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  1. #1
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Bike Fit Specific to Bikepacking off road.

    I am starting to make small adjustment on my new29er. Something doesn't quite feel right on this one compared to my other two 26" mtn bikes.

    After about 10 miles the palms of my hands are going numb and the muscles in my lower back(each side of my lower spine) are stiff.
    If I lay on my back for 5 minutes they relax and I am good for the remainder of the trip. I don't experience this with my other bikes. All three bikes are FS.

    I currently have the seat adjusted so my knee is only slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke.
    My knees are 3-4 inches forward of the crank.
    Bar height is equal to the saddle height.
    My bike came with a 90mm stem and I felt a little too low and stretched out with a lot of weight on my hands so I'm going to try a 40mm stem.

    If the numbness persists I plan to try new handlebars with some rise and maybe a stem that has a bit more rise. To get a more upright position.
    Unfortunately Rocky Mtn cut my fork and there is no additional space to raise the bars.

    Any suggestions on the proper bike fit specific to bikepacking off road?

    thanks


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  2. #2
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    If you are having to go to a 40mm stem have you considered that your bike might be too large for you? A riser bar MIGHT help if you are lucky since a more upright postition might alleviate the strain on your lower back but if your bike is too large you might never get it right. You may want to try Ergon grips to spread the pressure on your palms.

  3. #3
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikerDude001 View Post
    If you are having to go to a 40mm stem have you considered that your bike might be too large for you? A riser bar MIGHT help if you are lucky since a more upright postition might alleviate the strain on your lower back but if your bike is too large you might never get it right. You may want to try Ergon grips to spread the pressure on your palms.
    Thanks BikerDude,
    I went with the 40mm just because I had one laying around. It's just to see if a shorter reach helps. I am using Ergon grips. I have them on all my bikes and love them.
    The frame could be too large I have a 33" inseam and the standover on this frame is 31.
    I have always preferred a larger frame or actually longer do to the cramped feeling of smaller frames or that sensation of man, I sure could go over these bars easy. haha

    If a shorter reach doesn't help, my next try will be a more upright position with raised bars and possibly stem as you have suggested.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-22-2012 at 06:49 PM.

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  4. #4
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    Measure the saddle/grip/bottom bracket relationship to each other and the ground and compare with this frame.

  5. #5
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneBadWagon View Post
    Measure the saddle/grip/bottom bracket relationship to each other and the ground and compare with this frame.
    Hi OneBadWagon,
    I'm not sure how that will help me.
    Neither of my 26ers are adjusted the same. They serve two different purposes.
    One cruiser one DH. Bike #3 the 29er is for long distance bikepacking from paved bike paths to gravel roads maybe some singletrack but nothing technical.

    That was why my title was specific to bikepacking esp with a heavy load of gear.
    I can't believe there is only one body to bike frame setup for all styles of riding.

    Bike 1- FS Azonic setup for mostly gravel road fishing trips.
    Sitting position is very up right almost like a cruiser bike.




    Bike 2- FS 180mm travel Yeti AS-X setup for downhill ski resort riding.
    Sitting position low and body position is weight to the rear since you don't do much peddling and want that weight to help with braking on a DH run.
    Seat is pushed back knee is probably 2" behind the crank.

    Darn-it no DH picts of this bike. I never take a camera to the ski resorts, sorry.
    Imagine this with the seat all the way down.



    EDIT: I may have answer my own question after writing this post.
    On both of my other bikes I am sitting more like you would on a motorcycle and now I have a bike setup in in more of a road bikers riding position.
    Dropping the seat an inch and raising the bars an inch might be the ticket.
    This old and decrepit body just can't stand being bent over so much.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-22-2012 at 03:16 PM.

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  6. #6
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    Remember the shorter the stem the lower your bars get, and the higher the bars get the shorter the cockpit gets. I'd tell you to try some bars with more rise and the original stem. My bikepacking bike is set up with a higher bar to seat height then my other MTB. The comfort is much appreciated after a few days and hundred miles. Also remember the higher your bars get the more weight you are carrying on your butt so make sure you have a saddle you like . Good luck.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    Hi OneBadWagon,
    I'm not sure how that will help me.
    Neither of my 26ers are adjusted the same.
    I think you found what might be causing the issue. You're looking for a "one of these things is not like the other" number. In pedaling position, too much reach, too much drop, too little reach. If I find myself feeling funky on a bike, I just measure what I know works and try to see what jumps out as different.

  8. #8
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Good job!

    Biker dude, OneBadWagon, big papa nuts,
    thank you guys for taking the time to help me with this issue.
    Rep power was added thanks again.

    I have ordered a new handlebar with some rise and will report back.

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  9. #9
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    If you can get the numbers from the manufacturers, try to compare the reach on your various bikes (or you can do some rough measurements yourself). I find that my back doesn't like riding my road bike after a period without much road riding because its longer (probably slightly oversized) reach forces me into a more horizontal position. I think you are on to the right things by playing with different handlebars and a shorter stem. Good luck!

  10. #10
    Monkey Junkie
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    Based on the photo of your bike and what you've said about it, I think it's too big for you. Your saddle height appears rather low for where it usually would be on a FS trail bike and running a 40mm stem to achieve comfortable reach is a sign of this as well. Not saying you couldn't ride the bike and be comfortable with some adjustments, but going one size smaller will solve your reach issue and allow you to run a proper length stem for your intended use of the bike. Only issue with one size smaller will be that the headtube will be shorter, but a higher rise stem and/or spacer stack underneath will make that a non-issue. Riser bars are always an option too obviously.

  11. #11
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    Do yourself a favor and get fitted to your bike, I've done it on both my road and mountain bikes and it makes a big difference, especially if your doing long distance riding.

  12. #12
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotooutdoors View Post
    If you can get the numbers from the manufacturers, try to compare the reach on your various bikes (or you can do some rough measurements yourself). I find that my back doesn't like riding my road bike after a period without much road riding because its longer (probably slightly oversized) reach forces me into a more horizontal position. I think you are on to the right things by playing with different handlebars and a shorter stem. Good luck!
    Thank you. I have come to that conclusion as well. This new bike has me bent over too much compared to my other two 26". For me the bike came with the bars too low.
    I've ordered a new set of handlebars and I'm about to test a 40mm stem just to see if that gets me in a more upright position. A 40mm maybe too much but it was something I had laying around so it's worth a try.

    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict View Post
    Based on the photo of your bike and what you've said about it, I think it's too big for you. Your saddle height appears rather low for where it usually would be on a FS trail bike and running a 40mm stem to achieve comfortable reach is a sign of this as well. Not saying you couldn't ride the bike and be comfortable with some adjustments, but going one size smaller will solve your reach issue and allow you to run a proper length stem for your intended use of the bike. Only issue with one size smaller will be that the headtube will be shorter, but a higher rise stem and/or spacer stack underneath will make that a non-issue. Riser bars are always an option too obviously.
    Thanks for the suggestions. Is there really only one proper length stem? I haven't tested the 40mm yet it was just something I had laying around. I really like the size of this frame for many reasons and I believe I'll only need to get a little weight off my hands and my problem will be solved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Junktech View Post
    Do yourself a favor and get fitted to your bike, I've done it on both my road and mountain bikes and it makes a big difference, especially if your doing long distance riding.
    Thanks for posting,
    When I go into my local bike shops(street and mtn) and start talking bikepacking I get deer in the headlights looks. They don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

    The street guys start talking about roadbike touring and the mtn bike guys want to sell me a DH bike because the ski resorts are so cool and why in the world would I want to peddle a bike with bags that weighs 60#

    Would you really want to spend $$$ getting advice from these guys?
    I firmly believe there is no one fit for every type of off road riding and since bikepacking is so new ( not road touring, riding on your nuts, that's been around forever) we really don't have any experts out there yet. So my plan is to let pain be my guide and buy parts accordingly. Thank goodness stems, handlebars, and seatposts are cheap.

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  13. #13
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    I guess I'm lucky, I have a Specialized BG Fit specialist who knows how to fit people right, good luck!

  14. #14
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junktech View Post
    I guess I'm lucky, I have a Specialized BG Fit specialist who knows how to fit people right, good luck!
    Cool nice to know some can pay for a proper fit. I don't think I can around here.
    But I do know I'll get the latest and best here from the guys that are doing it.
    How much weight are you hauling and how far have you hauled it?
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-24-2012 at 03:28 PM.

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  15. #15
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    IMO on a 29er bar rotation, grip rotation, saddle tilt and fore/aft saddle position are more crucial than on a 26er. As I look at the many pix of your bikes here and on bikepacking.net I think you should do some adjustments in all four areas and see if small changes fix your problem.

    Even after over 4500 miles of singletrack bikepacking I sometimes overlook these crucial adjustments when dialing in the cockpit.

    Also, I would say that maybe no backpack could be a solution.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dream4est View Post
    IMO on a 29er bar rotation, grip rotation, saddle tilt and fore/aft saddle position are more crucial than on a 26er. As I look at the many pix of your bikes here and on bikepacking.net I think you should do some adjustments in all four areas and see if small changes fix your problem.

    Even after over 4500 miles of singletrack bikepacking I sometimes overlook these crucial adjustments when dialing in the cockpit.

    Also, I would say that maybe no backpack could be a solution.
    Hi dream4est, Thanks for the suggestions. If you've seen some of my TR's on BP.net then you know the types of trails I'm building this bike for. I have always worn a backpack mostly for the protection it provides when going over the bars on the Front Range singletrack and ski resorts. That 1.5L water bag has saved my bacon more times than I can count.
    This bike will see none of that. This bike is for rails to trails (<3% grade) bike path concrete to packed gravel with panniers loaded to ~25# max. A pack should not be required. I will give no pack a try.

    One think I've noticed in my daily riding is you don't really move around much on flat bike paths, heck I use all of 3 gears, and that stagnant riding position might also be a reason for my pain and why everything needs to be adjusted perfect.

    As you well know when one rides singletrack or a DH run you are all over the place. In the seat, standing, behind the seat, weight in the left peddle then the right, rinse and repeat. No muscle group gets a chance to go stiff.

    I hope to get my new riser bars middle of this coming week it should take less than 10 miles to know if it helped.
    thanks again rep point added.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-26-2012 at 07:43 AM.

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  17. #17
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    "After about 10 miles the palms of my hands are going numb and the muscles in my lower back(each side of my lower spine) are stiff."

    The numb hands and tight back are likely both caused by fit issues, but perhaps the solution rests in multiple adjustments. My gut says that your primary issue is that you're having to squeeze the bars and tighten you're lower back while riding (especially uphill) because the saddle isn't keeping you properly perched above the cranks - you're having to use your grip, arms and back muscles to stay far enough forward.

    Tight back: This could also be in part due to lower-than-ideal handlebars, but it could be saddle tilt too. The nose is tipped up pretty far, and in some cases this will lead a rider to tighten back muscles unconsciously when climbing up hills. Specifically, a saddle that does not provide enough fore-aft stability (or "perch") will necessitate that the rider tighten lower back muscles in order to stay above the pedals, i.e. the rider will be forced to use back muscles to keep from sliding off the back when applying force the pedals. The right saddle, when properly adjusted, will keep the rider from sliding back.

    Also worth considering: These big-travel (120mm, yes?) 29ers are designed for rough trails and a dynamic riding style. If you're seated the majority of the time, you could be sitting deeper in the rear suspension than in the front, and this will mean that your seat tube angle (and thus the saddle tilt angle) will be exaggerated towards the rear. In your case, you might be riding a bit "too far off the the back" so to speak. Trying the higher bars will probably help, but I'd recommend raising the saddle a bit at the post, and then dropping the nose / raising the rear of the saddle a hair too - and do so incrementally: no more than 1/4" adjustment at a time between trials. You could also try scooting the saddle forward some too.

    As for the saddle itself: I see you're using a Brooks, which are notorious for being uncomfortable out of the box (and for perhaps 1000miles after). And, I'd venture to guess that you've got it tilted up because that naturally slides your weight towards the wider & more tolerable wider spot of the saddle. FTR, I learned after lots of trial and error that the B17 is too narrow for me. From what I've seen, they work best for slender folks with bars that are lower than their saddles. Because I ride bikes with level bars/saddles, I prefer WTB saddles, and specifically I prefer the wider Lazer model to their narrower Rocket model. I suspect you might find a much more comfortable position - in fact, a much greater variety of workable positions - by using something other than a new or near new Brooks. Try putting the stock saddle back on and see if you can find a comfortable position that leaves the saddle ~flat in profile and fairly far forward, then see if you can ride it without wrecking your back and hands. If you're successful, then try putting the Brooks back on and see if you can recreate that position. If not, dump the B17.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Entrenador; 11-25-2012 at 11:37 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Wow Entrenador that is some great advice.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to offer suggestions and provide the why for that adjustment. That really helps me understand the reason behind the tweak.

    On the saddle I have dropped the nose a little.
    I really like keeping the boys on one side or the other and if I go too level it can be a problem (ouch) a little upward tilt has helped me keep things where they belong. I didn't think about what you pointed out of pushing me back on the back side of the saddle.

    The new bars have not come in yet but I did some testing over the weekend.
    The 40mm stem did not help at all.
    Although it shortened the cockpit it dropped the bars as big papa nuts pointed out.

    I dropped by a local bike store and found a cheap stem in a discount bin for $12 with a bit of rise and I thought heck for 12 bucks it's worth a try. I did a 12 mile ride up Waterton Canyon (gravel road 6.3 miles steady 3% grade) I could tell I was sitting a bit more upright and it felt much better.
    I think I'm on the right track.



    As you can see in the picture below the bars are almost equal to the saddle.
    It is feeling better. Back muscles still got a little stiff but my hands did not go numb.



    I did make a couple other adjustment worth mentioning but not specific to my hand and back issues. They were more about making the overall ride more comfortable.
    Remember this bike is for rails to trails bikepacking with a load. No DH no technicals.
    Paved bike paths to packed gravel trails to gravel roads nothing more...

    The first thing I tried was lowering the front tire pressure from 80 to 45psi this really helped the SB8 in gravel and reduced vibration in the handlebars we all know how squirrelly SB8 are on the front. I might even try lower pressure in the future. I felt no increase in rolling resistance.

    The second adjustment was to drop the front fork pressure from 100 to 75psi.
    This gave me a preload sag with gear and backpack on of 1/2"
    While riding that 12 miles of gravel I could not believe how smooth everything felt.

    I'm looking forward to messing with the rear shock. Since I'm using panniers that support the weight at the axle and does not effect the rear shock I think I can soften that up a bit to and if things get bouncy I do have the propedal on the rear shock.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 11-26-2012 at 03:05 PM.

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  19. #19
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    Hey man,

    Along the lines of what Entrenador said, have you tried leveling that saddle? I used a tilt a lot like yours on road bikes, but had issues with it when I changed to mountain biking.

    Having it too "nose up" seems to cause a lack of support to my tailbone, leading me to use overuse my lower back and obliques to stabilize my pelvis, taking away core strength that should be keeping me upright. That in turn leads to me putting too much weight on my hands.

    For me, it was a chain reaction of suck. Leveling the saddle supported a better pelvic angle. Some manufacturers, like WTB, are even making saddles with upturned 'whale tails' to help with this.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    On the saddle I have dropped the nose a little.

    As you can see in the picture below the bars are almost equal to the saddle.
    It is feeling better. Back muscles still got a little stiff but my hands did not go numb.



    ...I'm looking forward to messing with the rear shock.
    Looking at your suspension sag o-rings in the pic, it appears that you might indeed be riding deeper into your rear suspension vs the front. Basically, your rear travel has been fairly active while the front hasn't budged much. On my F29 fork (set to 90mm), I ran ~80psi preload, and I weigh ~190lbs with gear on; I have no packs or load upfront other than myself weighting the bars. As well, I ride on the pedals a lot (vs on the saddle), both while descending terrain and while climbing hills (SS bike). 75psi doesn't sound like a lot of pressure, but depending on your weight, 75psi could be plenty. According to your fork o-ring, it's not too little psi.

    Long story short, the front preload looks adequate for your purposes. Might try bumping the pressure up by 20psi for shitzngiggles, and see how it rides then.

    Good luck.
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  21. #21
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entrenador View Post
    Looking at your suspension sag o-rings in the pic, it appears that you might indeed be riding deeper into your rear suspension vs the front. Basically, your rear travel has been fairly active while the front hasn't budged much. On my F29 fork (set to 90mm), I ran ~80psi preload, and I weigh ~190lbs with gear on; I have no packs or load upfront other than myself weighting the bars. As well, I ride on the pedals a lot (vs on the saddle), both while descending terrain and while climbing hills (SS bike). 75psi doesn't sound like a lot of pressure, but depending on your weight, 75psi could be plenty. According to your fork o-ring, it's not too little psi.

    Long story short, the front preload looks adequate for your purposes. Might try bumping the pressure up by 20psi for shitzngiggles, and see how it rides then.

    Good luck.
    Wow good eye, thank you. I will try an additional 20# in the RP3.

    Part of that rear shock travel is I run without propedal a lot.
    For some reason without propedal the shock preloads and rides lower than with it on.
    I will use propetal for a long climb but prefer to not use it to increase ride comfort.
    I can usually control any bobbing by not spinning so fast.

    thanks again for your continued help I am learning with every post and that's a great feeling.

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entrenador View Post
    ... My gut says that your primary issue is that you're having to squeeze the bars and tighten you're lower back while riding (especially uphill) because the saddle isn't keeping you properly perched above the cranks - you're having to use your grip, arms and back muscles to stay far enough forward.
    .
    Great post, I have lower back pain at times, I bet this is it. My bike came with a 15mm setback post, I just ordered a zero setback a few days ago.

    SingleTrackLovr, it looks like you have room to move your seat a bit forward, maybe give that a shot? That with your new stem might help your back.

    I, too needed a wider saddle, had a handful of different ones, but in the WTB group, I much prefer my new Pure vs my old Silverado.

  23. #23
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    So continuing my tweak and experiments on seat position I adjusted the seat to level and noticed right away it increased the pressure in my hands and it felt like I was being pushed forward.
    I did feel more over all body support . I believe it reduced the pressure on my lower back.
    So I think I need to raise the nose just a little to give me a more neutral feel.

    Thanks for all the tips guys they have really helped.

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  24. #24
    Uncle
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    So continuing my tweak and experiments on seat position I adjusted the seat to level and noticed right away it increased the pressure in my hands and it felt like I was being pushed forward.
    I had the same issue with the a Brooks saddle (not with any other brands though), and the one I still use on my commuter does have a very slight nose-up tilt to it now because of it. Keep in mind that if you end up bumping uo the rear suspension preload/psi, it will slightly effect your cockpit, saddle tilt included. If you're planning trying different pressures, be ready to make further incremental adjustments to your cockpit. Is it convenient / worth posting a pic of you in riding position on the bike from the side?
    Eat, ride, eat, rest, repeat.

  25. #25
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    I'm not an expert but when faced with the problem your having i started with what i understand are the basics, first i adjusted my seat so my knee was over the center of the pedal in the 3 oclock position then seat height till it felt uncomfortably high and back down a touch then i took some measurements from all my bikes. First crank to top of seat then nose of seat to the crack in the stem above the bar then crank to crack in stem above the bar and discovered that my other bikes were within about 1/4" in those measurements so i set up thenew 1 to mimic those and was happy. Am still tweaking here and there but this seems to work for me!
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