Look Pro(phetic): Muck Around with Your Seatpost

Look Pro(phetic): Muck Around with Your Seatpost

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I have a friend who is borderline OCD. He’ll sometimes wash his hands dozens of times a day, doesn’t like sticky stuff, cats drive him to antihistamine hell and there is a place for everything, with everything in its place. This can be annoying, not only for those around him, but especially for himself. It’s not a great place to be.

The upside is his bikes are always meticulously maintained, fully Rule compliant, or they are in a state of tear-down having last week’s grease freshened up and each ball bearing individually polished. He’s gotten it under control quite admirably these days, and while a chip in the duco of his beautiful steel frame will still understandably piss him off, there’s not the slightest hint of sending it back to Italy to be re-sprayed by the 78 year old artisan who originally painted it, who inconveniently happened to retire in 1984. But you can rest assured the touch-up job he’ll do himself is of paintshop standard.

But I’ve never seen him muck around with his seatpost height. Not once it’s set, anyway.

This poses the question: did The Prophet have OCD? To this observer it seems so, if numerous viewings of Le Course En Tete and A Sunday in Hell are any reliable indicator. The guy was constantly fiddling with his seatpost height. His mechanic must’ve been ready to throw his hands in the air proclaiming “Merde, Eddy! I’ve measured it three times already! Why do you not trust me?”

It seemed to matter little to Eddy that poor Charly had adhered to the numbers scribbled on the lid of his toolbox, taken the slide rule and spirit level to every possible surface and angle, and used his impeccable line of sight to position the saddle just right, exactly where it was requested to be. “How’s that Eddy?” “Is perfect.” “Then why are you borrowing a spanner from RDV’s team car? Hmmm?”

If he wasn’t adjusting his saddle, he was adjusting his stem. If he wasn’t adjusting his stem, he was squirting water from his bidon onto his brakes. If he wasn’t doing that, he was simply laying down the law. The law of The Prophet.

Obsessive? Yes. Compulsive? For sure. Did it affect his ability to waste all comers? Not likely.

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// General // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Technique

  1. @Calmante
    Giraffes are a different gender from human males? I realize gender and sex are different things and gender pertains to self-identification as man or woman and sex is a chromosomal designation, but I didn’t realize gender extended to which species one identifies with…

    Tell us more about that graph you drew. Its got angles etc, but no forces – not sure what you’re after there, though I agree in principle that it seems different leg proportions will yield different mechanical advantages.

    My reasoning on this has always been that that physiological aspect influences whether one should be come a spinner or a grinder – long femurs give you loads of leverage, so you should slide back, ride at a lower cadence and make use of your power over a longer section of the stroke – think LeMond. The less pronounced your femur length, the farther forward you should sit and spin more.

    People love applying the “high cadence” rule to everyone because it worked for Pharmy and its gained popularity since. It also undeniably has benefits in terms of muscle load etc, but if your not taking advantage of your physiology, there might be a more suitable way to ride.

  2. @The Oracle
    Cheers, The Lynskey is a great machine but it will sadly get sold very soon to somebody who appreciates it, or lots of people if there are no takers as I will break it back to components and move it on.

    It’s not been touched in six months and is way too much bike to have lying around gathering dust. The road bike has hit me hard and I want to get anothe one to keep my No.1 company, I’m looking to build something a little less breakable to use when the weather is smacking me with Rule #9.

  3. @frank
    I was referring to the focus group’s revelation that one of the Keepers suffer from gender identity disorder… Then you mentioned you’d make a hot chick, so…

    I probably didn’t explain that diagram enough. It just shows that for a constant “seat height,” in this case 10 cm, and a constant “leg length,” in this case 14 cm, the angle of the knee at full extension changes depending on how long the femur is compared with the tibia. So, the longer your femur, the higher your saddle needs to be to achieve the same effective leg extension as someone with a shorter femur, even with identical tot leg lengths.

  4. @SimonH

    My Klein doesn’t see a whole lot of use either, nowadays. I think I did maybe 4 trail rides all last summer. I’m not quite ready to part with it yet, however.

  5. DLV update – remeasured and I am a towering 70cm. Quake before me!

  6. @Rob
    I’m flattered. But the guy on the left is too skinny to be me, and I’m a few years younger than the guy on the right. I’m a couple of months from peaking, but even then, there’s no way I’ll be going as fast as these two gentlemen…

  7. @Steampunk
    In the second picture it looks like they are both wearing the new DMT Prisma 2.0 shoes. I’ve been looking to buy either those or the Lake CX331. Neither seem to be available for the unclean masses yet.

  8. @frank
    Interesting about long femurs. I’m long of femur, and used to prefer big setback, but I’ve been moving the saddle forward (1) to get better quad/ham balance and (2) improve bike handling by getting more weight on the front wheel. My knees haven’t complained at all and it seems to be working. Also, I tend more to spinning than mashing, always have.

    As you say: fucked.

  9. Looks like Eddy don’t shave the stems no mo’.

  10. @Calmante
    Methinks he’s earned the right to do whatever he wants. He is a god, after all. A-Merckx.

  11. @Calmante, Oli, Frank

    thanks guys, that does at least alleviate my worry that I am off base.
    I will look at the Lemond measures again
    I just looked at the Eddy fit measurements and I probably like it the best but will see

    It does seem a bit screwed, the whole notion of these ‘measurements’ and then you buy into it, and they say..ok…now go measure it this way…and it isn’t what YOU JUST MEASURED!

    Thats why I was asking about the whole femur/tibia deal, because mine is all jacked up given my current measurements as compared to what some fit calculators will give me to ride.

    There seems to be alot of opinion on this
    in the spirit of a great cowboy who said, ‘we do not at present educate people to think but, rather, to have opinions, and that is something altogether different’

    at least we are all thinking about all the opinions that are out there on this
    thanks guys

  12. @teleguy57
    I have been dealing with something similar – bulging cervical disc and associated pain. Have not had an MRI yet and have been able to deal with it mostly with chiro, which has been pretty effective. Just getting back on the bike now after a month off because of this issue. May have to raise my bars to allow for less extension of my neck while riding.

    Let me know what the MRI result is.

  13. @Marcus

    @Calmante
    @mouse
    Changed everything from pedal width (X-factor? New Speedplays)

    Q Factor. X Factor is a talent show hosted by Simon Cowell.

  14. @Calmante

    @Marcus

    @Calmante@mouseChanged everything from pedal width (X-factor? New Speedplays)

    Q Factor. X Factor is a talent show hosted by Simon Cowell.

    Or, a moderately successful X-Men comic book spinoff from the 90’s.

    Damn. I think my nerd is showing again.

  15. @frank
    I agree. I am a long shanked rider and when I want to put down some power on the flats or rollers, trying to contain an attack by Bretto or Bianchi Denchi, I automatically shift back in the seat and let the long levers engage.I try to visualize Indurain’s riding style.However riding up a steep hill I slip to the front of the seat, climbing in a more MTB like way at a higher cadence which allows more staying power.
    A Giraffe may look ungainly bending down to drink, but have you seen one run – pure grace..

  16. @SimonH I sort of dig MtB #2 and am in the market for a singlespeed utility bike like that. What more can you tell me about it?

  17. @The Oracle

    @Calmante

    @Marcus

    @Calmante@mouseChanged everything from pedal width (X-factor? New Speedplays)

    Q Factor. X Factor is a talent show hosted by Simon Cowell.

    Or, a moderately successful X-Men comic book spinoff from the 90″²s.
    Damn. I think my nerd is showing again.

    Better to show that than an appreciation for shit “reality” tv.

  18. @Rigid

    A Giraffe may look ungainly bending down to drink, but have you seen one run – pure grace..

    Who cares how they run? What they look like on a bike is the real question.

  19. on the question of saddle height, how much does frame geometry come into play? For a while I thought my #1 saddle height was a touch on the low side but then did the competitive fit and found, according to their calculations, that I was on the high side. Having just rebuilt bike #2 I figured I’d just replicate bb to saddle height from #1 (which felt low but was ‘actually’ high) and low and behold, the same height felt too low. This despite the fact that #2 has 170mm cranks compared to 165 on #1. The geometry on #2 is more upright and I have significantly shorter reach, so I wondered whether that might affect saddle height. I realize that a higher saddle will result in longer reach, but I’m basing the feeling of needing the saddle higher on leg extension. Anyway, I’m beginning to think, like @Calmante said in an earlier post, that precision here is a little misplaced and that the best results can be achieved on feel. And isn’t that the essence of the v-meter?

  20. @Marko
    It’s a Singular Gryphon. A British company run and owned by Sam Allison, (an Aussie we imported back here) he designs all the bikes and has them manufactured in the far east, and then has them all finished in the UK, powder coat and decals. He is building up a steady following and many Singulars also sell Worldwide.

    The bike is obviously set up as a SS (although it will take a derailleur) with Thompson Masterpiece seat post and Elite stem. The handlebar is a Salsa woodchipper, bead blasted and anodized in silver (Salsa only do them in black). Wheels are Stan’s Arch 29er set up to run tubeless mated to Chris King Clissic ISO hubs via DT Swiss Revolution spokes. I had the rims re-powder coated to match the frame colour. Brooks Swift Ti saddle and honey bar tape take care of the ass and hands contact points, crank is White Industries ENO 175mm arms x 34 tooth chain ring polished alloy with CB Eggbeater 11 pedals. Avid BB7 takes care of stopping duties with a 180mm disc up front, 160mm at the back.

    It weighs just under 20lbs, which I think is quite light for an XL steel MTB. It’s tons of fun and whilst I thought about getting rid of it recently I’m gonnna keep it and build a rear wheel with a Shimano Alfine hub to make it more useable when I go off roading with my buddies.

  21. @James

    Whoa, dude. I don’t want to be misunderstood… I do believe that the precision that these formulas pretend to have is misguided, but I’m not a proponent of setting up “by feel” alone. Rather, use a formula to get you close, and then see where you are. The precision part should come after you have found your seat height, so that you can properly duplicate it. Like @frank mentioned, even a couple of mm is noticeable at times.

  22. Do any of you notice whether or not your setups work as well when you’re fatigued? I found that I had to tweak my setup to cope with my Novice VM legs throwing their souplesse out the window when I’m hooped, turning me into a hip-rocking square-pedalling mess. Turns out 5mm off the saddle height sorted it out a treat.

  23. @Calmante
    Yes sorry: after I wrote that I realized I had misrepresented what you said. I guess my point was just that having used a precision method to get an initial measurement, I found it interesting that the different geometry on my two bikes seemed to make the same height feel different. Less profound now I think of it but the fundamental question remains – should one aim for the same exact saddle height on every bike one rides, or might the height vary (slightly) according to how aggressive the frame is?

  24. @James

    Whatever works best, is the only answer.

  25. @Dr C

    This was nice post ride yesterday

    holy smoke!! I haven’t seen that in over twenny years. I loved that shit. If you bought it in London where can I get some?

  26. @James
    @Oli
    I know it sounds like a frustratingly obtuse answer, but Oli’s correct; whatever works best is the only answer.

  27. @zalamanda
    actually I got it in Belfast, so I imagine if you email them, they’ll tell you who stocks it – are you in London?

    Had another one last night – did 60K in the dark – trying to ride without eating, which backfired as I have a 250m hill between me and anywhere else, so bonked as I hit the bottom of it and made my slowest most miserable ascent in history – that said, Owd Rodger was in the fridge, and coursed through my veins like a transfusion with Epo added, and I slept like a baby last night!


  28. Actually, the thing that really made my ride so miserable last night, necessitating excessive quantities of V to get home, was a stupid fricking pimple where the sun don’t shine, right next to my walnuts – it’s not like I even shave there! Is this a sign of being Pro, and part of the job, or am I just unlucky?

  29. @Dr C
    I’ve just the remedy for that, my club shorts. The pad is so ineffective that you’ll be completely numb from the waist down to wherever you start shaving. Thankfully they’ve gone with a different brand this year (unfortunately not Castelli though)

  30. @Chris

    @Dr CI’ve just the remedy for that, my club shorts. The pad is so ineffective that you’ll be completely numb from the waist down to wherever you start shaving. Thankfully they’ve gone with a different brand this year (unfortunately not Castelli though)

    Okay, can you wash them before I wear them?

  31. @Dr C

    @Chris

    @Dr CI’ve just the remedy for that, my club shorts. The pad is so ineffective that you’ll be completely numb from the waist down to wherever you start shaving. Thankfully they’ve gone with a different brand this year (unfortunately not Castelli though)

    Okay, can you wash them before I wear them?

    Genius, and nipple lube.

  32. @Dr C
    thanks for the heads up I’ll try Borough market. As for that pimple next to your jewels I’ve got something similar which fills up with ‘juice’ after a ride which is then squeezed out. I’ve tried lancing it but it won’t go away… I don’t geddit

  33. @zalamanda
    You can get it online from a number of places including Marston’s themselves.

  34. @Dr C

    @Chris

    @Dr CI’ve just the remedy for that, my club shorts. The pad is so ineffective that you’ll be completely numb from the waist down to wherever you start shaving. Thankfully they’ve gone with a different brand this year (unfortunately not Castelli though)

    Okay, can you wash them before I wear them?

    Best not, in their post ride state they’ll kill off whatever is causing your pimple.

    On the Owd Rodger front, I can see a title for your first guest article “Beer in the Bidon: Owd Rodger on the Paris Roubaix Parcours”. There’s got to be a few calories in a bottle of the stuff.

  35. @zalamanda

    @Dr C
    thanks for the heads up I’ll try Borough market. As for that pimple next to your jewels I’ve got something similar which fills up with ‘juice’ after a ride which is then squeezed out. I’ve tried lancing it but it won’t go away… I don’t geddit

    Have you tried doing that, after first lying on your arm until your hand goes numb?

  36. @zalamanda

    @Dr Cthanks for the heads up I’ll try Borough market. As for that pimple next to your jewels I’ve got something similar which fills up with ‘juice’ after a ride which is then squeezed out. I’ve tried lancing it but it won’t go away… I don’t geddit

    Winner for the grossest comment I’ve read on the interwebs today. Yeeesh.

  37. @Dr C
    I feel your pain… I’ve had something similar but what seems to have cured it for me is chamois cream. I haven’t bought ‘proper’ chamois cream, just a tub of cocoa butter that solidifies at room temp so you have to heat it up in the microwave. Lather that on and you won’t believe the difference.

  38. @James

    @Dr C
    I feel your pain… I’ve had something similar but what seems to have cured it for me is chamois cream. I haven’t bought ‘proper’ chamois cream, just a tub of cocoa butter that solidifies at room temp so you have to heat it up in the microwave. Lather that on and you won’t believe the difference.

    That sounds just the ticket – and I guess if you don’t need it you can always spread it on a toasted muffin to go with a nice cup of tea – sounds tasty

  39. @Dr C
    Indeed, although I can’t decide if it’s a good thing to smell like chocolate down there!

  40. @James

    @Dr C
    Indeed, although I can’t decide if it’s a good thing to smell like chocolate down there!

    I thought the ladies liked the smell of chocolate.

  41. Depends on what is on the menu I guess

  42. @zalamanda
    Try some mild cortisone cream, as long as you aren’t subject to doping controls.

  43. I wonder what it would be like if this guy met the Prophet in person:

  44. Bike fit is an evolving science but the modern foundation was begun almost 30 years ago with the Look system,probably derived from the Renault team Hinault, Lemond,Fignon ,Madiot etc the first team to really look at ergonomics.I used this system back then about 1988 and used it for the next 5 years or so.I stopped riding for about 13 years or so and then after 3-4 years of riding got a Specialised BG fit, the only thing I needed to change was putting shims into the cleats and shoes to counter leg length discrepancies  So I’m not sure if it’s due to good bike fit in the first place or because I was used to riding in that position that I now naturally morph to that position despite my age and lack of flexibilty, muscle memory perhaps or a vain attempt to copy the pro’s. The thing that strikes me most looking at modern riders is how far forward the seat is set, compared to riders like Hinault Lemond Fignon, Indurain, Rominger they all sat far back and churned a big gear in the mountains, and also the TT position. I think the theory was the higher the saddle and further back the set the better the aero position and power, just like a track rider. Perhaps a Velominati keeper could shed some light on the way top riders find the V locus?

  45. Man I should look at the date’s on these posts I tink I’m still in Feb 2012.

  46. Whatever his OCD, they left the loading dock door open one day in 2002.  Johan’s steed laying against the wall of the loading dock and the Prophet himself, who was the perfect host.

  47. Ok, with the picture this time.

  48. @Elric

    Ok, with the picture this time.

    Not yet… Try again.  Would love to see it.

  49. @Skip damn, I’m logged in and it shows up after the post took and now it’s alone again. Melts try again because its definitely worth it.  If anyone can clue me in (its coming from my computer and I am logged into my ca count).

  50. It was in 2002 and I don’t think he had started riding again.  It was great to share a Coke and chat for a few minutes.  Considering we were some knuckleheads that had a Belgian Army counterpart drive us there and then walked in through the loading dock he was very welcoming.  A true champion and gentleman.

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