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Seat to stem drop.(19 posts)

Seat to stem drop.jaybird
Feb 12, 2003 6:28 AM
I seem to remember someone talking about the ideal drop from the seat to the stem is 5cm? can that be right? I just checked all of my bikes and they are around 8-10cm, and I havent significantly changed my bike fit in 15 years. Things seem to work for me this way...

I measured top of the seat to the top of the steerer tube. Is that the right measurement? I know that every aspect of bike fit is somewhat subjective but this is the only case where I really dont fall into the norms as far as bike fit goes.

re: Seat to stem drop.mainframe
Feb 12, 2003 6:38 AM
Drop is typically measured top of saddle to top of bars. Your measuring points seem different.
re: Seat to stem drop.jaybird
Feb 12, 2003 6:55 AM
I have 0 rise on both of my stems, so wouldn't it be the same?
re: Seat to stem drop.RJF
Feb 12, 2003 6:55 AM
Mainframe is right -- you measure the drop from top of the seat to top of the bars. An easy way to do this is to put your bike on level ground, then measure from the ground to the top of the seat, and to the top of the bars, then subtract one from the other.

Drop is a very subjective thing and I'd be wary of anyone telling you something is ideal. Some people like their bars level with or a couple cm below their seat height. I like 6.5-7.5cm of drop. Anything less and I feel like I'm sitting upright like Mary Poppins.
Ideally, when your hands are on the bar, you back should cut aPaul
Feb 12, 2003 6:57 AM
45 deg angle with the top tube (so I've read). But it is really a matter of preference and flexibility on your part. I prefer a
3.5" (8.9 cm) drop as measured (with a level on my seat that extends over the handlebar, then measured down to the handlebar). On the drops, my back is flat when compared to the top tube.

I've done back stretching and strenghtening exercises, and this has really help me.

I wouldn't get hung up on this, it's really how comfortable you feel.
I've been told that tooKristin
Feb 12, 2003 7:30 AM
But ideally I'd like my bars the same exact height as my saddle. Its because I'm not used to being on a road bike, have weak lats and really tense shoulders--even when I don't ride. Riding with a lot of drop really messes up my back. But that is quite opposite the norm. Just look at the "Post a pic of your bike" post. ALL of those bikes have a pretty big drop to the bars.

Question: Why is this? My DeBernardi Aelle has a threaded fork and I keep 15cm of seatpost showing. There are no stem made that can get my bars level with my saddle. Seriously. The looong Nitto was too long. Right now I have a profile and I can get the bars 2 inches under the saddle. But without having a stem custom made, I can't erase those last 2 inches. Why is that? Is it because the steerer tube is too short to compensate?
I've been told that tooCHRoadie
Feb 12, 2003 7:44 AM
It seems like bike manufacturers assume we'll all be racing and want to be as aerodynamic as possible. They ought to make a slightly different geometry for people who want to be comfortable on centuries. My bike was fitted by a former national team coach, and I ended up with 50mm of spacers and a 5.5cm drop to the bars. I found that when the bars were lower than that I had too much weight on my hands.
I've been told that tooTrent in WA
Feb 12, 2003 8:58 AM

If the problem with using the Nitto stem (I assume you're talking about one of the Technomics stems) on your bike is that your steerer tube is too short to insert the stem to the proper, comfortable height before it bottoms out, just take it to a competent LBS and have them saw the excess off. If you can still insert a third of the length of the remaining quill into the steerer, you're fine. If that won't allow you to get the bars up high enough, you might consider a kludge like using a threaded / threadless stem adapter and a threadless stem raiser combined with a threadless stem with a 40 deg. rise. Or if that sounds just too ugly, you have a great reason to go new-bike shopping....

Let's talk about your other muscle group like yourPaul
Feb 12, 2003 10:53 AM
glutei muscles. Very important when in the drops, and... I know, I'm being sexist. Concerning your back, I had the same problem until I started simple yoga positions. It has been the best exercise I've every done, before I could barley handle a 2" drop, now, when in the drops, I'm down flat with the TT(about 7"). It's really an aero position riders want. some riders in my club can stay in the drops all day, and they're perfectly comfortable, and very aero. You watch the pros, and they have such perfect positon when on the bike. so, you just have to train for it. If you are interested, I'll give you the simple exercise for your back.

What i would do is: get flexible, or, get a threadless fork that has a steerer long enough to get your bar up to your saddle.
I don't recommend this because of the weight on your seat bones. It's really more comfortable to have some weight on the bars.
45 degrees? on what part of the bar?Stinky Hippie
Feb 12, 2003 8:35 AM
....tops? drops? Hoods?

I'd say I have it on the hoods but not in the tops and certainly not in the drops.


Top of the bar directly in front. nmPaul
Feb 12, 2003 10:56 AM
whatever is comfortable for youtarwheel
Feb 12, 2003 7:27 AM
There is no magic number for ideal drop. In my own case, if I drop my handlebar more than 1" below the saddle, my hands get very numb. If you look in old cycling books (and some not even that old, like the Chris Carmichael/ Lance Armstrong book), they often recommend starting with bars even with the saddle to 1-2" below. However, nowadays it seems fashionable to have a much larger drop.

If you can handle a large drop, more power to you. But I think a lot of cyclists would be more comfortable and able to ride more miles with less drop. With my bars at 1" below the saddle, I am able to ride in the drops very comfortably for extended periods of time. Most cyclists I see have much lower bars and never, ever ride in the drops -- presumably because it's uncomfortable. In addition to numb hands, bars that are too low can cause neck and back pain for some people. A lot depends on your individual dimensions as well as flexibility.
re: Seat to stem drop.rwbadley
Feb 12, 2003 8:07 AM
Seat/stem drop will vary, not just person to person but also bike to bike.

My 'fast' bike has a drop of 7cm. On the 'century' bike I have a drop of 5cm, as it is more comfortable.

The commuter bikes all have less drop, and some have a rise. I like to be able to (sometimes) sit upright and see around a bit.

If you are showing 15cm of seatpost and can't get the bars up high enough to be comfy... it sounds like you may need to go to a larger size frame. Watch out for the top tube length tho' you won't want to get tooo stretched out.

This is a new problem due to threadless, integreated headsets...Spunout
Feb 12, 2003 8:36 AM
In the old days of quill stems, the stack of a record headset, kept the bars well above the top tube. I don't think many had this problem.

Now, threadless stems start an inch lower, less the missing stack height due to integrated headsets. Very few manufacturers realize this, and have modified the headtube properly to address this.

On my Lemond, I bet I have almost 8" of drop: very extreme. You must be in great shape and flexible. I'm wondering if I am. I might flip my stem up +10* to address this.

My manufacturer's example is Pergoretti: Look at the extra inch of headtube extending beyond the top tube! That would fix alot of fitting problems, no spacer stacks, and a more solid front end (especially with carbon steerers).
hmmmm.. The chainstays look reversed!? nmrwbadley
Feb 12, 2003 12:15 PM
Funny, I've just been working on this myself ...sacheson
Feb 12, 2003 9:03 AM
It seems 2.5 " or 6.3 cm of drop works the best for ME.

As others have said, fitness, flexibility and height have a lot to do with it. Also note the bar choice will impact your drop. For example, if you are using Deda's shallow drop bars, you might be able to ride the stem a little lower since the change between the hoods and the drops aren't as great(see Lance's bikes), and might run the bars a little higher if you have a deep drop bar due to the stress on your back when are in the drops.

If you are having problems lowering your bars, definitely try some stretches that concentrate on the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and IT bands (aka the banjo strings) -yoga for athletes has worked wonders for me. Also do some back strengthening exercizes. It will help your efficiency when you're bent over the bars.
1"...Len J
Feb 12, 2003 10:47 AM
I intentionally spec'd my Serotta to allow for less drop to the bars in order to increase comfort. But, I had to specify exactly where I wound up or the fitting would have put me with between 3 & 5 inches of drop. This was accomplished with a 2 degree upslope on the TT, a 2Cm HT extension and 2 cm of spacers with an 84 degree Ritchey stem. I will take out 1 CM of the spacers as my back strengthens (from the accident) resulting in about 3.5 CM of drop when I'm done.


PS I ride about 50% in the drops now, which is 3 or 4 times as much as people I ride with. I think that Threadless stems (& the resultant drop) have reduced the amout of time in the drops for most people.
Depends on your flexibility. If you ride with locked elbows all the time, your bars may be too low...Tig
Feb 12, 2003 1:49 PM
I only have a 2" drop, but ride with a fairly deep bend in my elbows. I end up with a fairly flat back and excellent aero position. I have great flexibility in my lower back, but don't enjoy a super drop down to the bars.

Instead of dropping the bar down to some ridiculous and always uncomfortable position (never a choice), I keep them a little higher in a "neutral position". This means the bars are always easy to reach in all positions and elbow bends. In other words, if I want to sit up tall all I need to do is straighten the arms and I'm there. A moderate tuck happens with a medium elbow bend. A deep tuck or riding in the drops puts me in a maximum aero position without having to reach DOWN so much... just bend the elbows deeper!

It is so simple; I don't know why more people don't try it. It allows a much broader range. Riding with a bend in the elbows is much more comfortable and takes the strain out of your shoulders and arms. I see so many people with a too low bar, forcing them to lock their elbows straight in order to achieve a comfortable position. Every bump and vibration transmits up his or her locked arms. They also need a tighter grip to keep a solid contact and control with the bars, and their hands get numb quicker.

Just my .02
I agree with Tig...GeekRoadie
Feb 12, 2003 2:38 PM
No need to run an exaggerated saddle to bar drop for me. I'm a pretty short guy at 5'-6" and run a 2" drop. Riding in the hoods with a deep elbow bend is just as aero as being in the drops (for me anyway). I'll run in the drops for better control in corners or when sprinting (read: crits).

I've seen people who have had to lock their elbows just to reach the hoods. Suffice to say, this probably isn't the best position for cornering.