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  1. #1
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    Am I riding right?

    I'm pretty new to MTB'ing, having started this year. I'm 6'3" 230lbs, and I ride a Cannondale F6 with an XL frame. However, when I ride, I feel like I'm riding a sport bike, and leaning pretty stinking far forward. When going down fairly steep descents, I feel like I'll flip over the bars.

    I don't know if this is normal or not, but I feel like I'm just leaning too far forward.... should I be looking at getting higher bars?

  2. #2
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    No expert here by any means but I feel that fit and rider position is mostly personal. If you don't like the way it feels, then change it. However, at the same time there is some advantage to some positions (you wouldn't want to be sitting straight up cruiser style in tight singletrack and you wouldn't want a high seat and to be leaning way forward if you are riding downhill, etc.....).

    How high is your seat above the handlebars, I think a general rule of thumb is no more than 1", but again it's personal preference. Also, if your seat post is real high, you might want to ensure that it is not past the limit line.

  3. #3
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    For some serious downhill sections, you probably should be lowering your seat (thank you quick release collars!). The idea is to put your weight behind the bike. It's not necessary to have your ass almost touching the rear tire (like in those cool downhiller pictures), but the idea is still the same. I ride a 2008 Cannondale F7 Medium at 5'9 260lbs. I have back issues, so I raised my handlebar about 3" using a steerer tube extender. I am definitely at a disadvantage on the uphills, but I am slowly lowering it as my back gets used to a flexed position.

  4. #4
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    I'm in a similar position to the OP. I'm 6'3" with more length in the legs than body. The way bikes are made (same fork on S or XL, not a huge difference in head tube length), it's tough to have the seat no more than 1" above the bars and still have good extension in your legs when pedalling. You can use a riser bar and a stem that raises the bar more but this still may not be enough in some cases.

    If anyone has any other ideas, I'd be interested in hearing them too.

  5. #5
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    Lowering the seat is good. Shifting your weight to the rear can help too.

    Some of this does relate to you be that much taller than average. I'm 6'1" and ride XL frames because L frames give me the same feeling you mention.

    I'd go talk to the people at the shop where you bought, or your favorite LBS, and see if they'll let you try a couple of different stems. Even if just in the parking lot you may get a feel for how that changes you position. I also wonder about the position of you seat front-to-back, that could play into it.

  6. #6
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    DevilDogge, I'm 6'4" and I know what you mean. Here's what my setup looks like now:



    I measured recently and my bars are 4-4.5" below the saddle. That's good efficiency for pushing through long grinds but it requires me to get way back on steep descents. Worse yet, it puts me in bad position on really fast turns and moguls.

    Being bent over that far beats up my back, because it's very difficult to stand when I should be standing on medium bumps, since I'm in a prone roadie-style position.

    After dogging it on a bmx-style pump-track race recently, I realized I needed a change. I do not reccomend lowering your seat. Use your leg length to your advantage, you likely have more power than most riders. Side point: get some 180mm+ cranks, no need to thank me but I guarantee you'll thank me

    You need to get your handlebars level with your saddle. I bought some riser bars, changed out the stem from 120mm to 90mm, and got a 650b front wheel.

    I'll be buying a 29er in the Fall, which is the best solution for anybody over 6 feet tall.

  7. #7
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    To be clear, I was talking about dropping the seat for downhill sections. Once you get used to it, you can ride downhills much better with a lower seat.

    The optimum position for spinning up a hill--seat high enough so your knee is just a little bent at the bottom of a pedal stroke--is not the same as the optimal position for going downhill--seat low enough that you can get off the back of it easily. Products like the Gravity Droper or Crank Bros Joplin, allow you to adjust seat height on the fly with no need to stop and are probably the ideal solution (edit: but are expensive). Quick release seat collars are good when you have extended downhills, but more problematic for rolling hills like I experience in the Atlanta area.

    I used to ride with my seat at the highest postion to optimize pedalling, but found that was holding me back on the downhills. For the last 6 months I've played with seat height, and I've found a good compromise is about 1/2 inch lower than the optimal pedalling position. This is still very good for pedalling once you get used to it, but allows me to shift in the saddle easier.

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