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Help me pick a new bike

Old 11-15-20, 09:19 AM
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RickH
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Help me pick a new bike

Hi All,

I am 53-years old, 5’7” 150 pounds. I have been riding for just a few years, but I have really gotten into it. I have a 7-speed beach cruiser (Sun Baja Cruz) with 3.5” tires. I mostly enjoy trail riding (maybe 80% trails, 20% pavement). I have had some tendonitis problems in the past (prior to bike riding) and am an avid jazz guitarist, so I don’t want to mess with a mountain bike position (my son has a Cannondale Cujo which I wouldn’t want to ride for more than 10 minutes). Although my bike has been fine and I have been doing up to 25 mile off road trips with it, I am looking to upgrade to something with disc brakes, a little lighter, etc. I would like something that could perhaps handle relatively rugged terrain if needed, but I don’t plan on doing any single track stuff. Is there such a thing? I really need a more upright position - that's critical to me. Is there something like a comfort bike that can handle more aggressive terrain if needed? I checked out a Surly Troll yesterday, but it still had too much of a forward leaning position for me. The shop said they could work with me on the rise and handlebars to get me to a more comfortable position. Any thoughts on what direction I should go in? Thanks!
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Old 11-15-20, 09:34 AM
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I recommend looking into the stack and reach measurements of potential bikes.

The truth is, mountain bikes and XC race machines all have a elongated reach 400+mm to help you lean over the front axle to weight the front end on trails. Im 6ft3 and weight 225lb. You can imagine what it's like to ride a bike setup this way, especially if the frame is small for me.

I also like a super upright position. I love ripping singletrack, but I had to hold off on that for the time being and settled with a vintage road bike. Here's why - any bike which was designed around drop bars will have a short reach measurement (below 400mm) to compensate for the design of the drop bars. So I've converted my road bike to flat bars and... it works absolutely brilliant. Im comfortable on the bike and can easily weight the front axle anytime I need to.

Since you're 150 lb, you're not going to destroy forks and rims and whatnot the way somebody 220lb+ is going to. My recommendation is to look for a flat bar gravel bike. It'll be much closer to the position you're looking for. In this case changing out the stem to tailor the fit according to your needs will make much more sense.

However, going this route will limit your options. If you're really motivated to find a good fit, you'll be best off buying a good used gravel bike and converting to whatever flat bars you please along with a stubby short stem. You're somewhere between a size medium and large but you will likely get along better on most large size frames. Building up a frameset with all your favorite parts is another good option.

Ultimately, I suggest you take advantage of your reasonable weight level because this will negate the need for a durable singletrack bike. You will be faster and more comfortable this way.

Iook around for a bike with a stack/reach measurement of roughly 550/380 respectively and give that a try. Remember that many bikes have long stems, such as 90,110 or even 130mm. The shortest you can go is about 30.
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Old 11-15-20, 04:17 PM
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Thanks! That is very helpful.
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Old 11-15-20, 07:36 PM
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This might be perfect:
https://youtu.be/9OvvycTWMi8
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Old 11-15-20, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
This might be perfect:
https://youtu.be/9OvvycTWMi8
Thats a good bike. Don't let the "comfort" bit fool you. That thing would be fantastic good fun to be downright thrashing around turns.
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Old 11-15-20, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by RickH View Post
Thanks! That is very helpful.
More than happy than happy to sum up all of my.research efforts for someone looking for the same riding position as me.

Let me know how frame fitting goes and what you settled for!
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Old 11-16-20, 08:43 AM
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Rivendell Atlantis
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Old 11-16-20, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by hsuBM View Post
Rivendell Atlantis
Rivendell makes some great frames.
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Old 11-16-20, 10:52 AM
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Most of the mountain bikes I've come across aren't as upright as hybrids or beach cruisers. Road/cross/gravel bikes seem to be more aggressive. Search for "bike fork stem extender" online and maybe that'll help with a new bike you choose. Also you can get a shorter stem if available. I personally ride a Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon and find it very plush for fire roads and nothing too rough. On the road, it's not as fast as a road bike but super comfortable. Mine weighs 25-26lbs complete with pedals.
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Old 11-16-20, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ft3safety View Post
Most of the mountain bikes I've come across aren't as upright as hybrids or beach cruisers. Road/cross/gravel bikes seem to be more aggressive. Search for "bike fork stem extender" online and maybe that'll help with a new bike you choose. Also you can get a shorter stem if available. I personally ride a Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon and find it very plush for fire roads and nothing too rough. On the road, it's not as fast as a road bike but super comfortable. Mine weighs 25-26lbs complete with pedals.
Personally don't suggest using a stem riser unless you have to make due with a bike too small for you .
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Old 11-16-20, 12:56 PM
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What's the reasoning behind not recommending a stem riser? I put one on a friend's road bike. He doesn't ride aggressively down descents and loves it! The higher position helps his back and neck and he's much more upright. He loves the lightness compared to a hybrid with similar handlebar height.
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Old 11-16-20, 01:21 PM
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All City makes terrific really snazzy bikes.
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Old 11-16-20, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ft3safety View Post
What's the reasoning behind not recommending a stem riser? I put one on a friend's road bike. He doesn't ride aggressively down descents and loves it! The higher position helps his back and neck and he's much more upright. He loves the lightness compared to a hybrid with similar handlebar height.
True, but it slows down the handling and dulls jt too much around fast turns. So I simply got the right size bike instead.
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Old 11-16-20, 02:17 PM
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Seems to me, if I can turn a good bike which isn't quite comfortable into a good bike which fits perfectly by using a stem riser or riser bars ... I'd be a fool to listen to people telling me not to do it.

A lot of cyclists seem to have bought into the "race bike" paradigm, and think that "real" bicycles look like what the pros race, on or off road.

"Real" bikes have two wheels .... and real trikes have three. That's it.

If a person has a cargo trike, one of those extra-long cargo bikes, and old uprights Schwinn Suburban, an Electra Townie, or an even more radical crank-forward bike, or an of the various styles of recumbents .... or Whatever ... if t suits their needs and desires, that is the right bike.

The idea that everyone has to get low to cheat the wind is laughable. The idea that everyone wants to suffer in pacelines or brake-slide around steep dirt switchbacks or huck off ten-foot drops ir do intervals and hill repeats .... is a very narrow-minded and small-minded view, which actually includes only a very small fraction of riders.

Each Sensible rider sets up his or her bike to suit his or her actual riding requirements. The quality and the worth of the bike are not determined by how well it matches the image of some professional racer's ride, but how well the bike meets the needs and desires of the specific rider.

A person with a bad back and neck who likes to cruise around at 10 mph with a loaf of bread and a beverage, to stop frequently by the roadside to take snapshots and bite of chunks of bread and smell the flowers---shouldn't be on a sub-7 kg Pro-Tour style racer. If that person was on an $18,000 superbike with all electronic shifting, top-tier 12-speed drive train, all ceramic bearings, ultralight wheels .... that person is on a Terrible bike, just as Sepp Kuss would be on a "terrible" bike if hehe was on the starting line on a 35-pound balloon-tired single-speed with baskets, a rack for a wine bottle, and a radio.

Swap bikes, and maybe each would be on the perfect bike.

I don't care what people say .... I don't go for max seat-bar drop, I don't have a super-stretch long, low stem, I have a food bag on my top tube because i find it hard, with my bad shoulders, to get food out of my jersey pockets while riding. I don't care about the people who think, "That would be a good bike if only .... " because I have every one of my bike set up Exactly the way I want them.

And if I want to add a stem riser, and someone doesn't like it .... both halves of that are fine with me. But I will feel better after the ride, while the complainant will still be offended by my bike.

You tell me what makes sense.
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Old 11-16-20, 02:39 PM
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Maelochs I May be wrong, but I think all that’s being suggested by “no stem riser” is that “riser stem” implies one of the adjustable angle stems which are just not as structurally sound as a solid stem which has whatever your ideal angle built in and then fixed to higher rise bars than one might try to get by with by using the “riser stem”. If it is as I think, anyone can be plenty happy with a riser stem for the first hundred miles or so, but I wouldn’t put one on a bike belonging to many of my family members’ bikes because I can’t trust them to remember to tighten the dang thing every now and then to be sure it won’t fall apart on them mid ride.

There are some wonderful high rise bars with different amounts of sweep which you can use with a racey quill or 1-1/8” stem if it gets you to your preferred saddle to bar rise.

Likewise, there are really high rise stems, both quill and 1-1/8”, with which you can use flat bars or bars of any amount of rise to get upright. Many of those stems are hidden under the counterintuitive name “dirt-drop” stems.

———

some bikes are the wrong bike though. If it’s too short, it’s just too short. If it’s too tall, it’s just too tall. It doesn’t matter if it has rack mounts or if it’s your favorite color.

There’s as much sense in putting a dirt drop or riser stem plus high rise bars and a huge seatpost on a 52cm mountain frame for someone who’s 6’2”, even if they’re only using it to go to the grocery store, as there is in bolting a microphone stand to a skateboard and duct taping handlebars to the mic stand for that person to use for getting groceries.

There are so many bikes out there that they’re filling up landfills. Sometimes you have to search for a couple of weeks, but just get one that fits the rider’s body. The rest is cake after that.

Last edited by hsuBM; 11-16-20 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 11-16-20, 06:36 PM
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@hsuBM------------I don't disagree with anything you say here.

That said, let me outline my specific points of disagreement: ( )

I assumed a "stem riser" was an extension which fit into the steerer with a clamp, just like a stem, and to which the stem would be clamped. While obviously somewhat more of a fail point than a stem on a steerer (longer lever, more bending force) I don't see these on bikes meant for serious abuse. I normally see them on casual cruisers.

I actually did a cross-country tour on a bike with an adjustable stem, which is, it seems, what you meant by "stem riser." I heard nary a creak, and rode it like that a while after before getting a solid stem and 31.8 as opposed to 25.6 bars. But like any other part on a bike, it needs to be checked and maintained. If a friend cannot remember to check the stem, s/he might forget to check anything else---headset, bottom bracket, brakes .....

And the whole "adjustable stems loosen" bogeyman seems off to me .... Any part on a bike could loosen over time. Usually I expect Everything to loosen once, which is why after I do work I go back over everything after the next couple rides.

Why would an adjustable stem loosen more than anything else/ As I say, it didn't in my experience .... maybe people never tightened it right the first time, and then blamed the wrong tool?

The reason I swapped out was that I wanted to go with standard 31.8 bars so I needed a new stem, and the adjustable unit was a boat anchor.

Riser bars are another good option. I would imagine they also put a lot of force on the stem but again, I don't see people putting them on Downhill bikes .... in fact, back in the day, a lot of rigid MTBs had pretty long and tall stems (150 mm at 17 degrees or something) topped with those Y-shaped Bull Moose bars which gave even more reach and height. Those all seemed to hold up well.

I wholly agree, getting the wrong bike and trying to fix it with extreme components is a losing venture. But the real issue is----which bikes are both worth owning and suited to which rider?

If I want a lightweight hardtail I am getting a looooong top tube and low stem. if I want a hybrid/fitness bike I am probably getting a slow (steering), heavy frame with heavy shocks or a steel fork ....

If I want a lightweight frame with a shorter top tube and taller stack, so I can sit more upright and still make it up hills and such .... well, too bad. No established market niche. So maybe that person would need to compromise and build a Frankenstein.

I know Giant made or makes a bike called the Fastroad which I think would fit the bill with a really tall stem and a riser bar. it was designed for a straight flat bar, so its top tube might be a little long, and I don't expect i'd see a lot on sale for low prices.

An old ten-speed which was designed for drop bars might work better because the top tube might be shorter---it was designed for 100 mm stem and 100 mm reach in the bars, and with a short stem and a straight or swept bar, you could take back some of that length.

The buyer might need to find a bike a little too small and run a lot of exposed seat post, which is fine, and then use a tall stem and risers .... with a steel frame the bike wouldn't need to be big and beefy to survive most applications, and frankly, any steel frame is probably going to survive anything except ridiculous stunt-style drops and such.

I guess that sounds right to me .... and old steel road bike, a little too small, with a lot of seat post and riser bars, to get that comfort-cruiser seating position without sacrificing safety or performance.

All this has me irritated .... between soreness form overwork at the gym topped by a too-vigorous "recovery" ride, and bad weather, and business obligations. I haven't been riding in about four days and I won't be able to tonight.

No bike is the right bike if it is hanging in the garage ....

Last edited by Maelochs; 11-16-20 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 11-17-20, 04:05 AM
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Maelochs ahhh, Steerer Extender. Considering that RickH, the OP, wants rugged terrain capability, that’s an easy “nope”.

Yes, the adjustable angle stems have multiple bogeymen. They’re typically bought by people who don’t buy grease or locktite, and don’t own a torque wrench. Plus, those people shop on price instead of quality (which brings them to that type of stem as a permanent fixture on their bikes instead of as a fitting tool), as such the stems are built to a low as possible price using garbage alloys poured at foundries run by people who don’t know how or don’t care about getting better than grade-d castings.

- again, for RickH’s sometimes rugged application, “nope”.

———

I was only half joking with the suggestion for the Rivendell in hopes that it’d lead @RickH to the Bosco family of handlebars which could work great with the Surly Troll that his LBS is rightfully pushing at him for his purposes.

If they’re a Surly dealer, then they’re probably knowledgeable enough to take any Bosco suggestion and counter with the cheaper VO Left Bank with or without a dirt drop stem (depending on Rick’s body’s fitting). Heck, they probably already were thinking of the Left Bank, and just keeping it as a card up their sleeve for when Rick shows up with cash in hand saying “make it fit me”.
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Old 11-17-20, 06:05 PM
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Think of a stem riser as simply a bandaid to the fact your bike does not fit you properly in the first place. Could it be enough to fit you okay and to actually enjoy the bike? I'm sure. But if you're even a relatively serious biker and like to take the turns a little spirited, the small frame is still going to hold you back.

Speaking from personal experience, you're still best off simply selling your current bike and buying one which truly fits you.
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