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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here's the story. After a five-year hiatus, I started to get back into riding this year. For the long weekend rides, I bought a roubaix from my LBS. Love it. It's a 56 CM and fits perfectly, because I have a long torso. DC streets are hell, though, so I only ride it to work when it's nice and I have time to go the long way. (Call me a sissy, but the thing's still brand spankin' and I'm waiting for the weather to get warmer). One thing I notice about the fit of this bike is that I can't really push my hips out back past the saddle when I stand up. As a practical matter, I think that means that I'm getting the most out of the engine, so to speak. So if I push my heels down when I'm climbing, for example, I'm not hanging off the back of the seat. This makes a big difference over longer distances.

For everyday use, I have a cannondale CAAD3 flat bar that, I think, might be too small. I bought it at a bike show, and I don't know the size. I know I need a (roughly) 55-56 cm top tube. I'm not a tall guy (5'9"), but most of my height comes from my torso. I have had this bike for nine years, and commute on it almost every day, weather permitting. Prior to this last week, I've had platforms and cages, but have put on some dual-purpose SPDs. SInce doing that, I've noticed that I can't really get my heels down, and if I stand up and try to get my hips back, it seems like I run out of seat. (The seat is jacked back as far as it can go). That said, it's not that bad--might only be a couple of CMs or so. I have also noticed some soreness on my hands despite the fact that I've got a MB stem with a pretty steep angle to lower the seat-bar drop. If the stem were level, it would be several inches.

The reason that I'm beginning to care is that I'm thinking about doing some light touring on this thing, and the phrase "repetitive stress" leaps to mind. The first question that I have is are there any quick and cheap fixes that might address this? If I put drops on the bike instead of a flat-bar, would that ease things up since my hands would be further forward?

I've been looking @ the cross-checks, and their top tubes run long. (54=55cm top tube), so that seems like it might work as the utility infielder. I could just swap the frames out and basically keep the same parts.

You guys have any thoughts?
 

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yeah, drops would give you a longer effective reach to the brakes where you'd spend most of your time.

take a tape measure and level to the new bike, and write down the key measurements:
- saddle height (I use pedal axle to top of seat, along seat tube)
- saddle setback (distance behind a vertical line that bisects the forward pedal axle when cranks are horiz). I use "sit zone" of the saddle for this but you can use tip/nose as long as you never switch saddles
- reach from either saddle tip or sit zone to bars / normal grip spot. Use horizontal distance, then measure again for actual straight line distance b/c saddle to bar drop is important.
- saddle to bar drop distance

Obviously you want all your bikes to be pretty close in these measures. A commuter / shorter distance / upright bike can have a shorter reach and more upright saddle to bar drop.
 

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Don't waste your money on a new bike. Spend it on a fitting, or buy any of the books available and go through the process yourself. Andy Pruitt's "Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists" or go to roadbikerider.com and download Arnie Baker's eBook on bike fit.

If you go the fitter route, bring both bikes with you so the fitter can compare and contrast the two in light of your complaints. I'd make a practical suggestion but can't for the life of me figure out what you mean with the "heels down and rear off the back of the saddle" position you're trying to achieve. So I suggest you go see a fitter.

No; go see two. Or more. It will be money much better spent than on a new bike. You've already got a handle on how to express yourself regarding the fit of your two present bikes; there's no reason you can't adapt one or both of them for what you're seeking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to you both for the opinions. My concern is that the top tube is simply too short. What I mean by the "heels down" comment is this: if I push my heels down when climbing to engage the glutes and hamstrings more, it pushes my rear out over the back of the seat. If your seat is too far forward, it's really hard to pedal this way. My concern is, therefore, that fitting notwithstanding, the TT may simply be too short.

I will pick up the ebook, though--I really enjoy learning about this stuff (even if I don't have the wrenching skills to execute a whole lot just yet).
 

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Interesting way of thinking about fit - most don't look at it that way. That's not saying anything's wrong, just that it's a different point of view.

Just as a frame of reference, I tend to think of bike fit in terms of balance over the bottom bracket. If I'm reading your description correctly, it sounds as if you currently have your weight positioned further aft than you'd like, and a long torso on a small bike would make sense to that. Notwithstanding the technique you are trying to use, coming off of the saddle should feel 'up', not coming onto the handlebars or sliding aft. What you do with it from there (in terms of technique) is up to you. It sounds like you are moving aft more than you'd like as you stand, meaning your seat is rather further aft than you need. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but that sensation of 'running out of saddle' is usually a result of having your center of balance relatively behind the BB, and moving the seat back only makes it worse. Correspondingly, both your seat and bars may want to be further forward. (I may also be misreading your description.)

This link is to an article that may help you think through the mechanics of fit. Here's another. The previous recommendations for books and for investing in a fitting are good, too. The Can'o'ale may well be small, and Creaky's advice will help you determine that. It may be that it needs only a stem and a bit of tweaking to fit well, or it may be something you'll never be happy with.

Good luck!
 

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Take a tape measure to both bikes. the dimensions of the specilaized is what your trying to copy on the cannodale, so as creakyknees suggested. But some quick measurements will tell you if thier in the same ball park. horizontal top tube distance, from center of head tube to seat tube, horizontally, that's what the level is for. saddle setback, drop a weighted string from the nose of the saddle, measure horizonatlly to BB center.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Haven't gotten to the measurements yet, but I did slide the seat forward some. The bike is now much more twitchy, but more comfortable. (I can't seem to get the ten minutes I need with the two little monsters running around).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Updated--good news, I think, but I'd love some more opinion.

First, after doing some digging, I figured out what kind of frame I am working with, and the size. It's a cannondale size 54 'cross frame that they sold as the 2001 road warrior 500. So I managed to find the geometry and according to that web site, it's a 54 cm top tube--which is what I was sized on for a "pure" road bike and a 'cross bike at the LBS. (I measured 21 5/8 in, which converts to roughly 549.275 cm. I measured three times and came in at about the same place, so I'm pretty sure that this is right). Roubaix TT=565cm.

Second, moving the seat forward (counter-intuitively) made the ride and power feel much, much better. So thanks to danl1. (Of course, the weather turned cold and rainy the second I wanted to really field test these adjustments.). The ride is much more responsive than it was before. The nose-to-handlebar center distance:
Cdale:19 7/8 to 20" (differing measurements each time; go figure).
Roubaix: 20.5

Third, the bar drop on the roubaix is less than on the cdale.
Cdale: Approx 1 7/8 to 1 3/4.
Roubaix: Approx 1 inch. (Hair under).

So my questions are, basically, what are the limits of this frame? If I put drops on it, I wonder if I'm asking for discomfort? I kind of want to put some fatter tires on it and take it to the woods, but also use it for things like light touring on gravel roads--which it could do quite well. And besides, some more hand positions would be nice.

The motivation for all this is that I'm one of the many that f d up on buying a bike over the web. So I have some pretty good parts that I could swap out and build up the cdale frame with into a pretty sweet commuter, and then move all the older stuff over to the frame that's just too small. (this must still get through the finance committee, who's still giving me grief about the purchase).

Based on the frame sizes, is this even feasible?
 
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