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Bike might be too small - solutions?

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Bike might be too small - solutions?

Old 06-12-23, 05:40 PM
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Bike might be too small - solutions?

I have been riding my BH G7 for years and have put over 46,000km on the bike. I know that bike like the back of my hand. Recently I bought a new bike, a BH Aerolight. I am starting to ride the bike and have just over 3,500km on the bike.

In riding the Aerolight I feel cramped in the cockpit. Looking at the measurements of the bikes, the top tube length of the G7 is 57cm. The top tube length of the Aerolight is 56cm. This explains, to me anyway, why I am feeling cramped. The headtube is also shorter, with the G7 being 18.5cm and the Aerolight being 15cm. Overall the bike feels smaller to me and when I look at the dimensions of the XL, they are a little closer to the G7 that I have been riding for years.




I followed up with two different bike shops and told them the bike I am currently riding - the G7 - and asked them what size bike they would recommend. Both shops recommended size L, which is what I am riding now.

My question is, am I boned? Both the G7 and Aerolight are size L, so I thought I'd be ok. But the feel of the Aerolight is that I am cramped. I do not know if this is b/c I have put 46,000km on the G7 so I am just used to the geometry of the G7. That after 46,000km on the Aerolight I will be just as comfortable.

Thoughts? Thank you.
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Old 06-12-23, 05:59 PM
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What length stem are you using on the G7. A 1cm longer stem is going to deal with the reach. Then more spacers under the stem, and or more rise will deal with the drop in seat to bar.

Unless you’re already using an Uber long stem on the G7, this shouldn’t be a problem.
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Old 06-12-23, 06:44 PM
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Maybe you're in between sizes or maybe you've been riding a bike that's too large for too long. A 10mm longer stem can go a long way (no pun intended) with respect to dialing in the fit.
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Old 06-12-23, 07:18 PM
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Ignore bike shop advice and see a well recommended bike fitter in the area to find out which parts will adjust the bike most appropriately.
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Old 06-12-23, 07:47 PM
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A couple things. First, is the saddle on the Aerolight the same height and setback as on the G7? If not, make it so.

Second, what length of stem is on the G7, and what length is on the Aerolight?

Third, instead of TT and HT length, look at Reach and Stack. These are the best measurements for comparing bike sizes. The Large Aerolight has 4mm MORE reach than the G7, so that's pretty close. But it has almost 30mm lower stack, which would put your bars about an inch lower than the G7. The TT length is longer on the G7 because the Seat Tube Angle is 0l5 degrees more slack than the Aerolight's. To get the saddle to the same setback, it will have to be farther back in the saddle clamp on the Aerolight.

So, you might feel "cramped" for a number of reasons. The saddle might be farther forward on the Aerolight, or the stem might be shorter, plus the bar may be a whole inch lower. In your place I'd address the saddle placement first, then adjust everything else.
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Old 06-12-23, 08:25 PM
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To the sensible advice you've received here, I suggest comparing the handlebars. A shorter reach on the handlebar (=distance from the tops to the hoods) can make a cockpit feel cramped. I once had that feeling on a new bike, and a new handlebar solved it.
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Old 06-12-23, 08:34 PM
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Also the seat tube angle is slightly steeper on the new bike. Not a big deal, but you may need to shift the saddle back a few mm to get a comparable fit. This will also help with the cramped feeling, but I agree a longer, higher rise stem is the most effective approach.
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Old 06-12-23, 09:06 PM
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Copy the dimensions of what works on BH, like distance from nose of the seat to the bar and the height of the bar from the ground and replicate those on the aero using a longer stem and or more seat setback, headtube spacers, etc. I did this with my new/used Orbea which was a tad cramped and measured all the dimensions on my Bianchi and then made the changes and life was good.
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Old 06-13-23, 06:50 PM
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Ok, here we go. Thanks everyone.

Originally Posted by yaw
Ignore bike shop advice and see a well recommended bike fitter in the area to find out which parts will adjust the bike most appropriately.
Funny you mention this about the bike fitter. I went for a bike fit. Twice. The first bike fitter didn't mention anything about frame size. The second bike fitter mentioned the frame might be a little on the too small size for me. This is what started me down the path of wondering if the frame was too small.

Originally Posted by genejockey
A couple things. First, is the saddle on the Aerolight the same height and setback as on the G7? If not, make it so.

Second, what length of stem is on the G7, and what length is on the Aerolight?

Third, instead of TT and HT length, look at Reach and Stack. These are the best measurements for comparing bike sizes. The Large Aerolight has 4mm MORE reach than the G7, so that's pretty close. But it has almost 30mm lower stack, which would put your bars about an inch lower than the G7. The TT length is longer on the G7 because the Seat Tube Angle is 0l5 degrees more slack than the Aerolight's. To get the saddle to the same setback, it will have to be farther back in the saddle clamp on the Aerolight.

So, you might feel "cramped" for a number of reasons. The saddle might be farther forward on the Aerolight, or the stem might be shorter, plus the bar may be a whole inch lower. In your place I'd address the saddle placement first, then adjust everything else.
First, saddle height is the same. Setback is not. Setback is actually further away on the new bike as compared to the G7. I toss this up to the fact the top tube is shorter. So the distance between the saddle setback and the centre bolt of the stem is about 1 inch more on the Aerolight.
Regarding stem length, I have to measure. The stem on the Areolight is built into the handlebar, compared to the G7 where the handlebar and stem are separate pieces.
Third, I have no spacers to raise the handlebars. As the saying goes 'it is what it is'. That is good advice about the saddle having to be further back in the saddle clamp on the Aerolight. I will look into that.

Originally Posted by Koyote
To the sensible advice you've received here, I suggest comparing the handlebars. A shorter reach on the handlebar (=distance from the tops to the hoods) can make a cockpit feel cramped. I once had that feeling on a new bike, and a new handlebar solved it.
I will give the reach on the handlebars a measure to be sure. The seat of my pants feel is that the Aerolight has a shorter reach. But I need to measure to confirm.

Originally Posted by wayold
Also the seat tube angle is slightly steeper on the new bike. Not a big deal, but you may need to shift the saddle back a few mm to get a comparable fit. This will also help with the cramped feeling, but I agree a longer, higher rise stem is the most effective approach.
Thank you. I will look into moving the saddle back a little bit to get a comfortable fit.

Originally Posted by rsbob
Copy the dimensions of what works on BH, like distance from nose of the seat to the bar and the height of the bar from the ground and replicate those on the aero using a longer stem and or more seat setback, headtube spacers, etc. I did this with my new/used Orbea which was a tad cramped and measured all the dimensions on my Bianchi and then made the changes and life was good.
I tried to do this but in some areas of the bike I was unable to do a 1:1 fit/copy. I am also challenged on getting a longer stem on the Aerolight as the stem is built into the handlebar. I will see what I can do.
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Old 06-13-23, 08:16 PM
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You want to be measuring saddle setback relative to the BB, not the stem. I do this by standing the bike up with the back wheel against a wall. Then measure from the floor to the BB center, then from the wall to the BB center. Then take all measurements from the wall or the floor, and subtract.

Another subtlety is how similar the saddles are.
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Old 06-13-23, 09:41 PM
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The set length of the integrated stem is going to be an issue. You can only do so much with saddle adjustments in regards to setback position but you really don’t want to over compensate having the saddle too far back. The last thing you want is physically changing your hip position which can lead to making your glutes and hamstrings work harder and even affecting your pedal stroke due to the saddle being pushed too far back.

Is the integrated stem/handlebar a proprietary component from BH?
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Old 06-13-23, 10:07 PM
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The stack and reach measurements of your 2 bikes are vastly different and make it clear why you feel like your new bike is cramped.
Really the stack height.

30mm less stack height is, for me, quite noticeable.


If you reduce stack, you effectively increase reach. With that said, if you are hunched over more, that can mice the feeling of being cramped, even if you reach more as a result.
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Old 06-14-23, 06:34 AM
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Lots of interesting answers... You can adjust all kind of things on a bike, but Stack & Reach cannot be modified. They are both fixed and based on the frame measurement.

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Old 06-14-23, 08:02 AM
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You say you feel "cramped". But is that just a feeling or perception?

If you aren't having any pains or other physical issues, then maybe you'd do better to look at and compare your performance data between the two bikes. Perhaps the one you feel cramped on is something you just need to get use to if your numbers are better on that bike.

I don't believe that a bike properly fitted to you means that you are in the same position on every bike that you ever ride.

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Old 06-15-23, 02:39 PM
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I always say to match stack and reach as closely as possible, before buying. If you don't do that, expect problems. I always duplicate my previous position. My latest frames came with -7 degree integrated bar/stem, so I also accounted for that with a smaller stack than my bike with a -17 stem.
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Old 06-16-23, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
You want to be measuring saddle setback relative to the BB, not the stem.
This 100%! I personally use a plumb bob from the tip of the saddle and measure where it points on the chain stay to the center of the BB, but there are multiple ways to do it.
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Old 06-16-23, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
This 100%! I personally use a plumb bob from the tip of the saddle and measure where it points on the chain stay to the center of the BB, but there are multiple ways to do it.
Yeah, the plumb bob method always bugged me, so I developed the "wall and floor" method.
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Old 06-16-23, 04:28 PM
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There are only three contact points on a bike. Seat, bar and pedals. What's in between is largely irrelevant. - Use a tape measure to discover how the new bike is different from the old in respect to distance between said contact points. Looking at the frame geometry tells you very little, almost nothing, because bar, seat post, seat, stem etc. can be of different dimensions and setting and all contribute strongly to final fit.
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Old 06-18-23, 10:19 AM
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The problem here is that the new bike has a much lower frame stack and adding spacers (if the steerer tube is even long enough) will reduce reach further because of the sloping head angle. Normally you would compensate with a longer stem, but if the new bike has an integrated stem then that's a relatively expensive change.

Basically the new bike has a much more aggressive fit than the old one i.e. way lower stack for an equivalent reach. The XL frame would compensate for the stack height, but then the reach could well be too long. I would question if this is the right bike for your fit preferences (assuming you don't want a more aggressive fit than your current bike).
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Old 06-18-23, 01:20 PM
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Just another emphasis on getting the saddle setback correct relative to the bottom bracket, not the stem. (I use a variation of the plumb bob method - vertical spirit level.) I'm also fortunate in that I use the same saddle and very similar bars on all my road bikes so I can compare some simple measurements to do the saddle setback, height and distance to the tops and hoods of the bars.

Unfortunately, by having an integrated bar/stem, you're missing a couple of relatively easy and inexpensive critical adjustment solutions without replacing them. It might not look pro, but if you had a separate bar/stem, you could get a stem with a higher rise and/or different lengths to get the bars where you might need them to be. Stems are cheap to experiment with. New bars can be expensive, but you can also experiment with less expensive ones to get the sort of handlebar drop and reach which might help. Then buy the "good" bar and stem you decide on and sell the surplus on ebay.

Personally, I don't get integrated bars, but I guess it can be worthwhile if someone is absolutely sure about fitting. I could probably get away with it having built up several different road bike frames in the past and I have a decent ability to translate between geometry charts. But I doubt they make them with upturned stems like I have on all my bikes (in addition to maximum spacers)

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Old 06-18-23, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo

Personally, I don't get integrated bars, but I guess it can be worthwhile if someone is absolutely sure about fitting.
They can be really nice. My Canyon has integrated bars and they are the most comfortable I've ever used. No stem clamp is simply clean and maintenance free. But obviously you do have to get it right first time and no fine adjustment of bar angle. But if the fit works then it's a great solution.
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Old 06-18-23, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
They can be really nice. My Canyon has integrated bars and they are the most comfortable I've ever used. No stem clamp is simply clean and maintenance free. But obviously you do have to get it right first time and no fine adjustment of bar angle. But if the fit works then it's a great solution.
i changed mine out once, it actually wasn’t that much more expensive. (frequent) sale price on new cockpit, sold the original mint-condition one for maybe $100 less, tops. a little more than a stem - of course you can sell a stem - but i also went 20mm narrower on the bars.
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Old 06-18-23, 05:53 PM
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Most people shrink over time.
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Old 06-18-23, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck Naill
Most people shrink over time.
And get less flexible, less power in the legs (meaning more weight on butt and arms), less interest in discomfort, etc. etc.
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Old 06-18-23, 07:00 PM
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I would recommend in bathing in scalding hot water, then putting yourself in the dryer on ‘high’ and while you are tumbling, resolving to never buy a too small bike in the future. When done, if you haven’t shrunk to the right size, repeat the process until you get it right.
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