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Riding position & stem(5 posts)

Riding position & stemshwndh
Jul 18, 2002 12:30 AM
I just got my first road bike this week - an Iron Horse Victory. I'm a MTB convert and I'm a little confused as to how far I should be stretched over the bike. It comes with a 110mm stem but when I'm on top of the brakes, theres barely room to have a bend in my elbows. Its comfy if I flip the stem upside down but you loose your areo positon. It seems it may be better if I shorten the stem in the flat position but I'm not sure. How can you tell if you're too stretch out or not and how much of a difference will it make in the handling if I go from a 110mm to a 90mm?
Preciate any advice
Here's a pic, mines a 60 with a white seat. Other than that it looks and is set up exactly like this one.

re: Riding position & stemTim Field
Jul 18, 2002 12:57 AM
I'm having a similar problem, I moved my spacers on my stem to the top (lowers the stem) which helped a bit. Also have a look at the seatpost, if yours is a fitting which slopes backwards about 3-4 cm then you could get a straight clamp which would shift the saddle forwards.

I'm awaiting info about proper bike setup, I'll point you in the right direction if I find anything.
Cheers, Tim
I feel your pain.5ive
Jul 18, 2002 5:40 AM
I've come to raod from MTB 2 years ago. At first, the reach will always feel too far. My stem went from 120mm to 100mm to 90mm, back up to 100mm. It has been my experience that 'gradually' my saddle height will come up and the handlebar will come down as I get spend more time on the bike and become more flexible. General rule (KOP, handlebar obscuring front hub) are good starting points. But as you ride more, you will learn how to tweak here and there to make the bike fit you better. My only advise is not to do anything too drastic if you are just beginning (don't cut that steerer tube yet!) and listen to how your own body wants to position itself over your bike to suit your body type, bike's geometry, and your riding style.

PS: On my first road bike with relaxed geometry, going from 120mm to 90mm did not affect the handling as much as I thought it would. Of course, your bike may be a different story. Normaly, shortening the stem will make the handling quicker (more direct, if not twitchy).

Hope this helps.
re: Riding position & stemC-40
Jul 18, 2002 8:00 AM
If the stem has sufficient length, there should be a small amount of clearance between the knee and elbow when riding in the drops with the fingers in reach of the brake levers and the upper back in a horizontal position. I emphasis the horizontal position, because it's always possible to get the knee to hit the back of the arm (above the elbow) if you crouch low enough (with the arms bent and the nose an inch or two above the bars). Too much clearance between the knee and elbow will result in an extreme angle between the arm and torso when riding with the hands on top of the brake hoods. An extreme angle can produce shoulder pain and fatigue. Stem length should be increased primarily to adjust arm position, not to lower the upper body. If you want a lower upper body position, reduce the height of the stem.

Bars height is a topic of many debates, but placing the top of the bars 5-10cm below the top of the saddle is common. I have mine set about 9cm below on a 54cm frame. Bar height has the greatest affect on the angle of the upper body when riding on the brake hoods. It also affects the arm position when riding in the drops. If the bars are set low, a horizontal back position can be attained with only a slight bend in the arms (that's how most pro riders do it). The higher the bars are set, the more the arms must be bent and the greater the stem length required to avoid knee/elbow overlap.

The optimum saddle position must be set before stem length can be determined. Dropping a plumb bob from the bony protrusion at the front of the knee, through the pedal spindle with the crankarm in the 3 o'clock position is the common starting point, but not always the optimum position. I've never pedaled effectively with my knee placed directly over the pedal spindle. Many riders place the knee 1-3cm behind the pedal spindle to increase the ability to apply torque to the cranks. Unfortunately, it also reduces the ability to spin a high cadence. Since power = torque x cadence, the idea is to find a balance between the two that allows you to apply enough torque to crank up the hills, without reducing your cadence (which would reduce power).
re: Riding position & stemDINOSAUR
Jul 18, 2002 5:06 PM
Adding to all the above posts, which are dead on, a couple of other points to consider are flexibility and anatomy.

Riding a road bike takes a certain degree of flexibility in order to get down in a low aerodynamic riding position. I went through the same thing when I came back to riding at the ripe old age of 56. As your road riding fitness improves so does your flexibility. A couple of things I've found is leveling out my saddle and tilting the angle of my bars so I'm on the hoods in a comfortable position. First I level out my saddle using a small carpenters level to check as you can't always tell by just looking. Then I usually end up tilting the saddle back a couple of degrees. Also your condition changes as the season moves along. My saddle height is a couple of mm's higher in the middle of the summer than in the dead of winter. You also can't go with norms as we all have different anatomies. Take a look at the different riding positons the next time you are watching TDF. You can have a group of riders hammering it out and one guy will have his hands on the hoods, the other on the drops and another on the flat part of his bars. Also check out the different tilts in the bars.

What helped me when I was dialing in my new bike is to carry a three way hex wrench with me on rides and if my body told me that I would feel better with a slight change in my set-up, I stopped and did it. It took me over 1k to find the magic spot.

Give your body time to adapt to the new road bike, be cautous about lowing your stem height or making any drastic change as you will be inviting injury. Also make sure that your saddle is dialed in regarding KOPS and height before you try a change in stems.

For what it's worth I have two bikes and they are both set up differently due to geometry. My 61cm Klein has the saddle slammed all the way back with a 110mm stem and I am stretched out with little bend in my elbow and I feel comfortable. My 59cm Colnago MXL has a centered riding position with a slight bend in my elbow and I feel comfortable also. It has to do about the way you distribute your weight on your bike. The Colnago is a great bike for all day comfort and the Klein is a great bike for hammering on short rides. I also have a long 34.50 inseam and a short torso and long TT's kill my lower back, which is the reason for the new bike. But one measurement that is the same for both bikes is the saddle to bar drops, mine is 2 1/4 inches, but it took a couple of season to get it down that low.