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handlebar / reach issue, please advise

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handlebar / reach issue, please advise

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Old 03-27-08, 03:46 PM
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NeezyDeezy
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handlebar / reach issue, please advise

Here's my story. I used to ride an old Miyata 610, a specimen from the days when bikes were built with shortish top tubes. I made the switch to a modern bike, the Cannondale T2000, for all the good reasons (stiffness, brifters, etc). Only problem is, I find that I'm actually too stretched out. I'm 6'3" and I have the "jumbo" version which has a top tube of almost 61cm, which I think might be too much for me. Otherwise, I really like the bike...

I have the standard stem (maybe 100 degrees, 100mm?) that came with the bike, and I was hoping that I could improve my issues with a stem replacement. Then I read on Sheldon's site:
Adjustable Stems
As stems go up, the bars also move back, and this may move the bars back so far as to disturb the weight distribution and steering geometry. That doesn't matter to the occasional bike-path cruiser, but may be a significant issue to the touring cyclist, especially with a loaded bike.
I presume this would be true with any stem-related swap made with the intention of moving the handlebars closer to me. Given that my stem already isn't all that long, what do you think I should do? I guess I could sell the bike and try to find a smaller size... or maybe if I just focus on raising the bars I won't feel as stretched?
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Old 03-27-08, 05:58 PM
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The issue being raised here is thus: with your hands down at your sides, your reach is zero. Your maximum reach is with your arms all the way outstretched at your shoulders. Rotating your arms up increases your reach.

This means that if you had a handlebar position where you liked the reach, but thought it was too low for comfort, merely raising the stem would be inadequate. This is because since the fork is angled back, raising the stem also moves it backwards, but you need MORE reach since you've just rotated your arms up! What this means is that for performance cycling, a quill stem with adjustable height isn't all that useful, because there will likely only be one place where the reach is right for you. If that place is also at the optimum height, you lucked out.

It sounds like you will need a new stem. Thing to keep in mind is that if you want the handlebar height to stay the same, you will need a shorter stem with a steeper angle. If you want the bars higher, using the same length stem with a steeper angle will give you more height and a shorter reach. Shortening the stem will quicken the bike handling, but unless the reach doesn't need more than a couple cm of adjustment, that is an insignificant concern.

Here is a nifty tool you can play around with:

http://blogs.phred.org/blogs/alex_we...hart-tool.aspx
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Old 03-27-08, 06:10 PM
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I agree with the above post that you just need to get a shorter reach stem. I am assuming that with this new bike that you have an Aheadset type stem which clamps around the top of the fork. As far as I know, and could be quite wrong, they do not manufacture and adjustable reach stem (track bikes, maybe) so you would have to purchase a shorter reach stem and ensure that it is the same angle as the original. I think that Aheadset type stems come in 0 , 15 and 30 degree rises. I don't think that an inch or so in a shorter reach stem is going to affect handling or weight distribution.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:15 PM
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FWIW, so far I haven't noticed a huge difference in steering and handling based on changes in stems, handlebar, handlebar height etc. It's just a comfort thing IMO.

If you do notice a difference, you could always find bars with a different reach to compensate.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:43 PM
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It does sound like you need a new stem -or, are you absolutely sure you are too stretched out? Is it possible to try cycling, say, 500 miles before changing it? (OK,OK within reason, obviously if you are so uncomfortable it might not be a good idea to persevere). I might be in the minority here, but I believe the human body can be very adaptable; it may be the new bike has a great "traditional" fit, but you started off on a very short top tube and that's what you are used to. It might be worth considering.

Another issue to consider: if you have road drop handlebars, check the reach of the actual bars. It may be that you can change bars to get a very short reach without even changing the stem. You can also try moving your saddle forward, though I'd recommend this the least and as a last desperation move as you will really be messing around then with your KOPs position, and that could throw things off pretty badly.
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Old 03-28-08, 02:12 AM
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There are also these Modolo Gran Fondo handlebars that shorten the reach to the top of the bars. http://velo-orange.com/haandst.html
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Old 03-28-08, 03:13 AM
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On my road bike I went from a 100 mm to a 120 mm stem that 20 mm made a big difference. Your stem is not short as you sugest it is in the middle, you can get stems down to about 40 - 50 mm and at a range of angles, that is up 60 mm shorter which is alot. Buy a few cheap ones and expearament, sell the one you do not like. If you have a nice lbs you could go there and they may let you try several around the block before you buy.
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Old 03-28-08, 10:03 AM
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I had the same issue when I built my LHT. The stem I bought stretched me out far too much. I replaced it with a stem that had a much steeper angle. Not only did it bring the bars back, it also raised them up close to level with the saddle, which is what I've found helps prevent hand numbness. I was lucky; I only had to buy two stems to find the one that worked for me. I've heard others recommend buying an adjustable stem to find out what you like, then buying a "permanent" stem with the same dimensions.
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Old 03-28-08, 10:33 AM
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Which stem did you end up with BBT? Can you link me?

Thanks
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Old 03-28-08, 01:22 PM
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Purely Custom makes an adjustable stem but the cost is somewhat prohibitive. It'd be cheaper to just buy different sized stems and try them.
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Old 03-28-08, 03:44 PM
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I also have a Cannondale T2000 in the jumbo size and I have changed stem height, length, angle, and handlebars several times in my quest for the "Perfect for me" arrangement. I have never experienced any steering or handling problems. Nashbar makes a reasonably priced adjustable stem that may help you.

http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20ATB%20Stems
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Old 03-29-08, 04:13 PM
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My T2000 is a 2007. The Cannondale website says the handlebars are 26.0 cinelli vai. So can I assume a mountain bike, or 25.4mm stem will work? Thanks!
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