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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, so I just noticed I have a weird fit issue. I've been trying to get my position lower and lower, and by working on my flexibility and core strength, I've been able to get pretty much as low as I want. However, I've been studying my position and noticed that I just can't get my back flat. I did some off the bike stuff and basically emulated a nice comfortable flat back position on an imaginary bike. I measured the geometry of this imaginary frame and found that I need about 2.5 to 3 more inches of reach. I'm already using a 110mm stem. What sort of things would you guys suggest for me to get an extra 2.5 inches of reach?? That to me seems like more than swapping out a stem is going to be able to fix. I decided before I noticed this problem that I would be going custom, but even so I still want to be able to ride the stock frames that I have.

Thanks for any suggestions!
 

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"I did some off the bike stuff and basically emulated a nice comfortable flat back position on an imaginary bike. I measured the geometry of this imaginary frame and found that I need about 2.5 to 3 more inches of reach. I'm already using a 110mm stem."

What does this mean? Just get an imaginary -30 degrees 140,mm stem? How do you feel when riding your real bike? 110 isn't necessarily a long stem. 130 is fairly common. Try one on the real bike. Is your frame too small if the imaginary test is accurate? I may be inclined to say yes, but this is not a good test situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is all pretty hypothetical of course with the imaginary bike stuff. I was never really serious about my fit before, just riding whatever felt ok. But now that I've been riding longer, I've become more sensitive to my fit. I am noticing more and more now that my reach does feel pretty darn short; it feels like I'm pushing myself backwards against the shifters. Obviously I'm going to try a longer stem. How long of a stem can I practically use?
 

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It is easy to find 130's. Longer are a bit rare. You can still find 140's if you look. Try a 130 first and get a basic one. Salsa Moto are inexpensive and reliable, unless you have cash to blow, then buy what you feel like. I'd start there without seeing you on a bike because it is a moderate change to length. I would hesitate to make a bigger change than 2cm unless something was very wrong with your current fit.

Can your ride in the drops for any length of time on your current fit? or are the drops too low to reach comfortably? If they are too low even if you feel cramped reach-wise you may be on too small a frame as small frames have shorter head tubes as well.

What is you saddle to bar drop? (How much lower than your bars is the saddle) The easiest way to measure is measure seat height to ground and bar tops to ground on and subtract. If it is greater than 3.5" going a frame size larger may something to try or test at a shop.

What is your knee over pedal position?
Is your saddle height right? These last two are the first thing to get set because you legs do the work. If you are too far forward/back it can affect stem choice.

If your saddle tilts to far forward it will force you push harder on the bars to keep yourself on the seat even if reach is correct. Is your saddle level or really close to level. It can be off level but I don't suggest anymore than oh, 3 deg. for most people.

Where are your levers positioned on the bars? and are how are the bars rotated? both of these can change your reach too.
 

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Different bars have different amounts of "reach", or the distance from the clamp to the end of the curve where the levers go. Look at an Excel Sports catalog, they list the reach and drop for the bars they sell. Reach can vary an inch or more between different bends of bars.

Frames come with different length top tubes as well. A "58"cm frame can have anywhere from a 56 to a 58.5cm top tube (those are just the numbers I have seen recently for stock frames, I'm sure there's some even farther outside that range).

The combination of all those and stem length gives you your total reach.
 

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practical test...

I'd say your imaginary bike idea is not of much value. There's no way that anyone would need 2-3 inches of aditional reach from a stock frame. Assuming that you have the saddle fore/aft position set as you want it (familiar with KOP?), then the only real way to test your hypothesis is with a real stem change.

As others noted, handlebar reach also makes a difference. Just don't be fooled by one of the brands that list the reach as 112mm which is an outside to outside measurement. The center to center reach would only be around 87mm.

To test for adequate reach, ride with your hands in the drop section of the bars, fingers in reach of the brake levers and your back as low as you would normally ride. If you have knee to arm contact, then your reach is on the short side. Once you've got enough reach to eliminate knee to arm interference, then more reach is of no value.

My other comment is that a reduced reach should not force your back to be humped-up. Producing a flat back has more to do with the angle of your pelvis. Arms are free to pivot at the shoulder. Moving the hands forward won't flatten your back. If the hands are too far forward, then the shoulders will become over stressed.

You haven't mentioned your saddle to handlebar height difference. A really low racing position usually requires a height difference of 8-12cm. If you're not in that range, then a lot more stem length can be required to lower the torso angle.
 

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Alternatives abound

Rotate your handlebars so the hoods are lower
Slide the hoods forward on the bars
Bend your arms at the elbows
Slide the seat back a little
Your frame is too small to begin with

I agree with those who say inches is a big amount to be off. Adjustments in increments bigger than cms make me wonder.
 

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On a related note

I've been messing with my position lately too. I have basically been fit, professionally, to a 56cm Felt, which has a 56cm Seat tube measurement, the same as a 58cm Cannondale, which is what I am accustomed to riding. However, the top tube is a tad shorter than the CAAD 7-8 C'dales. My predicament is that I have been fairly comfortable all year, but I feel squirrely on the hoods in a hard sprint. At 100%, eyeball-popping effort, I'm in the drops, and feel fine. But in a 90% effort, I might be on the hoods, and that's when I feel the lack of control.

So, I've lowered my stem(110cm) down to only 2 slim spacers before sitting on the headset. Obviously, this is a very aggressive looking, race position. I race. My back feels fine, knees are good, everything seems okay.

One problem, before the change, was that I noticed by "boys" felt scrunched up. In fact, one of the little buggers tries to go "up" while riding. I don't like that feeling.

What could be the source of this issue? The saddle doesn't bother me otherwise, but I don't like the feeling of having one of my spheres disappearing on me during the ride...
 
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