The Bike is too big. How can you know too?

As a kid, visiting the bike shop and trying out bikes always involved the shop mechanic/salesman/manager getting the bike down from the display racks. When the customer didn’t like it he had to put the bike back up on the rack. I had no idea what problems existed for a bike salesman of those times. In the late 70’s and early 80’s a bike was sledgehammered together from lead ingots so this meant that a bike salesman had to have or shortly developed an amazingly built upper body. Shopping for bikes with my family had the same thing happen over and over.

Salesman: “What’s your inseam?….ok..*unghh*…this should be alright, stand over this one and see how that fits you!”

Parent or sister or myself would stand over the top bar of the bike and either nod or shake the head.The top bar had to clear any lower fruits by an inch or two. That was the only qualifier of what a proper bike fit was.

Salesman: “No?….*unggghhh*..ok….umm…*unghhh* lets try this one!”

In a much earlier post I purchased a Craigslist bike. I honestly had no idea on bike fit beyond “standover height” and how it affects the rider on much longer rides. I just knew that if I could stand over it, it would fit me. Well it did but after riding it, there are some issues. I tried to fit the seat height right for the leg extension and move the seat as forward as possible according to what the UCI says is appropriate and everything worked nicely. 50 minutes to an hour in, a backache, a little one, sometimes starts. I attribute this to not much core strength and the need to work on that. The internet attributes this to most likely a bike with too much reach stretching myself way out there so my back bears the weight of my upper body. This wouldn’t be too bad if I was in the full on race mode fitness of a big hairy American winning machine, but…i am not.

I approached one of the largest consultant agencies in this area, Mr. Google Internets. What he told me was all kinds of things that were not related to each other. I sifted through it all and found one of the few sources that does the right math to figure out what you really need. The Competitive cyclist website has a calculator that not only does the math calculations but they have a short video about how to measure yourself for each field of data. That is incredibly helpful but in the end, requires you to really think about the date you get out. Like any scientist will tell you, knowing what the data is telling you instead of just getting data is where you learn what it means. Stand-over height is now a thing of the past, but it gets you toward a range of frames to consider. The upper body you have determines what really fits. the stand-over height just gets the frame up to your seat height. The top tube lengths, measured, or effective make all the difference in just how aggressive and racy the frame gets.

The CAAD9 I ride has just plain too much reach for me. Again being a complete pro racer would be able to handle that, but time on the bike is an issue. It’s now how strong you are, it’s how long you can handle using that strength and with a core that at the moment can only handle an hour of stretched out abuse, so with a prio rider enduring 4-5 hours of that at a time, yeah sure they can handle it. I would require 8-10 hours to ride that distance. Heck no.

So, the calculator tells me that the top tube length should be around the 57-59 cm length, ideally 58. what I ride now has a measured length of 61 with a geometric length of 60. With the same handlebar stem on this bike as what I should have on a correctly measured bike this means I have +20-25 mm over what I need. I am reaching out about an extra inch plus more than what I should. That equates to several degrees of back angle that I shouldn’t be enduring. this reach can be mitigated with shorter stem length and moving the seat up helps shorten that reach but then the angle to the pedals gets funny, and the steering gets difficult because of the stem length being shorter affects the leverage on the fork.

So This bike, good for what I have ridden so far, requires a fitting if I am to ride it on extended days or events this year. This means it really should be sold, and replaced with a frame with the right reach and then fitted by the right people. a fitting with buying the right length parts to do it the right way costs $250 with the seat i’m going to buy and won’t be worth it on a frame that has me reaching too far.

So I need to look for the right frame. inseam of 86cm, means standover of ideally 83-84 and a top tube equaling a Cannondale 60cm. The search begins.


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