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Move up to a larger frame size?

Old 11-02-23, 11:15 PM
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Move up to a larger frame size?

Hi. I know I want to buy a REI touring bike, ADV 1.1. I have some gift cards that will lower the price substantially.

Today, I went in to test ride the medium size based on my height. That size range is for folks 5'6" - 5' 9". I am 5' 8" when wearing some Adidas Trailcross shoes which raises my height about an inch. It's the shoes I will wear when cycling.

So, here's my dilemma. I got on the medium and immediately it felt cramped. I had them rotate the bars upward and tad and move the seat back about ¼" to the max mark in the seat rails. It still felt cramped. I have a pretty typical physique with typical arm and leg length.

Would a large work for me? Or is that going to put too much weight on my arms? On the large, the distance from the seat tip to the back of the bars was pretty much the same as that distance on my MTB, a 2013 Santa Cruz Super light 29.

Maybe I am just used to that distance or is it just that's how they make touring bikes, now?

The ADV 1.1 Medium frame effective top tune length is 540 compared to 560 for the large. Reach goes from 370 to 376 on the large. Chainstay length is the same for both bikes.

I didn't have a chance to test ride the size large which is for folks 5' 9" - 6'0".

My previous tourer was a @1978 Bridgestone Antares LTD which I rode almost 10,000 miles when I was in my late teens on the 70s. That's my experience on tourers. It's now almost 45 years later.

Thoughts? Do people ever move up to the next larger size even though the bike was designed for a specific range? I figured all those engineers must know something.

Cheers,

Rod

Last edited by teachndad; 11-03-23 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 11-03-23, 03:42 AM
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Buy what feels right for you, not what the manufacturer suggests. Unless I’m mistaken, REI would allow you to exchange the larger size if it doesn’t work out.
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Old 11-03-23, 05:13 AM
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Sit on the REI bike with your palms on the brake hoods (or the approaching ramps) to compare reach with your mountain bike fit. The brake hoods are the primary riding position on a drop bar bike, the bar tops are just a once in a while position. On a MTB the flat bar is the primary position unless you've added a bar end accessory.
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Old 11-03-23, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
Hi. I know I want to buy a REI touring bike, ADV 1.1. I have some gift cards that will lower the price substantially.

Today, I went in to test ride the medium size based on my height. That size range is for folks 5'6" - 5' 9". I am 5' 8" when wearing some Adidas Trailcross shoes which raises my height about an inch. It's the shoes I will wear when cycling.

So, here's my dilemma. I got on the medium and immediately it felt cramped. I had them rotate the bars upward and tad and move the seat back about ¼" to the max mark in the seat rails. It still felt cramped. I have a pretty typical physique with typical arm and leg length.

Would a large work for me? Or is that going to put too much weight on my arms? On the large, the distance from the seat tip to the back of the bars was pretty much the same as that distance on my MTB, a 2013 Santa Cruz Super light 29.

Maybe I am just used to that distance or is it just that's how they make touring bikes, now?

The ADV 1.1 Medium frame effective top tune length is 540 compared to 560 for the large. Reach goes from 370 to 376 on the large. Chainstay length is the same for both bikes.

I didn't have a chance to test ride the size large which is for folks 5' 9" - 6'0".

My previous tourer was a @1978 Bridgestone Antares LTD which I rode almost 10,000 miles when I was in my late teens on the 70s. That's my experience on tourers. It's now almost 45 years later.

Thoughts? Do people ever move up to the next larger size even though the bike was designed for a specific range? I figured all those engineers must know something.

Cheers,

Rod
Back in the 1970s, you sized a bike based on having just enough stand over height and that often had about one fist full of seatpost above the frame.

A lot has changed in the past four to five decades.

I think you need more stand over height on a touring bike because there is a greater chance you will stop on ground that is not flat when touring, especially on gravel trails or campgrounds. But now with sloping top tubes, stand over height still has be achieved, but it almost always is a non-issue.

I try to size my bikes based on reach, from saddle to where my hands will be on the handlebars. That is because it is easy to move a seatpost up and down a lot, but reach from a saddle to where my hands will be is a lot harder to adjust, as there is a short range of stems you can try. Some handlebars have more reach than others too, but it is a lot more work and cost to change handlebars than changing a stem for length or angle.

But, I already have bikes that fit me well so it is simply a question of replicating that fit on another bike, that usually just means raise or lower seatpost, and decide which stem to buy to replace the one that did not fit.

Most people that tour with a drop bar bike have the top of the handlebar about the same height as the top of the saddle. So, it is pretty easy to adjust reach by buying a different stem. You can raise or lower the bars too, but most people use a setup that is pretty close to what I described.

So, the question becomes, how good is your 1970s bike for fit, does it fit just right for an all day ride? If so, that is a good reference point to compare from.

If the fit on your old bike is lacking, it is very hard to say how to set up a new bike to fit just right.

Keep in mind that you might be shorter than you were in the 1970s. I used to be 73.5 inches, I am now 69 years young and am now 71.75 inches tall according to my Dr office, in my case some of that is scoliosis. But a lot of people lose some spine length with age even if it is not scoliosis. About a year ago I saw an article (I do not recall where or by whom) that described shorter leg length with age and how some people wanted shorter crank arms later too.

I generally do not like to move the saddle back and forth to adjust fit. If you move it too far back, above your waist you have more forward lean that I do not think can feel very good after a long day. Much better to change a stem.

A lot of people that have drop bar bikes do not use the drops. Do you? If you do, then getting the fit just right is much more important because you really are getting two different riding positions (on the drops and also on the hoods or tops) just right. I almost never used the drops, but after I lost about 15 percent of my body weight, much of that in abdomen area, the drops are much more comfortable to me and I can ride on the drops for hours on days with a headwind now.

I also find that my bike fit changes slightly over time. My handlebars and stem are now about a half inch higher on the steerer tube than they were a decade ago. Seatpost has dropped maybe a quarter inch over that time too

I know I did not answer your question but I hope I helped you think things through on this when you consider a lot of the pieces to the puzzle to get a bike to fit you right. But the key point here might be that stems are a part that often need to be changed to get the right fit.
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Old 11-03-23, 07:19 AM
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From the description of fit on the medium size frame..it sounds like the large frame will fit you much better. The reach increase of just 6mm between M & L seems rather slight. I can't imagine the large will feel too large for you. The seat tube length M to L goes up 40mm (c-t). That's a fair amount, but a 54cm c-t for someone 5'9" doesn't sound excessive(56cm would seem big).

If the (large) bike to try out at REI is set up like their webpage photo, the bars are rotated down too much(forcing your wrists to rotate down too far). If the bar(hood) reach feels long-ish, then rotate the bars up about an inch and try it again. Actually, to my tastes, the shifters are mounted too high on the bars and then the bars are rotated too low to compensate..somewhat. I'd lower the shifters closer to the bend (1/2 inch?..maybe a little less) and then rotate the bar up to yield nearly straight line on your wrists when riding. There is a small amount of personal preference here. In any event..these things will impact your (reach) fit and comfort quite a bit.



(from bikefit.com)



I'm (as well as many others here) familiar with the "cramped" feeling on a small bike. It's not something you just get used to or can adjust away that easily. Stems are available in a range typically 80-120mm. A large should be within adjustment range to give you a good fit.
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Old 11-03-23, 07:33 AM
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If you're feeling cramped (or stretched out!) that size probably isn't right for you. Try a test ride of the next size up (or down).

I don't really understand why places like REI don't have a selection of stems to swap out, but they don't. So if you find the right size, if only the bars were closer or farther, it'll be on you to buy another stem and try that. Fortunately, most stems now don't require removing and remounting shifters and bar tape, so it's a 10 minute job to swap a stem out.
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Old 11-03-23, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
Hi. I know I want to buy a REI touring bike, ADV 1.1. I have some gift cards that will lower the price substantially.

Today, I went in to test ride the medium size based on my height. That size range is for folks 5'6" - 5' 9". I am 5' 8" when wearing some Adidas Trailcross shoes which raises my height about an inch. It's the shoes I will wear when cycling.

So, here's my dilemma. I got on the medium and immediately it felt cramped. I had them rotate the bars upward and tad and move the seat back about ¼" to the max mark in the seat rails. It still felt cramped. I have a pretty typical physique with typical arm and leg length.

Would a large work for me? Or is that going to put too much weight on my arms? On the large, the distance from the seat tip to the back of the bars was pretty much the same as that distance on my MTB, a 2013 Santa Cruz Super light 29.

Maybe I am just used to that distance or is it just that's how they make touring bikes, now?

The ADV 1.1 Medium frame effective top tune length is 540 compared to 560 for the large. Reach goes from 370 to 376 on the large. Chainstay length is the same for both bikes.

I didn't have a chance to test ride the size large which is for folks 5' 9" - 6'0".

My previous tourer was a @1978 Bridgestone Antares LTD which I rode almost 10,000 miles when I was in my late teens on the 70s. That's my experience on tourers. It's now almost 45 years later.

Thoughts? Do people ever move up to the next larger size even though the bike was designed for a specific range? I figured all those engineers must know something.
Cheers,
Rod
from purely the numbers (your height, frame dimensions) it doesnt really make sense to go to a large. Im a couple of inches taller than you and ride a few medium frames, one with a top tube length very close to the rei bike, and another with a longer TT length---using different length stems make both very comfortable to ride.

You give the impression that you havent ridden dropbars since the 70s, and given your age (similar to me) you don't really want to have a frame that is too long for you, its just asking for comfort issues.
Impossible for us to say what you feel, but I would highly recommend going back to the REI store and having them take 5 mins to slap a stem that is maybe 20-30cm longer and maybe even angled higher--to extend the bars out a bit.

You also may very well be carrying old memories of 70s bikes that were probably or possibly too stretched out for you, but you were young and flexible and didnt know better.

But we still come back to you being unfamiliar with riding regularly on a drop bar bike, it probably will take a while for you to figure out what bar position works best for you -- OR it wont, my wife still has very little awareness of assessing how different bike positions are for her, making it very hard for me to guess what changes to make when she has complaints, she's just one of those people who doesn't notice stuff and can't properly express the descriptions to help someone trying to figure out a change.
Another friend of mine is similar, she has done the "princess and the pea" thing in the past, making it also hard to figure out what is best for her.

good luck, it sounds like you'll only know by living with a bike for a while and riding regularly, but I stick to my anonymous internet opinion of it probably being better for you to stick with a medium and playing with stems---oh, btw, all bike stores have drawers of different stems and will change them out for you to help figure out what is best for you.
Also, most of us long time riders have boxes of old stems that didn't work out, ones we tried, didnt like, took off bikes etc etc, so this is a common thing, not just you.

PS, of course in the end it is on you to decide what feels better, so good luck with trying out perhaps different bikes one after another to help focus your thoughts of what feels right. Just be very wary of a frame that only works for you with a very short stem, in case you realize down the road that you would like the bars a bit closer. Higher bars can be done, but only so much higher and closer if the frame is on the "too long" spectrum. I have had many friends with this problem, they get a short, nearly straight up stem and its still a bit too long.
Also, some riders are total toodlers, meaning they soft pedal all the time, putting more weight on their hands--again, impossible for to know how you are and what you feel.....good luck

Last edited by djb; 11-03-23 at 07:43 AM. Reason: added stuff
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Old 11-03-23, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
Thoughts? Do people ever move up to the next larger size even though the bike was designed for a specific range?
- Dont move the saddle back or forward in an attempt to give you more room to not feel cramped. That isnt what saddle adjustment is for. Saddle adjustment is to get your hips and knees in a comfortable and mechanically powerful position to pedal.
- Of course you should try the larger size. No harm in that.
- A simple stem swap to the next longer length gives you more reach than the frame reach difference between a size M and size L. A basic aluinum stem costs $15-25.
- Dont rotate the bars up a bunch for fit. That always results in some really goofy looking and goofy riding bikes. The bars should be set so the ramps are basically flat with the ground. Then the brake lever hoods should be pretty much level with the ramps. If you need the bars or hoods up higher, then buy a stem with a 35deg angle rise so it places the bars and hoods up higher. Tilting the bars at a goofy angle basically eliminates being able to brake from the drops and makes you hold the drops in an odd way.
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Old 11-03-23, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
- That always results in some really goofy looking and goofy riding bikes. The bars should be set so the ramps are basically flat with the ground. Then the brake lever hoods should be pretty much level with the ramps. If you need the bars or hoods up higher, then buy a stem with a 35deg angle rise so it places the bars and hoods up higher. Tilting the bars at a goofy angle basically eliminates being able to brake from the drops and makes you hold the drops in an odd way.
A needless exaggeration.."goofy" extremes wasn't suggested. If you refer to the bike photo above, and the text associated with it, you'll note what you're suggesting and what I suggested are the same.

This is how nonsensical "debates" on BF start..waste of time and energy. Just straight, non-hyperbolic info is really the best path.
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Old 11-03-23, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat
A needless exaggeration.."goofy" extremes wasn't suggested. If you refer to the bike photo above, and the text associated with it, you'll note what you're suggesting and what I suggested are the same.

This is how nonsensical "debates" on BF start..waste of time and energy. Just straight, non-hyperbolic info is really the best path.
Your image is not how every bike at REI is set up. I agree that the bars on the bike you show are angled down and should be angled upwards. But if they are angled up, then the levers need to slide down a bit so they stay level(since they are relatively level in the pic).
That, to me, is commentary on REI's poor marketing- why the bike dept was like 'yeah, that looks like a good setup' is beyond me. Similarly, REI has used really small and really large frames in recent marketing/site pics for their touring bike and neither looks particularly nice. Just use a 56/M frame and set it up properly- that is how almost everyone else takes pictures and its for a good reason- it looks best.
But aside from that, again- none of the touring bikes I have seen at multiple REI locations are set up where the bars are angled down with hoods level. That is how they took that photo, but that isnt how all their bikes are built. I imagine the bar angle varies significantly based on who builds in any given location.

When I read that the OP had the bars titled up, I thought this-
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Old 11-03-23, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
... I went in to test ride the medium size...
....I got on the medium and immediately it felt cramped...
....size range is for folks 5'6" - 5' 9". I am 5' 8"...


Would a large work for me?
...the size large which is for folks 5' 9" - 6'0"..
i think you have your answer.
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Old 11-03-23, 10:36 AM
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The REI touring bike, ADV 1.1 is designed for city and flat trail riding on and off the pavement. The frame geometry will result in a more upright sitting position that works well for these situations. In your situation I would try the Large frame and see if it is a better or more comfortable fit.

There is the tendency with hard core road racers to get as small a frame as possible as it will be a couple ounces lighter but this is not optimum for long rides where a more relaxed frame geometry and large frame are more efficient for the rider. I am 5'9" and would ordinarily ride a 54-55 size frame but for my touring bike I had a frame made that was 59cm and far more comfortable when riding 100+ miles day after day.

Trust your gut and go with a frame that feels right to you. Any size guide is going to be approximate and should not be relied upon 100%.
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Old 11-03-23, 11:15 AM
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If you felt cramped on the medium, go with the large. The larger frame has a higher stack, which will allow you to get your bars level with your seat, or higher if you want, without the need of as many spacers. The effective top tube length is 20mm longer, which is more relevant for pedaling in the saddle than reach, in my opinion.
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Old 11-03-23, 11:43 AM
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Thank you everyone!

This is all very valuable information! I really appreciate it! Obviously, my knowledge has been updated.👊 It's nice to see the wide range of experience amongst the members. I will be re reading the thread more than once.

Just some reflections on previous posts: I have shrunk like most of us over 55. Things have changed. I will focus on adjustments through the stem from now on. I traditionally rode with the top of the bars rotated parallel to the ground. Brake lever placement is personal.

When I toured, I would spend probably 70 percent on the time resting on the break hoods and palms resting on the bars much like the diagram posted showing hand position. In those days, the hoods were shorter than today. I don't see my self completely riding on the hoods alone at that length. Then maybe 15 percent on the top part of the bars and moving laterally into different positions in that region along the curve. I was seldom down on the drops. That was mainly for tucking in long descents or the possible headwind.

Gonna try the large size today and see how that feels. Then maybe back to the medium with asking for a longer stem for trying out. I will share impressions later.

Cheers,

Rod

Last edited by teachndad; 11-04-23 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 11-03-23, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat
...
If the (large) bike to try out at REI is set up like their webpage photo, the bars are rotated down too much(forcing your wrists to rotate down too far). ....
Very good point.

I prefer the part of the bar above and behind the brake levers to be horizontal, but some adjust to other angles. That may be ambiguous, I mean the parts of the drop bars that extend straight forward behind the brake lever and is between the brake lever and the stem.

Brake lever and hood angles, that I think is more personal preference.

My light touring bike is at this photo
Pictures of your loaded rigs?

You can see in that photo that the part of the handlebar behind the brake lever is very close to horizontal. I prefer my hoods to be angled up about 15 degrees as in the photo, but this is personal preference.

My road bike I bought as a complete bike, I have not bothered to remove the bar tape to adjust things, but on that bike the hoods are like an extension of the bars, the bars and hoods are roughly horizontal. I keep thinking about taking the tape of to adjust, but I am too lazy.
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Old 11-03-23, 12:43 PM
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If you get the large and if the bars and stem are mounted lower than the top of the steerer tube to provide the best fit for you, I suggest you not cut the steerer tube shorter. Instead simply put a spacer(s) on the steerer tube above the stem and keep the original length. If you want to raise the height of the bars later, that way you can.
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Old 11-03-23, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
...

When I toured, I would spend probably 70 percent on the time resting on the brake hoods...
The bike does look to have compact bars on it (in the ballpark of 75mm reach and 125mm drop) which, in my world at least, is a plus.

I'll be interested in how you think the large feels.
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Old 11-04-23, 07:02 AM
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Following up - Yesterday, I test rode the large. My first impression when I got on was that it felt too long. Clearly it was too long. The steerer tube was a good inch longer notwithstanding a changed frame geometry from the medium. It clearly didn’t feel right. Turning was stretching my back especially when on the brake lever hoods.

I went back in and asked about swapping the steerer tube out for a shorter steerer tube as others had suggested. They offered to do it, but couldn’t find one with the correct diameter to fit the handlebars. Opened boxes were out. I didn’t want to go to another REI searching for a large to shorten the stem. So, I went to the medium again.

When comparing the fit of the two sizes, the medium felt closer to comfortable the more I rode it. The large just felt too long. On the medium, the steerer tube had one more ¼” spacer on top, so I asked them to place the spacer below the steerer tube. They did and after riding on that set up for a while, I was pretty satisfied. The more I rode the medium, the more it seemed to fit, if that makes sense. A sense of familiarity started to kick in and the riding position felt similar to my old touring bike - Noticing an increased q factor and wider bars over my old touring bike. Definitely plusses. I am going to ride it for a few weeks to confirm the fit. If not, I will return it.

With gift cards, and the sale price, it went out the door for less than $600 including tax. Below is the bike during the test ride before moving the spacer below the steerer tube. Thank you everyone for your contributions to the discussion.

Rod



Last edited by teachndad; 11-04-23 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 11-04-23, 07:20 AM
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Your new bike looks great. If you need to make any adjustments for fit, they'll likely be only minor adjustments, from the look of the current setup.

FYI, for future reference, it appears that when you refer to the "steerer tube," you mean the handlebar stem---that's the horizontal tube that connects the handlebars to the top of the fork. The fork itself consists of a pair of fork blades, a fork crown, and the steerer tube.
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Old 11-04-23, 07:35 AM
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that is a great price for a new bike, sounds like a win win.
Take a photo from the side if you'd like to show us how the bar height is compared to the seat height--the forementioned common touring position of bars at same height as seat is a good reference.
You could also measure the stem that is on the bike now, you go from the middle of bolt to the middle of the area that goes around the bars--plus don't forget, there are a ton of stems out there with diff lengths but more importantly, different angles--to help reposition the bars slightly higher, closer, farther to change the reach.
Also, if you want the bars higher, not only do you need to use a stem with a steeper angle, but also longer than the existing stem.
For example, if you have a 80mm stem on it and put a more steeply angled 80mm on, the bars will be higher but also slightly closer than before, so you might need a 100mm (just making up numbers here)
You can kind of eyeball holding a different stem near your bike, but not really accurate, and lets face it, it will depend on the REI employee who may be clueless, but you should be able to get a stem change soon given that you just bought the bike.

In the end, you really do need to just live with a bike for a while, riding regularly, to get a better idea of what would feel better for you--and being in Californigheh, you have a nicer riding November than us up here in The Great White North.
Have fun with new bike.

P.S--thats really a great bike, with proper real world practical gearing that is excellent for touring or anything.

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Old 11-04-23, 10:19 AM
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Great deal! Congrats!
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Old 11-04-23, 11:07 AM
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just saw now that you put a photo.

The bars look like they are easily at seat level, so a good base level. That stem is probably a 90mm with a very average upwards angle , so even if you find you'd like to stretch out a bit, it would be easy to put a longer stem on (on one of my bikes, I have moved the seat back to open things up a bit, and it was fine. I personally found no ill effects---however, moving a seat all the way forward is generally not considered good for the knees as it increases the angle that our knees bend with each pedal stroke. I've done this in the past and learned not to do that again.

With the stem being near the top of the stack of spacers on the fork steerer tube, it would also be easy to play around with lowering the bars if ever you felt the urge, by lowering the stem down on the steerer, with more spacers on top.

Basically you have leeway to fine-tune things either way fairly easily, but that will come with living with and riding it regularly.
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Old 11-04-23, 11:07 AM
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I've read a lot about the saddle adjustment fore and aft being what determines being able to lift one's hands off the bars or not, which affects how much weight is being carried by the hands.

And that moving the saddle back will make it easier, not harder to do so. I admit I find this counterintuitive and I think it might depend on how much power you're applying to the pedals.

If there's any merit to this argument, then one should consider the saddle position first, then worry about stems and handlebars to bring the grips to their proper place for the desired riding posture.

Last edited by Paul_P; 11-04-23 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 11-04-23, 12:54 PM
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Saddle position like any other geometry adjustment is part personal but also factors in mechanical advantage. I used to be into hills, the longer and steeper the better (can't do them like I used to). So, for me and my body I benefited from having my saddle way back.

I have longer torso than legs, and on top of that I like to stretch out on touring bikes. My touring frame is what you would consider too big for size. The whole stand over height warnings are waaaaaay overrated. I don't mount/dismount the bike from the tube, I do that from the side. Emergency happens where I have to dismount forward? I land on the ball of my feet making me taller.

Dialing in the handlebar more often than not requires me getting the right stem for the bar so I'm not resting too much of my weight on them bars. A critical bit after that is to achieve a straight wrist on the regular and brake hood positions. And of course a flared bar that matches my shoulders.

On my larger for size tourers 167.5~170mm cranks work best. On smaller road bikes I prefer to crank 175mm.
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Old 11-04-23, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by teachndad
...
With gift cards, and the sale price, it went out the door for less than $600 including tax. Below is the bike during the test ride before moving the spacer below the steerer tube. Thank you everyone for your contributions to the discussion.

Rod
Glad it all worked out well for you. And at a good price.

Stems are a common part, easy to buy at just about any bike shop, or on line.

If you go stem shopping, they also come in different angles, anywhere from 0 degrees to 35 degrees, so if you need to raise or lower your bars later, that can be part of a stem change.
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