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Bit thrown off by my first road bike - is this too small?

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Bit thrown off by my first road bike - is this too small?

Old 03-09-21, 03:15 PM
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kolt54321
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Bit thrown off by my first road bike - is this too small?

Hey all! So I got my first road bike, but I'm a bit thrown off by the handlebars being lower than the saddle (which I need to raise 1-2 inches). I understand this is for a more aero position but I've always ridden upright so it's definitely new. Based on the below picture, would you say this bike is my size or too small? I'm just short of 5'7, bike tires are 27''. Are there any other pictures that would help determine fit? Thank you!

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Old 03-09-21, 04:53 PM
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Judging by the height of your saddle, the bike may be too big for you or you have it in the wrong position. Check YouTube for quite a few how-to's on how to adjust your saddle. On the lowest point of your pedal stroke, that leg should only be slightly bent.
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Old 03-09-21, 04:53 PM
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If that position is too low for you then, I'd think you don't really want a road bike. Road bikes are made for longer endurance riding. From 0 miles to 200 miles and more. If you aren't going to be riding but 20 miles or so, you might prefer a cruiser or hybrid or something else. They can be ridden on the road too.
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Old 03-09-21, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If that position is too low for you then, I'd think you don't really want a road bike. Road bikes are made for longer endurance riding. From 0 miles to 200 miles and more. If you aren't going to be riding but 20 miles or so, you might prefer a cruiser or hybrid or something else. They can be ridden on the road too.
Thanks - I usually take 25-30 mile trips over the weekend (hoping to do more!), but until now with my hybrid. That said, it's very possible I'm just not used to my body being towards the front of the bike rather than more upright towards the back.
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Old 03-09-21, 05:07 PM
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If your bike is the wrong size for you or poorly fitted to you then what you are feeling might be more so because of it being ill fitted. I tended to want to be more upright on old style road bikes that were too big for me. As I got the frame size more appropriate to my size, then I wanted to be more and more aero.
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Old 03-09-21, 06:27 PM
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That looks like a 21"/54 CM frame. I ride a frame that size at 5' 7" with legs that are on the short side for my height. Yeah, 'bars are generally lower than saddles on road bikes. Was that a surprise? Some stems allow more height; some less. The star in tall stems is the Nitto Technomic. I have a couple of them - but, when I ride myself into decent shape, I wish I could get me 'bars lower, and the Technomic won't allow it. I could go to a different stem, but that's a giant PITA, IMO, so I just bend my elbows more. My reco is to get your seat height right and see if you get used to the 'bars as they are.

I agree that the seat height may need to be raised. If you're lucky, your knees will hurt when the seat height is too high or too low. If you do feel pain, the location will tell you which way to move the seat.

A road bike is different from a hybrid. You have to give yourself some time and some miles. You might like it a lot - but you won't know without riding it.

The seat meets some definition of 'saddle'. I'll call it a saddle when it sits in a saddle post that fits into a saddle tube....
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Old 03-09-21, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
That looks like a 21"/54 CM frame. I ride a frame that size at 5' 7" with legs that are on the short side for my height. Yeah, 'bars are generally lower than saddles on road bikes. Was that a surprise? Some stems allow more height; some less. The star in tall stems is the Nitto Technomic. I have a couple of them - but, when I ride myself into decent shape, I wish I could get me 'bars lower, and the Technomic won't allow it. I could go to a different stem, but that's a giant PITA, IMO, so I just bend my elbows more. My reco is to get your seat height right and see if you get used to the 'bars as they are.

I agree that the seat height may need to be raised. If you're lucky, your knees will hurt when the seat height is too high or too low. If you do feel pain, the location will tell you which way to move the seat.

A road bike is different from a hybrid. You have to give yourself some time and some miles. You might like it a lot - but you won't know without riding it.

The seat meets some definition of 'saddle'. I'll call it a saddle when it sits in a saddle post that fits into a saddle tube....
Thank you! Basically that height as well so good to know I'm not doing it "wrong". 21'' sounds about right, I don't think it's a 19''. I was surprised actually! I knew that road bike riders typically were in a lower position, but being so "forward" in that position myself felt fairly scary the first time today. Definitely will be trying it out more on dedicated bike paths vs on the road.

Odd question - I've heard most bikers utilize the grip in the "hoods" - near the top of the brake. What's the consensus about doing that on more vintage bikes like these? The wire obviously being a concern, and not sure if this bike is meant to have that level of stress on the brake mechanism.
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Old 03-09-21, 07:48 PM
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The advantage of the dropped bars is that you can move your hands around - tops, drops, ramps, hoods.You can't do much of an emergency stop from more than 12-15 MPH from the hoods; most people use the brakes from the drops. C & V (Classic and Vintage) levers are harder to control from the hoods than brifters and other modern levers. (Here's an outline for new bikes with 'brifters': https://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2012...roduction.html.) Also, don't count on the extenders to do more than slow you down and stop very slowly.

There's a C&V forum here. French bikes like your Moto are pretty well thought of and pretty well-known. Fit for diamond-frame bikes like yours is different from contemporary bikes. You might get better advice there.

Good luck with the bike. I ride with someone who can buy a new bike but loves her basic Moto, and yours is a step or 2 up from hers.
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Old 03-09-21, 09:42 PM
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That looks like a very nice bike, well set up and beautifully cared for. My bike fitting primer is here:
https://www.bikeforums.net/21296948-post3.html

Going through that process should tell you whether or not the bike is the right size. When you finish the fitting process and have ridden it a few miles to make sure you got it about right, post a couple photos of you on the bike. You'll have to use a stand or lean against something:
1) Hands in the drops, balls of feet on the pedals, elbows slightly bent, cranks vertical.
2) Cranks horizontal, hands deep in the drops, elbows bent to almost 90°
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Old 03-10-21, 10:05 AM
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And make certain that helmet goes on your head and doesn't stay hung on the handle bars.

You wouldn't believe how many I see cycling the MUP here with their helmets hanging on the bars. I guess they plan to put them on just before they have an accident.


When you get to be a full fledged addicted to cycling cyclist you will want your pictures in full cycling kit and that includes helmet on head, wheels oriented with valve stems on bottom, picture taken from the drive side with it's crank forward and a few other things..... <grin>

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Old 03-10-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
And make certain that helmet goes on your head and doesn't stay hung on the handle bars.

You wouldn't believe how many I see cycling the MUP here with their helmets hanging on the bars. I guess they plan to put them on just before they have an accident.


When you get to be a full fledged addicted to cycling cyclist you will want your pictures in full cycling kit and that includes helmet on head, wheels oriented with valve stems on bottom, picture taken from the drive side with it's crank forward and a few other things..... <grin>
Aye! It's best not to mess with safety - the pic was after the bike ride (helmet thrown in garage), not before. For that matter, I'm thinking the $7 helmet is worth upgrading to a better one that actually will keep me safe... probably the most important upgrade I could do.
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Old 03-10-21, 05:30 PM
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Helmets - the CPSC has set standards that all helmets sold in the US must meet. They're far from perfect, but they're what we have. It has been asserted on these pages that the more expensive helmets may provide less protection than cheaper ones, because they're lighter and may be closer to the CPSC minima. MIPS and Wavecell are attempts to make better ones, but who knows? I chose a helmet base on VPI's ratings: https://www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicyc...t-ratings.html.

If I fall and hit my head, I just hope the fall matches the test conditions. That's 'hope', not 'expect'.

BTW, your photo shows that the valve stems of the tubes are skewed; they should point directly to the center of the hub. That's not an esthetic issue. The skewing stresses the valve stems and reportedly can lead to premature failure. This might help you fix it yourself :
. I think you can do it simply by deflating the tube. I've never had to take out the mechanism, but I've only had the problem with Presta valves.

Not so BTW, I can't tell whether your rims are steel or aluminum. If they're steel, be VERY careful around moisture, mist, rain. Steel rims do not stop at all well. when wet. If they're steel, consider buying some wheels with aluminum rims sooner rather than later. In fact, buy aluminum rimmed wheels very soon, if your budget allows. Of course, for decades there were no aluminum rims, and for additional decades, they were pretty expensive. I rode for several years on steel, as did almost everybody else. Anyway, if it's wet, giove yourself lots of space for braking with steel rims.
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Old 03-11-21, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
Helmets - the CPSC has set standards that all helmets sold in the US must meet. They're far from perfect, but they're what we have. It has been asserted on these pages that the more expensive helmets may provide less protection than cheaper ones, because they're lighter and may be closer to the CPSC minima. MIPS and Wavecell are attempts to make better ones, but who knows? I chose a helmet base on VPI's ratings: https://www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicyc...t-ratings.html.

If I fall and hit my head, I just hope the fall matches the test conditions. That's 'hope', not 'expect'.

BTW, your photo shows that the valve stems of the tubes are skewed; they should point directly to the center of the hub. That's not an esthetic issue. The skewing stresses the valve stems and reportedly can lead to premature failure. This might help you fix it yourself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE2xdvhAYCE. I think you can do it simply by deflating the tube. I've never had to take out the mechanism, but I've only had the problem with Presta valves.

Not so BTW, I can't tell whether your rims are steel or aluminum. If they're steel, be VERY careful around moisture, mist, rain. Steel rims do not stop at all well. when wet. If they're steel, consider buying some wheels with aluminum rims sooner rather than later. In fact, buy aluminum rimmed wheels very soon, if your budget allows. Of course, for decades there were no aluminum rims, and for additional decades, they were pretty expensive. I rode for several years on steel, as did almost everybody else. Anyway, if it's wet, giove yourself lots of space for braking with steel rims.
Thanks for the tips! I'll try to re-adjust those valve stems, you raise a great point. I'm a bit bummed that the bike shop didn't catch that, but then again they didn't charge me much.

I think those rims are aluminum... is there a good way to tell? Here's two pictures of the tires below (pre-tuneup) if that helps determine what type they are. But noted!


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Old 03-11-21, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
I think those rims are aluminum... is there a good way to tell?
They look like probably aluminum. Steel rims are generally chromed.

The fancy scientific test is to use a magnet.
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Old 03-11-21, 02:07 PM
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You really need to decide what you are wanting. This bike will quickly have you spending more money upgrading things than it's worth. And depending on what you are wanting, it might not ever be able to do that thing well.

If you don't see yourself ever wanting to routinely ride 20 mph or even 16 mph. And you aren't going to ride for much more than an hour at a time, then consider something like this so you can have a comfortable upright position..


https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...lorCode=bronze

brand new, inexpensive and made for persons that don't like the typical position a road bike (endurance bike) is made for.
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Old 03-11-21, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
You really need to decide what you are wanting. This bike will quickly have you spending more money upgrading things than it's worth. And depending on what you are wanting, it might not ever be able to do that thing well.

If you don't see yourself ever wanting to routinely ride 20 mph or even 16 mph. And you aren't going to ride for much more than an hour at a time, then consider something like this so you can have a comfortable upright position..


https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...lorCode=bronze

brand new, inexpensive and made for persons that don't like the typical position a road bike (endurance bike) is made for.
Well! Hopefully once the valves are straightened it will be good to go, and rideable just fine without any upgrades. There's converting from 1x to 2x, but that's not strictly necessary I don't think, and if I get the positioning down it's good to go. $120 all in for a good (old? But decent) road bike! I have a Trek Multitrack 700 I put a few hundred miles on if I'm looking for a hybrid/upright position, so between the two there should be enough variety.

I remember from my last weekly 25 mile ride (when the weather supported it) I was doing 11mph on the Trek most of the time, max 19mph, but it was no race, and on certain (non highway) stretches I would definitely have liked to go faster.

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Old 03-11-21, 04:34 PM
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Alright, but don't name your bike. That makes some folks too emotionally attached and they want to throw big bucks at stuff to "save" it from the scrap yard. <grin>

I just look at throwing old bikes in the scrapyard as re-cycling. It'll get back to me some day in some other form.
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Old 03-12-21, 12:35 PM
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I don't know how these threads get so weird. It's a perfectly good bike, better than bikes I've ridden doubles on. Get it all adjusted like I mentioned above in post 9, and take a picture of you on bike.
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Old 05-11-21, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by kolt54321 View Post
Thank you! Basically that height as well so good to know I'm not doing it "wrong". 21'' sounds about right, I don't think it's a 19''. I was surprised actually! I knew that road bike riders typically were in a lower position, but being so "forward" in that position myself felt fairly scary the first time today. Definitely will be trying it out more on dedicated bike paths vs on the road.

Odd question - I've heard most bikers utilize the grip in the "hoods" - near the top of the brake. What's the consensus about doing that on more vintage bikes like these? The wire obviously being a concern, and not sure if this bike is meant to have that level of stress on the brake mechanism.
Hi! I'm here in solidarity because I just got my own first road/touring-style bike versus an upright bike, and have had these exact same challenges! I am slightly anxious about biking downhill because I feel so far forward over the wheel and I'm not used to braking from the hoods, it all feels a little less secure than my upright hybrid. I noticed in one pic that your brake levels don't seem to have hood covers on them? These are rubber covers for the metal and I they do make holding the hoods feel more secure.

I love my new bike so I'm going to be spending some time on it to adjust, but good luck and let me know if you find any tips/tricks
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Old 05-17-21, 10:49 PM
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I’m surprised no one asked whether you can clear the top tube standing flat-footed - from the pic it looks doubtful. Isn’t that one method of determining whether or not a bike frame size is in the ballpark?
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Old 05-17-21, 11:04 PM
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That bike has some beautiful geometry. I love the way the fork angles forward, essentially making it much more stable. I would wager money that it's a 60cm frame and might be a tad large for your build, but adjust it as best you can for yourself and your body will more than likely adapt to it with riding. Good luck and enjoy,
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Old 05-17-21, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
That bike has some beautiful geometry. I love the way the fork angles forward, essentially making it much more stable. I would wager money that it's a 60cm frame and might be a tad large for your build, but adjust it as best you can for yourself and your body will more than likely adapt to it with riding. Good luck and enjoy,
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Old 05-18-21, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
60 Frame. Me 6FT
Hey Fred, nice bike. I'm guessing it has 700c wheels? You make it look small. When was the last time you measured yourself? haha
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Old 05-18-21, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Hey Fred, nice bike. I'm guessing it has 700c wheels? You make it look small. When was the last time you measured yourself? haha
That was The Day I completed 500 Track Miles at Indy.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:29 PM
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@kolt54321 - Nice bike that looks like from the early 70's. French so the parts are French dimensions and not compatible with English or Italian. Need a knowledgeable LBS to work on it.

Fit is everything and it is hard to tell if it is too big or not. Measure from the center of the crank to the intersection of the center of the seat tube and top tube. I would not be surprised if it measures around 56cm.
My 1972 Motobecane Le Champion 24in or about 61cm
1972 Motobecane Le Champion 24&quot; on Flickr
Note the length of the head tube and the distance between the top tube and downtube. Yours is quite a bit less.

My inseam is about 32 inches from bare foot on the floor to the crotch bone. The old school way is to straddle the top tube with riding shoes on and lift the bike by the saddle and handlebars. It should move about 1/2 to 1 inch. This was done to keep from getting pains in that region.
When you sit upright on a bike you are on the seat. When you are leaning forward on a typical drop bar road bike, you are on the saddle. The saddle mounts to either a post or pillar. It height should be as stated above, knee slightly bent with the pedal at the most distant from the saddle.

WRT handbag position. There are two, height and how far from the saddle. I am over 71 and ride my bikes with 2-3 inch drop of the stem from the saddle. My starting point for the stem length is when my hands are in the position on the handlebars, either in front of the brakes or on the hoods, the front hub is "hidden" by the bar. That gets me really close to the right position. if you have a strong core, you should be able to take your hands off the handlebars and not move your upper body. keep in mind there are three points of contact with the bike, hand, bottom and feet. They should be in balance.

WRT the hoods, you brake levers never had them and there aren't any to be had as you also have the levers that extend to the center of the handlebar. Those brake bases are not comfortable to use in riding "on the hood" position. That is one part you can replace without too much searching as it is not a unique French dimension.

To give you an idea, this is my favorite ride at the moment.
P1030581 on Flickr

The more you ride the more comfortable you will become, up or downhill. "just do it."
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