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Long legs/short torso bike fitting problems

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Long legs/short torso bike fitting problems

Old 08-31-22, 01:46 AM
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Morimorimori
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Long legs/short torso bike fitting problems

Recently I created a new topic at this forum, about my issues during long rides (butt and hand soreness etc). Eventually I went to bike fitting specialist to get some help (that's a second time, the previous visit about a year ago was not that helpful, now it's a different guy). He told me a lot of things, made a few suggestions (some really useful) - but still whatever he did is unable to put me in comfort while riding. Since I started cycling about 5 years ago, I can't actually remember a single bike I tried which felt perfectly comfortable for more than an hour..

And now I may have a reason why. There is that average "inseam to height" ratio mentioned a lot over internet, it's usually something like 1:2.2 to 1:2.5. So I got my numbers, and my inseam happens to be 90cm, while my height is 182 - what puts me well out of the range of average, making me a long-legged person.

If my math is correct, then with a length of the remaining torso equal to 92cm, I should have been about 170cm in height. So I'm like a 170cm person when it comes to estimating a suitable reach for a bike frame. And most of bike frame charts and calculators out there only take your height into account.

It now all starts to make sense - why on all bikes I tried I always felt like it's "uncomfortably too far" to keep my hands on hoods, and always ended up placing them either on tops, or somewhere between hoods and tops. Or why the last bike fitting guy was telling me something about my spine is too flat when I'm reaching to hoods (he believed it needs to form an arch to better spread its load) - because when I'm trying to bend my spine a bit, my body's reach becomes even shorter and I can't keep my hands on hoods without fully extending them and placing my head too low to keep my eyes on the road ahead (so I have to bend my neck more as well).


If my assumptions here are correct, then it would be impossible to fit my current bike (which is Merida Scultura Endurace of size M) to my body at all, as in terms of reach I need it be of size S or even smaller, perhaps with a longer seatpost to compensate for lower frame.

Are there others who were in my position recently? I'm wondering what your solutions were. I really don't want to spoil everything again if I'll have to buy yet another bike..

Last edited by Morimorimori; 08-31-22 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 08-31-22, 03:04 AM
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Just have found this article referenced from a similar discussion: https://bikedynamics.co.uk/bikesizingbd.htm
And here are we go...
Long legs

Sorry for all these long legged people, but this is the worst case for achieving an optimum bike fit. The long legs will mean a high saddle, so the bars become relatively far away. Long legs imply a short torso, so the reach to the bars becomes excessive. One could consider a shorter top tube, but this would also tend to come with a shorter head tube which is counter-productive. What tends to happen with very long legged people is that stems have to be short and as high as possible, often achieved by flipping them over as well as using all the available spacers. In many cases this is still not enough and the saddle also has to move further forwards than is ideal. Many people do not like the aesthetics of this stem configuration, in which case the best option is to select a bike with Sportive or Touring geometry, i.e. one with relatively long head tube or Stack for its size.
This is especially interesting: "What tends to happen with very long legged people is that stems have to be short and as high as possible, often achieved by flipping them over as well as using all the available spacers. In many cases this is still not enough and the saddle also has to move further forwards than is ideal" - this is what I was doing for every bike I owned, ever. Always move the saddle as forward as possible, and stem up and flip it, if it flips. And it never was enough to stay comfortable for hours.

So it seems like I'm in real trouble here..
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Old 08-31-22, 10:01 AM
  #3  
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I'm 180 cm or a tad less with 87.6 cm inseam. I use to ride way oversize for me frames with comfort. Not just 12 years ago I had been on a 25" ( 63.5 cm) bike for over 30 years. However in my older age I'm finding smaller frames better and have progressed down with 59 and 60 cm bikes to a 56 cm bike that is currently the lower recommendation out of the two sizes I was between. And I think I could have gone to a 54 cm bike, but probably that would have needed to be a different model with higher stack.

So while yes the manufacturers do build for the average proportions of what they feel their customer is, you should be able to find something that fits you well if you realize reach and stack as well as other geometry are different for different models of bike.

If you go with a smaller bike of the same model, then your stack height will get lower as the bike size decreases. And since on a road bike geometry your saddle height will always be pretty much the same distance from the BB or pedal, then your bar drop from the saddle will be more. Reach also decreases, but I've not found reach as big an issue and that can more easily be corrected with other adjustments.

So for the Tarmac SL6 in a 56 cm frame right now, if I was to go to a 54 cm frame I would probably be too aggressive a position for me with a lot of bar drop from the saddle. I might could just keep a lot of spacers under the stem, but a Roubaix with a more relaxed geometry and higher stack would probably be a better choice in a smaller size than recommended frame.

So to me, trying to figure out the correct size of bike to get form number calculations is silly... unless you already know from experience what works for you. You really need to just try on different models in different sizes and probably even a size out from the manufacturer recommended sizes. And remembering that a particular size, say a 56 cm bike in one model might be entirely different fit than a 56 cm of another model. Again, primarily due to reach and stack differences. Some go by horizontal top tube length instead of reach, but a road bike is going to have pretty much the same seat tube angle within a few degrees to make that a insignificant difference for whether using TT length over reach.

As for long legged people needing higher bars and shorter stems, I can't agree. I went lower on the bars when I got my 56 cm bike than I ever was on my other bikes. It's really just a matter of getting use to a new position. And that does take some effort. It's a tad uncomfortable at first to have your head so low and feel like it's the battering ram for whatever you might crash into. But you do get over that. At least I have.

I did right after I got my bike swap the 100 mm stem for a 70 mm stem of the same angle. And I thought it helped. However I just put the other 100 mm stem on about 4 or 5 rides ago after using the shorter for a long time, and I'm not really sure that I see the difference I thought it made. The 100 mm stems seems to be doing just as well for me.

Another thing I'm finding as I age and have entered retirement is that my muscle strength and mass is decreasing in my arms, hands and elsewhere on my body since they don't get used as much. And I'd have the odd hand numbness where I never had it before and other odd pains. As I've always found even when younger, that exercising those muscles and keeping them toned up... not necessarily building more muscle in those places that bother me really seems to help with aches, pains and numbness of things when on a bike. I keep a set of those hand exercisers with the springs next to my easy chair to help keep my grip strong so I don't get numb hands. Though the position of your STI's and angle of your drops as well as width of your handlebars makes some contribution too.

As for large frame bikes stretching out your hand position far in front of you, that does work well if you like the lower head first battering ram position. I did and being stretched out prevented shoulder, elbow and hand pain. With the smaller size bikes I'm riding now, I'm finding I have to keep a good bend in my elbows to avoid the issues with shoulders and elbows and hands. And for someone that spent most of their life with straight outstretched arms, that's taken some work on my part.

Last edited by Iride01; 08-31-22 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 08-31-22, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Morimorimori View Post
Recently I created a new topic at this forum, about my issues during long rides (butt and hand soreness etc). Eventually I went to bike fitting specialist to get some help (that's a second time, the previous visit about a year ago was not that helpful, now it's a different guy). He told me a lot of things, made a few suggestions (some really useful) - but still whatever he did is unable to put me in comfort while riding. Since I started cycling about 5 years ago, I can't actually remember a single bike I tried which felt perfectly comfortable for more than an hour..
And now I may have a reason why. There is that average "inseam to height" ratio mentioned a lot over internet, it's usually something like 1:2.2 to 1:2.5. So I got my numbers, and my inseam happens to be 90cm, while my height is 182 - what puts me well out of the range of average, making me a long-legged person.
If my math is correct, then with a length of the remaining torso equal to 92cm, I should have been about 170cm in height. So I'm like a 170cm person when it comes to estimating a suitable reach for a bike frame. And most of bike frame charts and calculators out there only take your height into account.
It now all starts to make sense - why on all bikes I tried I always felt like it's "uncomfortably too far" to keep my hands on hoods, and always ended up placing them either on tops, or somewhere between hoods and tops. Or why the last bike fitting guy was telling me something about my spine is too flat when I'm reaching to hoods (he believed it needs to form an arch to better spread its load) - because when I'm trying to bend my spine a bit, my body's reach becomes even shorter and I can't keep my hands on hoods without fully extending them and placing my head too low to keep my eyes on the road ahead (so I have to bend my neck more as well).


If my assumptions here are correct, then it would be impossible to fit my current bike (which is Merida Scultura Endurace of size M) to my body at all, as in terms of reach I need it be of size S or even smaller, perhaps with a longer seatpost to compensate for lower frame.
Are there others who were in my position recently? I'm wondering what your solutions were. I really don't want to spoil everything again if I'll have to buy yet another bike..
Originally Posted by Morimorimori View Post
Just have found this article referenced from a similar discussion: https://bikedynamics.co.uk/bikesizingbd.htm
And here are we go...
This is especially interesting: "What tends to happen with very long legged people is that stems have to be short and as high as possible, often achieved by flipping them over as well as using all the available spacers. In many cases this is still not enough and the saddle also has to move further forwards than is ideal" - this is what I was doing for every bike I owned, ever. Always move the saddle as forward as possible, and stem up and flip it, if it flips. And it never was enough to stay comfortable for hours.
So it seems like I'm in real trouble here..
One can talk themselves into anything.
'Average' numbers are not consistently found, relative to 'cycling' numbers - like cycling inseam. Sure, there have been studies, but those mostly of accomplished riders - not really for a large enough poll of 'general population. You claim the average ratio used is 1:2.2 - 2.5 that's a HUGE variance. As commonly used is 1:2.17 & change (or 46-47% ratio).
You're talking yourself into the 'perceived' problem of 'fit' due to a quite normal situation which is not being in the middle of the bell curve of body proportion.
Lets qualify a few things... You, I, many others could ride any range of Frame sizes - S/52, M/54, L/56, XL/58+ - all numbers and can be a significant variance from one brand to another.
setup on any size will be different from another...
So what am I sayin?
Your 'M'
Your 'position' and posture is the main consideration - your Merida in M is actually on the smaller side (smallest side, maybe smallest...) for your basic dimensions . How you set it up is the important process.
Arched back, flat back - an important consideration, relative to a rider's spine structure, which is the starting point for much of fit/posture.
As a comparo - I'm 176 cm, 88 cm inseam, so quite long legs (and arms) and quite short torso. I ride I Spec Tarmac 56/L (which is 'larger' and 'longer' than your bike, by far) with a 120 stem; it fits great.
I have many significant back issues which COULD make fitting a real problem, but they're not a problem, cause I have my position and posture set to work with these. With 58 yrs of performane/race riding under my saddle, I love a good 3 hr ride with some fast riding, fun climbing (all relative to this bag of organic matter), and have no real complaints on comfort nor fit issues.
So what am I sayin? 2 things. Adjust your current bike - start 'adjusting' your body (by improving it's capabilities- structure wise)
You need to 'adjust' your bike to fit your current body situation. If the fitter hasn;t been able to do that, they have not figured you out...
Arched back/flat back - or something in between. You decide what works for you... If a 'flat' back works for your riding, all good, fit and posture around that.
Normally I'd list all the things to qualify what I'm sayin, but I'm gonna get out on a ride, before the heat sets in. So, just the 'beef' without the bun...
Most beginner riders set their saddle tooo low. Many riders with a modicum of riding under their belt, and NOW feeling totally 'Roadie', set their saddle height too high....
Without any numbers, but what you claim... numb hands, less comfort...
Make sure your saddle is mostly 'flat' not pitched greatly forward, and certainly not pitch back.
Set your current saddle height goal = 1 cm LOWER. Don;t do it in ONE adjustment - do in 3 adjustments - 3,3,4 mm ea. ride 1 week/7 rides between adjustments.
After your last 7 day riding with the 1 cm lower, bring the saddle height back up 3mm - ride for a couple rides then decide which of last 2 adjustments feels best at end of ride.
Move your saddle setback - BACK 5mm.
Leave your bars where they currently are... report back on hand numbness after the 27 days of riding.
Start working on core strength and flexibility... That's really the key to riding comfortably on any bike for any length and difficulty of ride.
FYI... if you go to a S/52 in your Merida, and keep all the same settings, your bars will automatically be 2cm LOWER relative to saddle height, than your M...
... you could also chase the elusive 'fit', by buying more bikes...
Ride NOW
Yuri
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Old 08-31-22, 09:46 PM
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Opposite situation for me. Short legs,long torso. At 5’5” the chart put me on a 52 but the top tube is 30” and my inseam is 28” so not a comfortable straddle. For length the new bike felt short between seatpost and stem so a riser/extender gave me the span I wanted.
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Old 08-31-22, 10:33 PM
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I go with the smaller frame and a longer stem. It works for me.
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Old 09-01-22, 08:53 AM
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Can't tell anything without photos; from the side, one with cranks vertical, one with cranks horizontal, hands on hoods, elbows slightly bent.
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Old 09-02-22, 09:54 AM
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For some important context, OP earned his Super Randonneur this year doing rides of 300, 300, 400, an 600km within a defined period of time. His other thread mentioned soreness in the butt at 400km. And has been riding about 5 years or less. I had suggested the saddle might be too high and he indicated a fitter raised his saddle 3 cm IRRC. An excessively high saddle will only exasperated the reach problem.

I have the opposite problem, generally need more reach but not too much saddle to bar drop (around 3 inches). That medium Meridia has a reach of 390 mm. I'm 190- 191cm tall and a shop wants to put me into a frame with 390 mm reach and I think I need at least 405 mm. Mycurrent bike has a reach of 396 mm. If your reach is excessive, the dynamic aspect of your arms, torso and butt working in harmony sort of like a spring is lost. After 400km, it should not be be surprising that your butt is hammered and it is important also to have reasonable expectations. You have heard that a million times from me, if you are reading. Getting 8 hours sleep per night on Paris Brest Paris is a very tall order as is having the bike disappear under you on a 600km. I have had that experience, it took lots of miles, a seatpost that absorbs bumps (Spesh CGR), a Brooks B17 or Berthoud, not too narrow or too high pressure tires (28mm at 70 psi is my sweet spot), a frame design that absorbs as well, flat carbon handle bars, strategically placed gell at the hoods under padded tape, and the right bibs/lube. If th ebike don't fit, none of those bandaids matter much

Post some photos. With the data you shared, I find it hard to believe a 390 mm reach would be comfy every. Hopefully some of the experts can help you with fit and mitigate the somewhat inevitable discomfort of riding long distances. GL!!
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Old 09-03-22, 06:21 AM
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With a 91cm inseam & 187cm total height, I'm in an even worse predicament than you. (ALWAYS screwing around with my fit, because it's never right, even with 30 years of riding.) It may be expensive, but with out-of-wack body proportions, a custom frame is the best bet. (In the long run, you may actually save a lot of money by not buying a bunch of bikes/frames and components you're not happy with the fit of.)
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Old 09-04-22, 11:57 AM
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I have similar body dimensions as OP - 178/89cm. Being middle aged and not super fit or flexible, I need a reltive high stack and short reach to feel comfortable with 6-8cm saddle to handlebar drop on my (gravel) bike.
In my limited experience, moving the saddle forward to reduce reach may not help much with reducing load on hands. For me it has been better to reduce reach with a slightly shorter stem (90mm) and a handlebar with less reach. I am using a Syncros Creston 1.0 X with 60mm reach and 115mm drop.
also the shifters can reduce the reach (on hoods). I believe GRX Di2 shifters have slightly less reach than non-Di2 versions.
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Old 09-05-22, 03:06 AM
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Am similar proportions: 177.5mm / 34inch / 178mm wing.
After paying for a few so called bike-fits, now 2 years later I know what frame numbers to look for.

In a production frame, they are few and far between across the world, and I know to stay far away from any Merida frame.
Even harder to find with a decent enough seat tube length, rather than having to switch in a looooooong seat post

I have a list of various production bike frame types I slowly add to as I come across them.
Saying that, if you can afford it, a custom frame is an easy option.
At the rare occasion, I'll come across a custom frame/bike for sale that has the numbers.

Here's one example in a steel 650b custom-geo NFE gravel/monstercross I should have grabbed at the time!
https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/359004/

Another cracker! https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/376715/

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Old 09-08-22, 03:16 AM
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I feel for you all.

I recall this custom frame
coming up as one made specifically to suit exactly the OPs' situation. It looks very extreme / wrong, but it's presumably the exact best fit for the owner.

One other thing that helped me with fit a bit (big feet, long femurs) was moving my cleats as far back as possible. That requires moving the saddle forward a touch to match, and thus reduces reach a little.

Other than that not much you can do other than ride endurance / gravel bikes with as much stack vs. reach as possible.
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Old 10-03-22, 12:54 PM
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Any discussion of fit for long legs needs to include arm length, too. There's the long-leg build I call tyrannosaurus rex, long legs, short torso, and short arms. This is a difficult fit, finding a bike with sufficiently short reach and sufficiently tall stack, and even then special adaptations might be necessary to get the bar close and high enough. Then there's the build I call spider monkey, long legs, short torso, long arms. This one's not as difficult because the arms can still reach longer and lower, mostly lower, for the handlebar. This is my build, so I have 50 years of experience with it. I can pretty much select the stack for my leg length or split the difference between leg length and overall height, and avoid frames with longer reach.

Posture plays a role, too. I had a couple come into the shop for road bikes. She was a little bit shorter than he was, but their leg length was almost identical. I put them on identical Scott Speedsters, and she looked and felt great on hers. Even though he was taller in the torso, he was having trouble with the reach, I had to fit him with a shorter stem because he couldn't uncurl the hump in his back. I told him to hang onto the factory stem, that maybe he could use it if his pelvis ever got more flexible.

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Old 10-03-22, 01:50 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by tangerineowl View Post
Am similar proportions: 177.5mm / 34inch / 178mm wing.
After paying for a few so called bike-fits, now 2 years later I know what frame numbers to look for.
Yeah, the Merida geometry is not for you. I would have tried you on a 56 cm Trek, an H2 Emonda or a Domane. With a shorter stem, if necessary.
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