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stem length too long....

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stem length too long....

Old 07-23-06, 01:15 PM
  #1  
cobryan
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stem length too long....

I searched through quite a few threads, but couldn't come up with anything, so I thought I would ask you people. While reading Andy Pruitt's latest book, there was a way to roughly approximate seat to handlebar gap. I have always had problem with muscle spasms between my shoulder blades, and I have just stretched religiously and raised the bars way up. But after a weekend of reading that, a good rough starting point was that you put your elbow at the tip of your seat, extending your open hand. This measurement should be about one inch past your longest finger. I have also read that after you have spun for awhile on the trainer, and have your sit bones in the correct place, if you look down, your handlebars should cover the view of the front axle. After doing these (I have been "fit" at numerous bike shops, but no one has ever looked at this), my fingers are approximately 3.5 inches from my bar, and looking down, I
would say it was approximately 3.5-4 inches away from the bar covering the axle. So, to make a long story short, I have read that a top tube or stem that is too long will make you have a rather large arch in your upper back, when you raise your head. My wife, who is 5'9" has the same length arm from elbow to fingertip (I am 6'4'). My son is 6' and his reach is about 1.5 inches longer than mine. I am riding a 60cm bike and my old bike was a 62cm, both have 130 stems. So, it seems logical that I will need a stem in the 100-110 length, or a custom bike with a shorter top tube (but that is not feasible at this point). So evidently, I have shorter arms, and my torso may be a little short for my height. When I put my elbow from the tip of the seat to the bars, it is a few mm short of reaching the center of the steering column tube. Any words of wisdom??!! Thanks, Bry.
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Old 07-23-06, 02:11 PM
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johnny99
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My favorite method for picking a stem length:

1. sit on your favorite part of the saddle
2. grab the handlebar hooks (farthest forward part near the brake levers)
3. bend over so that your forearms are horizontal (parallel with the ground)
4. your upper arms should be vertical (90 degree angle vs. your forearm)

If the angle between your upper arm and forearm is more than 90 degrees, then your stem is too long. If the angle is less than 90 degrees, then your stem is too short. If you cannot bend over so that your forearms are horizontal, then your handlebar is too low.

This only works if you roll your hips forward when you ride. If you ride with upright hips, then you need to ask yourself why you don't roll your hips forward. The answer to that question will have a big impact on bike fit.
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Old 07-23-06, 02:37 PM
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Yes, the hips are big factor in upper-body reach to the bars. There's no one magic "right" number for seat-to-handlebar fit, it depends upon the type of rider and type or riding you do. Recreational weekend-warrior types will probably use a more upright position with shorter reach while a racer will have a 2-3" longer reach.
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Old 07-23-06, 07:21 PM
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cobryan
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Thanks for the input. I put my bike on the trainer and went to the position I am comfortable in riding in the drops, then moved my hands to the apex of the bar (near the brake levers) and with my forearms parallel with the floor, there was a substantial bend in my arm. So, I had my wife watch and, staying in my aerodynamic postition with my arms parallel to the floor, I had to move my arm back probably 2.5-2.75 inches before my upper arm was at 90 degrees from my forearm. Maybe I didn't make myself clear in my initial thread, but it doesn't seem to be a question about my pelvis postition or my flexibility. It seems my arms seem to be short for my height, my forearm and elbow to fingers appear to be 2-3 inches shorter than for someone my height. Anyway, back to the original statement, whether I measure with my elbow to the bar or used the method described above, I still come up lacking a substantial amount--around 2.5 inches. I think all this time, I have been raising the stem, when I probably should have been shortening it substantially. What are your thoughts because I don't have access to shorter stems without just ordering one. Thanks a ton!! Bryan
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Old 07-23-06, 07:33 PM
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Can you post a side view picture of yourself riding the bike? Or better would be to have a local cycling team coach watch you ride and make recommendations. Since you are in pain now, a little money to fix the problem before it gets worse is probably well spent.
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Old 07-24-06, 03:43 AM
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You could try an adjustable stem to experiment.
Most of those rules of thumb regarding bar palcement have no basis, they just happen to be true for average sized racing cyclists.
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Old 07-24-06, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Mothra
Yes, the hips are big factor in upper-body reach to the bars. There's no one magic "right" number for seat-to-handlebar fit, it depends upon the type of rider and type or riding you do. Recreational weekend-warrior types will probably use a more upright position with shorter reach while a racer will have a 2-3" longer reach.
Cant agree more. I set my road bike up, where it is farily uncorfortable when riding a laid back ride. The stem is just too long for that. However, when down in the drops, flat backed, and hips rolled, the bike fits me like a glove. Unfortunately, you have to go one way or the other. The solution would be 2 stems (or 2 bikes) to swap depending on the ride. When I am doing a lazy ride, I tend to just use the tops of the bar and the shifter hoods allot, which is OK, because it is a lazy ride.

With respect to the OP, there is no such thing as a fit formula, as people's bodies are far too diverse. The suggestion about the arm being parallel to the ground and the upper arm perpendicular is a much better method, but even that is open to what feels right, is a sustainable (comfortable) position, allows for good power generation, good aerodynamics, doesnt make your butt look big, and about 1000 other factors that only you can sort through for yourself. Getting a pro fitting would save you allot of time, but doing it yourself is probably the most powerful way to get the "correct" answer for your bike fit.
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Old 07-24-06, 09:32 PM
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cobryan
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Originally Posted by jamiewilson3
With respect to the OP, there is no such thing as a fit formula, as people's bodies are far too diverse. The suggestion about the arm being parallel to the ground and the upper arm perpendicular is a much better method, but even that is open to what feels right, is a sustainable (comfortable) position, allows for good power generation, good aerodynamics, doesnt make your butt look big, and about 1000 other factors that only you can sort through for yourself. Getting a pro fitting would save you allot of time, but doing it yourself is probably the most powerful way to get the "correct" answer for your bike fit.

That sounds like some great advice and I love to tinker!! Thanks for the advice from all of you--it has really helped me a lot!! Bry
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