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Compact Handlebar Question

Old 02-02-22, 01:29 PM
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TheFort
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Compact Handlebar Question

Hey all,

First post here so hopefully this is the right section. I purchased a gravel bike online, and the reach is a bit long (or the stack short). I like drop bars but like to ride pretty upright. I'm 5"9 and it's a 54cm frame for reference. It came with a 90mm/+-7 degree stem stem per the maker's recommendation. I lowered that to an 80mm stem with a 17 degree rise. It's still not quite right. I have a lot of spacers under it, too.

1. Does this mean the frame/stack is too small? The size up had a +21mm taller stack, but it did come at a +2mm reach.
2. Would a 70mm compact handlebar help me get on the hoods? It has an 80mm compact bar on it right now. Would I gain a full 10mm at the hoods?

This was my first "good bike", and I do regret buying online, but at the time there were no bikes in shops due to the Covid bike panic.

Thanks!
J

Last edited by TheFort; 02-02-22 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 02-02-22, 02:32 PM
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Check out bars with rise, like the Surly Truck Stop. https://surlybikes.com/parts/truck_stop_bar
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Old 02-02-22, 03:15 PM
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If you want to shorten the reach, a shorter stem is a whole lot cheaper way to do it.
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Old 02-02-22, 03:57 PM
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I'd honestly get fitted to get the best answer. What bike did you buy? I ask is to check the geometry on it. A 54 cm frame isn't the same across all manufacturers.

Generally what you're describing is the reach and stack are too long and short for your preference. For reference, I'm 5'10" and ride 54 cm frames but specifically looking for effective top tubes of 54 - 55 cm.
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Old 02-02-22, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by oris View Post
I'd honestly get fitted to get the best answer. What bike did you buy? I ask is to check the geometry on it. A 54 cm frame isn't the same across all manufacturers.

Generally what you're describing is the reach and stack are too long and short for your preference. For reference, I'm 5'10" and ride 54 cm frames but specifically looking for effective top tubes of 54 - 55 cm.
It's a Fairlight Secan 54T (taller headtube). The top tube is 553, reach 383, stack 589. Their next frame up was 566 top tube, reach 385 stack 610. I was thinking the reach and stack on the bigger frame would have probably been better. It's 2mm longer, but the stack is 21mm higher, and I'm having a problem with both height and reach. At least it would have solved one of them. I have a long 34.5 inseam for my height.

I'd like to get the bars closer. Does anyone know if you go from an 80mm compact to a 70mm compact handlebar, do you get the full 10mm reduction? I have read mixed things.
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Old 02-02-22, 04:09 PM
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Ah ok...

In my personal experience with changing out compact bars (80mm to 70mm reach) only affects the distance from the flats of the bar to the hoods. In other words, it does reduce reach to the hoods assuming you set it up properly but the handlebar is still the same distance from the saddle. I find that changing bar reach is more of a refinement in fit rather than what you're attempting to address.
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Old 02-02-22, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by oris View Post
Ah ok...

In my personal experience with changing out compact bars (80mm to 70mm reach) only affects the distance from the flats of the bar to the hoods. In other words, it does reduce reach to the hoods assuming you set it up properly but the handlebar is still the same distance from the saddle. I find that changing bar reach is more of a refinement in fit rather than what you're attempting to address.
Great, thanks. I did change the stem to 80mm down from the 90mm stem it came with. I also put on a 17 degree stem instead of the 7 degree stem. But I'd rather not go shorter if I can avoid it. My problem is reaching the hoods, so I thought the compact handlebars might address that without reducing the overall length more. If I can get the full 10mm reduction there, I think it would be a worthy upgrade. I read conflicting things online where some people said you don't get that full reduction due to the angles involved.
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Old 02-02-22, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by oris View Post
I'd honestly get fitted to get the best answer. What bike did you buy? I ask is to check the geometry on it. A 54 cm frame isn't the same across all manufacturers.

Generally what you're describing is the reach and stack are too long and short for your preference. For reference, I'm 5'10" and ride 54 cm frames but specifically looking for effective top tubes of 54 - 55 cm.
You sound a lot like me. I was 5' 10" when playing college football. Now, at age 75, I'm around 5' 9" (32.5" inseam) and ride 54-55 frames with a 55 TT measured virtually. I use a 100 mm stem. To your point I have a 52 CAAD 12 that actually measures at 54. Maybe, 53-54. Virtual TT is 54.5. My GURU is what some call a square 55....55 frame and 55 TT. That actually fits me better than any other bike I've had in 40 yrs. of cycling.
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Old 02-02-22, 04:54 PM
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Repeating what someone else said I would invest in a full bike fit. They will adjust everything right there instead of you trying a bunch of things one at a time. They would also be able to tell you outright if the frame isn't going to work instead of doing a lot of trial and error before coming to that conclusion.
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Old 02-02-22, 05:35 PM
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Different bars have different shapes which can change where exactly to hoods end up, So going with a bar with 10mm less reach could mean the reach to the hoods is 10mm lessÖor a smidge more or a smidge less.

The simplest, cheapest, and fastest way to shorten the reach is to just get a shorter stem. It achieves the same thing, but more predictably.
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Old 02-02-22, 05:48 PM
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Check the Ritchey Ergomax. 73mm reach, 10 degree rise and 4.6 degree back sweep. Or a shorter stem, though it seems there isn't much difference in the cost. https://us.ritcheylogic.com/us_en/co...omax-handlebar

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Old 02-02-22, 09:43 PM
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Before you dump too much money on stems, you might wanna check out Jim Gís Stem Comparison tool. If helps if you have a good sense of where youíre at vs where you want to be. Iíll echo what others have already said about a good bike fitting session. Millimeters matter when it comes to bike fit, and with so many variables itís pretty tough to get meaningful help from a bunch of forum knuckleheads.

Last edited by Kedosto; 02-02-22 at 09:55 PM.
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Old 02-03-22, 08:01 AM
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Sounds like a lack of fitness to me, unless you have short arms to go with your short torso. I'm 168cm tall with an 83cm cycling inseam and 72-73cm saddle height. My wingspan is about 5cm greater than my height. My preferred stack is 525mm, no spacers and a -17 stem to produce a 10cm saddle to bar drop. If you're trying to produce a small 2-4cm saddle to bar drop, that's your real problem. Right now, I'm riding the smallest frame I've ever owned with a stack of 509mm. I have 30mm headset top cover instead of the standard 15mm headset top cover and a 15mm spacer. I still use a -17 x 110mm stem, with 80mm reach bars. If you have 100mm reach bars, I'd change those out.

Check your saddle to bar drop first, then report back.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Sounds like a lack of fitness to me, unless you have short arms to go with your short torso. I'm 168cm tall with an 83cm cycling inseam and 72-73cm saddle height. My wingspan is about 5cm greater than my height. My preferred stack is 525mm, no spacers and a -17 stem to produce a 10cm saddle to bar drop. If you're trying to produce a small 2-4cm saddle to bar drop, that's your real problem. Right now, I'm riding the smallest frame I've ever owned with a stack of 509mm. I have 30mm headset top cover instead of the standard 15mm headset top cover and a 15mm spacer. I still use a -17 x 110mm stem, with 80mm reach bars. If you have 100mm reach bars, I'd change those out.
That's how you set up your gravel bike??
I'm 45 years old and just want to ride some off road trails for fun and adventure. I do want a more upright position because of my age and the intended use of the bike. I do have back pain, so I don't disagree on the lack of flexibility. I can ride centuries on my road bike, so I don't think I lack fitness, just flexibility.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for all the help so far. The bike was intended for a 90mm stem, so I don't really want to go lower than 80mm. This is the reason I was looking at compact bars to reduce the reach to the hoods 10mm. I might try this and see how it goes. I have no interest in an aero position and just want to ride gravel in a more upright position.

If none of this works, maybe a custom bike is in the offing?
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Old 02-03-22, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by TheFort View Post
That's how you set up your gravel bike??
I'm 45 years old and just want to ride some off road trails for fun and adventure. I do want a more upright position because of my age and the intended use of the bike. I do have back pain, so I don't disagree on the lack of flexibility. I can ride centuries on my road bike, so I don't think I lack fitness, just flexibility.
Take fitment advice based on what works for other people with a grain of salt. If you want a more upright position, get an upright position.

There is nothing wrong with running your hoods level with your saddle if that is what works for you.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:48 AM
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54cm sounds about right for 5'9". I am 5'8" and ride 52 cm but I also have short legs.
Do you have a short torso?
You can look into doing some of your own bike fitting for free online:

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/S...hoCngAQAvD_BwE

https://www.myvelofit.com/pricing

It is not a substitute for a professional bike fit but could be helpful and educational.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by TheFort View Post
Thanks for all the help so far. The bike was intended for a 90mm stem, so I don't really want to go lower than 80mm. This is the reason I was looking at compact bars to reduce the reach to the hoods 10mm. I might try this and see how it goes. I have no interest in an aero position and just want to ride gravel in a more upright position.

If none of this works, maybe a custom bike is in the offing?
- yeah the larger frame would fit you better, based on what you describe. 2mm of longer reach is nothing. 21mm of stack is something.
- using a 70mm stem would be fine. a 60mm stem would be fine. saying you shouldnt have a stem shorter than 10mm different from the stock stem length is an arbitrary decision by you.
- buying a drop bar with some rise could help. 2 have been listed already. the surly is 78mm of reach, but 30mm of rise which will help part of what you dislike about your current fit. the ritchey is 73mm of reach which helps and 10mm of rise which also helps.

hopefully you figure out the fit because the Secan is a really nice bike. fantastic design and finish. Ive had mine for 2.5 years and love it.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by TheFort View Post
Thanks for all the help so far. The bike was intended for a 90mm stem, so I don't really want to go lower than 80mm. This is the reason I was looking at compact bars to reduce the reach to the hoods 10mm. I might try this and see how it goes. I have no interest in an aero position and just want to ride gravel in a more upright position.

If none of this works, maybe a custom bike is in the offing?
You are succumbing to a common misunderstanding. For what you are trying to achieve here, there is NO DIFFERENCE between reducing the reach of the bars vs reducing the length of the stem. None. Nada. Zip. The effect on the handling of the bike when in the drops or on the hoods is identical, because the position your hands end up in relative to the steering axis is the same. The only difference it makes is the position of your hands when on the tops.

If you are finding the 90mm stem length to be sacred, why would the bar reach not be equally sacred?

FWIW, I am also someone who needs an unusually high stack to reach ratio. What I have found (through the guidance of an excellent bike fitter) is that in my case it is best to go with the frame that gives the proper reach, as stack is a trivial matter to make up for with spacers or a riser stem. Making large adjustments to reach (be it through shorter stems OR shorter reach bars) can affect handling.

That said, i would not sweat reducing the reach to the hoods (be it through stem length or bar reach) 20-30 mm from the stock configuration. Stems are cheap, and you will know if you are OK with the handeling.

Thus, I tend to go DOWN is size, rather than up.

One other thing to keep in mind when looking at stack and reach numbers: if frame A has the same reach as frame B, but also has a much taller stack than B, then after you set the bars at the same level on each frame, frame A will have a longer effective reach than B. The reason being that as you space the stem up the steer tube on B to match the bar height of A, you are also moving it back due to the angle of the head tube and steer tube.

The reason I am pointing this out is because it means that the difference in effective reach between frame sizes is actually larger than it appears when you look at a Geo chart and just look at the reach numbers alone.

Good luck.

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Old 02-03-22, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TheFort View Post
That's how you set up your gravel bike??
I'm 45 years old and just want to ride some off road trails for fun and adventure. I do want a more upright position because of my age and the intended use of the bike. I do have back pain, so I don't disagree on the lack of flexibility. I can ride centuries on my road bike, so I don't think I lack fitness, just flexibility.
I'm 3 inches shorter and my previous bikes had the same 383mm reach and 525mm stack. They were both slammed with only the 15mm headset top cover and -17 x 100mm stems, with 80mm reach bars. I'm 68 years old but still ride 50+ mile rides into the mountains with plenty of climbing. You're a youngster compared to me. A 70mm high rise stem and lots of spacers shouldn't be needed, with reasonable fitness.
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Old 02-03-22, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I'm 3 inches shorter and my previous bikes had the same 383mm reach and 525mm stack. They were both slammed with only the 15mm headset top cover and -17 x 100mm stems, with 80mm reach bars. I'm 68 years old but still ride 50+ mile rides into the mountains with plenty of climbing. You're a youngster compared to me. A 70mm high rise stem and lots of spacers shouldn't be needed, with reasonable fitness.
Your height, reach, stack, stem, frame size, and age are irrelevant. This is about the OP.
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Old 02-03-22, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TheFort View Post
1. Does this mean the frame/stack is too small? The size up had a +21mm taller stack, but it did come at a +2mm reach.
2. Would a 70mm compact handlebar help me get on the hoods? It has an 80mm compact bar on it right now. Would I gain a full 10mm at the hoods?
1. If the reach is too long, you definitely DON'T want to go up a size.
2. Yes, if ONLY the hoods feel too far out and not the tops, a shorter reach on the bar can help. Just be sure it's reach and not height that needs changing.
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Old 02-03-22, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Your height, reach, stack, stem, frame size, and age are irrelevant. This is about the OP.
Thank you. Everyone thinks that other riders care about aero or want to be in that position. I have zero interest in aero because I'm not a racer. I'm a weekend rider who likes to explore!
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Old 02-03-22, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
2mm of longer reach is nothing.
I have a fear that there's a typo and the reach on the 56 is actually 10mm longer than listed. The rest of the numbers just don't add up.
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Old 02-03-22, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I'm 3 inches shorter and my previous bikes had the same 383mm reach and 525mm stack. They were both slammed with only the 15mm headset top cover and -17 x 100mm stems, with 80mm reach bars. I'm 68 years old but still ride 50+ mile rides into the mountains with plenty of climbing. You're a youngster compared to me. A 70mm high rise stem and lots of spacers shouldn't be needed, with reasonable fitness.
I am 11" taller than you and 27 years younger. My gravel bike is 650mm stack and 405mm of reach with 35mm of spacers and a -7deg stem.

What do my stats have to do with this discussion?...nothing, same as yours.
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