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bike fitting, bike too low/long ?

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bike fitting, bike too low/long ?

Old 09-15-21, 10:26 AM
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razorjack
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bike fitting, bike too low/long ?

Hi.

I had a bikefitting session recently, BF concluded that frontend is too low - should be 5cm lower than saddle optimally, however before I had it 6-7cm lower and i felt fine (definietely more aero, but maybe that's why i don't like to ride on flat? )
and distance between saddle and handlebar ~51.5cm, now it's 52.

I have Spesh Tarmac 56, seatpost without setback (i don't like it, as it puts me waaay too back, comparing to MTB position, with seatpost angles 76-78*), saddle moved forward, stem 90mm - it's really nice crispy feeling, good when i ride slowly and when i do 60-80km/h. however maybe my front wheel is unweighted sometimes? during cornering i try to weight it more (by leaning forward a bit).
I'm 181cm with 86.5cm inside leg, saddle height 76cm (from BB to top surface), cranks 170, and 3cm spacers under my stem.
BikeFitter recommendation is 56 endurance frame (higher and maybe a bit shorter).

However when I tried Giant Defy M/L in a shop, feeling was completely opposite of course, it was because of seatpost with 20mm setback and saddle in central position.
However steering was very slow and 'boring', was it because of head angle? (defy 72.5 vs 73.5) or mainly because of stem=110mm ? (handlebar was very similar, maybe 42cm instead of mine 44)
on a paper, both bikes have similar length defy: TTh=560mm vs Tarmac TTh=565mm.

Any downsides of putting shorter stem? from 110 to 90mm ? other than i mentioned, and also the feeling with steering response is great
or maybe I should look for smaller endurance frame with even higher stack? i see that Roubaix 54 has stack as high as Defy M/L and still 2cm higher than Tarmac 56

Last edited by razorjack; 09-15-21 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:50 AM
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Branko D
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If you don't have any issues on your bike fit, why go to a fitter or change anything at all, though?

​​​​​​Fitting is hardly an exact science.
​​​
​​​​​​
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Old 09-15-21, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
If you don't have any issues on your bike fit, why go to a fitter or change anything at all, though?
​​​​​​Fitting is hardly an exact science.
​​
coz I wanted to avoid any issues with my knees - i had broken leg some time ago and i need special (asymmetrical) setup,
however no issues with upper body - also this is something easy to setup and experiment yourself - saddle for/aft, stem, handlebar
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Old 09-15-21, 11:21 AM
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If legs are your issue why mess with stems and bars?

Also, who said 5cm was "Optimal"? optimal according to who?

I hope you paid that guy a cubic buttload of money for messing up your bike.
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Old 09-15-21, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
If legs are your issue why mess with stems and bars?

Also, who said 5cm was "Optimal"? optimal according to who?

I hope you paid that guy a cubic buttload of money for messing up your bike.
I don't think the OP meant to say that 5cm is optimal for everyone, I think he means it's just for his case.
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Old 09-15-21, 03:00 PM
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It's easier to discuss your fit if there is an actual problem you are having. If you can ride the bike for the time, distance and effort you want to ride it at then your current fit is okay enough.

Without any problems or needs for some aspect of performance, most everything we discuss will be hypothetical.
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Old 09-15-21, 03:24 PM
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Every fitter will have some idea about "how a bike should be ridden." Some might really try to accommodate you .... But I would be surprised if most of them didn't have a "That isn't right" set-up, which they would reject even if a customer wanted it.

If you get the $300 Retul or whoever which does multiple videos with lasers and such to make micro-adjustments in cleat thickness and such .... then at least the cleats should be right.

A Defy might have a longer wheelbase, longer chain stays, and maybe the weight a little further back, on top of a little less head-tube angle. Endurance bikes are Supposed to be "stable" versus "racy" in their handling, I guess so you can take off your jacket and stow it, or get food out of a pocket and eat it, without the bike changing lanes three times.

If you like low and long .... why get a bike which is short and tall?

Here is another issue, IMO:
Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
coz I wanted to avoid any issues with my knees - i had broken leg some time ago and i need special (asymmetrical) setup,
however no issues with upper body - also this is something easy to setup and experiment yourself - saddle for/aft, stem, handlebar
Moving the saddler fore and after Definitely affects everything about riding position, Especially legs, because it changed the location and thus the angle of your hips while pedaling.

Of course .... I could eb wrong ... . but everything I have Ever heard abo0ut bike fitting is that the first thing you find is where the saddle sits relative to the BB, and relative to where you sit on the saddle. Get the height pretty correct (within a few millimeters) and the saddle position correct (again within a few millimeters) and never change it unless your body changes massively (like severe knee injuries or horrible arthritis or a spinal fusion) because you are putting out all the power you can through your legs and associated joints, and there is usually one "best" orientation for each person depending on each person's proportions and flexibility, where that person can put out the most power with the most comfort..

Sure play with it for a TT bike to use different leg muscles to maximize the run---in effect, sacrifice cycling efficiency in order to max run speed, which is where triathlons tend to be won. And make little adjustments if you take time off from cycling and lose strength and flexibility over the winter or whatever. But pretty much, your legs will always turn a set of pedals with optimal output and endurance in a single orientation, and that should be the basis of fit.

After that, however far forward you like to reach and how ever far down you like to lean, depending again on fitness and flexibility, determines your other contact points.

You can use any variety of stem lengths and angles .... unless you go for a 150-mm tiller or a a direct-mount BMX stem, you should be fine. You can raise or lower the stem with spacers (assuming your steerer is long enough) and you can get bars with different widths, drops, and reaches .... to fine-tune your upper-body position. None of these should dramatically change the handling unless you go with dramatically odd-sized (50-mm or 150-mm stems etc) parts and pieces.

Personally, if I had leg issues and really needed to be careful with my knees, I wouldn't mess with saddle placement if I got it right. But it's easy for me to talk because my legs are pretty much the same length. I assume, I would just get either a different-sized crank if the difference was more than 5 mm and would use spacers under the cleats if it was less.
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Old 09-15-21, 03:31 PM
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I would imagine that not enough weight over the axle would mean you need a longer stem. Why do you want to go shorter?

Maybe if you have your handlebars 1-2cm higher like lbs suggested, you'll have a better idea of what stem length you'll want.

How do the 170mm cranks feel for you? Too short, or fine?
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Old 09-15-21, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I would imagine that not enough weight over the axle would mean you need a longer stem. Why do you want to go shorter?
Maybe if you have your handlebars 1-2cm higher like lbs suggested, you'll have a better idea of what stem length you'll want.
How do the 170mm cranks feel for you? Too short, or fine?
I put longer stem today - 100mm (instead of 90mm) - i'll test it tomorrow
It's about comfort, I feel too stretched with long stem.

My saddle is max forward, because it's like I feel it right, on MTB my saddle is another 6-8cm closer to BB (vertical line from BB) - and I ride MTB like that for years (however i mainly climb)
or maybe because I feel too stretched on a bike ?
so at the end, maybe that's why I feel better with climbs than on a flat? because when I climb (add 5-10* to seatpost angle), my saddle is in a perfect position??

cranks 170mm are fine (to open my hips), Sir Wiggins used 165mm even. why too short? is there a table somewhere telling what's the best lenght for you ?

Last edited by razorjack; 09-15-21 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 09-15-21, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Every fitter will have some idea about "how a bike should be ridden." Some might really try to accommodate you .... But I would be surprised if most of them didn't have a "That isn't right" set-up, which they would reject even if a customer wanted it.
If you get the $300 Retul or whoever which does multiple videos with lasers and such to make micro-adjustments in cleat thickness and such .... then at least the cleats should be right.
A Defy might have a longer wheelbase, longer chain stays, and maybe the weight a little further back, on top of a little less head-tube angle. Endurance bikes are Supposed to be "stable" versus "racy" in their handling, I guess so you can take off your jacket and stow it, or get food out of a pocket and eat it, without the bike changing lanes three times.
yep, i had lasers, cameras, angles, cleat correction and small angled spacer under one.
but the saddle we left forward.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
If you like low and long .... why get a bike which is short and tall?

Here is another issue, IMO: Moving the saddler fore and after Definitely affects everything about riding position, Especially legs, because it changed the location and thus the angle of your hips while pedaling.
I'd like to have low and long, but I can't, I'm not flexible enough, i have almost 30mm spacers under my stem, and shifters moved a bit up on a handlebar (to shorten the bike)
In general, recommendation was for endurance bike (as the height would be similar without spacers), and if the bike is a bit shorter, i could run longer stem, like 100-110mm - the one that the bike was designed with - that's my idea.


personally I'm very surprised how ppl can ride with saddles sooo much back, like setback 20mm and then saddle on rails back etc.... it's soo weird,
on my MTB, my saddle nose (and it's not long saddle, close to Spesh Power) is almost above BB - but it's hard to compare, on climbs, fullsus sags and STa is slacker.

Last edited by razorjack; 09-15-21 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 09-15-21, 04:40 PM
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Your saddle setback can be used to help place your feet in a properly leveraged position over the pedals. As a general rule of thumb..-

Pedal with the balls of your feet lined up over the pedal spindle. The back of your heel should align roughly with the back of your knee as your pedal.

I have an inseam of 87.5cm. I used 165, 170 and 175mm for a long time and still do. As long as the bottom bracket is smooth and in otherwise good condition, I found this to be the most important factor.

As for actual crank length, after some research and experimentation, I found that something roughly 20.6% to 21.6% maximum of your inseam would be an ideal size. You can go shorter, but not much longer. However, this is not a definitive guide as there are many different variables which dictate your ideal crank arm length.
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Old 09-15-21, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Your saddle setback can be used to help place your feet in a properly leveraged position over the pedals. As a general rule of thumb..-
Pedal with the balls of your feet lined up over the pedal spindle. The back of your heel should align roughly with the back of your knee as your pedal.
yes, I know that theory, but as i mentioned, I prefer to have it fully forward, anything else is just too weird.
Tomorrow i'll try to make a picture with cranks horizonally (foot's ball should be aligned with my knee cap - that's another way, right?)
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Old 09-15-21, 06:52 PM
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I understand now why you are looking at a Defy .... well, it is a good bike, but I doubt it will corner like a Tarmac no matter how much you lean forward.

I have a Workswell which is 90% a defy clone (last Gen) and it is quite a fun and nimble ride, though not as nimble as my Cervelo R-clone, which has 20 mm or so shorter chain stays. Still high on the smile-per-mile meter.

I am so far from flexible it is laughable but I am still able to set up a bike to be comfortable. if you can get comfortable on the Defy .... excellent. Many happy miles, if that is your fate.
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Old 09-16-21, 01:06 AM
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Thanks
the only problem is, I'm not sure about the length as well, bikefitter was worried that 54 will be too low, that's why i need 56 anyway.
(height 181cm, leg inseam 86.4cm)

I see few used Defys in my area, but newer model with disc brakes, now my Tarmac is pretty light (like 7.5kg i guess), but another improvement could be bigger tires - 28mm

Last edited by razorjack; 09-16-21 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:52 AM
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Don't overlook handlebar reach. I've seen new bikes with 100mm reach bars and 80mm stems. I have a 110mm stem and 80mm reach bars on my smallest XS size Cinelli superstar frames. I also use a 10cm saddle to bar drop with my 73cm saddle height. Most often, I'd pick the next larger size, but the only setup difference would be a 100mm stem and no spacers. I now use a 30mm headset top instead of the standard 15mm with 15mm of spacer.

Unless there's a comfort issue, there's no way to conclude that a 5cm saddle to bar drop is better than 6 or 7. I changed mine from 8 to 10cm all at once, 11 years ago when I was 57. I've been using -17 stems since then. I can change it back to 8cm with a -6 stem.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:59 AM
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my handle bar reach is about 80mm


and this is me
(stem 100mm now, handlebar reach 80mm, saddle moved max forward)

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Old 09-16-21, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Unless there's a comfort issue, there's no way to conclude that a 5cm saddle to bar drop is better than 6 or 7..
of cours this comes from my body propotions and my (lack of) flexibility.
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Old 09-16-21, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
of cours this comes from my body propotions and my (lack of) flexibility.
What's that mean?

I can't reach my shins much below my knees. Yet my saddle to bar drop is currently 12 cm, I might put it back at the 13 cm it was prior to a couple months ago.

If you have a fused vertebra I might understand, but just the old fogey statements I'm not flexible enough anymore so I have to sit in a relaxed position just doesn't square with my experience as I don't consider myself flexible anymore either. I ride further and longer in a more aero position comfortably than I ever did when in a relaxed upright position.
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Old 09-16-21, 09:39 AM
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That saddle is WAY too far forward. Not only from a fit perspective, but the saddle rails are simply not meant to be mounted so far away from the suggested midpoint.

You would need to move your saddle back to a normal position and get a considerably shorter stem. This will help you feel much more balanced.

Also, I agree with your lbs that you need to raise the handle bars 1-2cm.
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Old 09-16-21, 09:40 AM
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Regarding crank arm size - until you try something proportionally suited to your inseam, I dont see how you can conclude that a shorter length is better.
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Old 09-16-21, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
Hi.
I had a bikefitting session recently, BF concluded that frontend is too low - should be 5cm lower than saddle optimally, however before I had it 6-7cm lower and i felt fine (definietely more aero, but maybe that's why i don't like to ride on flat? )
and distance between saddle and handlebar ~51.5cm, now it's 52.
I have Spesh Tarmac 56, seatpost without setback (i don't like it, as it puts me waaay too back, comparing to MTB position, with seatpost angles 76-78*), saddle moved forward, stem 90mm - it's really nice crispy feeling, good when i ride slowly and when i do 60-80km/h. however maybe my front wheel is unweighted sometimes? during cornering i try to weight it more (by leaning forward a bit).
I'm 181cm with 86.5cm inside leg, saddle height 76cm (from BB to top surface), cranks 170, and 3cm spacers under my stem.
BikeFitter recommendation is 56 endurance frame (higher and maybe a bit shorter).
However when I tried Giant Defy M/L in a shop, feeling was completely opposite of course, it was because of seatpost with 20mm setback and saddle in central position.
However steering was very slow and 'boring', was it because of head angle? (defy 72.5 vs 73.5) or mainly because of stem=110mm ? (handlebar was very similar, maybe 42cm instead of mine 44)
on a paper, both bikes have similar length defy: TTh=560mm vs Tarmac TTh=565mm.
Any downsides of putting shorter stem? from 110 to 90mm ? other than i mentioned, and also the feeling with steering response is great
or maybe I should look for smaller endurance frame with even higher stack? i see that Roubaix 54 has stack as high as Defy M/L and still 2cm higher than Tarmac 56
Some thoughts (I also ride a 56 Tarmac, but more importantly, have a bunch of experience in road bike fit, not the absolute - there is no 'absolute', ever...)
1st if you wanna ride your Tarmac like your MTB, knock yourself out. BUT, road riding requires a different riding technique and thereby different setup. Ultimately, riding the way you setup for MTB will hold you back, on the road.
Your fitter... is providing a 'start' position, based on his knowledge of general 'fit' guidelines, given your body dims, bike and hopefully any 'adjustments' need to adapt issues you've conveyed to him.
I won;t be giving a 're-fit' session here, just some considerations...
A general use MTB fit/setup will be WAY more upright than anything you will prolly use well 'on the road'.
I suggest you consider being setup for 'road' in a way which allows best for 'road' - leave mtb for mtb time.
'Roadies', in fact, have very different positions for actual 'road' riding vs 'time trialing' - often very dramatic differences... same idea.
There is always room for 'personal preference'
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
...Here is another issue, IMO: Moving the saddler fore and after Definitely affects everything about riding position, Especially legs, because it changed the location and thus the angle of your hips while pedaling.
Of course .... I could eb wrong ... . but everything I have Ever heard abo0ut bike fitting is that the first thing you find is where the saddle sits relative to the BB, and relative to where you sit on the saddle. Get the height pretty correct (within a few millimeters) and the saddle position correct (again within a few millimeters) and never change it unless your body changes massively (like severe knee injuries or horrible arthritis or a spinal fusion) because you are putting out all the power you can through your legs and associated joints, and there is usually one "best" orientation for each person depending on each person's proportions and flexibility, where that person can put out the most power with the most comfort..

Sure play with it for a TT bike to use different leg muscles to maximize the run---in effect, sacrifice cycling efficiency in order to max run speed, which is where triathlons tend to be won. And make little adjustments if you take time off from cycling and lose strength and flexibility over the winter or whatever. But pretty much, your legs will always turn a set of pedals with optimal output and endurance in a single orientation, and that should be the basis of fit.

After that, however far forward you like to reach and how ever far down you like to lean, depending again on fitness and flexibility, determines your other contact points.
You can use any variety of stem lengths and angles ....
...
most everything from Maelochs, above is pretty much ON...
Putting your Tarmac saddle in your 'MTB' position will not be your friend, in the long run.
saddle setup - can you state the measurements your fitter gave you for 'saddle height extension' and 'setback' ?
my guess, if 76 cm from BB center to saddle center, and somewhere around 6.5 to 7 cm for setback - I would start with that...
your pic... your saddle is really way to far forward for an effective road position... fine if you're gonna put on aero bars and ride TT with elbows on the bartop... LOL!
riding the way it is now, will have you all balled up...
setback is commonly given BB (vertical axis line) to saddle nose. Saddle nose is actually just a common 'convention', not really the actual needed place/number. The real consideration is WHERE the sitzbones contact the saddle in relation to the circle scribed b you rotating pedals. That determines leg segment and high/thigh angles and muscle engagement. That's complicated... so, most often used is 'saddle nose setback' (most saddles commonly are 27 to 29 cm long - not considering cosmetic embellishments - and the main sitzbone seating area is 22-23 cm from the nose...)
setback - drop a weighted string from the saddle nose (after setting height) to below chainstay - horizontal measurement from string to center BB - saddle setback - MAKE SURE BIKE IS LEVEL !!!
many floors and flat surfaces are NOT Level... this does make a difference in proper measurement.
Bar setup... use what fitter gave you - if you feel 'too high' then adjust via stem spacers for now...
Use the 100 stem for now - I recommend not going to a 90... nothing good will come from that... maybe even try a 110 at some point...
Ride a few rides, do minor, tiny saddle height adjustments as needed. Ride 800-1000 miles before screwing with stem.
Posture in road position, key... (if you're feeling you need to ride like MTB) - soften & 'drop' shoulders so they don't hunch up by neck/ears. Don;t lock/straighten arms/elbows - have a 'bend' in elbows. DOn't ride with elbows pointed out/away from torso - ride with elbows rolled down and inward - L shape to arms with elbows/arms in a vertical axis... Don;t let wrist drop below level of palm.
The DON'Ts all result in a rigid, triangle braced upper body, which transmits road shocks into the wrists, shoulders, neck and back. And also results in loss of bike control/handling issues.
The DOES's allow the body to absorb and dissipate road shock and provide supple control of the bike /handling. Especially when you're having longer times in the saddle...
Good Luck
Ride On
Yuri
EDIT: small observation... a common convention, over the many decades, is Wheel QR skewers are oriented on both wheels with the Levers on the Non-Drive side of the bike (left/port side when standing over bike). just a convention, no real tech reason, unless you're needing a support vehicle to give you a quick wheel change, so you can hustle back into the peloton quickly... LOL! ... since I don;t have discs, I'm not certain if there's a convention for thru-axle, but I would expect so... LOL!

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Old 09-16-21, 04:03 PM
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razorjack
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
What's that mean?
I can't reach my shins much below my knees. Yet my saddle to bar drop is currently 12 cm, I might put it back at the 13 cm it was prior to a couple months ago.
If you have a fused vertebra I might understand, but just the old fogey statements I'm not flexible enough anymore so I have to sit in a relaxed position just doesn't square with my experience as I don't consider myself flexible anymore either. I ride further and longer in a more aero position comfortably than I ever did when in a relaxed upright position.
ok, i could try to ride like this, but with the bike really short, so may hands are close and I'm still not so low... make sense? (then maybe it's about torso/arms length?)
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Old 09-16-21, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
That saddle is WAY too far forward. Not only from a fit perspective, but the saddle rails are simply not meant to be mounted so far away from the suggested midpoint.
You would need to move your saddle back to a normal position and get a considerably shorter stem. This will help you feel much more balanced.
Also, I agree with your lbs that you need to raise the handle bars 1-2cm.
what does it mean 'balanced' here? for me balanced is to keep body weight distributed between wheels in balanced way... for cornering etc.
Why do you think I need my saddle more back? (serious question - 'balanced' doesn't explain anything to me). If I put it more back, I'll be more stretched and angle between quads and torse will be sharper (not comfortable). but i'll try next ride
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Old 09-16-21, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Regarding crank arm size - until you try something proportionally suited to your inseam, I dont see how you can conclude that a shorter length is better.
yes, i had 175mm before. how can you conclude that longer is better ? what do you mean 'suited to your inseam' ? is there a magic propotion or table explaining that? can you elaborate ? I read a lot about it, there is no connection between leg length and crankarm (doesn't matter what bike manufactures tells you - rememeber that few years ago everyone believed that 19-23mm tyres are the fastest, handlebars should have massive drop and really unergonomical bends and if you can't ride road bike - it's your fault, not bad geometry.... helou...roadies still live in previous century....)
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Old 09-16-21, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by razorjack View Post
ok, i could try to ride like this, but with the bike really short, so may hands are close and I'm still not so low... make sense? (then maybe it's about torso/arms length?)
Well in the pics I was noticing that your arms are fairly straight. And that is me quite often too. However when I keep a fair amount of bend in my elbows I actually notice a lot less weight on both the saddle and bars. It takes awhile to get comfortable with that and a certain amount of core strength in your body.

But when you are able to keep those bent arms for even a short time, you'll find that annoying hand issues might go away.

I'm 5' 11" on a 56cm Tarmac. I shortened the stem to 70 mm and narrowed the bars to 38 cm. I might try a 54 cm bike if I ever get another similar geometry bike. Not sure why you say it's too short. Wheelbase? You have plenty of room between your knees and bars in the pics.

Last edited by Iride01; 09-16-21 at 04:24 PM.
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