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Dutch Bike Fit

Fitting Your Bike Are you confused about how you should fit a bike to your particular body dimensions? Have you been reading, found the terms Merxx or French Fit, and don’t know what you need? Every style of riding is different- in how you fit the bike to you, and the sizing of the bike itself. It’s more than just measuring your height, reach and inseam. With the help of Bike Fitting, you’ll be able to find the right fit for your frame size, style of riding, and your particular dimensions. Here ya’ go…..the location for everything fit related.

Dutch Bike Fit

Old 02-25-14, 08:58 PM
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Dutch Bike Fit

Hi, long time lurker and now my first post. I need help.

Now that I am in my 70's the time has come for a much more relaxed riding position on my bikes. My back and neck are killing me on my typically set up road and MTB.

Since I have a nice old road bike and a nice old non-suspended MTB, I decided to modify them into a riding position similar to a Dutch bike or Flying Pigeon style. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any fitting information for those styles of bikes. All I have been able to find are very slight variations of competitive type fits. In virtually all fitting information I have found on the net the handlebar is quite close to or below the level of the seat. This is true even for hybrid bikes or comfort bikes. Beach cruisers are much more upright, but I have found no good fitment information for them at all. I would like some good fitting info for a very comfortable bike that uses the legs efficiently. I am looking to order parts for the purpose and not have to return them. You know, "Measure twice and cut once." Err, maybe, "Measure twice and order once," is better phrased.

So I have looked at bikes like the Dutch Opoefiets https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...fiets_lara.jpg As you can see the stem is extremely long, the grips are well behind the steering pivot and the seat is quite low. This allows for an upright sit and bent elbows but the low seat bothers me because with such a low seat you cannot extend your legs for efficient pedaling.

Here is an example of what seems to be a very bad fit: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/_wb8bAl1P-N...dutch+bike.JPG Here the seat is quite low and does not allow for leg extension. Also the stem is very short for the purpose. Therefor you get upright sitting and bent elbows but pedaling efficiency is very low.

There are a couple LBS nearby and while they are very nice people, one simply tries to sell what he has on hand whether it fits or not and the other is a go fast shop that caters to the go fast crowd. Neither are much use to me.

Since I have been unable to find good fitment info for Dutch bikes, perhaps someone here can point me to a good source. I have read several well respected bike books to no avail. The books are always more aggressive than what I need.

Any help will be appreciated.

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Old 02-26-14, 03:02 AM
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I'm not sure I understand what you're looking for in terms of fitment info, especially since I believe the traditional Dutch bikes typically only come in two frame sizes and are not really "fit" and fussed over in the way American cyclists use the term "fit." I may be wrong, and that's based primarily on a couple of trips to Holland, but I'm willing to bet that there's no "science" to fitting your typical omafiets. Adjust seat and handlebars up and down is probably about it.

More critically, your vintage MTB geometry is very different from Dutch and Chinese traditional utility bikes, so the ride and feel will be very different. You can certainly put a tall quill stem, or very high rise one, on the bike to get the bars up, and even throw a Northwoods-type or old 3speed style bar on it to get you upright, but the comparatively steep seat and head tubes are not going to yield the same kind of laid-back ride you get on a Dutch style. You might try a seatpost with lots of seatback to get behind the crank a bit, but shifting all your weight rearward is going to reveal why different frames are used for different types of riding.

Have you considered just getting the kind of bike you want? Without being too presumptuous, at your age, you've still got the years ahead across which to amortize a couple grand expenditure to make it look like a small annual investment into something you're going to enjoy doing for years to come.
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Old 02-26-14, 05:52 AM
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NO Backbone!

I have spinal stinosis. A number of years ago I finally had to modify my roadbike into a more upright riding position so I could lean on the bars and take some of the strain off my back. Easy fix: changed bars, brake levers and stem, then recabled to fit. Served me well for many years although I'm sure many laughed as I rode by, but at least I was still able to ride instead of sitting home watching those rediculous reality shows! You could do the same to your mountain or road bikes...you don't need to limit yourself to "Dutch Bikes."

Two years ago I purchased a Breezer hybrid and found this more to my liking. I still use the roadbike at times cause I like the nimbleness, but the Breezer is what I use most of the time.

It is very important to get a comfortable (for you) saddle as much of your weight will be on your arse. I can ride for an hour or two, then I have to dismount for a bit to stay comfortable.

For me, knee pain is a problem on any bike on which I can't extend my leg to a just slightly bent position, so proper fit in this area is important.

I just survived another back surgery....still very painful but I will be riding again soon. I refuse to rust out.....I prefer to wear out!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 02-26-14, 08:10 AM
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okane, thanks for your empathetic reply. I too have spinal stenosis: cervical and lower lumbar. I have simply put up with it for many years. But now is the time to put down the Naproxem and get some relaxed exercise. BTW, derision and snickers from those who favor form over function mean nothing to me.

I remembered the Cylco drivers from my time in 'Nam. I put many miles on those as a passenger. Those guys could go for many miles with incredible loads and at righteous speeds. So I Googled. Here is a cyclo pic of what seems to be a good fit for upright cycling: https://www.conmochila.com/wp-content...vietnam_01.jpg

The basic bike design seems to be a Dutch/Flying Pigeon style. The leg length appears to be ideal. Sit is upright and the arms are comfortably bent. Hmm, comfort and efficiency - ideal! I guess these guys know something that is not contemplated by typical bike thinking in this part of the world.

A problem I see is that to accomplish this fit the virtual top tube length should be shorter than on a typical road bike or MTB that is sized for competition. The idea is to get the grips closer to the body for the relaxed arm position. This will put the grips behind the steering axis.

I see two ways to do this on a bike I already have: 1. Get swept back bars like North Road etc.; 2. Reverse the quill so the gooseneck is backward. Contrary to much bike mythology, both of these solutions will move the grips behind the steering pivot and will not otherwise affect rake, trail etc. which are fixed by the frame and fork geometry. Beach cruisers, Dutch and Flying Pigeon type bikes show that there is no difficulty or quirkiness in riding them.

Another solution is to get a frame with a shorter top tube and make it all fit. I do have a smaller MTB to try it with but I do prefer 700c wheels.

The last solution is to buy a purpose built bike like a Dutch bike or Flying Pigeon. But they are HEAVY! I like a bike to be around 20 lbs or less. So I am sort of stuck with what I already have even though my MTBs are heavier than that. However my road bike is right in the money.

I know I will need a sprung saddle. Any suggestions other than Brooks or Velo?


Last edited by oneoldude; 02-26-14 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 02-27-14, 07:49 AM
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I never noticed the stop tube being shorter on these sorts of bikes, just the stem being very short.

These bikes are very simple to fit. Slam the saddle back. Adjust seat height so you can touch the ground with your toes, or if you really want to, proper pedaling leg extension. Raise the handlebars until the rider feels comfortable. If you can adjust the bar angle, then match the angle to the rider's wrists.

There is very little weight put on the handlebars due to the upright position, these bikes tend to have slack head tubes and stable front ends, a handlebars are fairly wide, so the front end isn't as demanding of proper fit. Especially since no thought is given to aerodynamics. On the rear end, optimal power generation is given little thought, and short term comfort and often not having to dismount the saddle are given priority.

Although for the first picture technically you can't tell if the seat is too low for a short legged grandma. It just isn't high in the seat tube.
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