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Newbie in Need of Advice

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Newbie in Need of Advice

Old 06-25-19, 05:31 PM
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Newbie in Need of Advice

Hi all, new to Bike Forums and really happy to be here. I'm brand new to biking and have recently moved to Minneapolis which seems to be very bike-friendly. I've got some very basic questions for anyone willing to lend their expertise.

My uncle gave me a Trek 950 Single Track from the early 1990's. The brand of the tires I couldn't tell you but they're labeled as 26 x 2. The handlebars are True Temper Matrix and the seat post is SR Sakae. Seat is a Serfas.

Wondering if anyone can make a recommendation as far as how it should be set up. Right now I feel like I'm leaning over it when I ride and it hurts my back pretty quickly into the ride. I guess my question is what are the rules of thumb for the height of the handlebars and seat? It seems like it should be fairly straightforward but I can't quite figure it out. I'm 5'10', about 170lbs.

Also, my seat is a little firm for my liking. Is choosing a seat simply preference or is there a rhyme and reason to selecting one?

Is there a best PSI level to be at? It seems like the tire has a wide range as far as what's acceptable.

Lastly for now, any basic tips and tricks on maintaining the bike? I'd like to take care of it moving forward but need to know what my maintenance habits should be.

Thanks so much for anyone willing to help me out. It seems like a great hobby but I'm too new to know what's right. Thanks again!
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Old 06-25-19, 07:38 PM
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I had to do a little research …. Wow, you have a classic. A U.S.-made steel frame rigid 1990s MTB---the Holy Grail of basic bikes. You can make that bike into Anything except a flat-out road-racer or TT bike and it will do well … For a commuter or a knock-around bike, a fun go-anywhere bike, you have reached Mecca. Bow down before the ultimate, the Mother of All General-Purpose Bicycles.

Check ot some reviews: (https://www.mtbr.com/product/older-c.../trek/950.html)
[Jan 15, 2013] Ask Me Cross Country Rider
All around solid performer, Good handling, Tough as nails, Never lets you down.
If you only own one bike, this is the one bike to own! It can last you a lifetime of riding with only basic maintenance.

I'm a big guy (6'4"_225) and I like to ride year round in all kinds of weather, and I love to ride up and down stairs in the city as well as hitting the trails on the weekends. And this bike has been a Solid Performer for the past 20 years of City Commuting, 75% of Pre-Event Training Rides, Afternoon Joy Rides, the occasional Long Weekend Tour, and even one Century. Over the life of this bike I have had other bikes as well (2-Road Bikes, 1-Hybrid, 1-Beach Cruiser, 2-Fold-Up Commuters, and 2 Other Mountain Bikes with Suspension). Some of them costing quite a bit more than my 1993 Trek 950 Single-track ridged! But no other bike has ever surpassed it. It has remained my go to bike for 85% of my rides. I have used other bikes for specific things like fast Triathlons, Tough Downhills, Sketchy Area Lock Ups, and Trunk Packable needs, but the 950 is my best all around bike by far...
I would consider trading in every other bike I've had on a newer model, but not my Trek 950!

[Sep 10, 2011] stuartpeacock Cross Country Rider
Indestructible, stiff, great climber, great commuter, super handling
no suspension

Old Faithful. Handled mud, snow, rocks, curbs, stairs, really steep descents, potholes, logs, sand and never lets me down. Climbed hills on it so steep I puked at the top. I started riding it in 1989 on Mt. Tam trails in Marin (back in the pre-suspension days) and now commute daily on it in the rough streets of DC. Rode it in DC area on fire roads and single tracks before all the trails were shut down to bikes. I'll give to one my sons in about 20 years. Like the others say, buy it if you can find one.

Similar Products Used:

never really road anything else

[Aug 28, 2010] Dirtmagnet Weekend Warrior
Frame strength - after 17 years it's still rock solid.

fantastic bike - a true classic. Despite having a FS bike for the trails - this one still sits in the garage for city work (long road cruises & grocery runs).

You have achieved all-around bike perfection.

As for the tires …. Harder for street, softer for trail. Range listed on the sidewall is probably 45-65 psi or so … I would probably do 50 or 55 ion dirt if I had aggressive knobs, a little less for a less aggressive tire, and I would probably buy some narrow slicks for road use. Experiment with pressures …. Less prsure equals more comfort until you either start flopping on turns or pinch-flatting.

As for riding position and saddle …. I bet the real issue is fitness.

Riding a bike puts demands on the body beyond what people expect. New riders tend to want to sit on the saddle like it is a chair and spin their legs some when they feel like it … which s actually the most painful way to ride.

Most of your weight should be borne by the legs, with a little on the saddle and not much on the arms … but that takes strong legs and a strong core, which you can develop by riding more. Start short, work up to longer.

Don’t start making massive changes to the bike today, because two weeks from now you will have a different body and different desires.

Certainly you can raise the bars, pretty much as high as they will go with that bike. You can always lower them later. As for the rest, you really need to find where you fit on the bike---how far back and how high the seat needs to be to fit your feet and legs. Once you figure where the seat needs to be, you can adjust the bars----you might need to buy a different stem, but wait on that.

There is a ton of info on fitting a bike … and a flat-bar bike is more forgiving, IMO. Best to check a few websites to see the conflicting information.

You want a slight bend in the knee when the leg is at max pedal stroke, with the ball of the foot on the pedal spindle. Move the saddle up or down to get that measurement (you will probably want to carry tools on the road to make small adjustments mid-ride, and as your body changes, so will the “right” saddle height, for a while.) Then you can play with fore-and-aft and tilt, in small increments, so that your ischial loops (the bones which protrude down from the bottom of your pelvis which hit the seat) sort of straddle the saddle center with decent support.

You will feel the difference over time, and make small adjustments until you find pretty mch what is right for you. Once you nail it, it won’t change much for any bike.

Then … there are different methods, but I like to sit on the bike propped up against the washer/dryer on my right with my right foot on the pedals and my left foot on a milk-crate or something. Then I swing my body forward until I am comfortable without my hands on the bars---that’s where I can support myself well with my core muscles. Then I swing one arm forward, trying not to twist my body or change my angle of lean, and see where my hand falls with a little bend in the elbow. That is where I want the bars.

Start out jacking up the bars as high as you like … that works. Really focus on getting the seat height right---saves the knees—and then on getting precise saddle placement (for now.) Then, even if your gbutt hurts and you end up leaning too much weight on your hands, you will know it is physical adaptation, not bike fit, causing the problems.

More miles will equal more comfort.

Eventually you will find yourself dialing in a really good fit for your body and the way you ride.

I envy you, sort of (I have too many bikes now, or I’d buy the $80 frame offered on EBay.) That bike can do it all pretty well, and should be a ton of fun. I’d slap a rack on the back and make it my town bike---trails, roads, paths, over grass or dirt, down stairs ….. the sort of bike which could carry 50 lbs of groceries, handle a 50-mile pleasure ride, a three-hour trail ride, carry all the camping gear for a weekend, and ride me to work Monday morning.

Don’t have fun with that bike. Seriously.
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Old 06-25-19, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Start out jacking up the bars as high as you like … that works. Well, except for that minimum insertion line thing. You may need to get a longer quill stem to get the height you want. Really focus on getting the seat height right---saves the knees—and then on getting precise saddle placement (for now.) Then, even if your gbutt hurts and you end up leaning too much weight on your hands, you will know it is physical adaptation, not bike fit, causing the problems.
Trek 950 is a great hardtail bike, suitable for many things and easily modified for various riding styles/types from single track to touring to urban commuting.
Think about street tires if most of your riding is going to be on roads and urban trails.
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Old 06-26-19, 08:34 PM
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Nice bike! I've got a Trek 930 Singletrack, which is quite similar. It's a zippy little bike and is a lot of fun to ride!

Compared to other older mountain bikes and hybrid type bikes, I've found that the frame supports handlebars that are quite a bit lower - mine is currently set up with the handlebars at about the same height as the seat. This will give the feeling of leaning over the bike. If you haven't done a ton of riding, try raising the handlebars a bit - in fact, see all of what @Maelochs already posted.

I'll add another vote for slick tires for road use. You can find slick tires in 26 x 2.0 (Bontrager has some nice ones), or go even a bit narrower. Whatever the maximum PSI is on the tire is likely a bit higher than you need; try starting maybe 10 lower than that.

As far as the saddle...much of that comes down to personal preference. It's normal to have a sore butt when you're new to riding. Many riders prefer a firm seat for longer rides (the padding will eventually squish in, causing discomfort), but there are exceptions to everything. See if you can get more comfort from adjusting the current saddle. After riding for a while, your preferences are likely to change.

Basic maintenance should not take much more than periodically cleaning/lubing the chain (though asking which lube is likely to cause a fight on this forum!) and checking tires for appropriate pressure. Riders should also know how to fix a flat and have the tools to do so while out on a ride. If you want to get more detailed, it can be useful to learn how to adjust derailleurs and brakes; these are simple tasks that will cost money to have done professionally. I'd also watch for salt if you decide to ride in the winter in the Cities - it can corrode a steel frame pretty quickly!

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Old 06-29-19, 10:39 AM
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Thanks so much, everyone. That is incredibly helpful moving forward. All the best!
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