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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My GF wants a road bike, and we are looking at used bikes. Unfortunately, she has very little experience on road bikes (just a little on mountain bikes), so it is difficult for her to really tell what feels right. Being used to a mountain bike (as well as a town cruiser) with the bars higher than the seat, everything feels too long and low for her.

We did the competitive cyclist calculations, and got an idea of what to look for in seat tube and effective tt lengths for a slightly relaxed, upright fit. We found a 2004 trek 2200 for about $700 in really great shape with measurements that are dead on what the online calculator says we should look for (50cm seat tube, 52cm effective tt). Stand over clearance seems good. I adjusted the seat for the correct height, and went with the knee over pedal to get the fore/aft adjustment. The bars seem in the wrong place, however. There is a 70mm stem on it, and the calculator said we’ed be looking for a ~90-100mm stem. When she sits on it and looks down to the front axle, the bar is well behind it. We measured, and it looks like a 100mm stem would line up the bars and the axle perfectly. So I’m thinking “perfect, just switch the stem) However, she said she did not think she would like the bars any farther away.

So, we went home, and she wanted to see what my bike felt like. I set up the seat for her, and when she got on it, she said it felt perfect, just a little to long (if she grabbed a little behind the hoods it felt perfect) I got out my tape measure and determined the following: The reach she was comfortable with was the same as what the bike we were looking at would be with the 100mm stem (which the fit calculator and the handlebar/axle test had predicted). This seemed to contradict what we found on the bike itself, but then I realized that the difference was that on my bike, (with the seat lowered for her) the bars were a LOT higher relative to the seat (level, actually) than on the other bike. The other bike has quite a few spacers under what look like a 5 degree (positive) x 70mm stem.

I used a stem calculator and I think I could get the bars on the right position for her (same reach, but higher) with a high rise stem, something like a 20 degree x 110mm or thereabouts.

My question is: Is there any reason why this would be a bad idea? It feels like we are having to raise the bars a lot. However, I don’t think we can go any larger on the frame. It seems to me that since the seat collar and top of the head tube are pretty close to even, then in order to get the bars up to the level of the seat is takes a lot of spacers and a high rise stem. It seems it would fit perfectly, just look a little odd. One friend who rides road a lot said that as she rides more, she will likely end up wanting to lower the bar to a more standard position, so we don’t want to get a comfort bike geometry that will hinder her down the road (besides, we already have comfort cruisers). I have also thought about a cyclocross bike with more road like tires as they seem more upright, but she will never take this think off the paved road.

Any suggestions?
 

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Review RoadBike Member
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CX bike.
unless she will ever have ambitions of racing, the CX bike will be comfortable on short and long rides alike.
hard core speed demons wouldn't do it because they are giving up some aero, plus gearing but if your GF is new to riding, neither of those aspects will matter to her. And with the wider tires on the CX she will not feel the jolts as bad.
 

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Number 2 on the course.
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jpelaston said:
CX bike.
unless she will ever have ambitions of racing, the CX bike will be comfortable on short and long rides alike.
hard core speed demons wouldn't do it because they are giving up some aero, plus gearing but if your GF is new to riding, neither of those aspects will matter to her. And with the wider tires on the CX she will not feel the jolts as bad.
Overgeneralizations galore! :yikes:

If she wants to run 34C knobbies and canti-brakes for whatever reasons, a CX bike is the way to go. If she is going to ride on the road -- get a bike designed for riding on the road that has a more upright position. There are many such options these days.
 

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What? Me worry?
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1. Online fit calculators are mostly worthless.
2. Since your girlfriend has little road bike experience, her opinion as to what fits right should not be the deciding factor.

Find a frame that allows for proper saddle height, decent standover, and a head tube that will allow you to get 3 to 6 cm of drop to the bars at a reach she finds comfortable. If you set her up on a bike with the bars level to the saddle chances are the frame will be too big and if she sticks with riding it the next thing she'll be complaining about is a sore butt because her weight will not be optimally distributed.
 

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haole from the mainland
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I agree with your friend that said she will take a bit of time to adapt to the position. You could flip the 70mm stem up for now. If you buy a 20 degree stem, I would buy a cheap one so you don't feel bad getting rid of it, because it will look pretty geeky.

Regarding stem length & reach--what sort of handlebar is on the bike now? There's more than one way to get the reach right. A tad longer of a stem with short and shallow bars might work for her.

If she feels pretty okay on the bike, I'd probably leave things as is for now and then make adjustments as she gets used to the road position.
 

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Not to confuse the issue any further, but what about seat tube angles? Are they the same between all the bikes she is trying and your bike that she said fit perfect? Assuming tt lengths are the same, STA can change your reach and position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
krisdrum said:
Not to confuse the issue any further, but what about seat tube angles? Are they the same between all the bikes she is trying and your bike that she said fit perfect? Assuming tt lengths are the same, STA can change your reach and position.
Yes, you are correct. I'm basically writing the STA out of the equation by adjusting the seat in relation to the bb (correct height and knee over pedal in both cases), and then measuring the reach from both the tip of the saddle as well as as what looks like the center to double check. They are two different kinds of saddle, but I think this should be pretty close.
 
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