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Feeling cramped

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Feeling cramped

Old 08-20-13, 04:52 PM
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Feeling cramped

I am very short, 4'11". I have long legs and a short torso. I ride a 43cm Trek Madone with a 48cm effective top tube.It has 650 wheels and 165 cranks. My seat is slightly lower than my handlebars. I have neck arthritis and sometimes I get neck pain on long rides. For example, the last day of a four day bike tour I had bad neck pain. The first three days were fine. I do McKenzie exercises to manage the pain.

Anyway, after riding this bike for close to two years I feel cramped on it. I don't know how to describe it better than that. I am especially cramped if I go down in the drops to deal with a headwind or decent.

Picture:

Before seeing a fitter again I am willing to experiment. I like the seat position. My knees feel good and it generally feels right. Would it make sense to try moving down the handlebars? I have two spacers below the bars right now and it is something easy to try. How about the stem? I have the stock stem on it, 60mm. I have a 70mm stem I could try that was on another bike and is sitting in a box.

Or should I not experiment and just see a fitter? I certainly can't tell by the picture whether the bike is too big, too small or just right.

Last edited by goldfinch; 08-20-13 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 08-20-13, 07:09 PM
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I experienced hand numbness after riding in the drops for long periods and found out it was caused by excessive pressure of the bars against my hands because of inadequate reach. With a 20mm longer stem I became more comfortable but ended up with a 30mm longer stem because I really liked the stretched out position better. Anything less than about 15mm change in stem length is almost unnoticable to me.

I'm uncertain how a longer stem might affect your neck pain. It seems possible to me that a longer reach and lower stem could help transfer more weight onto your pedals and core muscles instead of your arms and as a side effect reduce tension in your shoulder area and neck. By using a stem calculator like this https://www.yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/stem.php and by searching ebay for alternative suitable stems you could experiment. If you're uncertain about the variations of component sizes I recommend buying a caliper like this one to measure parts: https://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-...iper-7914.html Be forewarned that some sellers on ebay unintentionally misidentify stem measurements.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 08-20-13 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 08-21-13, 06:23 AM
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Fit changes should be done gradually, allowing your body to get used to the new position.

A 10 mm difference IMO would not be much change. As the previous poster noted, 20 mm is enough to have a significant effect. I had the same problem (hand numbness, neck pain) on my race bike with the stock 100 mm stem. Swapping it out to a 120 mm made rides over 2 hrs better.

Dropping (slamming) the is good if you want to get into a more aero position.
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Old 08-21-13, 07:16 AM
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Yes, I agree that longer and lower is the way to go; it looks like you're sitting very 'squarely' on the saddle, which is restricting your ability to ability to get lower because your hip/back angle is so acute. I'd like to see you roll your hips forward more and get the bars out and down, things which should all be complementary.

Since you've got the other, longer stem and it's easy to do, I'd suggest starting there, by mounting it angled down (i.e. low/no rise position) on your current stack height (i.e. leave the spacers). If it feels like a step in the right direction, you can start moving the spacers, one at a time, up above the stem and see if you can go lower comfortably. Remember it will feel different, and you'll need to change how you sit on the saddle, but I think that's the way to go.

If the saddle feels too weird, get a different one; a new seat may ease the transition because you won't be as inclined to try to get back to your 'happy place' as you would on the old one.

Unfortunately, I don't think you can get stretched and more aero (i.e. into the drops) without going lower (because your butt is back on the saddle and low to the bars), and I don't see how you can get lower without rotating your hips forward, so you're going to be radically changing your position on the bike.

Try the stem swap and let us know what happens. Good luck!
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Old 08-21-13, 11:12 AM
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Thanks for the tips. Because I have the 70mm stem I will try it first. If it seems to help or at least not hurt, I'll look into getting a longer stem.
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Old 08-21-13, 12:30 PM
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Hard for me to tell from that angle but the saddle looks pretty far forward. Have you tried more setback?
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Old 08-21-13, 05:32 PM
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Hi,

Short torso and long legs no way should you feel cramped on a typical road bike.

Can't tell from the photo but I'm no big fan of KOPS and think that seat position
fore aft is very overrated. Set the seat in the middle position if indicated on
the rails otherwise guessimate an even bend position for the saddle rails.

Set seat height, near optimum your legs will lock out with your instep on the
pedal but won't lockout with the ball of the foot over the pedal. With the ball
of the foot over the pedal both legs will lock out forward of the bottom stroke.
(Push and pedal backwards).

Your already half way to a comfortable fit, (but not necessarily performance
optimised). The next problem is how to simplify the front end adjustment.

My opinion is until you get comfortable +/- 1cm adjustments fore/aft on the saddle
are similar to to adjusting front reach and the like. When you get to something
comfortable your then talking rotating it all forward and back around the pedals.

The front is more awkward than the back because it depends more on the riders
conditioning. Going down on the drops should feel more stretched out than being
on the hoods, if it doesn't it would then seem to me your bars are too high.

Your stem looks flipped up, it can be flipped down for height, as well as the spacers
to adjust bar height. Your bars should need to be rotated forward a little to suit.

Really after you've got the back right, which really doesn't vary much between
people, the front is just finding something that suits you best. The slightly
longer stem at this juncture IMO won't help much, it is fine tuning in likely
combination with the saddles fore / aft position, and I have no real idea.

Flip the stem and then play with the spacers, adjust bar rotation for each
height and see it you can find something you like / and feels comfortable.

Move the saddle if you feel too far back or forward on it with front changes.
Better back possibly go with the 70mm stem, better forward simply don't.

rgds, sreten.

FWIW I chopped and flipped my drops into bullhorns.They are set at the
minimum the stem / headset allows. About 3" below the seat, but at 50+
and 6 months + I currently find it a stretch to reach fully into them.

However the various hand positions available are a lot more aggressive
than the same positions if I had set it up to be comfortable on the drops.

Last edited by sreten; 08-21-13 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 08-21-13, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by goldfinch
Anyway, after riding this bike for close to two years I feel cramped on it. I don't know how to describe it better than that. I am especially cramped if I go down in the drops to deal with a headwind or decent.

Or should I not experiment and just see a fitter?
From the pic although not at full extension your saddle is too low by "a good bit". That will cause a multitude of problems.
Setting it correctly, good that you have 165 cranks, can be done via a calculated method in any documented Fitting System, with an experienced fitter or by the old school method. Why not see an experienced fitter if one is available locally and comes recommended?

Good to see that you are nearly at the classic "elbows bent/relaxed" position, that can improve as your hips rotate forward w/ an increase in seat height. I'd bet that when you are in the drops going hard your front axel will be visible in front of your handlebars, if so that may be one of the reasons why you feel cramped. You may need a longer stem. It's old school stuff but it works. Also, tilt your bar ends slightly down to parallel w/ the ground. They look tilted up in the pic which will cause problems in the drops.

A long time training partner was your size. She could sit behind me as if I was a semi-trailer, offered 0 draft when she pulled in a paceline and disappeared on technical descents as if the laws of physics didn't apply. Keep at it.

-Bandera
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Old 08-21-13, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
Setting it correctly, good that you have 165 cranks, can be done via a calculated method in any documented Fitting System, with an
experienced fitter or by the old school method. Why not see an experienced fitter if one is available locally and comes recommended?
-Bandera
Hi,

Proper seat height IMO is the one thing you can reliably set yourself,
quite easily, for any sort of saddle position, on any sort of bicycle.

Even if it means length more than height on a recumbent.

rgds, sreten.
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Old 08-21-13, 08:23 PM
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OP,

Find a qualified fitter or coach locally and build a relationship to achieve a good fit for yourself.

Optimal seat height is crucial and not "set... quite easily" or you would already be there. This is covered extensively in well documented fitting systems if you would care to research & do the calcs yourself and check your current set-up.

Good Questions to Ask any Fitter or Inter-web Guru:

How long have you been cycling, what disciplines have you been involved in?
Do you have any coaching certifications from national cycling associations?
What Fitting System will we be using?
How many riders have you fit professionally?
What results in competition did those riders achieve?
Have you worked with women cyclists?
Where can you get a good Breakfast Taco in San Antonio?

-Bandera

Last edited by Bandera; 08-22-13 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 08-21-13, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
From the pic although not at full extension your saddle is too low by "a good bit". That will cause a multitude of problems.
Setting it correctly, good that you have 165 cranks, can be done via a calculated method in any documented Fitting System, with an experienced fitter or by the old school method. Why not see an experienced fitter if one is available locally and comes recommended?

Good to see that you are nearly at the classic "elbows bent/relaxed" position, that can improve as your hips rotate forward w/ an increase in seat height. I'd bet that when you are in the drops going hard your front axel will be visible in front of your handlebars, if so that may be one of the reasons why you feel cramped. You may need a longer stem. It's old school stuff but it works. Also, tilt your bar ends slightly down to parallel w/ the ground. They look tilted up in the pic which will cause problems in the drops.

A long time training partner was your size. She could sit behind me as if I was a semi-trailer, offered 0 draft when she pulled in a paceline and disappeared on technical descents as if the laws of physics didn't apply. Keep at it.

-Bandera
Interesting your comment about the height of my saddle. Two years ago I had this bike fit to me and the fitter had the saddle even lower than it is now. About a year ago I raised it a bit and lost some knee pain I had. Now I have no knee, foot, or leg pain at all.

Originally Posted by GeneO
Hard for me to tell from that angle but the saddle looks pretty far forward. Have you tried more setback?
The comment on seat setback is also interesting. The seat is actually set pretty far back on the rails. On my Terry which I fit myself simply through trial and error I ended up getting a seat post with extra setback.

Maybe I will bite the bullet and see a fitter in Mpls this fall.
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Old 08-21-13, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by goldfinch
Maybe I will bite the bullet and see a fitter in Mpls this fall.
Good plan. Developing a relationship with an experienced fitter pays off in comfort, power and confident handling.

-Bandera
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Old 08-21-13, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
OP,
Optimal seat height is crucial and not "set... quite easily" or you would already be there. This is covered extensively in well documented fitting systems if you would care to research & do the calcs yourself and check your current set-up.
I agree. I just got fitted professionally for the first time today, and I found out my saddle was a good bit too low. The new proper saddle height felt weird and unnatural and I never would have put it there myself. I also have long legs and a short torso.

Oddly enough, last week I went to an online saddle height calculator, and it must have had a bug because it told me to make the spindle-to-top-of-saddle height 39 inches, which is 3 inches longer than my inseam!
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Old 08-26-13, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by e_guevara
Fit changes should be done gradually, allowing your body to get used to the new position.

A 10 mm difference IMO would not be much change. As the previous poster noted, 20 mm is enough to have a significant effect. I had the same problem (hand numbness, neck pain) on my race bike with the stock 100 mm stem. Swapping it out to a 120 mm made rides over 2 hrs better.

Dropping (slamming) the is good if you want to get into a more aero position.
I just had a fitting and went from a 100 to a 110mm stem due to hand numbness; it helped, but not significantly. Going to go back and ask for a 120mm stem.
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Old 08-26-13, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by goldfinch
The comment on seat setback is also interesting. The seat is actually set pretty far back on the rails. On my Terry which I fit myself simply through trial and error I ended up getting a seat post with extra setback.
Having had a couple of pro fittings, I can say that checking your seat setback is not that tough if you want to do a quick check yourself. With your pedals at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions and the bottoms of your feet parallel to the ground, your front knee should be directly above the centre of your pedal bearing. I've had fitters check this with a plumb bob or a vertical laser.
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Old 08-27-13, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by HydroG33r
With your pedals at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions and the bottoms of your feet parallel to the ground, your front knee should be directly above the centre of your pedal bearing.
The knee-over-pedal-spindle (KOPS) is a good starting point, but it does not apply to everybody. Generally applies to taller people with long femurs. Trying to force KOPS if your anatomy does not support it only leads to more bike (mis)fit-related pain.
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Old 08-27-13, 10:36 AM
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Your saddle might be too low if you've lost weight, too -- less padding -> a lower skeletal position for the same seat height.
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