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Newbie question: Bar height vs. Seat height(4 posts)

Newbie question: Bar height vs. Seat heightfloatch
Mar 17, 2002 3:51 PM
Hi all... I'm a mountainbiker who just bought a new road bike, and I'm wondering what the deal is with my stem. My bars make me feel a little cramped when I'm holding onto the top flat part, and a little stretched out when I'm holding onto the STI levers. When I ride in the drops, I feel a little stretched out and I'm afraid my back will start hurting on longer rides this Spring. The longest ride I've been able to do so far was only about 20-25 miles (cold weather), so I'm not really sure either way.
I was just out in the garage measuring, and my road bike's STI levers are a good two inches farther away from the seat than my mountainbike's, although the seat is about two and a half inches higher than the bars on both bikes.
My question is... Are there any others out there with both mountain and road bikes who could give me some insight as to the inherent fit differences? (I know road bikers prefer a small front profile for wind resistance, etc.) Thanks for reading my long boring post, and thanks for any input!
re: Newbie question: Bar height vs. Seat heightfloatch
Mar 17, 2002 4:29 PM
Sorry, I just remembered I wanted to add another question, about my bars. As for STI levers, what is the formula for placing them on the bars correctly? What angle is best? I know things like this are very subjective, but can someone give me a starting point?
Also, I have my bar set up so that the flat lower part of the drop is parallel with the ground. I've been checking out a lot of pics on this site of members' bikes, and this bar angle seems pretty consistant.
However, I've seen some STI levers angled much lower than others, and the high-angled ones look remarkably fred-like to me.
Thanks for your time and ideas!
Personal preferences and guidelinesKerry
Mar 17, 2002 4:56 PM
First off, seat to bar height difference, seat to bar distance, and position of the levers on the bar are all personal preference items. That said, there are some guides to get you in the ball park. For lever placement on the bar, a rule of thumb is to place a straight edge on the straight part of the drops and adjust the levers until the tips of the levers touch the straight edge. A reasonable starting point. For the distance of the bars from the seat, the bar would obstruct the front hub when you are in your "normal" riding position, with elbows slightly bent. Normal can mean in the drops, on the hoods, or on the tops - again your preference and again a starting point. As you stretch out on the road bike, you may find that you want a longer stem than is comfortable right now. For seat to handle bar height, this is totally personal preference, with your height thrown into the mix. The taller you are, more drop is going to feel comfortable. That said, some like their bars even with the saddle (kind of the upper extreme) while others will have as much as 10 cm drop. 2-3 cm drop might be a place to start. Again, your flexibility and your height will influence this greatly, and as you stretch out, you may want to lower the bars (for better aerodynamics). No hard and fast rules.
You're in the ballpark.guido
Mar 17, 2002 8:01 PM
If you perceive your reach is short to the tops but long to the hoods, your MTB bars are probably in between, and that's what you're used to. Stretching out a little to the brake hoods will make your back flat and expand your ribcage, all good for the spine and lungs. I'd position the levers like Kerry says. That'll put the hoods in a horizontal position out in front of the bars. Your hands aren't pressed down in this position, bearing upper body weight, but rest on the hoods, arms relaxed, bent at the elbows. Road shocks are easily absorbed by the hands, not transmitted up the arms into the shoulders, as when the levers are too high, and the hoods become angled up.

Handlebars about 2 inches lower than saddle is about average for touring and long distance riding. What you might have to get used to is saddle setback. Your legs will have to learn to work the crank from furthur forward before positioning feels right, as road bikes tend to have steeper seat tube angles compared to mountain bikes.