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Fixing Reach

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Fixing Reach

Old 05-30-19, 09:17 PM
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oik01
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Fixing Reach

So I bought my first bike off craigslist for a great deal but its a bit too big for me. I am hoping to make some adjustments after some reading online and want to make sure if you guys think I have the right plan and whether you have alternative suggestions.

First the situation: I'm just under 6 feet tall ( 182 cm) in height and the bike is a 61 cm frame roadbike. I can stand barefooted on top of the toptube without issues but can feel my nether parts barely touching. With shoes I am a tad higher. The saddle is lowered all the way down and feels perfect in comparison to the paddles. The main problem is that while I can easily reach the handlebar while steering/ shifting/ braking, the position feels a bit over extended and I am definitely having slight extension of the shoulders as was described in you-tube videos.

My plan:

I was hoping to start with those two adjustments first as they are free to do and seemed easy:
1. Move the saddle as far forward as possible
2. Try and figure out whether I can tilt the saddle back upwards ( nose down) at this low position
3. Flip the stem so it is pointing more upwards instead.

If the above changes don't work I am guessing my next step should be to buy a new shorter stem? Would you just get a 50 mm stem? Any thoughts on adjustable stems? are all stems interchangeable or do certain brands fit only certain other brands ect? Any suggestions for good brands? Anything that you guys suggest differently to my plan?

Thanks for the help in advance. I know everyone always says not to buy the wrong size but the bike cost me a 100 dollars and I was hoping the above changes would help me get to at least a close enough / comfortable fit? What do you think?

Last edited by oik01; 05-30-19 at 09:32 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 05-30-19, 09:59 PM
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The bike probably has a 100 mm stem. Sure, try a shorter one. There are a couple of standard sizes in forks and handlebars. I don't like adjustables. It's hard to keep them quiet and tight.

Some easy rough rules of fit: 1) Lift the front wheel about an inch off the ground when straddling it in your shoes, 2) Pedal backwards with your heels on the pedals without severely rocking your hips, and 3) The handlebars should block your view of the front axle. None of those work perfectly for everybody.

I rode a bike too small for me for over twenty years because I otherwise loved the bike. And it was a gift. I think I'd have a harder time on a bike that's too big, but I've never done that at least as an adult.
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Old 05-30-19, 10:00 PM
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Actually, it doesn't sound too big. It sounds like you need more info and more experience. I recommend searching the web on 'bike fitting'. Check out REI for example. Also, check out the bike fitting forum here.
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Old 05-31-19, 06:40 AM
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If the saddle position wrt the pedals is good now, don’t mess with it (although a fully dropped saddle on a 61 seems too low for someone of your height, unless you have a very long torso/short legs). Adjust reach with either/and a shorter stem and shorter reach bars. A decent alloy threadless stem can be had on Amazon for ~$20*. You just need to know the steerer and handlebar width. A threadless steerer is almost certainly a standard 1 1/8” width. Current handlebar width is 31.8mm, but if the bike’s more than a few years old, it’s likely narrower. Maybe your current stem has the clamp width stamped on it.

*i got this one to confirm fit before I bought a “better” one. Apart from the edges of the screw holes being slightly less well finished, it was use as good in terms of build quality and finish as the one I ultimately bought.

Last edited by Litespud; 05-31-19 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 05-31-19, 08:30 AM
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...sliding the saddle forward will put you more over the pedals, and it might be a good thing on a larger frame. As you have surmised, most people adjust reach by saddle adjustment and stem length. I am an inch or two taller than you, but with a long torso relative to my legs, and long arms. I ride anywhere from a 58 to a 62 here successfully, and manage to do it comfortably by both saddle adjustment and choice of stem.

Flipping the stem might help some, but given your description, I'm guessing you'll need to get a shorter one soon. If you have a bike where the reach is already comfy, measure the distance between bar and saddle post, and remember it for future reference because it helps a lot whenever you start fitting a bike that is new to you. Remember to allow for your riding style and varying your hand position from hoods to bar top to drops, if you're riding a drop bar.

Of the used bikes I've bought, I probably had to change the stem on 70% of them to adjust the fit. If there's a bike co-op in your town, they will have a large box of stems in various sizes and lengths sitting over on a shelf somewhere for cheap.
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Old 06-01-19, 12:21 PM
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I think you guys are right. It's probably not that horrible a fit and I already feel a bit more comfortable and actually had to raise the saddle a bit. Not sure if I'm feeling overstretched because I'm not used to the position of a road bike or because it really does have a longer reach than I should've gotten. Regarldes my saddle is all the way forward now and next step is to invert stem( it's 100mm -10 degrees so figured that will bring the handle at least 35 mm higher.) Will also see a LBS for a tune up and ask their professional opinion. Might end up w a shorter stem if they say it's needed
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Old 06-01-19, 03:52 PM
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You can get threadless stems in a wide variety of lengths and rise angles, so I would start by going with a shorter stem and a steeper rise. I did this with my wife's mountain bike, which was a little too big for her, and it did the trick. Don't move your saddle. Saddle position can be determined by dropping a plumb line from your kneecap. It should center over the spindle when the crank arm is in the 3:00 position. Too far forward will strain your knees, and you don't want that.
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Old 06-09-19, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...sliding the saddle forward will put you more over the pedals, and it might be a good thing on a larger frame. As you have surmised, most people adjust reach by saddle adjustment and stem length. I am an inch or two taller than you, but with a long torso relative to my legs, and long arms. I ride anywhere from a 58 to a 62 here successfully, and manage to do it comfortably by both saddle adjustment and choice of stem.

Flipping the stem might help some, but given your description, I'm guessing you'll need to get a shorter one soon. If you have a bike where the reach is already comfy, measure the distance between bar and saddle post, and remember it for future reference because it helps a lot whenever you start fitting a bike that is new to you. Remember to allow for your riding style and varying your hand position from hoods to bar top to drops, if you're riding a drop bar.

Of the used bikes I've bought, I probably had to change the stem on 70% of them to adjust the fit. If there's a bike co-op in your town, they will have a large box of stems in various sizes and lengths sitting over on a shelf somewhere for cheap.
How much shorter would you go? Im at 100 with a 10 degree rise. Not horrible but not perfect. Was thinking 70 with a 10 degree with the idea being that since im a size + 3 cm ( Their suggested size for my height is 57 and the measurement on this 61 cm bike seems to be the length of the toptube) this should bring me back close enough to my size but with different handling. Alternative would be to go a 70 + 6 which would give me 25 mm less reach on the bike but would place it 18 mm lower. Lastly is an option of 80 + 10? ( 18 mm less reach and 10 mm lower)
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Old 06-09-19, 06:29 PM
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You never adjust reach by moving the saddle.
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Old 06-09-19, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
You never adjust reach by moving the saddle.
Figured that the hard way... My saddle is back in it's prior position ... The stem is flipped ... Thinking if making it shorter but have no idea how much shorter to go... With the rise of 10 degrees and a 100 mm stem bike handles perfect but it's slightly over extended
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Old 06-09-19, 06:52 PM
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Sounds like the frame is just too big. A shorter stem is a bandaid but the proper fix is a new bike that fits.
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Old 06-09-19, 06:58 PM
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Yes but that's not an option for me right now. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this thread. Most have been super helpful with advise so I was hoping someone who has done this before can give me a rough estimate of the most likely stem length/ angle to start with.
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Old 06-09-19, 06:59 PM
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I have no experience with threadless, but all of my road bikes but one have less than 100mm stems. One of them has a 60mm, and several at 80mm. I too am 1.82m tall and ride 60 and 61 cm bikes, with a couple 58s thrown in from earlier days.
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Old 06-09-19, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by oik01 View Post
Yes but that's not an option for me right now. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this thread. Most have been super helpful with advise so I was hoping someone who has done this before can give me a rough estimate of the most likely stem length/ angle to start with.
No way to tell without seeing you on the bike.
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Old 06-10-19, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I have no experience with threadless, but all of my road bikes but one have less than 100mm stems. One of them has a 60mm, and several at 80mm. I too am 1.82m tall and ride 60 and 61 cm bikes, with a couple 58s thrown in from earlier days.
Thanks that's very helpful. I guess based on the above I will go with an in between 70 or 75 from Amazon and see how it works. Do you have to fix the gearing again after you install a new stem? ( I'm assuming the wires will be less tense on a shorter stem?
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Old 06-10-19, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by oik01 View Post
Do you have to fix the gearing again after you install a new stem? ( I'm assuming the wires will be less tense on a shorter stem?
Unless you remove the controls from the handlebar, or otherwise disconnect the cables, you shouldn't have to 'fix' the shifting or brake cables.

A modern 'threadless' stem usually allows you to remove/replace the stem without disconnecting the shifter / brake cables.

On an older 'quill' style stem, you usually have to remove the controls and grips from one side of the bars to get the stem off. Once you disconnect a cable, you will have to check your adjustments when you hook it back up.
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Old 06-10-19, 07:30 AM
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61cm doesn't sound that far off for someone around 6' tall. Maybe one size too big, but that is usually acceptable.

Swapping the stem is generally considered a minor 'adjustment' and you should not hesitate to do this. This has been cycling orthodoxy as long as I can remember, and even BITD when stems didn't have two-bolt removeable faceplates and so were much much harder to swap (you had to remove the grip or tape and all the controls from at least one side of the bar, then reinstall when the stem was switched).

If you ask the LBS near you, they will quite possibly allow you to exchange a stem if it is in like-new condition, if the initial length you choose isn't great. A basic stem shouldn't cost more then $20 or $30.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:34 AM
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Threadless stems range all the way down to a Zero Reach, bar clamp directly on top of the steering tube..

I have a couple 4.5mm extension stems on 2 bikes..

a 1" bar sitting against the front of a 1.125 steering tube would be 27mm between tube centerlines ...

so at say 3cm.. that would be a pretty short stem ..
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Old 06-11-19, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
Sounds like the frame is just too big. A shorter stem is a bandaid but the proper fix is a new bike that fits.
I get what you're going for here but let's admit that a huge amount of personal preference goes into fit, too. Personally, I like a larger frame and a shorter stem while my wife, the same height and rough proportion of arm/leg/torso, likes a smaller frame and more stem. We can certainly ride each others bikes without trouble, but neither of us likes to.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by oik01 View Post
How much shorter would you go? Im at 100 with a 10 degree rise. Not horrible but not perfect. Was thinking 70 with a 10 degree with the idea being that since im a size + 3 cm ( Their suggested size for my height is 57 and the measurement on this 61 cm bike seems to be the length of the toptube) this should bring me back close enough to my size but with different handling. Alternative would be to go a 70 + 6 which would give me 25 mm less reach on the bike but would place it 18 mm lower. Lastly is an option of 80 + 10? ( 18 mm less reach and 10 mm lower)
Somehow i doubt the top tube would be of the same length, and is it really necessary to adjust your reach? The only thing you should be looking for is not to flex your shoulder blades forward really, if you find your shoulder blades flex forward while holding the handlebar then yeah adjustments are required.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:31 AM
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61cm for your height is a bit big, but doable, long as your legs feel fine when pedaling & aren't over stretched

(I'm about your height but prefer 57cm size bikes, even then i have to jack the seat up a little, & have a nice long stem)

Only thing that might be a pain for you is mounting the bike or when stationary you'll be on your tippy toes

Last edited by le mans; 06-11-19 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
Somehow i doubt the top tube would be of the same length, and is it really necessary to adjust your reach? The only thing you should be looking for is not to flex your shoulder blades forward really, if you find your shoulder blades flex forward while holding the handlebar then yeah adjustments are required.
Yes. When I called their customer service they said their top tube length is 64 on the XL ( mine) and 60 cm on the L ( appropriate size) so making for a 4 cm difference. Its just tough for me to judge positioning/ fit because its my first road bike and Im not sure what its supposed to feel like ( honestly can't even tell you if my shoulder blades are flexed forward. Some online sources suggested bringing them/ the scapula down as a test and I can do that but end up having to straighten my core/ adjust positioning). Ive already ordered a shorter stem to try like others suggested. Amazon has decent looking ones that weigh 120 grams and cost just 15 dollars with free returns so I can check out multiple sizes. Fiddling around becomes a low risk high reward situation I guess. Will keep you guys posted in case someone else ends up in a similar situation.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:52 AM
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Wow 64cm top tube, 61cm seat tube, must have been custom built for somebody

i'm confused though, i would think at that length it shouldn't give you shoulder extension issues
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Old 06-11-19, 12:00 PM
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Bike fitting noob...

Post a picture with you on the bike, stationary, with the cranks vertical, balls of your feet centered on the pedals. This is silly without a picture.
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Old 06-12-19, 09:32 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by oik01 View Post
Figured that the hard way... My saddle is back in it's prior position ... The stem is flipped ... Thinking if making it shorter but have no idea how much shorter to go...
Put the rear wheel in a trainer and begin pedaling on the bike. Have someone spot for you to observe the necessary distance shorter. Sit up straight, no handed, and close your eyes. Now begin to lean forward with a comfortable arm position. Shoulders relaxed, elbows bent. Slowly lower until your hands are going onto the imaginary hoods. How far off are they? That's your difference right there...
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