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  1. #1
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    Fit Issues

    Ok so this is my first post here. I've been lurking for about a year trying to soak up info and learn.

    A little about me. I'm 6'4", weigh about 265 and am 32y/o. I got into riding about a year ago and havent ridden since I was a kid. I picked up a used 2011 ( I think) Cannondale Trail SL 3 on a XL frame. I've been riding on a multi use trail at a local state park that is closer to a fire road than a trail.

    Anyways, as I get in better shape my rides have gotten longer and that is when I began running into issues. By the end of the ride I am fighting numbness in both wrists and hands and lower back pain. I had some knee pain but was able to sort that with a 20mm set back seat post.

    To address the wrist and back pain I tried a LBS for fitment help and it was suggested that I should raise my handlebars 4 or 5" to put myself into a more upright position and take some of the weight off my wrists and the front tire. He also said that I might be able to go up to the next size frame.

    The Cannondale came with a 1" riser bar, and due to the lack of options in a 4 or 5" riser bar, I went with a Kore bar in a 3" rise and figured that I could use headset spacers to get more if I need it.

    Once I got the riser bar installed, I went for what has become my typical hour+ ride. Shortly into it, my knees started bothering me and my wrists were going numb again. I adusted the position of the handle bars, brake levers and saddle height until it felt a little better, then took a ten minute break and made the return trip without adjustment. The return trip was better, it took longer for my wrists to start going numb and my back to start bothering me, but my knees still gave me issues. The lower back pain might still be a fitness thing, but the knee pain and wrist numbness are not.

    I have some spacers for the headset that should be here sometime next week, but am I going in the right direction? Am I missing something?

    Right now the only mods that I have done to the bike are the Kore riser bar, Ergon grips, Nukeproof setback seat post, and Jaguar brake hoses and shifter cables to allow for the extra rise in the HB. I had about 50 miles on the stock setup, went another 30 miles with the setback seat post and have only the one ride of about 15 miles on the riser bar in the last month or so.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by JasonEric; 07-16-2014 at 06:29 AM. Reason: Typos...

  2. #2
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    Hello Jason,

    I am a fellow clyde, 6'4", 250lbs. I am going through the exact same thing with my new Airborne Seeker mountain bike. I bought the 22" frame, which fits me well. I almost bought a used Trail SL 2 cannondale bike, but he wanted almost what the Seeker cost new. From what I remember of the spec's they are pretty similarly sized frames. I have long legs and arms (38-39" inseam measurement, 36" pants length) and a shorter torso for my size. You maybe proportioned a bit different, but I think we are both in the same boat. I have been taking shorter rides and bring the dog, so I haven't been out long enough to get really sore. I have been riding a road bike for years, and went through a lot of changes to get that to fit me properly. BTW, that is a 27" frame size.

    Anyway, to the good stuff. The way fitting a bike works is first off get the correct frame size for the stand over height. You have done that. next is set the seat height so your leg is out straight with your "HEEL" on the pedal and your leg and pedal lined up with the seat stem. This results in a slight bend in the knee with your normal foot pedal position. Then the next adjustment (and I think you might have gone wrong here) is to move your seat back and forth on the seat rails until your knee is over the pedal axle when the cranks are horizontal (ie. parallel to the ground). This sets your seat position front to back and is key to avoiding knee pain. Adjust the seat height again if needed once the for/aft seat position is set. If you run out of seat for/aft adjustment then you need an off set post (not really sure what they look like, but I can assume). Being off with the seat either way can affect your knees.

    For me, and I have really long legs, I was able to dial this in fine on my bike. I had about 1" more seat height if needed and 1" more seat aft travel. Now is the more complicated part. It is the reach to your handlebar, both fore/aft and up/down. So the variables are bar rise, bar width, stem length, stem angle, and stem spacer position. My bike was too far forward to the bar and a little to low. How did I know this, my arms were out straight with elbows locked and I felt I was bending over to much at the waist. Also, hard to wheelie the bike due to too much weight on front end. You have to measure your stem and or find out its spec's and get a new one to put the bar in the proper position for you. You can also change the handle bar or do a combination of the two. Basically, once the seat is set up properly, move the bar to a good position for you. I estimated a good position for me by sitting on the bike and moving my back and arms to a position that felt comfortable. That moved the bar 2" up and 2" back. Go to this site: Stem Chart

    and put in your current stem spec's and try new stem spec's to move the clamp point closer to your ideal position determined the way I did mine. You are ball parking it. You have to factor in handlebar rise in your head. For me, I moved the stem clamp point back 2' and up 1" and then got a new handlebar with an 1" more rise. This will give me several combo's to try out (new stem, old bar; old stem, new bar, etc...).

    It sounds like you are off with your seat position. Get that set and leave it alone. Like myself, you need a shorter stem length to pull the bars back towards you. I think that is most important to getting more upright. You also need the bars raised some, and you have new bars to do that. The stem spacers affect bar height as well, I assume they are both under the stem and the bar is as high as possible.

    I have the luxury of measuring my road bike for comparison and the bars are 2" closer to my seat than on my new mtb. It confirms what I was feeling. My road bike was dialed in a long time ago and I never have issues, even on 100 mile rides ( I did before dialing it).

    Feel free to ask more questions.

  3. #3
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    Sounds to me lkike you're putting WAY too much weight onto your hands and not on your feet like you should. While you may have tried to compensate for it with bar height and the setback post, if your saddle is angled downward and you're basically sliding off it, you'll continue to put more weight on your hands than you should - check that your saddle is setup properly so it will make you sit on your sit bones properly and not slide you forward to weight your hands. A shorter stem might actually be what you're looking for and not more rise for the bar, so keep that in mind.

    I had a ride the other day where a guy broke his pedal axle and I knew he couldn't continue without a good pedal, so I swapped him mine and rode on the broken axle and sometimes with the pedal on, but no matter, could not put the weight on my feet like I'm accustomed to and had the most serious shoulder/back soreness from taking my weight more onto my hands. I know that most weight should be on your feet, but never realised just how much until this ride, so just saying, make sure that you're supporting most of your weight on your feet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

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    I'm 6'2" and 260 pounds and right now my bars are about 1.5" above my seat height and it is the most comfortable bike I've ever had. Of course, I'm 52 years old and need all the comfort I can get.

    Numb wrists almost sound like your hands are at an angle to the direction of your forearm. Are your hands straight or just slightly bent down? I had trouble with my knees, and hips, until I got a cadence sensor for my Garmin. Now I try to keep my cadence between 80 and 90, with lower gears, and the knee pains went away.

  5. #5
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    Jason,

    To summarize a little, your bike is not fit to you properly. That is the root of your physical issues. It is very common for tall people to not fit the bikes components properly. Fortunately, it can be corrected pretty easily, if you know how. Search on Youtube and you will find the procedure I described. Unfortunately, there isn't an exact formula or technique for handlebar placement, ie. reach and height. There are a lot of threads about stem length, and yours is too long/low for your seat position. Once your seat is in the optimum position per the video's, time to figure out what stem length/angle and spacers in combination with handle bar rise and width works for you on this bike. For reference, I am changing from a 105mm, 6 deg stem with a 640mm wide, 15mm rise bar to a 90mm, 35 deg stem with a 710 mm wide. 40mm rise bar. Using the "stem" calculator this will give me approximately the 2" x 2" change I think I need.

    The 4-5" increase in bar height seem extreme, but you might not have the max spacers under your bar like I have. That will raise it 1-2 inches alone. Most smaller people have a close "fit" on their bike if they get the correct frame size, so they are making minor adjustments. Us tall guys, can need more drastic adjustments, but once in the ball park you should be pretty happy.

    One of the video's had a fully adjustable device that acted as a stem, so you could bring your bike to a shop with the device and once mounted they could move your bar around get a sense of where it should be.

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I will try to keep this a little shorter than my first post.

    I went from a 680mm width, 25mm rise handlebar to a 720mm width 80mm riser bar. My stock handlebar is just slightly wider than my shoulders.
    I just measured my stem at 100mm length and maybe a 10mm rise with another 10mm of spacers installed.
    My inseam is 35" and my arm length is 26". When I ride I wear a small hiking backpack that holds a 2 liter bladder that I usually fill about 3/4 full. My total weight when I ride is probably about 285-295.

    I can adjust the seat to where that portion of the fit feels good, or at least I have in the past. However, I always feel like I am stretched out too much toward the handlebars. I know that if I let go of the grips while I am in a riding position, I will fall forward. I think that is why I am having issues with my wrists.

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    Jason,

    You are correct, I feel the same way, that I am stretched out too far to the handlebars. You need a shorter stem. When you get a shorter one, if the same angle, it lowers the bars as well. Between your riser bar and stem spacers, you might have it high enough already. I bought my new stem (it hasn't arrived yet) from this site: Bicycle Stems, Adjustable Bicycle Stems, Carbon Fiber Bicycle Stems, MTB Stems, Bike Stems

    I bought a cheap one and once I know what works for me, may get a better one.

  8. #8
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    So you went to a wider bar without shortening your stem, sounds like I suggested that you could do with a shorter stem and by the sound of it, quite a bit shorter, like around 20-30mm shorter. I'd buy/order one in the 60-70mm range and maybe with a bit more rise than your current stem has, then you can mess with both stem height and bar height if you need and see how that goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEric View Post
    ........I can adjust the seat to where that portion of the fit feels good, or at least I have in the past. However, I always feel like I am stretched out too much toward the handlebars. I know that if I let go of the grips while I am in a riding position, I will fall forward. I think that is why I am having issues with my wrists.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

  9. #9
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    As others mentioned, try to take weight of your hands. Also check front shock and tire pressures….reduce both if possible, for "softer" ride.
    Also, you mention fire road riding….my hands will go numb as well if that's all I do. Once I'm on a real trail with lot's of movement, no issues.
    Ride more, lot's more….15 miles on new set up in a month and 50 miles on old is nothing…..not trying to sound negative, but you need more time on the bike and your body will adapt.

  10. #10
    JHH
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    THIS ^^^^^
    Numb wrists can come from vibrations. High frequency vibrations are not often considered but I've found in chasing my numb wrists that dampening those vibes man really make a difference.......Seriously, before you start buying stems and bars. Soften your fork up a bit and lower your front tire pressure. A few pounds goes a long way here. And try more ergonomic type grips. The Ergons with the palm pads are awesome as they give you a nice amount of surface area that your hands rest nicely on - Not forcing your palm to "wrap around the grip"

    Just adding some of my experience in minimizing tingly wrists, not diminishing any of the solid sizing advice as well.
    Last edited by JHH; 07-17-2014 at 01:52 PM. Reason: Read SurfDogs post.
    Keep pedaling no matter what

  11. #11
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    A layback seatpost will stretch you out more. Wider bars without a shorter stem will do the same. Put them together and you have double stretch.
    What was the logic for you putting the layback on? As said above, you want the saddle (which should be dead horizontal to start with) high enough so your heel on the pedal gives you a near-straight leg. You then get someone to help and when your pedals are horizontal, your front knee should be dead over the pedal axle (get someone to help and drop a plumb line down from the side of your knee). THAT is the neutral start point you try and THEN try incremental adjustments from. If you don't have that reference point, you're guessing.
    As for your arms and hands - it should be a smooth straight line down your forearms on to the backs of your hands. If not, you are pressing down on your wrists.
    Get the saddle zeroed with the pedals, then work from there.

  12. #12
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    This is how it looks. There are patches of dirt, plenty of smaller roots, and plenty of sand around mile 5. Only about a 50 ft elevation change for the whole trail. I'll take it for being only 20 minutes from the casa.
    Fit Issues-10415624_689320661134250_7819830494332453678_n.jpg

    I keep my tire pressure between 25 and 30 psi, depending on which pressure gauge I use. If I go much less than 25 then I feel the wheels bottom out.

    I keep the fork set a little on the stiffer side, since the trail is relatively smooth. I will try some softer settings when I ride tomorrow.

    I currently use the Ergon GP1 grips and have been all summer. They are nice for larger hands, but I am always adjusting them to try for a more comfortable position.

    My pedals are Wellgo. I'm not sure which model, but they are a U shaped aluminum piece with a plastic center. I ride in a pair of Merrell minimalist trail running shoes. Not the greatest combo from what I have read, but the tread at the ball of the foot fits the pedal pretty well so my foot doesn't slip or slide any. It is comfortable enough, and I am not ready to switch to clipless.

    When on the bike, my elbows are turned out and slightly bent. I don't remember having any discomfort in my shoulders or upper back. Thinking back, that seems odd since i have always been weaker through the shoulders.

    I went ahead and went with a Truvativ stem. It is 50mm with a 7 degree rise, That should put me ballpark with what some of the guides suggest as a starting point. I am not a fan of throwing parts at problems and hoping that I guessed the right part. However, I think that if I can get the bike to what these fitting guides are saying is a good starting point, then it should just be a matter of making small adjustments one at a time until I get the bike as close as I can.

  13. #13
    JHH
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    WRT to tire pressure. I encourage you to find the sweet spot between 25 + 30 psi. A pound can make all the difference... I found mine and it made a huge difference so much so that when I'm riding and my wrists start tingling. I know I need to make a slight adjustment in tire pressure, a quick dab or 2 on the presta valve and it usually does the trick. An ancillary affect that I discovered is that depending on the trail surface, forest trail lined with duff and loam, summer backed hard dirt, loose dusty sandy this formula tingly wrist + higher pressure gives me the right pressure for the trail conditions. Your milage may vary!
    Keep pedaling no matter what

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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    What was the logic for you putting the layback on? As said above, you want the saddle (which should be dead horizontal to start with) high enough so your heel on the pedal gives you a near-straight leg. You then get someone to help and when your pedals are horizontal, your front knee should be dead over the pedal axle (get someone to help and drop a plumb line down from the side of your knee).

    Not to come across as too much of a smart a$$, but did it ever occur that the 'logic' for the setback seat post came from following the exact procedure that you described?

    The added stretch was a side effect of only trying to adjust one part of the fit at a time.

    I didn't want to spend for a few extra MM of crank arm length, so pedal and foot position combined with the frame size become the anchor for the fit of the whole bike. I moved next to the saddle positioning, seems logical, and is the next step in most fit guides.
    I bought the handle bars that I got for a few reasons. The main one being the rise. The extra width is a common feature of most aftermarket bars, some go all the way to 800mm. Turns out that it is an easy fix. Adjust the grips until they are where you want them, then cut the bar.

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    Hi,

    I am a similar size to you but a bit taller. You seem to have three problems. The first is your saddle is in the wrong fore / aft position on the rails. Look up KOP's which is used to set the saddle on road bikes. I used to have my saddle too far back and got ankle and knee pain. Just be aware if you use flats you may need the saddle a fair further forward than you think. This could also reduce your reach problem. Make sure get decent MTB flat pedals as cheap ones have a poor surface and no grip making the bike unstable and straining you body as you work hard to balance.

    Next is the reach and drop. 4" to 5" is a big saddle to bar drop and more than most road bikes would use. You may be able to just flip your stem to the upright position which will reduce the drop and also reduce reach. I did this on my road bike.

    By doing this I stopped getting ankle and knee pain completely. Also make sure your saddle is high enough, too low will stress your knees. Good luck

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    Here is a quick pic of the bike before my ride this afternoon.


    It was a nice day for a ride, 85 with clear skies.

    I softened the rebound and compression of the fork, and about half way into the ride I moved the saddle up another quarter inch. I also set the tire pressure to 28psi Over all the bike rode a bit better and my wrists didn't start to bother me until about mile 10.

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    I have the same bike. I am 6'3" fairly equally proportioned arms, legs and torso. Stem height is to low with seat at correct height on a Jumbo frame. At 6'4" I think your frame size is to small. Based on your pain complaints I think your headtube is too short. I don't think seat adjustment can fix this issue or stem height because you will then be moving your knee at 3:00 position to far back (which could cause knee pain or worse). You might reduce lower back pain with the bar change but your likely going to continue to have pain issues. I wouldn't risk it and would sell and get a bike frame properly sized for you.

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    Jason,

    My new stem and handlebars came in for my Seeker. I bought a 90mm, 35 deg stem and a handlebar with one inch more rise. I mounted the new stem with the original bar, which moved the bar back 1.66in and up 1 inch. It feels better, without a doubt, but it is not enough. It took some strain off my lower back and I feel a little more balanced on the bike now. I have not done a woods ride, just in the park next to my house. After carefully watching some mtb training video's and paying attention to their and my fore/aft balance on my bike, I am confident that I need to "shorten and raise" my cockpit even more (move bars up and back some more). I can tell I am still not at the fore/aft balance point that the riders in the training video's are at. I am still too far forward and hunched over. I am probably going to send the bar back for one with more rise, the new one is 40mm rise, or 1.57 in (the old was 15mm rise). I might try something between 2-3 inches. I found a 60mm bar which sounds about right.

    I am sure you are in the same situation as I am. Don't be afraid to shorten that stem, and get the bar up higher (by a lot). You and I might need a stem raiser (riser?), which makes the fork tube longer and the stem go up at the fork tube angle (brings it up and back). I may try that as well, instead of a high rise bar. Lot's of ways to do this, just need to experiment till the right combination gets us in the balanced position.

  19. #19
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    If the bars come up and back too far, you won't be able to climb hills very well.

    Is there anything you can do for your lower back to improve that? I know that my hamstrings are tight and pull through my lower back if I don't keep stretching them between rides.

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    Not sure if TooTallUK's reply was for me, Bttocs, but my lower back feels fine on all my rides. Assuming it was for me and not the OP, what has to be understood, is the bars on the bike are way to far forward and low for my body proportions on this frame size. It is the right frame size, it fits my legs perfectly. Any smaller and it wouldn't work. I have to get the bars way back and up (a couple of inches) just to get in the ballpark of where they should be. I had a huge amount of room (6inches) between the bars and my thighs when I was standing forward, off the seat, and pedaling. In the new position, I probably have a couple of inches more of rearward adjustment until it will hinder my climbing ability.

    Do not give the bike mfg's too much credit, they don't always pick the proper components for a good bike fit, especially on the very small or very tall frames. Besides, since everyone is different, there is no one size fits all. It has to be done by adjustment for the 3 sigma crowd, not the mfg's fault. I am sure their components fit some tall guys well, but not all.

  21. #21
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    I wound up mounting my new bar, which gives me an inch more rise. The new bar combined with the new stem worked really well. I am much more balanced now on my bike and feel a lot more comfortable. I went for a woods ride last night and was really impressed with the change. I will keep it for a while and ride it.

    I have done a bunch more reading, especially from this site with a writer who is 6'3" and has similar experiences and issues as most tall people.

    BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Tips

    I am in agreement with the author, about using a short stem and wide handlebar. I feel my ultimate set up is to go with a 40mm stem which I found on line, and a 2" rise 780mm wide handlebar. I use the on line stem calculator to see where the mounting point moves too. With my ultimate set up, I will move the bar 3"back (closer to me) and up about 1" from the stock setup that came with the bike. Right now I am 2" back and 2" up from stock. I can tell that front/back is the more significant direction compared to up/down. The short stem and wide bar will also give better control or leverage on the wheel, so it is a win win for balance, comfort, and handling.

    My 2 cents for what its worth.

    JasonEric: Have you mounted your 50mm stem yet?? My opinion is you will love the shorter stem with the 3" rise bars and it will take care of most of your physical issues. Your adjustments seem to be within and inch or so of what I did.

  22. #22
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    I am reviving this thread to give a final report on my bar/stem cockpit fit experiments. I recently finished a ride with my final pass of bar/stem combo and I am really stoked. My 29'r is now a wheelie machine. I love it, as I have hit the balance point square in the bulls eye. I even managed to go over backwards doing a wheelie, luckily I caught myself and the bike before I hit the turf. I guess I need a little more practice.

    To the details, I am 6'4", 250lbs and ride a 22" frame Airbone Seeker 29er hardtail. It came with 105 mm stem and 1/2" rise 660mm bars. I was very stretched out and had a lot of weight forward on the front wheel. Could not pull the front wheel up to save my life. I now have a 40 mm stem and 3" rise 750mm bars. I love it. The bars are much closer to the seat which really impacts the balance point of the bike. They are also 2-3" higher than stock and are about 1" below my seat height. I can lean forward to weight the front wheel and lean back to un-weight it. The sweet spot is really big on the bike now, and uphill, downhill, all around riding feels good. It also makes getting my butt of the seat much easier as I can push down on the bars to help lift my weight off the seat somewhat with my arms. Its like a whole body motion, rather than just using my legs. The wider bar also really feels good in terms of leverage and control of the front wheel. My arms feel the right distance apart and very natural.

    All and all I declare success and look forward to really starting to kick some butt out on the trails.

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