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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so...
i test-rode a bike for 30 min. actually, i was going to ride for an hour to see how it feels when i ride for a longer period. however, i couldnt ride more than 30 minutes due to lower-back pain. when i changed a stem, it was little better, but the pain lasted 20 minutes after the test ride.
the salesman told me that since the bike has a true-race-bike geometry and i'm a newbie, the pain was expected, so it will get better if the bike is truly fitted and i get used to the geometry through training.

IS IT REALLY TRUE?

i dont want to buy the bike with the geometry that doesnt fit my body, but i cannot ask the salesman to do 1-hour long fitting process.

should i trust the salesman and buy the bike? or just get another bike with little more upright geometry that is comfortable even after an hour long test ride.

thanks
 

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I think the more appropriate question may be, does the bike fit not in terms of saddle height and stem length, but in terms of end use. What do you plan on doing with the bike. Improve your fitness? Replace your car? Complete a charity ride? Cross the country? Race? Any single bike can do all of these things, but depending on the style of bike you buy some will be more adept at some tasks, sacrificing versatility in others.

To answer your first question: yes, a new cyclist on a bike with a relatively aggressive position and geometry may be initially uncomfortable. And yes, that discomfort ought to lessen through training and proper bike fitting. But fit and fitness may not be of much help if you bought the wrong bike in the first place. A hybrid bike with a front shock and bolt-upright seating may be more comfortable for an hour long test ride, but if your goals include riding a century or more performance-oriented stuff, then that is an example of a bike that suits your current needs, but will not support your future goals.

I'm not trying to steer you away from a race bike. They're fast, light, and fun to ride. I'm just encouraging you to be realistic about your needs and goals, and choose your bike appropriately. Test ride a lot of bikes from a lot of brands and a lot of shops. You will know what feels right and what does not, even as a new cyclist. And not all shops are created equal either. Trust your instincts.

Once you do decide on a bike, have it fit properly and set aside a few dollars for a helmet and some riding clothes. Take a repair class or buy a book so you can get yourself home in case of a flat tire and keep your bike in rideable shape. And then just get out there and ride.

Good luck!
 

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I agree with that advice. As far as the pain goes, if it started before the new stem was added, it could carry on for even a day or two. Wait until you've recovered then go try again.
From what it sounds like, I do believe the salesperson was not being sensitive to your needs. Did be ask what you wanted out of your bike? Did he seem biased to one brand? If you said you don't really like the feel of that bike, do they show other brands/geometry with the same enthusiasm? If you answer "no" to those, then you are in the wrong place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thank you very much for your response!

the bike that gave me back-pain has the same geometry as the one that professional race bike has. but the other bike that i was considering had slight higher position, like an entry level bike, and was very comfortable even without any adjustment on stem/seatangle.

i was not sure if i should get the aggressive geometry now, or get comfortable one now and get aggressive one later.

oh, btw, i'm not planning to participate any races, but i'll be training as intense as possible for the sport that i'm doing in college (rowing)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
when i visited him for the first test ride, i felt a lot of pain after 20min. Few days later, i visited him again to change stem and seat angle. after the change, the pain got much better, but i still felt the pain.
when i asked him about the problem, he said,
"well, you are asking me to fix your back problem. but it's not that simple. the bike is not fitted for you completely, and your body might not be in shape enough to handle the geometry, which could be improved after some training"
the salesman is actually a great person, but i didnt want to just trust him and get the frame that does not fit my body.
if the pain goes away, then great! but if it doesnt, then i'm basically screwed.

instead of hoping that the pain will get better, i might just buy the frame that fits me, although it does not have the geometry of the true "professional" racing bike.

Thanks for your response anyway!
 

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OK, so you're a collegiate rower. Having been a rower myself, I am assuming your fitness is pretty good, and that your back extensors ought to be strong enough to tolerate a 30 minute ride.

What is your flexibility like? Do you have tight hamstrings? When you reach towards the floor, does the curve in your back occur in your low back, or somewhere else? Has your coach ever mentioned anything about your stroke that makes you think you don't have normal range of motion anywhere? Does your back hurt in the boat, or on the erg?

It's OK if you can't answer these questions off the bat. But as a rower, you should have the strength and stamina to tolerate 30 minutes or riding a bike, even a race bike. If cross training for rowing is your goal, then a bike with more aggressive geometry and position is certainly not out of the question; in fact, it will probably suit your needs better than most other bikes out there. But in your case, proper fitting is the key. Go to some other shops in the area and ask straight away who the bike fitter is. Tell him your story and see what he says. after a few tries, you ought to have a picture of a.) what bikes in general are going to work for you, and b.) what further modifications will be needed to make them really work for you.

Good luck.

Eddie (out in Concept II land)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's great to see a rower on this website.

anyhow, i just started rowing, so i'm not sure if you are overestimating my fitness. but, when i started to feel pain, i didnt want to torture my back anymore. it was very clear that the setting did not fit my body.

when i was rowing, i did not feel any significant back pain. my coaches told me that i have a decent technique, so that's maybe why i'm not feeling any pain. also, for flexibility, i'm not sure how to answer that question. coaches did not mention my range of reaching. b/c i have long torso and arms, i might "faking" that i have great flexibility:)
in fact, i have very similar stroke range as the guys who are few inches taller than i am.

so... what you are saying is that aggressive geometry is more appropriate for my needs?

I'll definitely visit other bike shops to ask for their opinions regarding my situation.

Thank you very much for your help.

Harry
 

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Well, if your intent is to cross-train for rowing, then a more performance-oriented bike will fit the bill better than one meant for loaded touring or wending your way to the coffee shop and back. And those bikes will tend to have a more aggressive position. Within the realm of performance bikes, there are true race machines, such as the Specialized S-Works, Trek Madone, and Giant TCR, and bikes that offer much of the technology and performance with a slightly more relaxed geometry and fit - namely, the Roubaix, Pilot, and OCR from those companies. One or the other might fit you better - it will be hard to say until you get on some of them. If your upper body is proportionately longer than your lower body, that's another tick in the "get a bike fit" column. Some options in easing into a performance fit are to use the stem in the topmost position on the steerer tube, angled upwards, with as many spacers underneath as you can safely fit, and then incrementally dropping the stem and/or reversing the tilt as you get more comfortable on the bike until you arrive at your target handlebar height.

If you can replicate the stroke range of taller boatmates, long arms and torso notwithstanding, that may point in the direction of hypermobility in your back; that may be an explanation for your relatively rapid onset of low back pain and may mean that your core musculature may need to be stronger than the average cyclist's to stabilize your spine in a comfortable position on the bike. The good thing is that as you start and continue to ride, you can continually adjust your position to accommodate changes in strength and flexibility throughout the season.

There's a dude that posts in these forums by the name of "Oarsman". Judging by his handle and avatar, he's a much more dedicated rower than I am ;)

E
 

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I will advise against the more aggressive bike. If it hurts to ride it, it will just sit there andyou will be throwing your money away. Later on, you can take that more comfortable bike and turn that stem over, or even get a new longer one.
 
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