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Old level top tube frames, longer reach

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Old level top tube frames, longer reach

Old 07-02-24, 12:18 PM
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Old level top tube frames, longer reach

Recently I have been browsing 90s cycling videos and pictures, something that seems very different from today's pros is the fit, back then , almost every rider seemed to have a lot of reach, even with positive rise stems and plenty of spacers, (or quill stem up) is this something tied to the old frames geo? Saddle setback nowadays seems to be all the way forward too, and the use of the drops is lower than before.

Cipo and co pretty stretched


Cipollini is one of the best examples of enormous reach, he is tall but today's tall pros don't seem to have that type of reach

Again, look at that close hip angle, even riding at the hoods
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Old 07-02-24, 01:13 PM
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If you keep your arms fairly straight then you probably need the bar reach to be far away. For less bar reach you need to keep a good bend in your elbows. Otherwise you'll be posting about numb hands, aching wrists and shoulders. I remember seeing a lot of people putting those old "7" quill stems on with 120mm reach or better. I've still got one on a shelf somewhere in the garage.

Yes trends change from yesterday to today. But today I feel like I see just as many with a long bar reach as I do those with a short bar reach. Part of it might be more that smaller bikes just feel more sporty.

I like the more forward saddle too and the increased saddle to bar drop lets my body naturally be able to take the weight off my hands instead of that crazy thing they talk about balancing in your saddle to keep the weight off (IMO) .
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Old 07-02-24, 02:12 PM
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Many pros today are sitting well forward right over the BB. Not a real healthy position, but it gets your back flat. With a flat back you can't reach forward.
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Old 07-02-24, 03:30 PM
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"​​​​I remember seeing a lot of people putting those old "7" quill stems on with 120mm reach or better. I've still got one on a shelf somewhere in the garage."
Now that you have mentioned, I recently switched the threaded fork of my Olmo for a threadless one, one of the main reasons is stem availability, is hard to find a longer than 120 quill stem or negative ones, the whole switching quill stems was a pain on the road bike , unless it was a quill stem with a removable faceplate (even harder to find).
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Old 07-02-24, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Many pros today are sitting well forward right over the BB. Not a real healthy position, but it gets your back flat. With a flat back you can't reach forward.
That's what I have noted too, seems like setback seatposts are obsolete or at least, not trendy, zero setback post plus a pretty step seat tube seems to be the "fastest", kinda like track bikes , with step angles and short wheelbases
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Old 07-02-24, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Gods lonely man
That's what I have noted too, seems like setback seatposts are obsolete or at least, not trendy, zero setback post plus a pretty step seat tube seems to be the "fastest", kinda like track bikes , with step angles and short wheelbases
If you can ride all the time at near peak power, can rest your entire torso weight on your hands and you don't mind crushing your perineum, it is a very nice position for speed and aerodynamics.

I think it is stupid.
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Old 07-03-24, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Gods lonely man
Recently I have been browsing 90s cycling videos and pictures, something that seems very different from today's pros is the fit, back then , almost every rider seemed to have a lot of reach, even with positive rise stems and plenty of spacers, (or quill stem up) is this something tied to the old frames geo? Saddle setback nowadays seems to be all the way forward too, and the use of the drops is lower than before.

Cipo and co pretty stretched


Cipollini is one of the best examples of enormous reach, he is tall but today's tall pros don't seem to have that type of reach

Again, look at that close hip angle, even riding at the hoods
There's multiple factors which can make the riders look different from today's riders.

1) Handlebars
The handlebars the pro's in your photos were using had absolutely massive reach and drop compared to the modern compact drop bars. The reach numbers of the old handlebars could have been almost double to what we have available today. The brake levers were also quite differently shaped and mounted more forward than modern brake levers. Modern stuff is mounted more level with the handlebar and has more useable real estate for the hands.

2) Saddles
Saddles of yore had pretty narrow noses. They didn't really let you lean your pelvis forward like the wider nosed saddles of today. If you look at the pelvises of riders in your pictures you'll notice firstly, that they're sitting far more back on the saddle than today's pros (a good thing) and that they don't really lean that much forward from the pelvis (bad thing). The lean happens more at the back. This gives the impression of massive reach because the riders own ability to reach forward is reduced. Due to this reduced ability they are having to reach with their hands, which again, strengthens the impression that the bikes were mega long.

3) There are always riders who prefer a lot of reach and drop to a point where it's excessive and actually detrimental. They didn't have the same sort of access to wind tunnels we have today (I don't know if they had any access really). Nor did they have power meters. A lot of stuff was played by feel. Long reach makes you lower and more drop makes you lower so stands to reason that if you maximize both you'll be faster right? According to stuff we know today, not necessarily. But they didn't know that.

Originally Posted by Kontact
Many pros today are sitting well forward right over the BB. Not a real healthy position, but it gets your back flat. With a flat back you can't reach forward.
Originally Posted by Kontact
If you can ride all the time at near peak power, can rest your entire torso weight on your hands and you don't mind crushing your perineum, it is a very nice position for speed and aerodynamics.

I think it is stupid.
The only really stupid thing in pro's positions today in my opinion is that it seems most riders in the peloton have their saddles too high. Many of them are sitting on the nose even when they're on the sun deck in the middle of a flat stage.
Or it could be that the saddles given to them by their team are too wide. Or perhaps a bit of column A and a bit of column B. Who knows. But it's not optimal to only use the nose of the saddle.

But sitting on top of the BB, they're not actually resting their whole weight on their hands or probably not crushing their perineum. Hopefully not anyways, but some of the positions do make one worry. Pros have such high power outputs, low body mass and light upper bodies that they can easily support themselves in these modern extreme positions especially when the going gets more spirited. I'm sure you've noticed that when you put the power down it's much easier to keep weight off the bum and hands. For them that is the normal state of things.
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Old 07-03-24, 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
that they're sitting far more back on the saddle than today's pros (a good thing)
So sitting far back is objectively better? I played a lot with setback and I ended with a fairly neutral position, what I think is you can always get more forward even with lots of setback by simply siting on the rivet, of course not during long periods of time but on high intensity moments with higher cadence
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Old 07-03-24, 02:38 AM
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Nice point about the handlebars and shifters, nowadays you don't see anatomic bend bars anymore
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Old 07-03-24, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Gods lonely man
So sitting far back is objectively better? I played a lot with setback and I ended with a fairly neutral position, what I think is you can always get more forward even with lots of setback by simply siting on the rivet, of course not during long periods of time but on high intensity moments with higher cadence
Nope. You misunderstood. Modern day pros sit on the nose. It's better to sit on the wide part of the saddle
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Old 07-03-24, 01:56 PM
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Oh , I got it now.
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Old 07-03-24, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
There's multiple factors which can make the riders look different from today's riders.

1) Handlebars
The handlebars the pro's in your photos were using had absolutely massive reach and drop compared to the modern compact drop bars. The reach numbers of the old handlebars could have been almost double to what we have available today. The brake levers were also quite differently shaped and mounted more forward than modern brake levers. Modern stuff is mounted more level with the handlebar and has more useable real estate for the hands.

2) Saddles
Saddles of yore had pretty narrow noses. They didn't really let you lean your pelvis forward like the wider nosed saddles of today. If you look at the pelvises of riders in your pictures you'll notice firstly, that they're sitting far more back on the saddle than today's pros (a good thing) and that they don't really lean that much forward from the pelvis (bad thing). The lean happens more at the back. This gives the impression of massive reach because the riders own ability to reach forward is reduced. Due to this reduced ability they are having to reach with their hands, which again, strengthens the impression that the bikes were mega long.

3) There are always riders who prefer a lot of reach and drop to a point where it's excessive and actually detrimental. They didn't have the same sort of access to wind tunnels we have today (I don't know if they had any access really). Nor did they have power meters. A lot of stuff was played by feel. Long reach makes you lower and more drop makes you lower so stands to reason that if you maximize both you'll be faster right? According to stuff we know today, not necessarily. But they didn't know that.





The only really stupid thing in pro's positions today in my opinion is that it seems most riders in the peloton have their saddles too high. Many of them are sitting on the nose even when they're on the sun deck in the middle of a flat stage.
Or it could be that the saddles given to them by their team are too wide. Or perhaps a bit of column A and a bit of column B. Who knows. But it's not optimal to only use the nose of the saddle.

But sitting on top of the BB, they're not actually resting their whole weight on their hands or probably not crushing their perineum. Hopefully not anyways, but some of the positions do make one worry. Pros have such high power outputs, low body mass and light upper bodies that they can easily support themselves in these modern extreme positions especially when the going gets more spirited. I'm sure you've noticed that when you put the power down it's much easier to keep weight off the bum and hands. For them that is the normal state of things.
There is no way they don't have excessive weight on their hands and perineum. KOPS is essentially for the forward limit of where you can sit on not rotate the pelvis forward or dump your upper body weight on your arms. Certainly pedalling very hard will take some of the weight off the taint, but a stage race can have 5 hour days.
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Old 07-04-24, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Gods lonely man
That's what I have noted too, seems like setback seatposts are obsolete or at least, not trendy, zero setback post plus a pretty step seat tube seems to be the "fastest", kinda like track bikes , with step angles and short wheelbases
”obsolete” seems to say something is useless. It actually means a thing is not going to be produced, regardless of whether it still fulfills a need.

The need is that some riders are not comfortable without adequate setback. Not satisfying that need can be painful and harmful. It does not say this need is wrong. It’s just that some manufacturer has decided they cannot enable a particular group of riders a comfortable tide, in some cases,
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Old 07-05-24, 12:55 PM
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I agree setback may be necessary for some riders fit
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Old 07-05-24, 01:24 PM
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Of course if those cyclist needing the set back had bought a bike with a slacker seat tube, they wouldn't have needed any set back at all. And that will be the typical cruiser bike. Though today, many think cruisers are those single speed bikes with wide tires made for the beach. And that's not true at all. It's properly a geometry for a bike that allows for relaxed and upright seating of the cyclist. But admittedly few bicycle makers are making a true cruiser style bike. The closest I've seen that is a big dealer is the Trek Electra line of bikes.

While the Townie and Cruiser have a very slack STA, the Loft is just a single degree or so less than the STA of most road bikes and hybrids. Yet that will automatically give the same effect as a seat post with 10.3 mm of setback for a saddle that is 80.4 cm from the BB. Of course a lot of these cruisers don't look as pretty or racy to the eye as do race road bikes. And therein lies a big issue. People don't buy them and instead buy bikes that aren't made to give them the fit they want.
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Old 07-05-24, 04:16 PM
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About 15 years ago a custom frame was specked out with a 67cm top tube and I ran a 140mm stem. Yeah, I'm crazy tall.

Now have effectively a 63cm/100mm on a canyon aeroad xxl.

My old bike feels like I'm stretched out on a rack at the Spanish Inquisition but I am more comfortable with a crazy 18 cm drop.
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Old 07-06-24, 07:33 AM
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Interesting analogy
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Old 07-06-24, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Of course if those cyclist needing the set back had bought a bike with a slacker seat tube, they wouldn't have needed any set back at all. And that will be the typical cruiser bike. Though today, many think cruisers are those single speed bikes with wide tires made for the beach. And that's not true at all. It's properly a geometry for a bike that allows for relaxed and upright seating of the cyclist. But admittedly few bicycle makers are making a true cruiser style bike. The closest I've seen that is a big dealer is the Trek Electra line of bikes.

While the Townie and Cruiser have a very slack STA, the Loft is just a single degree or so less than the STA of most road bikes and hybrids. Yet that will automatically give the same effect as a seat post with 10.3 mm of setback for a saddle that is 80.4 cm from the BB. Of course a lot of these cruisers don't look as pretty or racy to the eye as do race road bikes. And therein lies a big issue. People don't buy them and instead buy bikes that aren't made to give them the fit they want.

I found something, a three speed Raleigh, 531 frame, STA 70 deg, HTA 73 deg. It seats me comfy with a Brooks Pro on a straight tube seat post. Takes MAES drop bars and has a 105 cm wheelbase. It’s my Rudge from 1952. Pics on my BF picture gallery. An actual road bike with comfy seatin with Brooks saddles!
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Old 07-06-24, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
I found something, a three speed Raleigh, 531 frame, STA 70 deg, HTA 73 deg. It seats me comfy with a Brooks Pro on a straight tube seat post. Takes MAES drop bars and has a 105 cm wheelbase. It’s my Rudge from 1952. Pics on my BF picture gallery. An actual road bike with comfy seatin with Brooks saddles!
​​​​​​ Interesting angles on that bike, the fork bend on that era bikes is impressive too
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Old 07-06-24, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Gods lonely man
​​​​​​ Interesting angles on that bike, the fork bend on that era bikes is impressive too
Yes, I think its very much like the older randos Jan Heine put in his book "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Cycles (I think)." It doesn't make sense that all British riders did not value some of the same attributes as French. Moth nations values long solo rides over natural terrain essetially self-sufficiently, so both would need human comfort, reliability , reasonable machine efficiency, similar power delivery reuirements, same anatomical struture (hence similar gearing, braking, seating, and hand/arm ergonomics. The Engish End to End ride was about 900 miles round trip, and the French had many ways to get a 900 mile route, including the famous Diagonale. Which was harder? The French Diagonale could inclued the Alps and thePyrennees, with costal Atlantic and Channel winds and storms, while the End to End covered all of Scotland, Wales, and the Dales (sorry, that's all I know about from British TV!).

So For those of us thinking France was It for Randonneur-style riding since perhaps 1870, not true!

Plus I may have read a word or two about long-distance wheeling in the USA, excitig the imagination of Samuel Clemens and exciting horses across the USA, before 1900.

Any case, the utiity of these laid back geometries was not just discovered, it has been in the bicycle marketplace at least as far back aw the early 1900's.
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Old 07-07-24, 08:36 AM
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Six decades ago, the UCI Cycling manual noted that some riders curl up tight under stress, and other riders stretch out under stress. (I am one of the former). Fitting would be different for those two riding styles, even with similar body dimensions.
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Old 07-08-24, 08:02 AM
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And I think modern pros favor smaller frame sizes which are lighter.
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Old 07-12-24, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
And I think modern pros favor smaller frame sizes which are lighter.
They like the lower head tubes. Carbon fiber frames make up so little of the total weight of the bike and rider that the weight difference between two or three frame sizes is negligible. Frame size was a bigger deal when they were made of steel, and handling and stiffness were at least as much an issue as weight.


The stretched out position was the fashion of the period. It started around the early 1970s (it was called the Belgian position) and reached an apogee an the late 1990s or earl 2000s. Torso angles were dropping. By the '80s, crank lengths and bar widths were increasing. And you needed to get the hips behind the bottom bracket to push those big gears over mountain passes. Only the smallest frames had seat tube angles steeper than 73.5 or so. Nobody but some US crit and UK time trial specialists used zero-setback seatposts. Handlebar stems where higher, but mostly because the brake hoods were lower on the handlebar bend. Handlebar bends were deeper. There was no such thing as a short-nose saddle. Saddles and handlebars were designed for a greater variety of positions (and the metallurgical limitations of the day).
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