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  1. #1
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    Long torso/short legs = too bunched up and upright (long)

    I took an 18" Kikapu Deluxe for a spin today and the stock setup put me into a suprisingly unaggressive upright beach cruiser-like position. I believe my back was above 45 degrees, and my prefered saddle height had set the bars about level with the saddle. Granted, I am 5'-10" with a riding inseam of 31.5" and have a relatively long torso but my last MTB, a rigid 18" Cannondale Beast Of The East had a TT of similar length to the Kikapu Deluxe, and I felt relatively stretched out on the old Cannondale with the bars about 1" below the saddle. Not stretched like on a road bike, but it put me in a posture where the torso was low and positioned well for quick weight shifts fore or aft. The Kikapu felt bunched up to where the only weight shift I could imagine making was to lean forward a little, or to throw my butt behind the saddle.

    I'm looking for a trail bike that can handle steep but for the most part non-technical gradients, and the occassional semi-technical moderate to slow speed downhill sections. I've been away from MTBs for about 12 years and haven't kept up with the changes, but looking at the many action shots at Mtbr forums, it seems there is a trend towards more relaxed and upright riding postures. Is this correct? Have riding styles changed? I had planned on ordering a Dawg Primo, but now I'm thinking that its longer HT would work against me. Does this seem correct, or do I need to adapt my riding and climbing style to newer technology? I somewhat understand the ideas behind a rear biased riding position, slack frontend, and a higher handlebar position, but can't seem grasp how this will work out in terms of weight distribution. When you stand on the pedals with your arms slightly bent, shouldn't your back be close to level with the ground?

    Given my short legs/long torso, I'd probably end up with a frame that required a longer than stock stem with a less severe angle, to stretch out and lower the handlebars. How long can I go on the stem without moving too much weight forward for steep descents? I can't remember the length of the stem on that 18" Kikapu, but it was stock, and had about 15 to 20mm of spacers. I'll probably run down to the shop and double-check on those numbers.

    My first impulse was to buy a production bike from an LBS, but I think I need to be open to the option of a frame build-up if needed. We have stores that carry Specialized, Giant, Kona, and Cannondale, and I'd like to keep my budget below $3000. FWIW, I have a good amount of road miles in my legs, and have pretty good flexibility.
    Last edited by zampano; 09-06-2006 at 08:49 PM.

  2. #2
    ride hard take risks
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    Check out a GF with Genissis geometry.
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  3. #3
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    Some people say that they have the same riding measurements on both their road bikes and mountainbikes, I don't.

    I wouldn't also know if these should be the case as mountainbikes have longer toptubes compared to an equivalent sized roadbike, not counting longer wheelbases, slacker angles, higher BBs etc.. My roadbike size 52 has a 53.5 (21.06) tt while my mountainbike size 16 has 22.3 (56.6) tt And to complicate matters even more, my other mountainbike has a 22 tt with the same stem length but feel more stretched out than the one with the 22.3 tt

    A lot of things affect handlebar reach and weight distribution. One I believe is seat tube angle. A more slack angle would put the saddle away from the handlebar as the height increases. Also, saddle height in relation to handlebar will affect reach and will transfer weight fore and aft.
    I am not a technical person maybe a frame builder can explain the inter-relationship of the different angles on a given frame.

    To cut the story short, when I shop for a bicycle, I want a bike that puts my body weight equally distributed in the middle of the 2 wheels (The contact points - sit bones and palms bear more or less the same amount of weight) as I feel balanced sitting on the bike, and believe this is the right position for me. A little body shift will then put my weight in the rear for traction or in the front when climbing or to prevent a front washout going fast on corners. This is for XC riding. DH and DJ may have different preferences.

    The adivse to ride in order to feel how the bike handles cannot be understated as even bikes with the same brand but different models sometimes ride differently.

  4. #4
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    I am 5-11 with a 32 inseam. Same issue.
    I ride a Rocky Element 30. 19.5 inch frame.
    To streach out I bought an Specilazed Avatar saddle (has longer rails), and went from a 105mm stem to a 120mm stem.
    The cost is low (would have bought the saddle any way and the stem was $74.

    My point you should be able to adjust most bikes in this way to fit.

  5. #5
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    In terms of ST angle and/or moving the saddle back to increase reach, what about KOPS? I'm not a slave to that concept but I feel comfortable around 1cm back as that position balances workload well between the quads, hamstrings, glutes etc. Although I did not have my cleats on, the Kikapu seemed to put me about 3cm back, which is huge. That makes sense since it has a STA of 72.5 degrees and was equiped with a setback seatpost. Ideally I would need to move the saddle forward by switching to a non-setback post, which would shorten up my reach. Perhaps I might be able to live with 1.5cm to 2cm, but that remains to be seen.

    One problem with the long torso/short leg body type is you need a frame with a longer TT, but those bigger frames will tend to place the handlbars higher, which shortens reach and makes it a little harder to position the bars below the saddle. Anyway, I just realized that I have the option to go with a flat bar, in addition to a slightly longer and lower angle stem sans spacers. That would lower the bars by close to 2" which is a considerable adjustment.

    I also notice that the Cannondale Rush has a TT that is about .5" longer, while maintaining a 17" ST. My LBS should have those in next month.
    Last edited by zampano; 09-07-2006 at 10:31 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogonfr
    Check out a GF with Genissis geometry.
    I just looked at the specs for the Cake and it looks promising. It is about .5" longer in the TT, and they say it can stand a 3cm longer stem (12cm) without affecting handling. Flat bars with a moderate sweep and barends for climbing should help. I'd like to see the specs for their new Hifi.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zampano
    In terms of ST angle and/or moving the saddle back to increase reach, what about KOPS? I'm not a slave to that concept but I feel comfortable around 1cm back as that position balances workload well between the quads, hamstrings, glutes etc. Although I did not have my cleats on, the Kikapu seemed to put me about 3cm back, which is huge. That makes sense since it has a STA of 72.5 degrees and was equiped with a setback seatpost. Ideally I would need to move the saddle forward by switching to a non-setback post, which would shorten up my reach. Perhaps I might be able to live with 1.5cm to 2cm, but that remains to be seen.

    One problem with the long torso/short leg body type is you need a frame with a longer TT, but those bigger frames will tend to place the handlbars higher, which shortens reach and makes it a little harder to position the bars below the saddle. Anyway, I just realized that I have the option to go with a flat bar, in addition to a slightly longer and lower angle stem sans spacers. That would lower the bars by close to 2" which is a considerable adjustment.

    I also notice that the Cannondale Rush has a TT that is about .5" longer, while maintaining a 17" ST. My LBS should have those in next month.
    Generally those who started out riding road bikes spins rather than mash the pedals. With steeper seat angles and using KOPS as a yardstick, it is easier to spin the pedals. Even with mountainbikes, my first rule is drop the plumb line from the knee to dissect the axle pedal. Afterwards, any adjustments will be made on the stem. Like you, I also believe all the leg muscles should be utilized for utmost efficiency

    There was one poster who stated his is a custom bike but uses a setback seatpost??? My belief is setback-seatposts are more of a remedy to arrive to an agreeable position in a bike. If it is custom why did they have to use a setback seatpost? Maybe the customer just wanted a setback seatpost....whatever floats your boat

    There are two ways to arrive to a specific saddle to handlebar reach. One is long toptube - short stem, the other, short toptube - long stem. I have both a Size 15 and Size 16.5 Merlins. The 15 has a longer stem than the 16.5. The 15 feels a bit twitchy compared to the more stable 16.5. The 15 puts me in a more aero position and the 16.5 (like you stated) has the handlebar level to the saddle so I inverted the stem pic below

    Some bike shops are generous looking after your comfort when buying their bikes. They'll swap stems for free or give credits for trade-ins plus paying cost on the replacements. On a $3000 bike am sure they will accomodate these things.
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  8. #8
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    The 18" Kikapu has a short TT length.
    I'm your exact size and build and ride the 19" Kikapu with a 120mm stem - try riding the next size up as the 18 may be too small for you as it was for me.

    Have the shop play with the setup of the stem lenght and stack height of the spacers until you feel comfortable. Any longer travel bike now will have some standover clearance issues due to the un-sagged suspension and relatively high BB compared to a hardtail.

    I recommend you try to buy a bike based on comparable top-tube lenght to your BOE rather than fretting over seat tube length.

  9. #9
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    Well I'm really warming up to the Fisher Hifi provided it maintains the 73 degree ST and the longish TT of the Cake. Likewise, the Cannondale Rush also has a steeper ST. I may have to pass on the Kona as I have no idea if I will like being way back on a slack ST, and if I don't, I loose aproximately 1cm to 2cm of reach when the saddle gets adjusted forward.

    The good news is I went back and measured the Kikapu, and it had a 90mm stem on 2cm of spacer, with a 1.5" riser bar with the bar just a hair higher than the saddle, so there's lots of adjustability in this size range.


    Quote Originally Posted by Knuckles
    The 18" Kikapu has a short TT length.
    I'm your exact size and build and ride the 19" Kikapu with a 120mm stem - try riding the next size up as the 18 may be too small for you as it was for me.

    Have the shop play with the setup of the stem lenght and stack height of the spacers until you feel comfortable. Any longer travel bike now will have some standover clearance issues due to the un-sagged suspension and relatively high BB compared to a hardtail.

    I recommend you try to buy a bike based on comparable top-tube lenght to your BOE rather than fretting over seat tube length.
    The 19" Kikapu is .5" longer in both the TT and HT. Are you using a setback seatpost, or have you moved your position forward?

  10. #10
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    wow, a 90mm stem is really short on a 23" TT! No wonder you felt cramped!

    I'm running a regular setback post with the seat slid fairly far forward on the rails. Quite confortable both in reach and positioning over the pedals. I have one 5mm spacer under the stem, which is a 5 deg/120mm race face jobbie.

  11. #11
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    Yes, I'm not sure about newer Cannondale geomerty but the old geometry had slack seat angles and put the rider more streached out behind the wheels than the more evolved current designs that have steeper more seated climbing oriented seat angles.

    You actually have quicker more aggressive handling with a more upright seated postion.

    Sitting straight up like motocross riders would be the quickest but having bars high and back enough would make it difficult to lean forward enough for the steeper climbs, so there some compromise towards a moderate lean forward. With a more upright postion it's much quicker to shift weight back and forth, you can brake harder, and you are not bucked around by bumps while seated nearly as much as when streached out more.

    A lower streached out position is only an advantage for full time lower wind resistance, and you can bend your elbos more for those short times where head winds are a problem at the low speeds of mountain biking.


  12. #12
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    Okay thanks, I'm starting to get the picture to a certain extent. The last thing I'm going to do is to try to recreate an early '90s rigid XC race style MTB riding position on a FS singletrack bike. I guess I need to learn some hard lessons on this first bike, and be prepared to move to another frame in 6 to 12 months if need be. I kind of promised myself that I'd take a more modest and less meticulous approach to MTBs but....oh well.

    P.S. The '07 Cannondale specs are online, but I'm having second thoughts to commiting to that platform, as it will limit my options in terms of upgrading either the frame or fork.

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