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Bicycle Setup for Nonracers(11 posts)

Bicycle Setup for NonracersFez
Feb 13, 2003 7:16 AM
There are always a lot of questions about bike setup. Here are my observations:

1) People are very concerned about frame stiffness. Isn't it better to have a frame that is more comfortable at the expense of losing a little stiffness? I think most riders lose more from fatigue from an overly stiff setup than they would from the power losses of a "flexy" but comfortable riding frame.

2) Lots of posts about how much seatpost is showing, how few spacers are installed, and drop from saddle to bars.

Is it better to have the bars lower but ride in the drops infrequently? Or is it better to have the bars higher, but ride in the drops much more frequently?

Overall, I think the TDF setup is a little too aggressive for nonracers, yet everyone wants a bike setup like that.
WellSpoke Wrench
Feb 13, 2003 8:09 AM
I think you might be a little bit selective about which posts you remember. There have been lots of posts on this board regarding bikes with handlebars level with the saddle or with maybe just an inch or so of drop (the Rivendell set up). Regarding your stiffness remark, all of those "steel is real" guys that you read on the board every week, that's exactly what they are talking about.
What exactly are you trying to say?MB1
Feb 13, 2003 8:10 AM
Rivendell has a nice basic setup plan for non-racers available online. They suggest that a larger frame with a shorter and taller stem and wide but light tires is the ideal setup for non-racers.

Over the years (as I have aged) I have gradually switched from a fairly standard racing position to something like Rivendell suggests. My back thanks me.
Second the Rivendell theory for non-racersretro
Feb 13, 2003 8:21 AM
After about two decades of trying to force my body to fit the "perfect" setup, I listened to Grant and set the bike up to fit my body. It made an immediate difference in comfort and, because I could ride longer and farther, ultimately in conditioning.
Feb 13, 2003 8:37 AM
that the super stiff setups with a low aero position is good only for riders who can maintain it.

What good is a smallish, stiff frame that boasts little power loss from flex if it beats you to the ground in fatigue?

And what good is a low riding position if you aren't riding the drops and having to compensate by riding the hoods and the tops of the bars?
I can firmly agree with that (mostly).MB1
Feb 13, 2003 8:58 AM
I also think it depends on what your goals are.

When I started racing in the 70's (ouch!) I gradually changed from an upright touring position to a fairly extreme racing position and it worked for me then.

Over the years as my miles increased and my speed decreased I began to change my position back to where it was when I started riding. What goes around comes around.

Any riding position/setup is only a place to start from anyway. As a rider gets more experienced changes will be made but you got to start somewhere and the current fad for a very racing setup is no worse a starting place than the touring setup that was the fad way back when I started riding.
I wonder how many people this turns off from cyclingKristin
Feb 13, 2003 9:11 AM
I wonder how many people who want to take up cycling and start with a road bike are sent out with these tight aero setups and end up quitting. I have to say the only reason I didn't take the DB back and buy another $500 hybrid, is because of this board--and because I'm stubborn. This board has reproduced in my some bike lust and elitism that would make it hard for me to go back to a hybrid. I also know from reading posts here that I can either tweak this bike till I'm happy or buy another road bike that will be better. But if I had never come here, certainly, I would have given up on road bikes by now. All because I wouldn't be comfortable on much of anything that gets built today.
I wonder how many people this turns off from cyclingRay Sachs
Feb 13, 2003 10:06 AM
"All because I wouldn't be comfortable on much of anything that gets built today."


Point well taken, but they're out there, you just have to look a little bit. Rivendell is well known for the recreational rider fit that their bikes have. Their customs are expensive as all get out, but the Rambouillet is roughly a $1000 frame, not cheap but not expensive by today's standards. And they're coming out with a new, less ornate, Romulus model that will sell for $1400 as a complete bike with 105 level gear (no STI though - they really need to get over the hangup with brifters if they want to sell more bikes).

Beyond Rivendell, there are other bikes out there - even the mainstream market is starting to wake up a bit. Surly and Gunnar come to mind. My Lemond cyclocross bike is one of the best sport touring type of frames I've had the pleasure to ride and they're pretty cheap. Specialized has their new line of Sequoia bikes that have much higher bar positions and longer chainstays to stabilize things a bit. I think I even saw that Litespeed has a new model with a higher bar and shorter top tube for the less race-oriented among us. I'm sure there are others if you look.

LOL - I think I spend too much time on this board...Fez
Feb 13, 2003 9:18 AM
I recently got a new fork installed and I knew I needed it cut down with 1cm of spacer stack.

The mechanic must have asked me like 5 times if I was sure I wanted it cut that low. I was kind of glad that the mechanic was looking out for me (it was an all carbon fork, afterall).

I guess most of the people on this board (with their Zero-Stack height setups) are not representative of the average bike shop customer.
"Raise dat stem."Fredrico
Feb 13, 2003 9:56 AM
That's a quote from a Rivendell article. I started riding a few years after MB1 did, and still have the stem only 2" lower than the saddle.

Instead of buying a smaller frame to drop the stem lower and get more aero, I lengthened the stem, twice. Now I have plenty of room to drop down, back flat, whether on the hoods or in the drops. Couldn't do that with a smaller frame, unless I put a really long stem on it. I have about 6" of seatpost showing.

Yes, it's much better to have the bars high enough so you can actually be somewhat comfortable in the drops. But reach is also important. A larger frame will provide both.
re: Bicycle Setup for Nonracersbianchi boy
Feb 13, 2003 8:21 PM
What makes fit difficult nowadays is the threadless forks/stems being put on virtually all new bikes. Once you cut the steerer tube on your fork, there's no going back -- unless you want to buy a new fork. Unfortunately, a lot of bikes are sold in shops with steerers already cut pretty short, leaving the owners no alternative but to ride with a lot of drop. Riser stems are practically a necessity nowadays, even with an uncut steerer, if you prefer to ride with your handlebars Rivendell style. I've gotten used to riser stems and spacers now, but I get tired of comments from wannabe racers who think you shouldn't be allowed on a racing bike unless you've got a 4" drop from your saddle to bars.