Dialing in the Stable
This was going to be an article about Rule #45.
It is amazing how much time is wasted and matches burned when professionals stop for that second bike change to get back on their #1. With all the jigs available to team mechanics it would seem they could set up five bikes exactly the same. And yet, when the whole body gets used to a position, if something is off, everything is off. It’s not as easy as it should be, even when dealing with the same frame model and size.
The Velominati never have two of the same frames so it really complicates duplicating position. I’ve been using L. Zinn’s approach on this problem. By using the bottom bracket as the point of reference, this stack and reach method is pretty nice. I use a “story pole” as the carpenters call them, a blank wooden stick where each dimension is marked and labeled. It removes the math mistakes, mostly, and is a permanent graphic record of each bike all on one piece of wood.
I never ride my #2 bike anymore. It was going to be my rain bike but I ride #1 all the time, rain or shine. It’s lighter, the 11 speed gruppo is so much newer and nicer that the worn 10 speed of #2. But I just rode #2 and finished the ride thinking that stem is too low, too bad I cut the steerer so low, damn you Rule #45. So I mess around with bathroom scales weighing how much more weight ends up on the front end of a bike if your bars are too low. Then dig out my stack and reach stick and discover the bars are exactly the same height almost to the millimeter. Oh, FFS, another story out the window. The difference was the saddle angle. My weird SMP saddles are very hard to eyeball without a level. The #2 was tipped forward a little thus more weight on the bars, different handling, same problem, different cause. How much is too much weight on the front end? That is a complicated question, too much for this post
Contador’s saddle is tipped forward, Qunitana’s level as could be. Mass confusion! We will leave that for another day but if you want to eliminate some error in duplicating your bike set up, you could do worse than the stack and reach and a story pole.