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Lowering Bars - Effect on position?

rank_amateurrank_amateur Posts: 117
edited September 2013 in Road beginners
I've had my 'new' bike (Pinarello FP Uno) for six months or so now and it's pretty comfy - it's no armchair but I can do 100km audaxes and 75mile solo rides with no real issues. Before the end of the year I aim to do a hundred-miler. I love it.
I had a road bike previous to this and in three years, four saddles, two LBS and untold mucking about, I never managed to make it bearable for more than 2-3 hours. Back, backside, wrists, hands, you name it, it went numb or hurt. I hated it and in the end I stopped using it all together because I could ride more road miles, albeit more slowly, on my hard-tail MTB.
The FP comes with a huge stack of spacers under the stem and, now that I'm hooked, I'm at the stage where I'd like to start gradually lowering my bars to get more aero/hopefully faster but I'm afraid that removing the spacers will screw up the position - I tried taking just one spacer out a few weeks ago but I felt tipped forward with more weight on the hands and more weight on the, ahem, tackle. Maybe it was paranoia but I put it back in again. Is there anything else (saddle, stem length) likely to need tweaking when removing spacers? I realise getting lower will feel different but hopefully not to the point where it's too uncomfortable.

Crikey, sorry about the long post just for a simple question. :oops:

Cheers.

Posts

  • andrewjosephandrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    If it's comy as it is and not comfy when lowered, then keep it as it is.;-)

    Getting lower may help you get more Aero, but not at the expense of comfort.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    Generally just removing spacers increases the drop and reach on a bike. It depends on how it feels to you really.

    Some road bikers are focused on low positions and have a coronary if someone flips their stem to the upright position. Others just want a comfortable bike that fits their needs. I go for the second approach as long as I can get enough power to the wheels.
  • Yeah, there certainly is the "if it ain't broke..." argument. I might try removing a spacer again and giving it another go. If it doesn't work out then back in it goes for good. Thanks for the input.
    Cheers.
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    If you find you have too much weight on your hands, move your saddle back a bit. Not to much to start with. Everything should be done gradually.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    styxd wrote:
    If you find you have too much weight on your hands, move your saddle back a bit. Not to much to start with. Everything should be done gradually.

    Why screw your legs up for the sake of your hands? :wink:

    I think moving the saddle back might be useful to help determine correct stem length but not as an actual fit alteration.

    If the OP hasn't had a bike fit, then maybe that would be a worthwhile investment. If he has, then the spacers should probably be left where they are.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    If you find you have too much weight on your hands, move your saddle back a bit. Not to much to start with. Everything should be done gradually.

    Why screw your legs up for the sake of your hands? :wink:

    I think moving the saddle back might be useful to help determine correct stem length but not as an actual fit alteration.

    If the OP hasn't had a bike fit, then maybe that would be a worthwhile investment. If he has, then the spacers should probably be left where they are.

    Screw up your legs? (EDIT - missed the wink, so Im assuming you're joking!)

    Saddle set back is one of the most important measurements if you want to be comfortable IMO.

    If you just want to go fast, then slam it forwards and get some TT bars. Chances are it won't be as comfortable as if you moved it rearwards and found a good balance point where your arms aren't supporting your body weight.

    Who's to say the OP's saddle position is currently at it's optimum?

    Moving it rearwards won't do any harm. If the OP starts getting pains then he can move it someplace else.

    Judging by the amount of people I see riding in awkward looking positions with a stack of stem spacers, not enough bother to even consider adjusting any of their bikes contact points.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    styxd wrote:
    Who's to say the OP's saddle position is currently at it's optimum?

    Indeed we don't know this. But so far the only complaint of the OP is relating to a feeling of too much weight on his hands. So either we assume that the saddle is correctly positioned or we assume everything is wrong and give up and tell him to get a bike fit!

    If the weight on his hands is the problem, then mucking around with the saddle position is only going to make the overall fit worse. Moving the saddle rearwards if the problem is actually a stem that isn't long enough will do harm.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    Who's to say the OP's saddle position is currently at it's optimum?
    If the weight on his hands is the problem, then mucking around with the saddle position is only going to make the overall fit worse. Moving the saddle rearwards if the problem is actually a stem that isn't long enough will do harm.

    How did you work that out? Moving a saddle is something that can be done for free, I'd hope that the OP has enough common sense that he'd move it back to it's original position if it turned out to be less comfortable.
  • marcuswwmarcusww Posts: 200
    I have removed an inch of spacers over 6 months on my Spec Roubaix - they have a high head tube anyway. I did not move the saddle fore and aft as I have had a bike fit previous - I tilted it forward slightly to decrease presure on the tackle. On the drops I do find it a little more aero. I believe as I got fitter and more body supple I was able to change position with no aches.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    styxd wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    Who's to say the OP's saddle position is currently at it's optimum?
    If the weight on his hands is the problem, then mucking around with the saddle position is only going to make the overall fit worse. Moving the saddle rearwards if the problem is actually a stem that isn't long enough will do harm.

    How did you work that out? Moving a saddle is something that can be done for free, I'd hope that the OP has enough common sense that he'd move it back to it's original position if it turned out to be less comfortable.

    Indeed it can be done for free but the overall effect is different to changing the stem - you don't move the saddle to sort out a problem with reach. You move the saddle to get your backside and legs correctly positioned wrt the bottom bracket. To get the saddle position correctly, strictly speaking I can't see how it is even necessary to be holding the handlebars at all.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    Who's to say the OP's saddle position is currently at it's optimum?
    If the weight on his hands is the problem, then mucking around with the saddle position is only going to make the overall fit worse. Moving the saddle rearwards if the problem is actually a stem that isn't long enough will do harm.

    How did you work that out? Moving a saddle is something that can be done for free, I'd hope that the OP has enough common sense that he'd move it back to it's original position if it turned out to be less comfortable.

    Indeed it can be done for free but the overall effect is different to changing the stem - you don't move the saddle to sort out a problem with reach. You move the saddle to get your backside and legs correctly positioned wrt the bottom bracket. To get the saddle position correctly, strictly speaking I can't see how it is even necessary to be holding the handlebars at all.

    Not strictly true. I'm sure there's loads of articles somewehre on the internet covering this.

    I dont think you can isolate separate parts of your body when fitting a bike, liek you say here:
    To get the saddle position correctly, strictly speaking I can't see how it is even necessary to be holding the handlebars at all
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    styxd wrote:
    I dont think you can isolate separate parts of your body when fitting a bike, liek you say here:

    I would think that is exactly what you do do. My way of thinking is you start with seat height - fairly easy. Saddle set back will be down to frame angle (but lets assume that is a constant) and dependant on limb length. Two people with the same overall leg length would have the same saddle height but one with a shorter femur would have his saddle set further forward. And that's it for seat height and saddle position. The front of the bike doesn't come into it. Only when you have this correct is it worth going further.

    Now you have to worry about the torso and arm length (and here I think you are probably right that you can't isolate separate parts of the body much) - the longer the torso and arm length the longer the TT (again, assume fixed and that the frame geometry is appropriate).

    The only place where I would agree that the legs influence the front end of the bike is how close the knees end up to the bars when stood out of the pedals. Because I have long legs and short body, I have a short frame and short stem. But that does mean that there is a slight risk that my knees reach the bars when standing. A longer stem would fix this but then I'd be too stretched out. This is a bit of an extreme though.

    I might well be completely wrong in the above but you'll have to work hard to convince me that I am!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Rolf F wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    I dont think you can isolate separate parts of your body when fitting a bike, liek you say here:

    I would think that is exactly what you do do. My way of thinking is you start with seat height - fairly easy. Saddle set back will be down to frame angle (but lets assume that is a constant) and dependant on limb length. Two people with the same overall leg length would have the same saddle height but one with a shorter femur would have his saddle set further forward. And that's it for seat height and saddle position. The front of the bike doesn't come into it. Only when you have this correct is it worth going further.

    Now you have to worry about the torso and arm length (and here I think you are probably right that you can't isolate separate parts of the body much) - the longer the torso and arm length the longer the TT (again, assume fixed and that the frame geometry is appropriate).

    The only place where I would agree that the legs influence the front end of the bike is how close the knees end up to the bars when stood out of the pedals. Because I have long legs and short body, I have a short frame and short stem. But that does mean that there is a slight risk that my knees reach the bars when standing. A longer stem would fix this but then I'd be too stretched out. This is a bit of an extreme though.

    I might well be completely wrong in the above but you'll have to work hard to convince me that I am!

    I guess you've never had a proper go at setting up your bike so it fits you just right?

    The way I see it is our body isn't some perfectly aligned, symmetrical piece of machinery (unless you're dead lucky!). An adjusment of one thing can have a knock on effect with everthing else (to a certain degree).

    Also, if you're having trouble with your knees hitting your bars, try a set of short reach compact bars and a longer stem. I think Pro do some with only a 70mm reach. If you disagree with everything else I said, at least consider this!
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Also, I guess all bike fitters have their take on things. There's lots of interesting articles/blogs/forum posts about bike fit (Steve Hogg's is a good place to start)

    And judging by some posts on this forum, not all bike fits result in a good fit!
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    styxd wrote:
    Also, if you're having trouble with your knees hitting your bars, try a set of short reach compact bars and a longer stem. I think Pro do some with only a 70mm reach. If you disagree with everything else I said, at least consider this!

    Not sure why you think I haven't tried to set my bike up properly!! I've had a proper bike fit and it works well for me - I was pretty paranoid over it as I was spending a lot of money and didn't want to make any mistakes so I have thought a lot about it. Look at it like this - imagine a person with a normal torso length and ridiculously long legs - no matter what you'd do in fit terms, the knees would have to clash with the bars. Simple geometry - bikes only work because of the relative proportions of our limbs - if your femur length was longer than your reach you wouldn't be able to use anything but extremely narrow bars! And as for the bars - I already have compact, short reach bars but the stem length is, at 90mm, already as long as it can be - any more and the reach is too long. In any case, the shape of the bars is secondary - the first thing is to get the tops in the right place (ie by the stem length) and only then do you worry about the bars (you are right that I should check and see if shorter reach bars are now available - the ones I got were apparently about as short as you could get at the time but I forget what the reach is - edit: checked; seems to be about 75mm. Some room for tweaking but probably not enough to lose sleep over. The knee/bar issue is theoretical rather than practical - it very rarely happens). Each part of the fit follows on from the other - all we are is a collection of levers so it really should be pretty straightforward!

    Ultimately, I still think that moving a correctly positioned saddle back to accomodate reach has to be a wrong move - there can only be one optimal saddle position because you do only have one leg length! Comes back to the point that yes, if the fit is generally ropey, mucking around with saddle position may be appropriate but, if it is correct, then moving it to improve reach is a geometrical mistake.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Rolf F wrote:

    Ultimately, I still think that moving a correctly positioned saddle back to accomodate reach has to be a wrong move.

    Of course, I never said otherwise. I said move the saddle rearward to take the weight off the OP's arms and hands!
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,164
    Lowering the bars also has the effect of increasing the reach. If you want to experiment with lower bars, consider reducing the reach as they go down to maintain a constant distance from your hips. An adjustable stem is probably the best tool for playing around. There is no analytical way of determining the best bar position; people have found comfortable bar positions from +3" (above saddle) to -6" (below saddle).
    Peter White has some good ideas on bike fit for the rest of us.
  • Crikey, thanks or all of the replies - all good stuff.

    One of the reasons I bought the Pinarello (I was leaning towards a cheaper, better-specced Ribble) is that it was from my (relatively) LBS - Cadence Sport. I preferred the idea of supporting an LBS but also, and more importantly, I was measured for it and, when it arrived, set up on it by Adrian Timmis. He has done a cracking job and that's partly why I'm afraid to screw around too much. The thing is, I told him at the time that my main interest was comfort on audaxes, sportives and longer rides, which it was back then, but now I've gotten into it more, I'm spending a fair amount of time doing additional one or two hour rides knocking myself out - not literally - and enjoying going much harder - hence the need for speed ;-)

    I'll have a proper dig through all of the above and will try a few things, after carefully noting down how to put everything back if it doesn't work out!! :oops:

    Cheers.
  • Here's thought (radical I know) if you had great service from Adrian Timmis in setting your bike up for comfort then why not ask his advice on changing the setting for speed? He has several advantages over anyone else.

    He has proved to you he knows what he is doing so you trust his opinion.
    He can see you on the bike.
    You can have a 2 way conversation so you will understand what effect the tweeks will have and where compromises need to be made.
    If a different stem, saddle, bars, etc. are needed he is in a shop with spares to hand.
    You are supporting your (relatively) LBS.

    Simples!

    NP
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