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how to measure reach(4 posts)

how to measure reachlikesbikes
May 18, 2001 12:31 AM
ok, so I have my frame and seat correctly positioned, but just how do I determine just how far forward should I be leaning? How high should my stem be? How long should it be? How steep should it rise?

Is there math for these things too, or is it all personal preference?

re: how to measure reachStewK
May 18, 2001 7:42 AM
One of the standard lines of thought is this: If you're sitting on your bicylcle with your feet clicked in (preferably on a trainer or in a stand), lean over with a straight back and your arms forming a 90 degree angle with your body and your elbows locked (even though that's not the way you would usually ride). If you can comfortably grasp the hoods and your back forms a 45 degree angle with the ground, you're "dialed in". Make adjustments from there for personal preference, flexibility, etc. You should feel comfortable on the bike, that's number one. Stem length and rise are subject to getting the fit right. If you need to raise your bars, go with a higher rise on the stem,etc.
web sites....dave
May 18, 2001 1:30 PM
Read up on fit at,, or

You must have read something, if you have your saddle set "right". I'll assume you know how to measure knee-over-pedal (KOP). Remember tha KOP is nothing but a starting point. Many hundreds of miles of riding are often needed to optimize the KOP. Moving the saddle back improves increases torque, but decreases cadence (and vice versa). Finding the optimum mix of torque and cadence is the idea, since torque X cadence= power.

The bars are set anywhere from 5 to 10cm (2-4 inches) below the top of the saddle.

I consider the minimum stem length to be one than leaves a small amount of knee to elbow clearance, when riding in the drops with your fingers in reach of the brake levers, and your back pretty much horizontal. The pros use even longer stems to give as much as 2 or 3cm additional clearance. Beginners often feel stretched unless they use a stem that results in a little knee to elbow overlap.
re: how to measure reachDINOSAUR
May 18, 2001 3:13 PM
According to Lennard Zinn

" The reach from the saddle to the handlebar is dependent on personal preference. More aggressive riders will want a more stretched position than will casual riders. This length is subjective.
a useful starting place is to drop a plumb line from the back of your elbow with your arms bent in a comfortable riding position. This plane determined by your elbows and the plumb line should be 2-4cm horizontally ahead of each knee at the point on the pedal stroke when the crank arm is horizontal forward. The idea is to select a position you find comfortable and efficient; listen to what your body wants."

"There is no single formula for determining handlebar reach and height. Using the all-too-common-method of placing your elbow against the saddle and seeing if your fingertips reach the handlebar is close to useless. Similarly, the oft-suggested method of seeing if the handlebar obscures your vision on the front hub is no worth the time it takes to look, being independent on elbow bend and front end geometry."

My own observations:

...Ever watch the pro's? Some of them have a lot of bend in their elbows and some of them are stretched out and almost straight...

The key is to go with what feels comfortable. Change your reach by changing your stem length and not the fore/aft position of your saddle. I ride pretty stretched out, but it took awhile to get used to this position. Flexibility plays a big role in determining your reach. Let your body be your guide, go with what feels best.