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Need to adjust captain fit/reach What are my options?

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Need to adjust captain fit/reach What are my options?

Old 03-01-20, 11:21 AM
  #1  
tmhudg
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Need to adjust captain fit/reach What are my options?

We just received our new Co-Motion Steelhead. We sold our wonderful Trek T2000 partly to get off the roads but primarily because my back and neck could no longer handle the reach/drop to the bars. Well, the Co-Mo isn't really much better so I'm looking to make some adjustments to get me more upright.


Currently, I have a 110 mm stem with a 6 degree rise. The bars have a 4 degree up and 9 degree back sweep. The stem is at the top of the steerer tube.


I've looked at a couple of options for the stem. I could get a 35 degree, 70 mm stem like this: https://www.amazon.com/FOMTOR-Bicycl...dp/B07C2KDXB6/


Or I could get an adjustable stem like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KBYLVBW/

It's longer but the angle can go up to 90 deg. I kind of view the adjustable stem as more of a testing tool that would get replaced with a fixed stem at whatever length/angle was found to be good with the adjustable.


It looks like I could also get steerer tube extenders but I haven't really looked into that. Is that a viable option?


Contributing to the problem is that the handlebars are very wide so my arms are splayed out forcing me to lean forward that much more. It looks like I can move the controls/grips inboard two inches before I get to the fat part of the bar so I'm thinking of doing that and cutting off the ends of the bar. Any downside to that?


So, does anyone have any thoughts on how to tackle this change? Things to consider or watch out for?


Thanks
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Old 03-01-20, 07:55 PM
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I'd recommend starting with a good professional bike fit. There are lots of ways to adjust grip position, but I think you first need to find out what your ideal position is. Neck issues, especially, can be counter-intuitive with respect to fit changes. I highly recommend Fit Werx in Peabody, MA or Wakefield, VT. A professional bike fit generally costs $250-$500.
Here's a good read on cycling back and neck pain that might resonate:
CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS - dietary supplements - men vs. women
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Old 03-02-20, 05:59 AM
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+1 on getting a professional fitting. Best money spent for me.
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Old 03-04-20, 01:38 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by tmhudg View Post
We just received our new Co-Motion Steelhead. We sold our wonderful Trek T2000 partly to get off the roads but primarily because my back and neck could no longer handle the reach/drop to the bars. Well, the Co-Mo isn't really much better so I'm looking to make some adjustments to get me more upright.


Currently, I have a 110 mm stem with a 6 degree rise. The bars have a 4 degree up and 9 degree back sweep. The stem is at the top of the steerer tube.


I've looked at a couple of options for the stem. I could get a 35 degree, 70 mm stem like this: https://www.amazon.com/FOMTOR-Bicycl...dp/B07C2KDXB6/


Or I could get an adjustable stem like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KBYLVBW/

It's longer but the angle can go up to 90 deg. I kind of view the adjustable stem as more of a testing tool that would get replaced with a fixed stem at whatever length/angle was found to be good with the adjustable.


It looks like I could also get steerer tube extenders but I haven't really looked into that. Is that a viable option?


Contributing to the problem is that the handlebars are very wide so my arms are splayed out forcing me to lean forward that much more. It looks like I can move the controls/grips inboard two inches before I get to the fat part of the bar so I'm thinking of doing that and cutting off the ends of the bar. Any downside to that?


So, does anyone have any thoughts on how to tackle this change? Things to consider or watch out for?
I go against the stream and say a bike fit is overkill, but sure if it's easy for you to get one, go ahead if you want to.

Anyway, I'd suggest looking into the handlebar, making it narrower and perhaps get one with more back sweep. On one bike we swapped out a wide fairly straight bar to something halfway to relaxed touring, the ergotec moon handlebar with 23 degrees of back sweep, which we then cut down a bit to make it narrower. Cutting down handlebars is standard bike fit practice, so it's not an odd thing to do.

The downside to a narrower bar (and shorter stem) is a bit more twitchy handling, but unless you go mountain-biking with your tandem it's usually not a problem, you get used to it.

I also suggest to use a fixed stem and not an adjustable one. There are adjustable stems that are designed to be used permanently, but it's just one more bolt to tighten down and fixed stems are inexpensive.

I've actually used a steerer tube extension on a bike. If you have a steel steerer tube designed for quill stem it can be done, the extension is also called a stem adapter as you change from quill stem to a modern stem. I'd look into stem with more rise and a bar with more back sweep first though. More backsweep and narrower bar will make a huge difference.
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Old 03-04-20, 10:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Yeah, a pro bike fit would probably be ideal but I feel like I'd like to try some cheaper things first. I think I'm going to pul the trigger on a shorter stem with a rise and trimming the bars and see where that gets me.

My steerer tube is "modern" I guess but the fork itself is carbon fiber so I'm not sure what material the actual tube is and what kind of adapter I would need for that. I guess I'll save that potential mod for phase B if that is necessary.
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Old 03-04-20, 10:19 AM
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I would use a combination of a flipped up stem and short reach bars. Get some modern bars that don't have a ramp-down angle to the brake hoods, with a short reach in the 75-80mm range. I like Easton EC-70 or EC-90 bars, but only the EC-90 comes in the 38cm C-C width that I prefer. There are cheaper aluminum versions, with a similar bend.

As for stem angle, if a 6 degree flipped up is not high enough, then you can go to a 17, but keep in mind that the actual length is significantly reduced when the stem is flipped up, so you probably don't want a flipped up 70mm. A 17 degree x 90mm is similar to a 75mm.
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Old 03-04-20, 10:37 AM
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I should have made this a bit more clear: I have flat bars on this bike. This contributes to the splaying of my arms. Here are some pics of the relevant components if it helps.


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Old 03-04-20, 10:57 AM
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Your pictures show a spacer above the handlebars. Could you move the spacer below the bars to move them up?
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Old 03-04-20, 02:57 PM
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I'm 74. Our tandem still has slammed -17° stem. My experience is rather than change your fit, change your fitness. Never give up willingly. Kind of the fairy tale giant's bed approach. Haven't encountered a problem yet I couldn't fix at the gym. Of course I've spent a couple decades figuring out how to do that. OTOH I've posted exactly how to proceed on BF. Not easy, but it's a decent life extension approach, plus it's more fun.

Nice bike!
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Old 03-05-20, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by tmhudg View Post
I should have made this a bit more clear: I have flat bars on this bike. This contributes to the splaying of my arms. Here are some pics of the relevant components if it helps.


First thing, ditch the dirt bike bars for something with at least a 40° back sweep like the Jones H-loop or FSA Metropolis. Unless you're going to be throwing the bike around on the trails and juking the rig through obstacles with body English, the motocross posture is going to kill your shoulder and neck comfort for any long ride. Our Co-motion Equator sported Jones bars for over 2 years and was great for touring and any kind of riding. We rode the San Juan Islands including Mt Constitution and never wanted for drop bars even though it was set up for an easy swap using cable couplers. Then you can experiment with different length stems down to whatever they got going for the MTB crowd these days (40, 50mm?)
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Old 03-06-20, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tandem rider View Post
Your pictures show a spacer above the handlebars. Could you move the spacer below the bars to move them up?
I thought about that but it didn't seem like it would be enough (I know it sometimes doesn't take much). Something to consider though - thanks.
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Old 03-06-20, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I'm 74. Our tandem still has slammed -17° stem. My experience is rather than change your fit, change your fitness. Never give up willingly. Kind of the fairy tale giant's bed approach. Haven't encountered a problem yet I couldn't fix at the gym. Of course I've spent a couple decades figuring out how to do that. OTOH I've posted exactly how to proceed on BF. Not easy, but it's a decent life extension approach, plus it's more fun.

Nice bike!
Thanks. I *have* been working on my core strength and I think it's helped my back go longer before it's toast but I'm not sure I have the dedication to workout enough to fix everything quite frankly.
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Old 03-06-20, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by tkramer View Post
First thing, ditch the dirt bike bars for something with at least a 40° back sweep like the Jones H-loop or FSA Metropolis. Unless you're going to be throwing the bike around on the trails and juking the rig through obstacles with body English, the motocross posture is going to kill your shoulder and neck comfort for any long ride.
Interesting. I knew there were swept back bar options but hadn't really looked into them. Now you have me thinking. One question; how easy is it to stand with the Jones bars? We like to stand for short periods on some climbs and it seems like the swept back bars would be awkward for when you are standing. Is that an issue?
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Old 03-06-20, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by tandem rider View Post
Your pictures show a spacer above the handlebars. Could you move the spacer below the bars to move them up?
I second this, I'd just do it because you can, they are there for that exact reason. A short riser stem will help too like this Ritchey 30D stem. https://us.ritcheylogic.com/us_en/comp-4-axis-30d-stem

I'm road all the way so have no recent experience with flat bars but a bar with rise can help too possibly. https://us.ritcheylogic.com/us_en/comp-rizer-handlebar

Hope this adds to your thinking. Love the bike color! Orange is my favorite color. :-)
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Old 03-06-20, 11:10 AM
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It may not be enough, but it will help. I also want to say, that is a great looking tandem. After you get your adjustments done, could you put up another picture?
Thanks
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Old 03-06-20, 11:19 AM
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No professional fit required. A steering tube extender will get the bars to any (un) reasonable height desired and there are bars easily available with 17* (Salsa Bend) 23* (Salsa Bend) and even 45* (FSA Metropolis) of sweep. We have a Metropolis on our Trek (but no steer extension) and we have steer extension on our Raleigh Coupe. I am plenty fit enough to get in a crouch, but on a tandem I don't really want to. I don't recommend the steer extender (Delta) that I bought. It doesn't work with spacers. I'm going to change it soon. There are several alternatives. The bars all run around $70. FWIW.
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Old 03-06-20, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by tmhudg View Post
Thanks. I *have* been working on my core strength and I think it's helped my back go longer before it's toast but I'm not sure I have the dedication to workout enough to fix everything quite frankly.
I do agree with the Carbon Fiber Boy on this point. Me and mine do a 4:00 Plank every morning (except Sunday) and 3x/wk at the gym we do other Core exercises. You can't afford not to have "the dedication" to be as fit as you possibly can. Find it. You'll need it when the Grid goes down and its everyone for themselves. I'll get back on topic now. [/PSA]
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Old 03-06-20, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
No professional fit required. A steering tube extender will get the bars to any (un) reasonable height desired and there are bars easily available with 17* (Salsa Bend) 23* (Salsa Bend) and even 45* (FSA Metropolis) of sweep. We have a Metropolis on our Trek (but no steer extension) and we have steer extension on our Raleigh Coupe. I am plenty fit enough to get in a crouch, but on a tandem I don't really want to. I don't recommend the steer extender (Delta) that I bought. It doesn't work with spacers. I'm going to change it soon. There are several alternatives. The bars all run around $70. FWIW.
This would work, but not ideal. Your ideal solution is replacing the fork with one with either an uncut steer tube, or a longer steer tube. This will allow you to adjust height by a huge margin, while at the same time not introducing unnecessary weight, complexity, and potential failure point (extra cinch bolts, etc.). This is an elegant solution that the seller should or could have addressed at point of sale - assuming you bought it new. Either way, it might be very worth your while to contact Co-Motion to order an OEM replacement fork with uncut or extra-long steerer. Heck, while you're at it, you could order some custom painted headset spacers to replace the multitude you may end up needing to get the stack height you will undoubtedly need.

I built up a steel Kelly I had lying around a few years ago. Chris built me a fork with current design. The axle-crown is too long for ideal steering for this old frame, but the benefit is a taller front end that feels REALLY good! My bars are currently at saddle height and I love it. (And I'm old school, so I grew up riding LONG, LOW stems with saddles six inches higher than the bars. And that was on a mountain bike; road bike was even more extreme.) I left extra steer tube, so I have a spacer on top of my stem like you do for future fit adjustments.

So you need a longer steer tube, shorter and maybe higher angle stem, and swept back bars. That SHOULD take care of your issues. However, some neck and shoulder issues cannot be remedied with standard bike fit changes. And that's why so many die-hard cyclists switch to recumbents. For some, it's the ONLY way they can keep riding two wheels.

And the "get fitter" recommendation is kinda baloney. Neck problems don't get better with "fitness." They're often degenerative and are the result of age and/or injury. Sorry, but "just buck up and get fit" it terrible advice. Sorry dude, but that isn't going to get this guy enjoying his tandem. Comfortable fit will. I have a really fit friend who's a tennis instructor. His neck has been utter HELL. No amount of fitness or PT would fix his issues. So he had surgery. He's still suffering. But he earns his money as a tennis instructor, so he HAS to continue with his activity. Getting fitter isn't the solution. Either fixing the underlying issue with his neck, or quitting tennis is at this point for him.

And I don't think a professional fit is the solution. They will only tell you what SHOULD work, not what will for you and your body. Plus, the hundreds you spend on the fit could be better spent buying a selection of good alternative components to achieve fit that works for you. This is two or three stems to try, swept-back bars, a bunch of headset spacers, and a fork with longer steerer. If this doesn't work, then this bike won't work for you. No professional fit will fix this issue.
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Old 03-06-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
This would work, but not ideal. Your ideal solution is replacing the fork with one with either an uncut steer tube, or a longer steer tube. This will allow you to adjust height by a huge margin, while at the same time not introducing unnecessary weight, complexity, and potential failure point (extra cinch bolts, etc.). This is an elegant solution that the seller should or could have addressed at point of sale - assuming you bought it new. Either way, it might be very worth your while to contact Co-Motion to order an OEM replacement fork with uncut or extra-long steerer.
Yeah, I'm a teeny-tiny bit irked at this part. When I started the purchase process, I told my (remote) dealer that I specifically wanted to get more upright because of my back and neck issues. He acknowledged this but said he uses the standard Co-Mo fit sheet to spec the sizes. We filled out the sheets and sent them in and basically got back from Co-Mo - "A standard frame will fit you. We don't need to go custom". Hmm.

To their defense, I didn't have good information to give them about the bike I had before this because I didn't take the measurements before I sold it. So I guess I can't really complain about not getting more upright if I didn't give them a starting position to be "more" than (sigh).

So you need a longer steer tube, shorter and maybe higher angle stem, and swept back bars.
I've got a short, 33 degree stem on order so that's going to be my first change. I'm liking the idea of the Jones bar more and more. I really don't like how my wrists are angled grabbing the bar right now and the 45 degree sweep seems like it would be much more natural.

And the "get fitter" recommendation is kinda baloney. Neck problems don't get better with "fitness."
This is kinda how I feel as well. While increasing strength and fitness can certainly help a lot of things, and it's hard to say what it *won't* help without trying it, this really feels like a fit issue more than a fitness issue to me. Maybe that's just an excuse to not go to the gym as much - don't know.

And I don't think a professional fit is the solution. They will only tell you what SHOULD work, not what will for you and your body. Plus, the hundreds you spend on the fit could be better spent buying a selection of good alternative components to achieve fit that works for you. This is two or three stems to try, swept-back bars, a bunch of headset spacers, and a fork with longer steerer. If this doesn't work, then this bike won't work for you. No professional fit will fix this issue.
Yeah, again, hard to say that it won't help without trying it but it seems more more cost efficient to try some component changes (that get a lot of positive reviews from lots of people) first.

Thanks very much for your thoughts and suggestions.
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Old 03-06-20, 07:40 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by tmhudg View Post
Yeah, I'm a teeny-tiny bit irked at this part. When I started the purchase process, I told my (remote) dealer that I specifically wanted to get more upright because of my back and neck issues. He acknowledged this but said he uses the standard Co-Mo fit sheet to spec the sizes. We filled out the sheets and sent them in and basically got back from Co-Mo - "A standard frame will fit you. We don't need to go custom". Hmm.

To their defense, I didn't have good information to give them about the bike I had before this because I didn't take the measurements before I sold it. So I guess I can't really complain about not getting more upright if I didn't give them a starting position to be "more" than (sigh).



I've got a short, 33 degree stem on order so that's going to be my first change. I'm liking the idea of the Jones bar more and more. I really don't like how my wrists are angled grabbing the bar right now and the 45 degree sweep seems like it would be much more natural.



This is kinda how I feel as well. While increasing strength and fitness can certainly help a lot of things, and it's hard to say what it *won't* help without trying it, this really feels like a fit issue more than a fitness issue to me. Maybe that's just an excuse to not go to the gym as much - don't know.



Yeah, again, hard to say that it won't help without trying it but it seems more more cost efficient to try some component changes (that get a lot of positive reviews from lots of people) first.

Thanks very much for your thoughts and suggestions.
I second pretty much everything said on both sides of this dialog.

I did a header off my MTB decades ago and crushed C5/C6 in my neck. I’ve since raised the handlebars on all my bikes to be close to level with the saddle. There is no downside to a more upright position on a bike with a flat bar where you’re obviously not overly concerned about aerodynamics.

I am pretty religious about certain stretch and P-T exercises for a few minutes each morning, which does help me physically, but it is nothing to do with core strength, more about muscle tone around that part of my spine.

Too bad you didn’t get the bike delivered with the steerer tube uncut, but fixing that could be expensive and I would first go with the higher angle stem and a different bar that had a riser section, shorter reach, etc.

I ended up putting this stem on both of my tandems, and I think the shock absorption helps my neck as well:

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Old 03-07-20, 01:26 PM
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Oh and I totally forgot to compliment you on your bike! It's a classic beauty and I just LOVE the color. I refurbished an old hand truck from my father's practice (built in USA in 1966!). A really solid, well-built one with rebuildable wheel bearings. I picked an orange pretty close to your tandem. It looks and functions great. All for a hand truck! But some things are worth their enjoyment. Anyway, when I take the plunge on a Ventana it will probably be a nice orange or reddish orange similar to yours.

Wow, you spoke to them and they couldn't provide an uncut steer tube? Bummer. I assume the bike was delivered stock and already assembled by the LBS before your purchase? That said, it would still be worth inquiring about a replacement fork from Co Motion. Don't expect that they'll take back the existing fork, but perhaps they can come to a reasonable compromise with you by selling you an OEM replacement with full steer tube at cost plus ten. This is a very reasonable compromise that will probably solve your fit issues. Then you could always sell your fork. Provide you receipt so a buyer knows they're buying a fork practically new with virtually now miles on it. That would offset your cost.

Good luck with the final fit.
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Old 03-07-20, 07:54 PM
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Given the situation, the steer tube extender (under $40) is the only practical solution, although a perhaps inelegant one. Buying a new fork, even at cost, is a multi-hundred dollar outlay. Then will be the cost to press in the crown race, cut it to length, and sort out spacers and etc. It is good money thrown after bad. But I've heard it said that tandems are not much more than holes in the ground into which you pour money, so I guess there is that ...
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Old 03-08-20, 02:18 AM
  #23  
lichtgrau
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Originally Posted by tmhudg View Post
...Contributing to the problem is that the handlebars are very wide so my arms are splayed out forcing me to lean forward that much more. It looks like I can move the controls/grips inboard two inches before I get to the fat part of the bar so I'm thinking of doing that and cutting off the ends of the bar. Any downside to that?...
...cutting off the ends of the captains bar. This point wasn't captured so far if I didn't read it over. I have/had a bar of nearly the same size and shape when I collected the parts for our build. When I opened the box I realized how wide those mountain bike bars became during the years. Way too wide for my taste and for our way of riding (downhill rides weren't planned ;-)
Cutting off an aluminum bar is easily done (take some time on proper deburring). My little mistake (and something that can easily be done better) was, that I was quite sure from the very beginning about the amount of cutting off. So... finally... I cut the bar three times before everything worked perfectly for me. Could have been avoided by a test ride where you just move all the cockpit stuff inwards, find the right size and use the saw only once. But, on the other hand it seemed to be a good exercise - my saw cuts looked better every time :-)

And, it was said before and here again: Nice bike. Hope you'll find a good set up for many miles of happiness...
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Old 03-08-20, 02:19 PM
  #24  
LV2TNDM
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Originally Posted by lichtgrau View Post
...cutting off the ends of the captains bar. This point wasn't captured so far if I didn't read it over. I have/had a bar of nearly the same size and shape when I collected the parts for our build. When I opened the box I realized how wide those mountain bike bars became during the years. Way too wide for my taste and for our way of riding (downhill rides weren't planned ;-)
Cutting off an aluminum bar is easily done (take some time on proper deburring). My little mistake (and something that can easily be done better) was, that I was quite sure from the very beginning about the amount of cutting off. So... finally... I cut the bar three times before everything worked perfectly for me. Could have been avoided by a test ride where you just move all the cockpit stuff inwards, find the right size and use the saw only once. But, on the other hand it seemed to be a good exercise - my saw cuts looked better every time :-)

And, it was said before and here again: Nice bike. Hope you'll find a good set up for many miles of happiness...
Totally agree about bars today. They feel twice as wide as what I'm used to. And we used to cut down bars "back in the day!" And yes, be very conservative when removing bar material. Take it SLOWLY because once it's cut, it's CUT! Maybe remove a half inch at a time? Either way, remove less than you'll think you'll need. And be aware of the bar's taper which can take up a lot of room, preventing your controls from sliding in enough. Alternatively, you can source narrower bars with a narrower taper. Just might take some time to find the ideal bar width.
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Old 03-08-20, 07:04 PM
  #25  
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I wanted a more upright ride on my calfee tetra tandem, similar to the position on my favorite road bike. i am not certainly not a pro, and don't deserve a pro fit - but I have been on a bike since forever and know what feels right for me, and I am sure you have your favorite mountain or road bike sitting in the garage as well.

On your favorite ride: take a 3 foot level and measure from the front of the saddle to the middle of the stem clamp on the horizontal and then measure the vertical down to the stem: I think my "reach" was 30cm to the bars and then vertical 2cm down the bars. Then make some cardboard cutouts of the various stems you are considering and find the one that gets you back to your numbers. All you need is the level, a measuring tape, some cardboard and a protractor. Bingo, you will have that same feel and fit that you are used to and the cost will be just one new stem. Worked for me.
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