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too short a bike...(13 posts)

too short a bike...mattcrout
Oct 18, 2002 10:28 AM
my problem is that my bike is a little short for me. i'm a little odd in that i have very long legs (37inch inseam) but i'm only 6'3" so my upperbody is short. so, when i get on bikes that are tall enough for my legs, they are too long, and bikes that are the right length, are too short for my legs. that is my current situation, good length, but too short. i konw i can get a higher seat post, but then the handelbars are too low. i have a quill stem, and it's up as high as it can go. also i'm afraid if i get a higher seatpost, it will put me too far back on the rear wheel without enough weight over the front wheel. do they make seatposts that are more forward (opposite of a setback seatpost) what can i do about the low handelbars? any suggestions would be great. oh and i can't afford a new bike. thanks!
re: too short a bike...Spunout
Oct 18, 2002 10:36 AM
A) A set-back seatpost flipped forward will help shorten your reach. I don't know what would work, but MTB equipment should be long enough. Or, TT specific equipment. Anybody have suggestions?

B) Large Italian/Euro geometry would fit you better (short top tube) but this is moot if you're not shopping for a new bike.

c)Riser stem is called for, no getting by that. Shallow drop bars help, nothing too sloping on the top horizontals. I don't know who makes a good riser stem.
There are several possibilities.Spoke Wrench
Oct 18, 2002 10:46 AM
The "A" solution is to find a bike manufacturer that uses relatively short top tubes.

Since you've got a quill stem, you can probably just buy a Nitto Tectronic, or similar, stem. They have a real long quill and a pretty nice finish. That will allow you to use a smaller frame to get the short top tube that you need and raise your seatpost and handlebars to fit your longer legs.

You could use a larger frame and get a seatpost, like Bontrager or Thompson that has a straight clamp to move your seat forward, but be careful. I'm opposed to moving the seat forward or back to adjust the reach to the handlebars. I think that seat adjustments should only be made to optimize the seat to bottom bracket relationship.
re: too short a bike...GMS
Oct 18, 2002 10:57 AM
I have almost a 36 inch inseam and I'm 6 feet even, so I'm worse off than you in that department.

First, don't sacrifice the correct seat height for anything. That's the most critical thing. And yes, pushing your seat forward will shorten your reach but that isn't necessarily a compromise you want to make.

There are adjustable quill stems. They pivot upwards, bringing the bars higher and more towards you, effectively shortening and raising the stem by a significant amount. This is good and bad for you. You want the bars higher to compensate for your seat height, but farther away to compensate for the short top tube. But in general, you want them closer, and this will do that. You can find these on Giant OCR bikes, and your LBS can probably help you out getting one after market.

In addition to all of that, I bet if you ride with the bars really high off the top tube for a few months, and make adjustments as you go, eventually (6 months to a year) you will end up riding with the bars at the same height, or lower, than they are now. What is the top tube length, seat angle, and seat tube length of your current frame?

As mentioned, a setback seatpost is the exact same thing as a set forward seatpost, you just mount it 180 degrees differently.
Set back seatpost.Spoke Wrench
Oct 18, 2002 11:18 AM
Most set back seatposts can't be rotated 180 degrees to move the seat forward. The issue is seat tube angle. Most seat posts are designed to provide a level mounting for the seat when used with a frame that has a conventional seat tube angle. If you rotate it 180 degrees, the angle is all wrong and there isn't enough adjustment available to get the seat level.
Spoiled by ThomsonGMS
Oct 18, 2002 11:28 AM
Okay, Spoke Wrench is right. Check with the manufacturer first.

But Spoke Wrench is even more right when he reiterates that you shouldn't adjust saddle fore/aft to change your handlebar reach.
re: too short a bike...mattcrout
Oct 18, 2002 11:29 AM
yup that's what i did, i tried to take my normal seatpost, and spin it 180 degrees, but it didn't have enough angle adjustment to make the seat flat. it was angled up really sharply. i'm not sure of the angles. the top tube is 59? i think, and it's a 60cm frame. It's an older early 90's Raleigh Pro (R-600?) that has a lugged aluminum frame (black and red) if that helps at all. thanks for the advise. more would be great!
re: too short a bike...GMS
Oct 18, 2002 11:51 AM
Okay, that sounds like a frame that will let you achieve something comfortable.

To clarify... your current reach to the handlebars is fine, but your seat post is too low. Raising the seat post will make the bars relatively lower, and that is the main problem. Are those statements accurate?

If that is the case, your goal is to make the handlebars higher without making them closer or farther away horizontally. So, longer quill, not shorter stem is what you want.

Tell me if your situation is slightly different from the above, because setting your seat way forward would not really fix that.

Regardless of what your situation, I would first get your seat set up to where you want it, no compromises. Get the right height and the right setback. I would be hugely surprised if you needed a set forward seat post to achieve this. If you need a new post to get the seat high enough (this is the case, right?) then it might be a good idea to get a fitting (Serotta or otherwise very professional fitting) at the same time you buy a new, quality post.

After you have your seat where you want it, then start complaining about the handlebars. Handlebars being too low isn't a problem in itself. Back and arm pain is a problem that may be caused by handlebars being too low. It would help a lot more if we knew specifically what problems you have with your reach. Does your back hurt? Do your arms hurt from being locked? Does your neck hurt? Are you cramped (in the case of too short a reach)?
re: too short a bike...tarwheel
Oct 18, 2002 11:31 AM
I run into the same issues, fitwise. If you don't want to buy a new frame, a different stem is your best option. What you need is a stem with a short reach and long quill. Nitto is one option and they are widely available. My personal preference is the Profile H2O, which has a fairly long quill and comes in a variety of rises and reaches -- from about 7 cm and up. A big advantage of the H2O over Nitto is that it has a removeable facecap, making it easy to swap if you want to change sizes (reaches). The H2O is also quite a bit lighter. I use a H2O 90-degree stem with 9 cm of reach, and it raises my handlebar about 5-6" above the height of the headtube. Another option is Salsa, which has a shorter quill but is available in various rises. They also make custom stems and could probably make you one with a long quill and a rise -- but for considerably more money than the H2O (which only costs about $40).

If you get to the point where you are considering a new frame, some brands with shorter top tubes include Colnago, Merckx and Gios. Your best bet, however, would be a custom frame -- which needn't cost more than a Colnago or Merckx and could be built to your specifications.
re: too short a bike...mattcrout
Oct 18, 2002 12:36 PM
i was just looking at a site that had the profile H2O stems and saw this:
Has anyone used this before, and could i get a threadless stem and flip it over? that would put it from a 80 degree to a 110 degree. good idea? and my reach currently feels a little long.
re: too short a bike...yeah right
Oct 18, 2002 12:41 PM
yeah, that'd work. cinelli makes one of these that's even nicer, can be found at colorado cyclist or many other mail order places.
Before you do that, try this:Spoke Wrench
Oct 18, 2002 12:58 PM
First, figure out what you want your saddle position to be relative to your cranks. Get both the height and fore/aft position pretty well dialed.

THEN, figure out what you have to do to get your handlebar where you want it. Personally, I doubt that Profile gizmo is going to give you the amount of height that you want. The reason I suggested the Technomic stem is because it can position the top of your handlebar 160mm higher than your headset. They also come in reaches up to 120mm.

Somewhere in this web site is an "Idiots guide to bike fit." It's a guestimate for handlebar position relative to the seat. I don't know if there is any science behind it, but I tried it with my personal bikes and they all matched.
Try some fit calculatorsKerry
Oct 19, 2002 6:58 AM
To see if you are in the right place to start, try some of these:

For adjusting the fit of the bike, there are roughly five starting points:

1. Seat height (top of saddle to center of pedal axle) at 108-110% of inseam.
2. Saddle parallel to ground.
3. Saddle fore/aft adjusted so that a plumb bob from the bony protrusion just below the kneecap passes through the pedal axle when the cranks are horizontal. This is known as KOPS (Knee Over Pedal Spindle)
4. Front hub axle obscured by the handlebars when riding in your "regular" position (drops, hoods, or tops).
5. Top of handlebars 1 to 4.5+ inches below the top of the saddle depending on your flexibility and size.

These are all starting points for "average" proportioned people, and many folks like to move away from these starting points as they learn what makes them more comfortable, powerful, or efficient. You want to get the fit of the frame as close as you can, then do minor adjustments with the stem, seat post, saddle position, etc.