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stem length. what's too long?

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stem length. what's too long?

Old 10-28-14, 08:55 PM
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> If you get the right size/style of bike you don't have this problem and have to run an absurdly long angled stem.
And what style of bike would that be, and how much does it cost, and what kind of bars does it have, and....more to the point.....


Why is John Cobb, famed saddle maker and advisor to champions recommending a -70 degree stem? Is that better? I hear they creak. I did consider the Cobb fit (longer top bar, shorter -70 degree stem) but I don't want to creak and I like the suspension, steering and look of the longer stem. Absurd to you, but I know how fun and fast it is.



Get a cheap grand fondo carbon bike from velobuild, put a long downwards stem on it, and enjoy.
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Old 10-28-14, 09:05 PM
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timtak, I hope you never go away.

I love your posts that try to explain why your position is the way to go.
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Old 10-29-14, 12:16 AM
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Writing this with no intent of changing your mind, just in hope some experienced cyclists could let me know if I got it all right, so I can check my knowledge and that it might help you as well.


Your drops are too low for ANY human I've seen so far. Hoods are OK, at the height most drops are at. Which means instead of having two positions: tall one and low one, you only have one position you can ride in - the low one, which is on the hoods the way your bike is set up. If that is the way you like it, go for it.


Aero bar is placed well I guess, perhaps taller wouldn't be as aero - but I'm no expert on that, hope other more experienced members will correct me. If your goal is to have the best position with aero bars, maybe you got it right (please correct me if I'm wrong). But the cost of that is high. Very high and you're paying it in (long ride) comfort, poor hill climbing position, a lot worse handling (group rides ever?) etc.


That's the way I see it, could be wrong.
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Old 10-29-14, 01:45 AM
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Thanks Staninar

I use the Felt these days, without aero-bars.


I do use the drops on my bike quite a bit. More than most people
I see on the roads, for a change, downhill, and into winds (though
recently I sometimes take the advice here and bend my elbows hands on
hoods)

I think that my bars are in pretty similar position to that recommended by John Cobb here below
A style back road position - YouTube
But Robbie (the rider's) bike has a longer top tube so that even when
flipped forward and down, his bars are in the line of sight with his front
axle. Mine are too. Perhaps this is because Robbie bought his bike in
the knowledge that he was going to rotate himself forward with a -70
degree stem, whereas I was fitted for a relaxed position so my head sticks
further forward and I need a longer stem to compensate.

The shorter -70 degree stem may be the better choice but
Both look absurd, to some no doubt
Both can't be purchased in standard (non variable) road bike parts
The variable stem may creak (so I have heard)
The long stem seems to provide extra suspension that I like and also recommend

(Apparently Anquetil had a lot of reach or curve on his front forks for that reason incidentally. Old fart that I am, I like vertical suspension to make up for my rock hard tyres.)

Your analysis may be 100% correct because
1) I almost never climb (short climbs where I can stay in my seat are okay)
2) I very rarely go on long rides (longest 60km)
3) I never go on group rides

So, due to my ride type - 24 on the flat on my own - I may not be paying anything. I only commute, and check some times race my Strava times, which are here below
Strava Segments - notebook
All the guys in my area are probably geriatrics but, since purchasing this stem, due to the minuscule Strava glory, I feel like a sporty old fart! And want to share the joy, which at least one other Strava glory seeker. Yeah.

Last edited by timtak; 10-29-14 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 10-29-14, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Thanks Staninar

I do use the drops on my bike quite a bit. More than most people
I see on the roads, for a change, downhill, and into winds (though
recently I sometimes take the advice here and bend my elbows hands on
hoods)
Exactly. You'd be more aero with less drop and bent elbows. Plus get better handling. Your drops are so low you need to stretch your arms to reach them, even with your back all the way parallel to the ground. Which is bad for both aero and handling.

This is one of the best videos on bike fit, in general. Most things explained. Everything I've tried turned out to be good advice.

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Old 10-29-14, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
It is not that I have a hang up with UCI fit, but that too many Local Bike Shops, selling as they are the image of the UCI racers in the form of the major-mark-up UCI sponsoring brands, have a UCI fit fetish. The UCI fit is good for those that ride around in a group of 80 people for long distances. It is a good fit for those people. It may even be a good fit for those who have the leisure to go on 50 mile rides on their own.

But for the majority of fat-forties, who cycle shorter distances, on their own, the UCI fit is inappropriate and should and would be demoted but for the UCI-industrial-lBS complex that makes money out of the races, making massive mark up bikes, and massaging egos ("You look just like a TDF/Grand Fondo pro") for money.

Cobb ("advisor to Lemond and Armstrong") claims the butt is not designed to sit on. Supporting yourself on your sit bones in your butt is less comfortable, he claims, than rotating around and putting weight on your thigh muscles. I tried it and found him, the expert saddle maker, advisor to champions, to be right. What a surprise.

The lower handlebars and rotated position (he uses a -60 stem, I use a long -30) actually takes some weight off your hands, because you can support yourself more easily on your muscles on your saddle. Sure I do have some weight on my hands, but no I am not doing push ups. I have as much weight on my hands as the average fat-forty rider (except less now that I have slimmed up).

By the way, my skill at geometry is not great but I think that when rotating a rider forward on a relaxed frame, a long -30 stem is going to be better than Cobb's short -60 degree stem because as one rotates forwards ones head and center of gravity rotate forwards so with a short stem, the good imho rule of thumb "your handlebars should obscure your view of the front axcle" which is true of my bike, will not be true for a short -60 stem. That is not to say that my fit is better than Cobb's because I am sure he advises his riders to purchase a bike with a longer top tube. But if you been fitted up in a "relaxed" UCI catch-the-wind 'Grand Fondo' peleton-position by an lBS then, the long -30 stem (not the short -60 stem) is the way to go, imho.

And variable stems creak. And long stems flex your forks providing suspension. Perhaps I am saying my fit is superior to Cobbs. It is very similar, and it was his idea.

Now that it is winter, though, the pounds are coming back! I may go for lunch time rides.
I would bet a pretty large sum of money that if you picked 10 riders from the UCI Grand Fondo pro peloton...many of whom test in a wind tunnel going back to the Lance era, every single one is more aero than you are in your rather odd riding position. Its a myth to say GF riders aren't aero in the drops while having a flatter back than you do with much less bar drop. You can go on living the dream, but that's a fact.
As to Cobb. Cobb does as much service as he does disservice to the industry with his videos. Yes he is right on a few fronts but he takes his philosophy to an extreme. You always mention Cobb and Armstrong together. In someways this is like your UCI fetish for the mind control of cycling which is also rubbish. Armstrong doesn't ride 1/2 as aggressive as Cobb's B back fat rider he shows in his video...not to mention the A back rider that Lance can smoke in his 'UCI' position. Cobb is full of crap basically about B back riders riding with 5 inches of drop which completely belies the entire industry of endurance bikes with handlebar close to saddle height. It isn't the industry or UCI mind set driving demand for a given bike geometry. It is human anatomy driving demand for a given bike geometry. This has spawned an industry of bikes popular to older riders. Simple physics. Older riders are less flexible and therefore they are more comfortable (and faster) riding with less lumbar and neck flexion with more weight on the saddle. So, you have it backward. You have invented nothing but an odd fit for a short ride nobody really cares about other than the folly of chatting about it on a bike forum. No foul to you. You are simply a guy who doesn't know much about cycling that takes a couple of videos on line...you admit to being poor at geometry...I am the opposite btw...and you make some weird leap to judgment and believe your Strava times are validation for your position. I am waiting for the next guy who comes here only his commute is 3 miles and his bike is set up with 2 feet of drop and says his position is the way a bike should be set up. UCI have it right and not wrong or close enough to not make a difference.

To try to help you a bit, the following is an article penned by Danno who is an occasional participant of the 41 who btw does ride with a flat back in the drops who can smoke both you and me and he isn't young and has written perhaps the best article on road bike fit on the web. He is the counterpoint to Cobb's ridiculous slamming of B back style riders and the voice of reason and a very strong amateur racer who can smoke potbellied Cobb as well:
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/752905-Numb-Hands

Last edited by Campag4life; 10-29-14 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 10-29-14, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
I would bet a pretty large sum of money that if you picked 10 riders from the UCI Grand Fondo pro peloton...many of whom test in a wind tunnel going back to the Lance era, every single one is more aero than you are in your rather odd riding position.
If you do an image search for TDF peleton or Grand Fondo peleton then you will see a lot of guys with upright geometries. This is hardly surprising because the peleton protects them from the wind and makes aero far less important. They are not more areo than me in the position they appear in this photos at least because they do need to be, because they ride in a peleton with others. I am sure that Lance rode in that position too.

If you do an image search for bicycle race time trial however you see people in very low positions, but at the same time in a ridiculously un maneuverable set up, resting their elbows on their bars, which are straight and close together. This position (elbows on bars) and straight narrow handlebars are only appropriate in low to no traffic conditions.

Most people who purchase bikes (fat fourties) are riding in neither condition. They need a compromise.
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Old 10-29-14, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Most people who purchase bikes (fat fourties) are riding in neither condition. They need a compromise.
It's almost as if bicycle manufacturers make multiple models. Like an aggressive road bike and an endurance road bike. Trek madone vs domane, for instance. Cervelo's track bike is over 6cm(!) lower stack than their road bikes for the 56cm size. Get a track bike that has 130mm dropouts or get an IGH. Or just ride SS/fixed.

You're aware that bike racing isn't 100% effort all the time, right? It's ebb/flow, attack/recover. Why not be sit up and rest ones back when in the non-attack periods?



I think you're missing that most people are unwilling to compromise comfort for speed. They're also unwilling to compromise handling. I'm no expert, but your setup is doing several things that go against conventional wisdom for good handling(aggressive seat tube angle/no setback, excessive drops). Most people plan on, or want the ability to go greater distances than 60km in a ride, too. Especially comfortably!

Your philosophy of limiting yourself to short rides and willingly sacrificing comfort in search of speed while being in an odd position on an (admitted!)ugly bike?

NOT a significant, untapped share of the market.
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Old 10-29-14, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
If you do an image search for TDF peleton or Grand Fondo peleton then you will see a lot of guys with upright geometries. This is hardly surprising because the peleton protects them from the wind and makes aero far less important. They are not more areo than me in the position they appear in this photos at least because they do need to be, because they ride in a peleton with others. I am sure that Lance rode in that position too.

If you do an image search for bicycle race time trial however you see people in very low positions, but at the same time in a ridiculously un maneuverable set up, resting their elbows on their bars, which are straight and close together. This position (elbows on bars) and straight narrow handlebars are only appropriate in low to no traffic conditions.

Most people who purchase bikes (fat fourties) are riding in neither condition. They need a compromise.
You are not aero and they are. You don't get it, and doesn't look like you will.
Pros have forgotten more about what it takes to be fast than you ever considered. I don't know who you are racing against on Strava...old guys with streamers on their cruiser handlebars?... but it took you 1.25 hours to ride under 15 miles on your commute. Maybe you are stopping a lot to smell the flowers
Thanks for the laugh.
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Old 10-29-14, 06:06 PM
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Pros are the best at riding in their race conditions. If you are riding in the same conditions as them, then it is a good idea to copy their style. If you ride long distances with a lot of other guys (or ladies) then the UCI style is good. If you ride on your own with no one else and no cars then the TT elbows on bars, narrow bars, no brakes on bars, style is good.

If you are riding in other conditions, then these positions will be inappropriate. Until Strava came along there was no race in the conditions that most riders rode in. Now as we ride to work, on on our Sunday morning ride, whatever, we can see who is quickest in the conditions in which we the users ride.

In London cyclists have developed a new hybrid, which is a cross between the 'hybrid' (straight handled road bike) and perhaps a TT in that it has a short handle making them more aerodynamic, and allowing them to get between cars.
https://www.flickr.com/groups/330555@N20/pool/

I ride in a situation which is different again. No pros ride my ride. I don't need to slip between lanes of cars. But I would die if I had my elbows on my bars, my hands off my brakes, and really narrow bars. This means I can't use a TT bike. I also need to "get my head out of the way" and get horizontal if I want to be aero, which I do. This means a Grand Fondo or other UCI peleton bike would be a bad idea.

It is not rocket science, but cyclists have been going to bike shops and coming out decked out as a competitor in one of the sanctioned races, because it is true that "Pros have forgotten more about what it takes to be fast than you ever considered," so cyclists think it prudent to emulate them. (And many local bike shops, many of whose staff are understandably keen to make a living selling the branded bikes, often feed us that local BS, "You look like a pro," "Grand Fondo!"). But the excellences of pros and the brand bikes that sponsor them is backed by the times in the races that they ride in - peletons races and car-less time trials.

We ride the streets with traffic on our lonesome. We need different bikes.

I am old so I doubt I will be able to prove the worth of my (similar to Cobb's) set up. I was hoping that some younger Strava-ista would see the sense in what I am saying.

Strava is a bit like the bitcoin of cycle racing. No longer do we need to rely on the UCI-industrial complex brands/dollar. Strava provides the backing, the proof of worth, for other "brands" or bike positions.

Last edited by timtak; 10-29-14 at 06:32 PM. Reason: to criticise Local Bike Shops
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Old 10-29-14, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
To try to help you a bit, the following is an article penned by Danno who is an occasional participant of the 41 who btw does ride with a flat back in the drops who can smoke both you and me and he isn't young and has written perhaps the best article on road bike fit on the web. He is the counterpoint to Cobb's ridiculous slamming of B back style riders and the voice of reason and a very strong amateur racer who can smoke potbellied Cobb as well:
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/752905-Numb-Hands
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Old 10-29-14, 06:50 PM
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Timtak - Its great that you're riding, and getting fit, and going fast and loving it. More power to you, and don't change a thing.

That being said, your bikes look so awful to ride. The pictures of your position make my hands, wrists, triceps, and shoulders scream in agony. My neck no longer functions after trying to imagine spending more than 2 minutes on one of those poor bikes.

Ow.

I just thought of your bike again.

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Old 10-29-14, 07:48 PM
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I can't believe somebody just used bitcoins as an synonym for credibility.
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Old 10-29-14, 08:40 PM
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I read Danno's article and got to the point where he said that lowering the bars increases pressure on the hands and stopped reading. We have already discussed that Cobb is right when he says that rotating the body forward onto the thighs allows you to take weight of both your sit bones and your hands. Danno may be faster than I or Campag4life but Cobb is the owner of a saddle company and advised two Tour De France winners. And whatever his credentials, I have tried what he advises, and know that he is right. Simple as that.

I don't think Cobb would recommend this position to Johnny Mullet.

I wonder how flexible growlerdinky is. Can you ride like Robbie, growlerdinky? If you can, I recommend you give it a try. It may be less painful than you thought.

This is Robbie again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz-V...utu.be&t=5m23s

By the way, it is only lately that I have been really getting the best out of a low stem since while I got rid of my B type belly, I still had a B type inflexible back (the belly had stopped me bending over for half my life). Just lately I have taken up Karate stretching, and very recently I have purchased a handle that sticks to the floor of our dojo which I use to pull myself down double. I may be as flexible as Robbie one soon and then I may lean my saddle backwards.
This is me in my cycling glasses, with my back flexing handle, stuck to the wall, taken last night by my daughter.

Back Stretch Handle
by timtak, on Flickr

You can buy the handle here
Portable Tub Suction Cup Bath Shower Suction Safe Bathroom Grip Grab Bar Handle -- BuyinCoins.com
And the stem here
Trial Bike Rock Crawler Bicycle parts NEON 30 degrees 150 mm 20 inch 3D forged stem-inBicycle Stem from Sports & Entertainment on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group

If you are not in the industry, go on, get one. Just so that you can tell everyone Cobb and I are wrong.

Last edited by timtak; 10-29-14 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 10-29-14, 09:34 PM
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Wait were you the guy that got special glasses with super tall lenses because you couldn't see over the top of the frame?
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Old 10-29-14, 09:54 PM
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Wait were you the guy that got special glasses with super tall lenses because you couldn't see over the top of the frame?

Yes, that is me. I am full of inventions :-) Well, no, those are my only two, and the stem was Cobb's idea.
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Old 10-29-14, 10:30 PM
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We should all chip in and get Tim a power meter so that we can quantify the differences between his fit and the "normal" fits.
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Old 10-29-14, 10:41 PM
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It would be much cheaper to buy a stem for someone with a power meter.
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Old 10-29-14, 11:04 PM
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But you're the only one riding in this position with this setup.
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Old 10-29-14, 11:21 PM
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Not if someone else were to try it. This seems increasingly unlikely so I had better move on to other things.

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Old 10-30-14, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by timtak
Pros are the best at riding in their race conditions. If you are riding in the same conditions as them, then it is a good idea to copy their style. If you ride long distances with a lot of other guys (or ladies) then the UCI style is good. If you ride on your own with no one else and no cars then the TT elbows on bars, narrow bars, no brakes on bars, style is good.

If you are riding in other conditions, then these positions will be inappropriate. Until Strava came along there was no race in the conditions that most riders rode in. Now as we ride to work, on on our Sunday morning ride, whatever, we can see who is quickest in the conditions in which we the users ride.

In London cyclists have developed a new hybrid, which is a cross between the 'hybrid' (straight handled road bike) and perhaps a TT in that it has a short handle making them more aerodynamic, and allowing them to get between cars.
https://www.flickr.com/groups/330555@N20/pool/

I ride in a situation which is different again. No pros ride my ride. I don't need to slip between lanes of cars. But I would die if I had my elbows on my bars, my hands off my brakes, and really narrow bars. This means I can't use a TT bike. I also need to "get my head out of the way" and get horizontal if I want to be aero, which I do. This means a Grand Fondo or other UCI peleton bike would be a bad idea.

It is not rocket science, but cyclists have been going to bike shops and coming out decked out as a competitor in one of the sanctioned races, because it is true that "Pros have forgotten more about what it takes to be fast than you ever considered," so cyclists think it prudent to emulate them. (And many local bike shops, many of whose staff are understandably keen to make a living selling the branded bikes, often feed us that local BS, "You look like a pro," "Grand Fondo!"). But the excellences of pros and the brand bikes that sponsor them is backed by the times in the races that they ride in - peletons races and car-less time trials.

We ride the streets with traffic on our lonesome. We need different bikes.

I am old so I doubt I will be able to prove the worth of my (similar to Cobb's) set up. I was hoping that some younger Strava-ista would see the sense in what I am saying.

Strava is a bit like the bitcoin of cycle racing. No longer do we need to rely on the UCI-industrial complex brands/dollar. Strava provides the backing, the proof of worth, for other "brands" or bike positions.
Your problem is...there is no sense in what you are saying...or doing. But carry on as you no doubt will
The funny part is your comment about getting your head out of the way. Whoops. Next you will invent a mirror so you can navigate traffic with your eyes straight down. Lance is talking about a TT in a pro race and you are riding out on a busy street in Japan with very little shoulder. I hope you have your life insurance paid up.

Last edited by Campag4life; 10-30-14 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 10-30-14, 06:43 AM
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Why feed the troll? It just gives him the attention he craves.
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Old 10-30-14, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
Your problem is...there is no sense in what you are saying...or doing. But carry on as you no doubt will
The funny part is your comment about getting your head out of the way. Whoops. Next you will invent a mirror so you can navigate traffic with your eyes straight down. Lance is talking about a TT in a pro race and you are riding out on a busy street in Japan with very little shoulder. I hope you have your life insurance paid up.
You have a very good point about visibility.

(In another thread similar to this, regarding my glasses, there were suggestions of mirrors and fresnel lenses to allow one to see forward while having ones head pointed down. As you can see from my buddy icon, I wear specs that allow me to look out of the top of my brows. )

I take your point entirely.

In a road with traffic situation, it may well be a very bad idea to ride in a horizontal position because it is dangerous. With this statement I agree 100%. This a major drawback of the position and stem that I am recommending.

But, are you now therefore admitting that my (or rather Cobb's) position does have the advantage of the TT pro race position: it is faster and more efficient, due to being much more aerodynamic? (I hear that 80 or more percent of cycling power is paid to beating the wind resitance).

I don't want to ride on a TT bike with TT bars because as well as having the restricted field of vision that you point out, I also have less manouverability due to the narrowness hand-to-hand on the bars, due to their lack of hands on brakes, and due to the fact that ones elbows are on ones bars all of which add up to less manouvreability and therefore more danger.

I have on these forums, perhaps this thread, been recommended TT bikes! On my commute? Hot d*** I would be dead within one season!

I am suggesting this stem, and my position as one which is a compromise between (1) the low visibility AND low manouvreabilty of a TT bike, and (2) the low visibility but higher manouvreability of a TT bike position with hands on brakes, wide/normal handle bar, peleton-manouverable road bike handlebars. My bike is simply a TT / UCI peleton cross. It is a TT bike with road bike bars. It has the same visibility disadvantages as a TT bike but not the other disadvantages.

My bike position is for extreme Strava-istas that want to get, remain, and be fast and thin.

And let us not forget that fatness kills too.

Speed!

Tim, the troll aparently

Last edited by timtak; 10-30-14 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 10-30-14, 08:59 AM
  #174  
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Originally Posted by timtak
You have a very good point about visibility.

(In another thread similar to this, regarding my glasses, there were suggestions of mirrors and fresnel lenses to allow one to see forward while having ones head pointed down. As you can see from my buddy icon, I wear specs that allow me to look out of the top of my brows. )

I take your point entirely.

In a road with traffic situation, it may well be a very bad idea to ride in a horizontal position because it is dangerous. With this statement I agree 100%. This a major drawback of the position and stem that I am recommending.

But, are you now therefore admitting that my (or rather Cobb's) position does have the advantage of the TT pro race position: it is faster and more efficient, due to being much more aerodynamic? (I hear that 80 or more percent of cycling power is paid to beating the wind resitance).

I don't want to ride on a TT bike with TT bars because as well as having the restricted field of vision that you point out, I also have less manouverability due to the narrowness hand-to-hand on the bars, due to their lack of hands on brakes, and due to the fact that ones elbows are on ones bars all of which add up to less manouvreability and therefore more danger.

I have on these forums, perhaps this thread, been recommended TT bikes! On my commute? F*** me, I would be dead within one season!

I am suggesting this stem, and my position as one which is a compromise between (1) the low visibility AND low manouvreabilty of a TT bike, and (2) the low visibility but higher manouvreability of a TT bike position with hands on brakes, wide/normal handle bar, peleton-manouverable road bike handlebars. My bike is simply a TT / UCI peleton cross. It is a TT bike with road bike bars. It has the same visibility disadvantages as a TT bike but not the other disadvantages.

My bike position is for extreme Strava-istas that want to get, remain, and be fast and thin.

And let us not forget that fatness kills too.

Speed!

Tim, the troll aparently
Well, your fit has much more downside than what you wrote but enough has been said.
Perhaps the only thing I agree with is getting top rimless glasses for aero riding such that one can ride with a lower head position without gazing into a sunglass rim. But that his little to do with the value of your wonky fit. I ride Rudy Sportmasks without a top frame. A great sunglass with adjustable bridge for riding in the drops with close to a flat back.
I'm out of the thread. Ride safe and often.
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Old 10-30-14, 09:13 AM
  #175  
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Originally Posted by timtak
Not if someone else were to try it. This seems increasingly unlikely so I had better move on to other things.
Please don't move on. It's always fun to read your posts and see the photos of you on your bike. At the low speeds you ride, aerodynamics matter very.
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