Kelly-TDF 1982 Does this bike fit?

Time Out

Time Out

by / / 39 posts

My wife and I live in subtropical Maui. We moved here partly to break the horrible cycle of fall fitness followed by winters of undersubscribed gym memberships, eleven minute turbotrainer sessions, weight gain followed by depression and a complete loss of cycling fitness every f’ing spring. Bib knickers worn until May to ride exhausting little loops that would be non-events the summer before. Every year became a rebuild from zero. By August things are humming, long crazy rides completed. By October it’s back to commuting with lights. Too many of these cycles can make a cyclist bitter.

Careers are over-rated. What about my cycling career? Sure when you are in your early twenties an hour on the rollers is easy, squats at the gym are fun, beer drinking somehow never adds a gram of weight. Fifteen minutes on the rollers seems like an hour as you get older, in case anyone is wondering.

Good things happen when you can ride all year long. Obviously you do ride all year long. Tan lines become permanent tattoos despite the endless slathering of sunscreen.  You get thinner, stay fitter and don’t have to ever own bib knickers. It is fantastic. It is such a novelty to ride your brains out in December and January that come April you can’t figure out what to do.

When you can ride year round and you do ride year round, that does present a downside. It’s easier to get trapped by the repetition and familiarity of your cycling life. Things are what they are. For fifteen years I’ve happily ridden a frame that was too large for me and had a 130mm stem, because big guys need long stems. Why did I not address that?

Perspective on your own riding can only be gained by getting some distance away from it. Either ride a different bike or stay off the bike. The first time I borrowed Frank’s Bianchi, after lowering the seat, it was a real revelation. Frank’s drop between seat and bars is huge, it changes the ride significantly. It made me question my own position, which is good. Never pass up a chance to ride another bike. It is easy to ride next to someone and see they are too stretched out, or on a bike three centimeters too small for them. But it is nearly impossible to get that same information about yourself. Is that why we steal a glance as we ride by plate glass store fronts? This is where I would praise a good bike fitter, if I had ever used one.

I forced myself off the bike for a good long time this winter to let my knee repair itself. It sucked. It sucked more than a wet cold house-bound winter because it was beautiful and everyone was riding except me. Driving a car on the our Sunday group ride route was torture. This also coincided with an N+1 purchase, a smaller frame and a shorter stem. When I did get back on the old number one it was so obvious, FFS, this bike is too big and this stem is too long! It was only after I was riding again after this decent hiatus did I notice things that had always been. My point is, you get used to anything.

So being forced off the bike in the winter serves a useful purpose I never understood. The first ride after a long interval is very instructive. Being reminded of how your shoes-saddle-hands-back bothered you is good. Try something else, out with the bad, in with the good. It’s a chance to buy new kit and work toward the unattainable perfect V-locus position.

 

// La Vie Velominatus

  1. Gianni,

    “Is that why we steal a glance as we ride by plate glass store fronts? ”  Thank you for letting every one know why I do this… There should be a rule. “When riding by a large window…”.

    Its about listening carefully to the boss (your body) because we tend to let the back seat driver (our mind) overide those subtle signals. For me it is about the feet and cleat adjustments when I get on the bike after a lay off I can feel tiny twinges in the knees and if I listen before they settle back into the old groov I catch the 1/6th of an inch (sorry 1mm) adjustment that means no sore knees.

    Mrs. Wife just landed a job in Miami frinckin Beach so I now become a member of the 365 club – whoooeee! Can your next article address the issues of this foreign life style in greater depth??

    @Roger as usual +1

  2. @Rob

    Florida cycling: KOMs on overpasses.

  3. @Rob

    I have two words for you. Congratulations and speedplay. Float baby float.

    That is big news. Miami. There is not lack of good cyclists down there. Let the tan lines begin.

  4. I had been fighting with my fit on the bike recently.  A midweek roller session (to reinvigorate the souplesse) and a 2mm change to the seat height have got things dialed in much nicer.

  5. @RedRanger

    This got me thinking about the saddle on my road bike yesterday. I have my MTB set up pretty perfectly I think, at least no discomfort in the knees or in the sit bones. When I got home yesterday I realized that the saddle on my roadie was a good inch higher and tilted downward. Made the adjustments, put #1 on the trainer and immediately noticed a difference, especially in the sit bone region. A nice level saddle works well for me.

    You do want to be a small amount lower on an MTB than a road bike so be careful about going too low – longer cranks on an MTB, and a more upright riding position will mean lower saddle height (centre of BB to top). Having said that, if you ride both regularly you do want to have the positions (especially the saddle to centre of BB relationship) as close as you can manage.

  6. @minion i took that into account.

  7. Crap, Gianni, if we all escaped from New England like you who would be left to ride cracked roads in frigid weather.I mean it is 3 degrees and rainy here this morning.  I will now go comfort myself in a vat of maple syrup.

  8. @Gianni

    I’m evolving past sit bones. I’m now using an selle smp where one actually rotates the pelvis forward and the weight is on the pelvis forward of the sit bones. It’s weid but it works. After a good 160km ride I’ll post up a review of this new fangled thing.

    That’s how one should preferably sit on any saddle. Rotate the pelvis forward, and spread the load on the inferior pubic rami. This gives a more stable position for the pelvis and a straighter, more extended back which is more comfortable for the whole back/shoulders/neck system.

    Of course, this often means going to a saddle with a hole or channel in the middle, but it can be done on classic saddles too if the width and, more importantly, shape is right.

  9. @Gianni thanks and if I was not already using 3 pedal cleat systems I would have switched thanks to your touting Speedplay. Hey for the first ime in my life I will be living within riding distance of a decent velodrome -whoooeee!

  10. Nice one, Gianni!

    I’m currently in the middle of forcing myself off the pitch for a few weeks. Have an injury or two that is just not healing by playing futbol twice a week. No fun, but definitely best in the long run.

    I discussed this with Nate. Does anyone else like to have their bikes set up a bit differently? I have my fast training/race bike set up to be low and fast. I have my Sunday cruiser set up a bit higher, less STBD (saddle-to-bar-drop…might be nice to adopt that acronym ’round here!) and a bit more relaxed. Nothing radical, but some slight differences since I generally use one to ride fast & hard, the other to ride a bit more leisurely.

  11. @graham d.m.

    Yeah, someone had to bail. My wife is back in New England right now and she reports cold nastiness.

  12. @Fiery

    That’s how one should preferably sit on any saddle. Rotate the pelvis forward, and spread the load on the inferior pubic rami. This gives a more stable position for the pelvis and a straighter, more extended back which is more comfortable for the whole back/shoulders/neck system.

    Now I understand that but I couldn’t rotate forward on my Specialized saddle, too much me and not enough channel. It is weird that Specialized sizes saddles by how wide your sit bones are when one really shouldn’t be sitting like that. My lower back is much happier now, better now than never but shiet, I wish I knew that 20 years ago. Or maybe that’s just getting old. I’m liking the Selle SMP a lot. 

  13. @Rob

    @Gianni thanks and if I was not already using 3 pedal cleat systems I would have switched thanks to your touting Speedplay. Hey for the first ime in my life I will be living within riding distance of a decent velodrome -whoooeee!

    A velodrome! Fantastic news. I’m jealous. You were made for the velodrome. Pursuit, match sprints, those guys are in trouble down in Miami.  I don’t know what a “stayer” is, but you must be one.

  14. @gianni – spot on mate. After 3 months of finding reasons not to, I got out into the Santa Monicas today and it was just magnificent. So excited to have roads like that on the doorstep and be able to ride them all year around.

    Oh Las Flores canyon on 39/25? Not so much…..deep in the grindhouse….

  15. Here’s where I confess my shame. The extent of my cycling lately has been watching others ride. I don’t get out hardly at all. I’ve allowed the starting of not one but two businesses take over my existence. I’ve gotten fat and angry at myself. I need to ride again but have failed to find the time.

    Thanks for good writing. Let’s see how I do now.

  16. @Erik

    Say five Hail Merckxes and call me in the morning. Start small, any ride is better than no ride. Yeah, work is a bitch, eventually you will be able to find that balance and your businesses will be doing so well you can afford ENVE wheels and tubs and ride your brains out. 

    @Joe

    @gianni – spot on mate. After 3 months of finding reasons not to, I got out into the Santa Monicas today and it was just magnificent. So excited to have roads like that on the doorstep and be able to ride them all year around.

    Oh Las Flores canyon on 39/25? Not so much…..deep in the grindhouse….

    Good on ya. It might get a little wet in the winter which you are used to, but I’d say you are a year round SoCal rider now. And there are some nice velodromes hiding in LA too? No doubt still a 2 hour drive from Echo Park but still somehow in LA. What a place.

  17. @Gianni

    @Erik

    Say five Hail Merckxes and call me in the morning. Start small, any ride is better than no ride. Yeah, work is a bitch, eventually you will be able to find that balance and your businesses will be doing so well you can afford ENVE wheels and tubs and ride your brains out.

    @Joe

    @gianni – spot on mate. After 3 months of finding reasons not to, I got out into the Santa Monicas today and it was just magnificent. So excited to have roads like that on the doorstep and be able to ride them all year around.

    Oh Las Flores canyon on 39/25? Not so much…..deep in the grindhouse….

    Good on ya. It might get a little wet in the winter which you are used to, but I’d say you are a year round SoCal rider now. And there are some nice velodromes hiding in LA too? No doubt still a 2 hour drive from Echo Park but still somehow in LA. What a place.

    The plan is to ride tomorrow morning. Of course, that is always the plan, but this plan is on the calendar. Then to work again.

    Thanks. I needed the Merckxes. I sincerely lack V right now. At least on the bike.

  18. @Gianni

    I don’t know what a “stayer” is, but you must be one.

    Neither do I know and I doubt I am? But the chance to mix it up regularly on the old 70’s Raliegh track bike (the one in the avatar) even at my advanced years it’s going to be loads of fun.

    P.S. just guessing but isn’t a “stayer” about motor pacing behind the Derny?  Hey maybe they will have Keirin racing You know how I love to draft!

    P.P.S Maybe someone good at interweb stuff could diagram that saddle position you over educated guys are going on about so I can understand wtf you mean??

  19. When shop windows aren’t near, I like checking my position by the shadow cast near sunset on tall, dry grasses.

  20. @Rob

    @Gianni

    I don’t know what a “stayer” is, but you must be one.

    Neither do I know and I doubt I am? But the chance to mix it up regularly on the old 70″²s Raliegh track bike (the one in the avatar) even at my advanced years it’s going to be loads of fun.

    P.S. just guessing but isn’t a “stayer” about motor pacing behind the Derny? Hey maybe they will have Keirin racing You know how I love to draft!

    P.P.S Maybe someone good at interweb stuff could diagram that saddle position you over educated guys are going on about so I can understand wtf you mean??

    Yes, you are correct, a stayer is a maniac who drafts behind a derny. Perfect for you.

    I’m going to write a post on my new saddle and I’ll get into this pelvis/bone support talk. I’m no expert but I know one or two on the interwebs. Us veterans have to keep our naughty bits in a safe playground.

  21. @starclimber

    When shop windows aren’t near, I like checking my position by the shadow cast near sunset on tall, dry grasses.

    And when I can’t find any shop windows, sunsets, or tall dry grasses, I use a holographic projection beamed from my personal spaceship. I tend to get a bit distracted by the gleam from my tinfoil helmet though…

  22. If a cyclist tells you they don’t check themselves out in shop windows they are lying.

    Seriously though, good article. I got myself a professional fit for the first time at the start of this season and it’s been by far the best money I’ve ever spent on cycling. Much more comfortable and much faster now.

  23. @Gianni

    @Fiery

    That’s how one should preferably sit on any saddle. Rotate the pelvis forward, and spread the load on the inferior pubic rami. This gives a more stable position for the pelvis and a straighter, more extended back which is more comfortable for the whole back/shoulders/neck system.

    Now I understand that but I couldn’t rotate forward on my Specialized saddle, too much me and not enough channel. It is weird that Specialized sizes saddles by how wide your sit bones are when one really shouldn’t be sitting like that. My lower back is much happier now, better now than never but shiet, I wish I knew that 20 years ago. Or maybe that’s just getting old. I’m liking the Selle SMP a lot.

    Sounds like the saddle was too T-shaped – was it a Toupe? Romin (standard, not Evo) is supposedly made to support the pelvis being tilted forward. The shape is superficially similar to the Selle SMP, though not as extreme.

    I’ve found that wrong shape with too abrupt change in width back to front can be more of a problem than lack of width. For example, fi'zi:k Antares would hit all the wrong spots for me, but I’m quite comfortable on the Selle San Marco Aspide. Antares is plenty wide in the back, but just too narrow through the middle section to properly support the rami bones.

  24. @Fiery

    Sounds like the saddle was too T-shaped – was it a Toupe?

    Exactly, spot on. I actually tried the Romin too but was still trying to sit on my sit bones. 

  25. @Fins

    If a cyclist tells you they don’t check themselves out in shop windows they are lying.

    Seriously though, good article. I got myself a professional fit for the first time at the start of this season and it’s been by far the best money I’ve ever spent on cycling. Much more comfortable and much faster now.

    Yea, I really should do that and maybe be done with it. Costs as little as a new saddle too.

Leave a Reply