Road bike position – advice needed

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  • Road bike position – advice needed
  • Premier Icon amedias
    Subscriber

    so having read the thread we have the following advice:

    > move the saddle forwards
    > move the saddle backwards
    > use a shorter stem
    > use a longer stem
    > get a bike fit
    > dont bother with a bike fit
    > look at the pros
    > dont look at the pros

    the only thing we all agree on is the saddle was too low, and you’ve already cured that now!

    there is some good advice in there too though, and the more you read and think about it the more you will learn, photos and freinds looking for you can also really help as well.

    lightman
    Member

    Pretty much as above!
    This is one of the reasons you join a cycling club, there are/should be lots of very experienced riders there who can help give you advise on lots of things, bike positioning being one.

    The best thing you can do is pay for a proper bike fit, they cost between £100-£150 and can take an hour or two, but from what I have heard from riders, they are well worth it.

    TiRed
    Member

    Firstly, it is obvious that your saddle is too low and possibly to far back. I set saddle height and fore and after using kneecap base over pedal spindle and knee bend of 25 degrees. The will put you a lot further forward over the bottom bracket. Only after you have this neutral position, can you think about where to put your bars.

    I call it neutral because you should be able to pedal and lean forward without holding the bars at all.

    Height of bars is entirely personal. Reach is not. I set stem length by placing hands over the hoods, crouching forward and measuring elbow bend. It should be 90-100 degrees. Too big an angle and you will be bunching your neck.

    Once you have saddle and bars in this starting position, then you can raise or lower the stem with spacers, move the saddle fore or after by 0.5cm and adjust height to keep the 25 degree bend.

    The second photo is not bad, but the elbow bend is sub 90degrees so I’d try a 1cm longer stem.

    When the fit is dialled in, you will know it if you start from roughly the right place, and you are nowhere near (yet).

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I call it neutral because you should be able to pedal and lean forward without holding the bars at all.

    This is a good, well-used test but I’d not use knee over pedal, just go on weight balance needed to feel balanced. Knee-over-pedal is more a coincidence of good fit than a creator of it.

    1) saddle height via lemond method
    2) saddle setback based on getting your weight centred on the bike, as above so there’s only a fairly light supporting pressure on your hands

    After those 2 steps you’ll be close to a good position and able to cope with a range of bar positions, set the bar for weight balance, handling etc. I tend to pick stems more for handling and amount of weight on the front than fit. Just going for a higher stem / bar without any other adjustments won’t sort comfort issues.

    I fixed a lower back issue with a slightly more fwd position in the saddle, to reduce hamstring tension causing tension in my hip /back area in turn. An inline post made the difference, my position was close to ideal already though. The OP’s original position looks pretty far off ideal so I’d start from scratch there.

    ashfanman
    Member

    Just got back from my first ride with the new position. Massive improvement. My back still started hurting a bit around the hour mark, but generally things were miles better. I felt both less cramped and less stretched.

    As a nice bonus, I was also considerably faster. I felt I had a lot more power and hit 68 kph on one section that I’d never managed to get above 60 kph before.

    I think I probably still need to raise the saddle another 10-15mm, so I’ll try that tomorrow.

    Thanks again for all your help – it’s really made a big difference! 🙂

    thomthumb
    Member

    My back still started hurting a bit around the hour mark

    new position can do that even if it’s ‘better’

    I think I probably still need to raise the saddle another 10-15mm, so I’ll try that tomorrow.

    don’t make the mistake i made by keep going up & up until it’s too high!

    ashfanman
    Member

    new position can do that even if it’s ‘better’

    Yeah, I’m anticipating that it will take a while to get used to. I’ll give it a few hundred miles and then if my back is still hurting I’ll look at it again.

    don’t make the mistake i made by keep going up & up until it’s too high!

    I won’t, but I do think it still a tiny bit too low. Will experiment tomorrow and see how I get on.

    Premier Icon fatmax
    Subscriber

    Hi AFM
    Good time on your ride, and great that the saddle height is improving things.

    Just out of interest I’m 6’5″ and a smidgen and have just bought a Canyon CF 7.0. I was swaying between a 62 and a 64 frame, but went to the TriCentre in Edinburgh for a bike fit. I was definitely a 64. Everyone is different though.

    I’ve subsequently set up the bike as best as I can to the measurements they gave me. After 10 years on a Cannondale that I never felt 100% happy on due to the position, the fit is a revelation. I did 115 miles last weekend when I’d previously never done more than 90, and came off the bike feeling relatively fresh. So it might not work for everyone, but having even a basic bike fit has helped me hugely.

    Good luck, cheers

    FTM

    asterix
    Member

    what a gorgeous old book cav:-)

    Shibboleth
    Member

    My back still started hurting a bit around the hour mark, but generally things were miles better. I felt both less cramped and less stretched.

    As you’ve raised saddle height, it might be worth lowering the nose of the saddle slightly as you obviously have a lack of flexibility in your lower back – probably due to spending more time mountain biking.

    I find that tipping the nose down, even by just 1 degree, rotates the pelvis forward enough to alleviate the lower back pain you’re experiencing.

    I tend to start with it pointing do1n 1 or 2 degrees, ride it, and if I feel that I’m sliding forward, I tip it back a fraction. For me, the optimum position is where I feel like I might slide forward, but the friction between shorts and seat just hold me in place.

    I’ve altered a few riders bikes in this way and solved lower back pain problems instantly, but I’d follow previous advice on this thread – make small changes and ride them… You’re still adapting to a completely different riding style.

    Good luck!

    tinsy
    Member

    I would be quite interested on how far off KOP all the KOP doubters are, I doubt many are very far from it.

    As a start point it has merit.

    I am a bit confused by this comment OP

    I think I probably still need to raise the saddle another 10-15mm, so I’ll try that tomorrow.

    Thats part of setup is just so easy to sort out & there are no cinflicting arguments to saddle height at least, straight leg heel on pedal, pedal at furthest from saddle. Within about 5mm for personal preference thats it.

    Toasty
    Member

    I’m the same height, riding a 62cm Canyon Ultimate Al (the same bike?).

    Similar back pain on my first ride, the seatpost gives quite a lot of layback, I shifted it forward an inch or so and I’ve had no pain. It does put me a bit too far forwards over the cranks, so I’m swapping to a 100mm stem and moving the saddle back to it’s original position.

    By the looks of it, I run my saddle higher, but have a shorter torso. I’d personally sack off trying to look like a pro, as seems to be suggested, shorten the top until you’re comfortable, then gradually move it out again as flexibility improves.

    They’re fairly racey frames, didn’t see many 62cm with shorter head tubes.

    Superficial
    Member

    The knee over pedal thing seems odd to me – your pedalling biomechanics are dictated by your position on the bike and gravity has nothing to do with it! So relying on a plumb line seems daft. Keith Bontrager agrees with me (KOPS article), anyway.

    But you’re right, Tinsy. For the way bike geometry has evolved over the years into frames that are pretty much identical, the KOPS method does seem to work out pretty close to optimal – I’m sure this is by coincidence though.

    Does anyone have any data about cycling efficiency in different positions? Ideally something like VO2Max vs Power output for a range of positions. My anecdotal experience is that your body is quite adaptive – provided that you’re within a few cms of your ‘ideal’ position on the bike, your power output / efficiency is largely unchanged. The human body is very versatile and efficient in a number of positions, there are only very small (efficiency) gains to be made by getting position exactly right. Of course, comfort is a different matter.

    TiRed
    Member

    Toastie, don’t make the mistake of fixing fore and aft position by changing stem. As I said above, find the neutral position first, then fix stem length and finally height. Realman likes a slammed stem. My whiplashed neck say no! Even with a longer headtube.

    One of the side effects of this methodology is one sometimes finds that the frame is too big/small. Just don’t move the saddle to change reach. That’s the stem/bar combo’s job.

    Bar drop is personal, mine’s ok and allows me to ride on the drops for long periods in a more aero tuck. I have full drop bars as I don’t care for compact bends, so I also have 0.75cm of spacers – flame me! But I rode 60k yesterday and half was on the drops. And even pros use spacers.

    Last point, I’m absolutely average size and proportions according to BikeFit, but find that the lemond 0.83 method put my saddle too high. When it was also too far back, I gave myself and illiotibial band injury. This resolved when adjusted to neutral position and a knee bend of 28 degrees. Never looked back since.

    So don’t go too high!

    Toasty
    Member

    Toastie, don’t make the mistake of fixing fore and aft position by changing stem. As I said above, find the neutral position first, then fix stem length and finally height.

    I’ve not, I’ve currently fixed it by moving the saddle as far forward as possible and it’s comfortable on long rides. I just feel too far forward over the bb 🙂 I’m keeping the other stem, I’m sure I’ll swap back when flexibility improves.

    It’s been ridden a good hundred miles in it’s current setup. Prior to this I was on a 61cm Tricross, with the bars dropped, which was about an inch shorter.

    In the original post, look at the angle of his arms, he’s totally stretched out compared to every other example on the page. Most of which is coming from lack of flexibility and core strength I’m sure. I’d still try moving the saddle forward initially, after sorting the height obviously.

    I’ve already explained what you need to do, as has Shibboleth and probably a few others. Whether anyone has bothered to read it is another matter!

    Toasty, try moving your saddle down and back.

    All these methods for fitting a bike are just a very loose guide. You cant honestly set your saddle position using the KOPs and Lemond method and expect it to be bang on. It might be close if you’re lucky, but you need to experiment.

    Look at Cancellaras bike, he has a good position

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Subscriber

    I’d say you need to start stretching.

    TiRed
    Member

    As dt says KOP isn’t the panacea, it’s a start. The key is a neutral position. Ride down the road on the drops and take your hands off the bars; still comfortable and not falling forward? That’s the neutral position weight taken through the core muscles as you pedal…

    Also check your seat tube angles. A one degree change in angle is a CENTIMETRE on the saddle rails (even more for you lanky riders). That can be a huge difference. From 73.5 to 72 degrees will need 1.5cm of adjustment to keep you in the same place over the pedals.

    Shibboleth
    Member

    I have 2 race bikes, different frames but very similar geometry (Cervelo R5 and a Scott CR1). Both have the same bars and 120mm stems, but apart from that, they’ve both been set up purely by feel – adjusting position until the feel right.

    However, the Cervelo always feels lower… Not more stretched, not low in the saddle-to-pedal height, just lower slung and I couldn’t work out why.

    Last night, I got the measuring stick out, and every single contact point measurement was identical, but I happened to lean them up against the wall side by side and I noticed the axles on the Cervelo were 3mm lower to the ground!

    Measured everything again and it turns out that Michelin Pro4s are 3mm deeper than Ultremo ZXs!

    Doesn’t affect anything at all to do with the ride and my actual position, but I could tell something was different.

    This contributes ****-all to this discussion, apart from the fact that minute differences can be felt.

    MrSmith
    Member

    Does anyone have any data about cycling efficiency in different positions? Ideally something like VO2Max vs Power output for a range of positions.

    These are often measured statically. A well known bike fitting studio in London shows how much more power their customers are putting out, thing is their position is now very upright and less than ideal when actually riding a bike.
    If somebody has just had a bikefit you can usually spot if they went there.

    euanr
    Member

    I’ve gone through a similar process to the OP. New to road bikes and had back pain. I found the following site really useful – Steve Hogg

    A revelation to me was the cleat fitting guide. Never occurred to me that I had one foot shorter than the other and that my cleats should be positioned accordingly. Now very comfy and feels much more powerful.

    I ended up changing stem and post and fine tuning bar rotation, position of hoods and saddle height. There are so many variables it helps to have decent guide!

    deviant
    Member

    I had a similar problem when i started riding a road bike, tried various ideas….carbon seatpost, inline seatpost, layback seatpost, stem length etc….comfort was the main issue as i’ve known how to set saddle height for years….it can get complicated which is why people are saying only change one thing at a time, this is sound advice.

    However dont lose sight of what you are trying to achieve on a road bike, a comfortable yet aerodynamic position.

    I had forgotten this and got lost in the maze of adjustments, i had a eureka moment watching the tour recently….it struck me that there are loads of riders who dont seem to bend their lower back much at all….they are almost flat on the bike, as a nice bonus they are also in an aerodynamic position out of the wind too.

    I had a look at my bike and worked out what i would need to do to achieve this, i put the layback seatpost back on and took some spacers out from under the stem….this stretched me out on the bike and flattened my back down nicely, i noticed i was now bending from the hips by tilting my pelvis forward instead of having a fairly upright position and having to force myself down by bending my lower back.

    I went out for a ride, initially it felt weird as all adjustments do but then i settled into it and have never been more comfortable, my average speed went up too as it is a far more efficient position.

    Give it a go, set your bike up so you are stretched out and flat backed instead of rounded at the back….adjust whatever you need in order to achieve this.

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