting your body to race geometry.
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Old 11-15-20, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I'd like to buy a new bike but I'd like it to be a racier bike rather than an endurance. I know that it all depends on the body and the bike, and that a bike fit before purchasing is the way to go, but what's a rough rule of thumb for how flexible you need to be to comfortably fit a race geometry without a big stack of spacers?
I am a 57 year old clyde and ride both a race and endurance geometry to equal levels of mediocrity.

Glenn
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Old 11-15-20, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Nobody will be comfortable riding in race geometry, the first time they do.

Comfort in race geometry will only come after months of training in that position. Before that time, You might deal with lots of pain.

If you already have athletic level fitness and no underlying medical conditions that would badly affect flexibility, the only rule of thumb is how determined you are in adapting your body to race geometry.
I was completely comfortable on my race bike, sitting on it in the shop on their trainer, perfectly comfortable. I was in my mid-50s. I'd ridden a race bike in my teens though it was a French-fit bike, really all there was back then. I wasn't a couch potato. I was active, skied, hiked. could easily touch my toes, had been riding French-fit bikes for 5 years before purchase. (French-fit = bars level with saddle.) First time I rode it on the road, I knew I'd bought a rocket ship.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I was completely comfortable on my race bike, sitting on it in the shop on their trainer, perfectly comfortable. I was in my mid-50s. I'd ridden a race bike in my teens though it was a French-fit bike, really all there was back then. I wasn't a couch potato. I was active, skied, hiked. could easily touch my toes, had been riding French-fit bikes for 5 years before purchase. (French-fit = bars level with saddle.) First time I rode it on the road, I knew I'd bought a rocket ship.
You probably skied in aero position!

When I first rode in a race/pro geometry on easy rides, my neck hurt. On higher intensity training rides, the lungs, lower back, abdomen, and shoulders started hurting - in that order of intensity. I'm already slim and fit when I first got into race geometry. The lungs hurting the most and I experienced sharp, stabbing pain in the chest 24 hrs per day for two weeks! It felt like angina but a lot worse! Then abdominal pain which lasted a week which felt like being punched in that region. Lower back pain only during training and the pain is sufficient enough for me to back down on my intervals. Shoulder pain also lasted for a week during and post-rides but not an issue for the most part. My training continued uninterrupted despite the intense pain.

I think it might have been prudent to take a trip to the hospital just to be sure. But I didn't. Can't afford hospital bills, lol! Luckily, none of the intense pain I experienced were serious. I did not cough blood nor got ill at any point.

After a month, all the pain is gone. It took even longer to regain my aerobic capacity and power output riding in racing posture in and out of the saddle. Eventually, after 2 months after I went race geometry, I'm now completely comfortable and relaxed in race posture in and out of the saddle, including the Mark Cavendish sprint posture.
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Old 11-15-20, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
You probably skied in aero position!

When I first rode in a race/pro geometry on easy rides, my neck hurt. On higher intensity training rides, the lungs, lower back, abdomen, and shoulders started hurting - in that order of intensity. I'm already slim and fit when I first got into race geometry. The lungs hurting the most and I experienced sharp, stabbing pain in the chest 24 hrs per day for two weeks! It felt like angina but a lot worse! Then abdominal pain which lasted a week which felt like being punched in that region. Lower back pain only during training and the pain is sufficient enough for me to back down on my intervals. Shoulder pain also lasted for a week during and post-rides but not an issue for the most part. My training continued uninterrupted despite the intense pain.

I think it might have been prudent to take a trip to the hospital just to be sure. But I didn't. Can't afford hospital bills, lol! Luckily, none of the intense pain I experienced were serious. I did not cough blood nor got ill at any point.

After a month, all the pain is gone. It took even longer to regain my aerobic capacity and power output riding in racing posture in and out of the saddle. Eventually, after 2 months after I went race geometry, I'm now completely comfortable and relaxed in race posture in and out of the saddle, including the Mark Cavendish sprint posture.
I trained for downhill but only raced one. Long time ago. I could put my knees in my armpits. Just now tried that. I'm about 2" away from getting them solidly in there - I'm too fat. Sit on a chair, spread your legs, reach down between your legs, put your fingers under your heels and pull down. One should be able to pull ones shoulders down between one's knees.

My guess us that your early pain was cramping. Doesn't take much to reach overuse if one hasn't been doing something similar. My wife an I joined a gym in 1979 and have done weight and aerobic training consistently since then. Weight training is fabulous for flexibility if one does everything full range of motion. Plus I did skilled manual work until I retired 10 years ago. I had to work out at the gym just to be able to do what I had to do. After I started riding again at 50, I'd work until 5, then hit the rollers for an hour, then go to the gym for another hour. I don't recover fast enough now to be able to do that most days.
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Old 11-15-20, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I trained for downhill but only raced one. Long time ago. I could put my knees in my armpits. Just now tried that. I'm about 2" away from getting them solidly in there - I'm too fat. Sit on a chair, spread your legs, reach down between your legs, put your fingers under your heels and pull down. One should be able to pull ones shoulders down between one's knees.
There's the reason why you're comfy in race geo!

I don't think mine was cramping. The worst pain I had in the chest/lungs lingered for 24 hrs a day and even the ribs hurt. Lower back pain only occured during the hard rides which would go away if I go easy on the intensity. Shoulder pain also lingered 24 hrs.

I struggled for two weeks of intense pain until the pain levels subsided and completely gone after a little over 1 month.

I think pain or even intense pain isn't always sign you're not cut out for race geo. There's always room for improvement. Although it's a gamble for me since getting checked at the hospital is not an option due to costs. I was just very lucky, I didn't get any permanent injury out of the training. I think for many who can easily afford hospital bills or access to socialized healthcare, can simply run to the hospital in the first sign of pain just to make sure nothing's wrong.
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Old 11-16-20, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I'd like to buy a new bike but I'd like it to be a racier bike rather than an endurance. I know that it all depends on the body and the bike, and that a bike fit before purchasing is the way to go, but what's a rough rule of thumb for how flexible you need to be to comfortably fit a race geometry without a big stack of spacers?
What's the saddle to handlebar drop on the bikes you currently ride? Try bikes that give you something lower than those bike and come with a big stack of spacers new out of the box.

Then as you ride and get used to being at one level, take a spacer or two out and get used to that.

I typically find that as my beer gut gets bigger during the winter, I don't get as low and spend more time on the top of the hoods. By late spring, I can stay in the drops much longer. I've still got a spacer I'm toying with the idea of removing. But I think I'll need a shorter stem to do that comfortably.
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Old 11-16-20, 10:26 PM
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It's not just saddle/bar drop, but short wheelbase steep angles and stiff construction making for a harsher ride,

so you want to have enough fitness to have the body provide the shock absorption.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
What's the saddle to handlebar drop on the bikes you currently ride? Try bikes that give you something lower than those bike and come with a big stack of spacers new out of the box.

Then as you ride and get used to being at one level, take a spacer or two out and get used to that.

I typically find that as my beer gut gets bigger during the winter, I don't get as low and spend more time on the top of the hoods. By late spring, I can stay in the drops much longer. I've still got a spacer I'm toying with the idea of removing. But I think I'll need a shorter stem to do that comfortably.
Thanks for the help. That's a good idea. I could take a spacer out from my current bike and see how that goes. Would I have to adjust anything else?

My problem is my flexibility, though I'm working on that. In the meantime, my current bike is driving me crazy and I'd like to upgrade. I suppose I could buy the bike I aspire to and get refit in a few months when I am more flexible.


Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
It's not just saddle/bar drop, but short wheelbase steep angles and stiff construction making for a harsher ride,

so you want to have enough fitness to have the body provide the shock absorption.
Interesting. I didn't know that. It seems my current bike--which is an 9-yearold race bike with a bunch of spacers--has a shorter wheelbase and about the same angles as many race bikes now.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:34 AM
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I'm trying to get a rough approximation of how my current bike fit would compare to a new bike. Does it make sense to calculate its stack with the added spacers to get an approximate stack/reach ratio?
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Old 11-17-20, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
Thanks for the help. That's a good idea. I could take a spacer out from my current bike and see how that goes. Would I have to adjust anything else?
You can also replace the stem with +-35 degree angle to further lower the handlbar.

My problem is my flexibility
I also experienced severe discomfort, intense, lingering pain, and even possibly injured some of my internal organs when I kept on training in race geo for the first time. Eventually, after one month of pain and suffering, I healed (naturally, I never went to the hospital) and no longer had any discomfort on race geo after that. My body has adapted!

Here's my CX bike with the 35 degree stem flipped upside down and all spacers moved above the stem. You'll see the handlebar is quite low against the 700c wheels. The frame is two sizes smaller for me as a race geo bike should be. I ride it on the drops most of the time, even during climbs

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Old 11-17-20, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
Thanks for the help. That's a good idea. I could take a spacer out from my current bike and see how that goes. Would I have to adjust anything else?
You might need to change something to adjust your reach. Stem will be my choice for my set of circumstances. But you might not need to change anything else. At least not for the time you might want to try it out. You could scoot the saddle up a little to compensate some. Whether that is a long term solution or not is dependent on other fit factors.

The spacer gets put on top of the stem when you remove it. If you have never played with stem height on threadless headsets and aren't too spiffy with other DIY items, then let a mechanic at a bike shop or someone that has done this before show you the first time.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:47 PM
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I'm glad your body adapted. But I'll pass on a month of searing pain! Nice bike though!
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Old 11-17-20, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
You might need to change something to adjust your reach. Stem will be my choice for my set of circumstances. But you might not need to change anything else. At least not for the time you might want to try it out. You could scoot the saddle up a little to compensate some. Whether that is a long term solution or not is dependent on other fit factors.

The spacer gets put on top of the stem when you remove it. If you have never played with stem height on threadless headsets and aren't too spiffy with other DIY items, then let a mechanic at a bike shop or someone that has done this before show you the first time.
Thanks for the tips and good idea about the mechanic! I'll follow your advice on getting their help.
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Old 11-17-20, 01:51 PM
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When I said
You could scoot the saddle up
, I meant scoot it ithe the horizontal direction of up which is also known as forward.
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Old 11-20-20, 11:04 PM
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IMHO, Unless you have back or neck problems most ppl can ride a road bike. Looking through your eyebrows instead of the natural full face forward helps the neck. It's more about your position on the bike that helps make it comfortable. I like to give my take on how to ride a road bike when I do fits.
Try this:
Stand up, bend over at the waist until your back muscles are relaxed and your core takes your torso weight. About 75°- 80°. Hold your arms out with 90° elbow, like you're on a road bike. Lift one foot. Feel how your torso weight is transferred through your core and legs to the floor (the pedal). That's pretty close to what your full speed position should feel like. Say in the 53x15.
Greg Lemond wrote "The Complete Book of Cycling" and stated during his cycling clinics riders couldn't get in the proper position if the seat tube angle was greater than 73°, (page 132). Most bikes today don't have 73° seat tubes. They (mfrs) are more interested in tight race geometry which means 74° seat tubes it gets worse the smaller they go, it also depends on size and manufacturer. Just look at their geometry charts. The position is related to the BB. When they stand the seat tube up, they also move the BB back. A lot of ppl don't take frame geometry into account. They're more worried about brand status.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of saddle length.
In order to get this position the saddle center needs to be at 73° and the bars need to be moved back. Being back lets you spread the work out more on your quads, the power stroke starts sooner and gives you a better saddle anchor and torso weight anchor to power the pedals from. The fads of long stems and forward saddles in combination with the new geometry really ruin the power position I describe. I believe most riders are on a bike that's too big for them. The top tube prevents getting back far enough. And then shops that do KOPS move the saddle farther forward. That moves your CG closer to the front which weights your hands and prevents weight transfer to the pedals.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of different saddle lengths.
So the best way to get a stack measurement to prevent a lot of spacers is to get a dynamic (pedaling at speed in describe position) stack and reach fit. When you do, have them keep the saddle center at 73°.
I just describe what I think. Try it, if it works for you, even better. I'm 5'6" so a small bike. Today's bike geometry is not for short riders. The position and fit I describe is the same for tall riders but their frames are closer to 72° 73°, so they have a built in advantage.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-22-20, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I'm glad your body adapted. But I'll pass on a month of searing pain! Nice bike though!
It's well worth it to adapt to become comfortable in race geo. At the very least, you'll be less affected by wind (both head and crosswinds) and generally able to raise your cruising speed, really really useful if you ride or planning to ride with a fast group.
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Old 11-22-20, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by aceSSone View Post
Greg Lemond wrote "The Complete Book of Cycling" and stated during his cycling clinics riders couldn't get in the proper position if the seat tube angle was greater than 73°, (page 132). Most bikes today don't have 73° seat tubes. They (mfrs) are more interested in tight race geometry which means 74° seat tubes it gets worse the smaller they go, it also depends on size and manufacturer. Just look at their geometry charts. The position is related to the BB. When they stand the seat tube up, they also move the BB back. A lot of ppl don't take frame geometry into account. They're more worried about brand status.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of saddle length.
In order to get this position the saddle center needs to be at 73° and the bars need to be moved back. Being back lets you spread the work out more on your quads, the power stroke starts sooner and gives you a better saddle anchor and torso weight anchor to power the pedals from. The fads of long stems and forward saddles in combination with the new geometry really ruin the power position I describe. I believe most riders are on a bike that's too big for them. The top tube prevents getting back far enough. And then shops that do KOPS move the saddle farther forward. That moves your CG closer to the front which weights your hands and prevents weight transfer to the pedals.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of different saddle lengths.
So the best way to get a stack measurement to prevent a lot of spacers is to get a dynamic (pedaling at speed in describe position) stack and reach fit. When you do, have them keep the saddle center at 73°.
I just describe what I think. Try it, if it works for you, even better. I'm 5'6" so a small bike. Today's bike geometry is not for short riders. The position and fit I describe is the same for tall riders but their frames are closer to 72° 73°, so they have a built in advantage.

Hope that helps.
I agree with this one in terms of comfort and power.

Generally, I like my saddle adjusted as far back until I can take my hands off the handlebar without falling forward. This adjustment eases the pressure on the arms (as you have mentioned) and hands and the shoulders too.

More setback on the saddle also allows me to produce more power with my hamstrings so I can reduce the workload on my quads. Basically allows me to distribute the workload on more muscles, reducing muscle fatigue which improves overall performance.
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Old 11-22-20, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I agree with this one in terms of comfort and power.

Generally, I like my saddle adjusted as far back until I can take my hands off the handlebar without falling forward. This adjustment eases the pressure on the arms (as you have mentioned) and hands and the shoulders too.

More setback on the saddle also allows me to produce more power with my hamstrings so I can reduce the workload on my quads. Basically allows me to distribute the workload on more muscles, reducing muscle fatigue which improves overall performance.
I'm exactly the same way. That said, it's obvious over in the rolling hills thread that racers have moved on from this and now favor a forward position to open the hip angle, which improves breathing and aero, though at the cost of some comfort. The tougher you are and the better shape you're in, the more discomfort you can handle. Just how it is. I think some of us can remember back when racers rode box rims for climbing because they're lighter. Now they run heavier deep rims because their climbing speeds are so high. Aero has taken over. That said, most cyclists aren't strong enough to take enough advantage of these positions and equipment to make them worthwhile. IMO.
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Old 11-22-20, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I'm exactly the same way. That said, it's obvious over in the rolling hills thread that racers have moved on from this and now favor a forward position to open the hip angle, which improves breathing and aero, though at the cost of some comfort. The tougher you are and the better shape you're in, the more discomfort you can handle. Just how it is. I think some of us can remember back when racers rode box rims for climbing because they're lighter. Now they run heavier deep rims because their climbing speeds are so high. Aero has taken over. That said, most cyclists aren't strong enough to take enough advantage of these positions and equipment to make them worthwhile. IMO.
I have forced myself into the position! Only now I was able to do long sustained efforts without having lower back pain and all discomfort gone. It took me 3 months to adapt to race geo. The last to go away was the lower back pain.

More setback is actually less comfortable for me at first. Stretches my hamstrings more than I'm normally used to.
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Old 11-22-20, 09:31 PM
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shelbyfv
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Originally Posted by aceSSone View Post
IMHO, Unless you have back or neck problems most ppl can ride a road bike. Looking through your eyebrows instead of the natural full face forward helps the neck. It's more about your position on the bike that helps make it comfortable. I like to give my take on how to ride a road bike when I do fits.
Try this:
Stand up, bend over at the waist until your back muscles are relaxed and your core takes your torso weight. About 75°- 80°. Hold your arms out with 90° elbow, like you're on a road bike. Lift one foot. Feel how your torso weight is transferred through your core and legs to the floor (the pedal). That's pretty close to what your full speed position should feel like. Say in the 53x15.
Greg Lemond wrote "The Complete Book of Cycling" and stated during his cycling clinics riders couldn't get in the proper position if the seat tube angle was greater than 73°, (page 132). Most bikes today don't have 73° seat tubes. They (mfrs) are more interested in tight race geometry which means 74° seat tubes it gets worse the smaller they go, it also depends on size and manufacturer. Just look at their geometry charts. The position is related to the BB. When they stand the seat tube up, they also move the BB back. A lot of ppl don't take frame geometry into account. They're more worried about brand status.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of saddle length.
In order to get this position the saddle center needs to be at 73° and the bars need to be moved back. Being back lets you spread the work out more on your quads, the power stroke starts sooner and gives you a better saddle anchor and torso weight anchor to power the pedals from. The fads of long stems and forward saddles in combination with the new geometry really ruin the power position I describe. I believe most riders are on a bike that's too big for them. The top tube prevents getting back far enough. And then shops that do KOPS move the saddle farther forward. That moves your CG closer to the front which weights your hands and prevents weight transfer to the pedals.
Keith Bontrager, frame builder wrote an article called The Myth of KOPS. When he builds custom frames, he centers the rider center of gravity over the down pedal power stroke.
The position I describe does just that. My training recommends a saddle setback of 10% of saddle height. But there is a variation bc of different saddle lengths.
So the best way to get a stack measurement to prevent a lot of spacers is to get a dynamic (pedaling at speed in describe position) stack and reach fit. When you do, have them keep the saddle center at 73°.
I just describe what I think. Try it, if it works for you, even better. I'm 5'6" so a small bike. Today's bike geometry is not for short riders. The position and fit I describe is the same for tall riders but their frames are closer to 72° 73°, so they have a built in advantage.

Hope that helps.
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