Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups

FAT BIKES

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  1. #1
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    Looking for Stem Advice - I Have Pics!

    I just picked up my first FS bike and I'd like to relieve the pressure I have on my wrists when I ride. I read this might be because my stem is too long. With the FS now I plan to do more trail/AM stuff.

    Today I read a Livestrong article that said the distance from the tip of the saddle to the ctr of the handlebars should be the same as the distance from the tip of your middle finger to the corner of your elbow.

    For me finger to elbow measurement is 20". However, the saddle to handlebar measurement is about 23.75". So, I guess my stem is 3.75" too long.

    Does anyone have any stem recommendations? Are there some that rise more than others, which might also help to relieve discomfort?





    Looking for Stem Advice - I Have Pics!-rz-leaves-pic.jpg

    Looking for Stem Advice - I Have Pics!-img_2655.jpg

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Sounds like you have a previous bike you got along well with?

    Just match your new bike to that.

    Park Tool has a fit sheet on their web site that makes the clerical stuff a little easier.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Thanks Andrew. I appreciate the tip about the Park Tool fit sheet.

    Actually, though, my last ride was worse. It was a '91 Bridgestone MB-2 that I eventually got like 4" riser bars for. It helped somewhat but didn't solve the problem completely. It was my only bike (until this week) for 24yrs. It wasn't until my forties that I realized I needed to sit more upright to help with neck/back and wrist pain.

    I'm 6'3" and the MB-2 was on the small side being 19.5". It had a long stem, though. Below is a recent picture of it.

    Looking for Stem Advice - I Have Pics!-10-24-2015-6-29-08-pm.jpg

  4. #4
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    what size Cannondale did you get?

  5. #5
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    XL. It's a 2009 Rize 4.

  6. #6
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    you could try a shorter stem. A common change that a lot of riders like is the short stem wider bar combo. On ebay you can find a 50mm stem for around $20. One thing to remember is that a shorter stem will quicken your handling so you may want to look at the wider bar at the same time. If you want a riser than it sounds like a match made in heaven. One thing I found when I made that switch is that you need to be better about moving your weight forward on climbs because swapping to a short stem and adding a bar with more rise will shift your weight back. on my bike I went from a 90mm stem with 720mm bars to a 50mm stem with 762mm bars. I got everything used on ebay and I think it was maybe $50-$60. I liked how my setup turned out, but if you try it and don't like it than I don't think it would be hard to sell it again and get most of your money back. good luck

  7. #7
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    Great ideas Greenday, Thanks. I never thought about how bar width could factor in as well.

    I appreciate the tip on eBay and your experience with lower costs this way. I'll be looking into this also.

  8. #8
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    One of the things I think is really interesting about bike fit, especially on a mountain bike, is how tied into technique it is. So here are some things to try.

    First, check your saddle height. On my bikes, I like to be able to sit on my saddle and press into my pedal, when it's at its furthest position, with my heel and a fully straight leg. I pedal with my forefoot, so that puts about the right bend in my knee. That's just a starting point - you're likely to end up a little different.

    Does that cause you to raise or lower your saddle?

    Next, I want my handle bars to be in the right place for bike handling. So I'll ride around in front of my house and check out how that feels. If I hover my butt off the saddle and put my pedals at 9 and 3, how do my handle bars feel? Am I getting pulled forward? Pushed back? Really relaxed? You can probably guess which one I want. For me, lowering my bars and extending my stem feel pretty similar and vice versa.

    Since it's come up, if you want to try a different handle bar, do that first. You might measure yours. I'm on a 710 mm bar these days and really like it. If you want to go higher, it looks like you already have a riser at the top of your spacer stack, so really commit and get something with more rise. You can always lower your stem if it's too much. In fact, I'm always suspicious of cockpit setups that land something at an extreme. I think it's better if you get enough of a riser that you do want to lower it a little.

    If you're happy with your current bars, get cheap stems. For me, this has always been guess, check and iterate. Just make sure you don't have a Si stem. I'm guessing not, but I'm not a Cannondale catalog.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
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    A couple of years ago I moved my cleats rearward after years of forefoot over the spindle. I found that there was no impact on pedaling but I feel more balance and control. I didn't move my saddle so this probably impact the stem. I also discovered that some road fit specialists are doing this. With stems I experimented with different lengths before arriving at my current 50mm. I have a 35mm stem that I love the feel of but I feel too cramped with it. So for me shorter was better until I was too cramped. With my bar I started at 800mm and trimmed it a couple of times until it no longer felt too wide. The best way is to borrow stems and bars from your friends so you can experiment.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Funny enough, I moved my pedals back too about eight months ago. They're still under my forefoot, just further back. All the way back felt really weird.

    I use different pedal systems on- and off-road. I almost never ride the road lately and have been too lazy to change that setup. So when I do, I feel like I'm pedaling with my toes lately. I used to have a more toes-down style on both bikes, but it started hurting my Achilles after I went to handling clinic and learned to corner from a more neutral foot position.

    Interesting stuff.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    Thanks Andrew. I'll try some of your fitting suggestions. About the handlebars, do you think I should consider bars with more rise than the ones I have? Below is a picture of them from the front. It makes sense that I could always lower the stem.

    Travis, thanks for introducing cleat positioning. This is something I plan to look at as I get dialed in. Regarding trying out different bars/stems, there's an MTB riding club nearby, I'm wondering if I posted a message on their FB page looking to try a couple of stems/bars if someone would respond. This might actually work

    My current riser bars

    Looking for Stem Advice - I Have Pics!-11-7-2015-3-08-45-pm.jpg
    Last edited by jscott36; 11-09-2015 at 04:30 AM.

  12. #12
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    From your 1st photo I would say the bars are high enough or could be lowered a bit. You have enough spacers under your stem to play around with height.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  13. #13
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    Why not try some Ergon GP grips? These keep your wrists in the proper ergonomic position. Most LBSs have them for 30 to 40 $.

    http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/home

    Sent from my MotoG3 using Tapatalk

  14. #14
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    The grips look nice but I think its more of a positioning issue. I took my new bike for a ride today and my back started to ache a bit, in addition to wrist pressure.

    I'm wondering if getting a shorter stem will make me sit more upright. I'll find out soon enough when I get one on there. Just need to learn the types and pick the right one.

  15. #15
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    Just guessing from the photo, your bars seem on the narrower side. I am 6ft 1" with about the same in wingspan and my bars are 720mm, and I will try wider on my next bars. I would assume with you being even taller that you would fairly wide bars. My wife's bars are 680mm and when I get on her bike that is what I really notice, the steering feels twitchier. Wider bars feel so much more stable to me.
    A big part of stem length for me revolves around where my weight is, longer stem weight further forward, and at some point it is too much, making it easier to flip over the bars. Weight too far back and the front wheel comes off the ground too easily on climbs, washes out on corners. Shifting your seat forward and back affects all of this too.
    "It never gets easier, you just go faster" Greg LeMond

  16. #16
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    Thanks. I just went down and measured the bars and they came out as 685.8mm. I did notice in the showroom of the LBS that the bikes they had there had these really wide bars. I had never seen this before.

    As Greenday mentioned earlier I'll probably go with a shorter stem and wider bar setup and then either trim the bars if necessary or resell the items on eBay if I need to. Thanks for mentioning the weight/balance issue - never occurred to me. I'll try to pay attention to this and make it a point to try different terrain to get a feel for the setup.

    It's interesting you mentioned wingspan. Though I'm 6'3", my wingspan is for someone that is 6'5". Great for swimming (long body) but not sure how this translates into bike fit.

  17. #17
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    If you get wider bars, it will negate the shorter stem, keeping you weight distribution between butt and wrists about the same. You don't need wider bars to help your wrists, but it might have something to do with the sweep, rise, or angle of your bars. I would recommend adjusting your seat and bars a bit before spending any money. Your seat looks fairly level, but you might want to raise the nose a bit if you don't feel any pressure on your sensitive bits. The bars are a personal thing, and you might want to experiment with the rotation. If the bars are angled too far backward or forward, it can cause wrist pain. If those adjustments don't fix it, then try a shorter stem. Try to keep the bar about the same height as the seat. Once you've figured out the proper stem length and height, then look at different handlebars to perfect fit and performance.

  18. #18
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    In the end, you will have to try most of theses changes and figure out for yourself what feels/works best for you.
    For me, I would certainly go with a much wider bar, (mine as well buy a 800mm and cut it to what feels best) shorter, perhaps 50mm stem, and remove the spacers to lower the bar a couple of inches lower than the seat.
    I tried an offset seat post, it allowed me to move my seat half an inch further back. I was shocked at how much difference that made. That little change really shifted my weight to the rear tire. It sucked. Needless to say I switched back to my old post.

  19. #19
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    Like I said earlier, it's guess and check for me. If you want to do new handlebars, do that first. Changes in your handlebar sweep and rise mean that you have to mess with stems all over again if you dial that first, which is kind of wasteful.

    Your bike, at least, looks set up for a human. So that's good. I don't know how you're proportioned or how you sit the bike, so I don't pretend to know if you should use different handlebar height.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    This should help: https://youtu.be/oxNznrlRXGU

    Sent from my MotoG3 using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    1. HANDLEBAR width: You really should take the average of the difference between your hands in a series of push-ups. That will dictate your natural handlebar width.

    2. STEM LENGTH: Effective lever length (ELL); most people have a an ELL of 430. less then 430 = faster steering, greater then 430 = slower steering. Lets assume you aim for 430. In your case you have calculated handlebar width from (1.) above, call this 'x' and stem length 'y'. ELL = x/2 +y. So your y = ELL-x/2.

    example (me): my handlebar is 760mm with stem 50mm; 430 = 760/2+50.

    3. Consider rise and sweep in a bar. Rise helps for sore wrists. I chose 20mm rise. (personal)

  22. #22
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    Good points from Travis and Andrew. I'm also a fan of moving the cleats a bit back and it helps with the "falling forward" feeling that puts pressure on your hands.

    Here's another suggestion: ride on a level surface and let go of the bar, but keep the riding position and your arms forward with your hand right above the grips. Do you get a feeling that you are slipping forward on the saddle and about to fall forward? Then move your saddle back. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, a cockpit that feels too long can sometimes be fixed by moving the saddle back. Even without a bike when you reach forward, your butt moves back for balance.

  23. #23
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    I felt myself feeling odd and climbing got hard to keep stable and felt leaned forward. I checked my seat and found it hard worked its way back on me. Simple moving the seat back to where it was made a huge difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    Good points from Travis and Andrew. I'm also a fan of moving the cleats a bit back and it helps with the "falling forward" feeling that puts pressure on your hands.

    Here's another suggestion: ride on a level surface and let go of the bar, but keep the riding position and your arms forward with your hand right above the grips. Do you get a feeling that you are slipping forward on the saddle and about to fall forward? Then move your saddle back. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, a cockpit that feels too long can sometimes be fixed by moving the saddle back. Even without a bike when you reach forward, your butt moves back for balance.
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  24. #24
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    Short stem and wide riser bars. Both those will lessen your forward reach and make your position more upright. I go for more rise, and I feel like I can weight the front end more through the cranks and just use my bars for turning, pumping and lifting up for jumps or to get over stuff.

    Sometimes incorrect suspension setup can bother wrists but thats usually felt more in the hands.

    Also if you could jump on some different people's bikes to try, theres lots of different angles and shapes of bars out there and people also prefer them tilted at different angles.

  25. #25
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    Thanks guys. I'll experiment with the cleats and saddle (I've never tried moving them before). It looks like I'll try a shorter stem and wider bars and go from there, making changes to the bars (trimming them) or swapping the old ones back if I feel more comfortable with them. Should be a fun experiment.

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