The proper road bike (frame) fit with long legs (short torso) and possible solution I've found

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
Primorsky
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:01 pm

by Primorsky

Hello all people here

I am a beginner road cyclist (5000 km done on my gravel bike, no experience of racing or big group rides ). First, sorry for my English (far from being perfect, I know), which is not my native language. But I'll try to be as much clear as I can. Thank you for understanding.

Being a male in early middle age, I am person with a long legs (see parameters below) and relatively short torso. So, this is one of the worst scenario for a proper fit on a road bike, accorded to a some bike fitters.

Living in mostly flat and windy area, i want to buy new carbon road bike, but due to my limited budget not TT and not pure "aero" machine. I want thing for racing (amateur level) and training. Also, I have plans to slightly adopt this for a time-trial(TT) usage - install the clip on aero bar (one with a good adjustment capabilities). And, maybe, I'll add the dual-position seatpost, that's allows switching the saddle position between road position and TT position(for aero bar). In other words, turn it into the "poor man's TT-bike, sometimes. Sportive usage and speed are on my top priorities list, above comfort.
I won't ask you to suggest me a manufacturer, bike model and size. I've made my choice already. What I want to ask is your opinion about my specific choice of the bike/frame geometry. Any approval and criticism from you will be welcomed.

My body parameters (the most important):
---
Height - 187 cm
Inseam - approx 92.5 cm
Torso - approx 52 cm (measured from iliac crest to c7 vertebra)
Arm - approx. 75.5 cm (measured from shoulder joint to center of fist, pretty normal for my height as I think)
Lower leg (from the floor to top part of knee) - approx. 58 cm
Flexibility - it's hard to measure, but i think it's pretty good (but not excellent)

I choose the Milano72 road bike (Eddy Merckx's brand) with the frame of (ouch!) a woman-specific geometry. Recently discontinued and rare model. It has high stack and large H.tube, but with reduced ETT. This my attempt to solve "a fit with long legs" problem. Unfortunately, I can't touch and ride mentioned bike in real life. I plan to purchase it online across-the-borders.

Milano72's (i bet on the biggest "L" size) frame's parameters:
--
ETT = 548 mm
Stack = 597 mm
Reach = 375 mm
Head tube = 206 mm
Head tube angle = 71.4 degree / Trail value = 69 (!!!)
Seat tube angle = 74.0
Stem (stock) = 115 mm (too short for my torso/arms, probably)
Cranks length = 172.5 mm (too short for my legs, probably)
WB = 1002 mm
Unisex saddle (I hope so)

My "virtual" measurements(based on known data and calculations) gives saddle to bar drop on milano72 aprox. 10 cm (with the same stem and saddle position, as on my current bike)

Just for comparison, my current bike (it has alloy frame of Endurance/Gravel type, not pure road) parameters:
--
ETT = 580 mm
Stack = 627 mm
Reach = 382 mm
Head tube length = 207
Head tube angle = 72 (trail = 63)
Stem = 100 mm / 5 degree / slammed (replaced from the 120 mm / 5 degree stem )
Cranks = 175 mm
Saddle to bar drop = approx. 5.5 cm

I am riding on it with acceptable level of comfort/handling in most cases (city commuting, at short distances up to 15 km). The negative effect is that I have boring pain in my elbows after approx. 30+ km of distance(my training rides). Also, I suffer from pain in my knees sometimes - more likely due to incorrect saddle/cleats position, later I'll try to fix it. Yes, i didn't did a "scientific" bike fit yet.

So, finally, the questions:

- How do you think, what are the most remarkable drawbacks in my fit i can get with Milano72's frame? Maybe it's wrong way to fix the problem and I need try to get a better fit on a "classic" (today's mainstream) road bike geometry, tuned with specific components such as high-angle stem etc? I know there are Endurance road bikes, but i am already having... the gravel one.

- How ridiculous tall head tube(206mm) of milano72 will affect on its aerodynamics? But i don't like pack of spacers and high degree stems anyway (maybe it's works, but looks...) .

- I am worried about slack head tube(71.4) angle of milano72 that resulting a high "Trail" geometry value, which means a sluggish handling and limited maneuverability. Just like in my gravel bike, but based on numbers, even more worse in milano.
Is it possible to fix that with narrower bar (e.g 380mm). I have pretty narrow shoulders too.

- Will the 10(+-) cm of saddle-bar drop be enough to get TT position in the saddle (with clip on aero bars)

- Should I change the cranks to a longer size (e.g. to 175 or 175+ mm) due to my loong legs


I will be very grateful for any suggestions, criticism etc.

by Weenie


osw000
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:23 am
Location: Girona

by osw000

Why not trying a road bike with race geometry in your size (L or 56cm) and see how it feels?

Since you have some disconfort with your current ride I wouldn't try to fix it without trying first any alternative.
You should check first for causes of knee pain, usually related to seat height/position. This can give you some hints for fitting your next bike.
Your rides are not too long so you should care about it.

Frankly, I don't see any TT potential in the Eddy Merck's, although it has a lower stack than your current bike it's still a confort geometry. I think that any road bike with not too agressive possition will do better. What you need first in a flat and windy area is to stay down on drops while pushing the pedals confortably. A TT handlebar won't help if your body is in an upright position.
Pinarello GAN 2016 - SRAM eTap - Alu wheels. 7,2kgs.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 2842
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Uhhh, head tube length and frame stack don't matter as long as your back isn't (nearly) horizontal. Your position on the bike is the main difference maker and if you buy a bike with a racier geometry, only to add a ton of spacers under the stem, you will have achieved nothing except making a race bike look uglier than an endurance bike and probably exceed the safety limits of your carbon steerer.

For people with short torsos and long legs, endurance bikes ARE race bikes. Case in point, some Trek Factory pros with long legs rode H2 Fit bikes because they simply couldn't get H1 to work. How aero you can get is defined mostly by two things, your saddle position and your back angle. You can lower your saddle slightly and increase the setback, and you will have to adapt to slightly different pedaling and handling mechanics. You can get shorter cranks, and move the saddle down/back even more. Up front, you would also have shorten your reach through bar/stem changes, but you could forseeably lower your entire body by 1-2cm this way.

The OP is currently looking at an "endurance" bike with the reach of a 50cm race bike and the stack of a 60cm... No amount of mental gymnastics can justify a "race bike" here. With your saddle position, the extra wheelbase will be much appreciated.

TL;DR, get an endurance bike...get a VERY endurance bike.

Etienne
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 11:41 am
Location: France

by Etienne

Primorsky wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:57 pm
Being a male in early middle age, I am person with a long legs (see parameters below) and relatively short torso. So, this is one of the worst scenario for a proper fit on a road bike, accorded to a some bike fitters.
Hi,

interestingly, I'm in a very similar situation and even longer legged than you (183cm tall for a 93cm inseam) ... I am no bike fitter but I can tell you my experience, as a former competitive triathlète and now a recreative, but still looking for speed, cyclist.

First of all, don't forget that if you have a short torso, the long legs are often paired with long arms ... I can't say if it is actually the case with your measurements but if it is, your arms length will partially compensate for your short torso, so no real need for a super short frame.

Second reflexion : in my opinion, the main problem of long legs short torso cyclist is the weigt balance over the bike ... I'll try to explain : your upper body being relatively short, your shoulders will likely be more over the bottom bracket than over the handlebar if your saddle is set too far back, consequences will be too much weight on your saddle, causing disconfort, need to set the handlebar higher than normal if your are not flexible enough, etc. and not enough weight on your front wheel, that could create handling problems.

In my opinion, long legged cyclists are UFO for most bike fitters ... I think (and that how my bikes are fitted), that you could benefit from a "not to rearward" saddle set back, I personaly have a 8,5cm saddle setback for a 79,5cm saddle height.

When I began cycling, there was no "endurance" bikes ... it was not easy to find a tall but short frame, but now you have everything you want. For comparison, my titanium frame has a 400mm reach with a 200mm headtube+headset length, and I use a 110mm stem ... I can confortably ride in all the handlebars position, relaxed on the hood and more agressively on the drop.

If I sum up : >200mm headtube length won't be a problem for road use (you can even have your stem slammed), <400mm reach should be good but you will probably end up using a 120mm stem. About handlebar drop, 10cm is OK but if you plan competitive TTing, a endurance bike could be a restrictive choice.

Don't forget you can't have a do it all bike that will be the best in every situation ... you'll have to decide what is your priority :wink:

E

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 2842
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Going to have to disagree with the point about people with short torsos and longer legs having longer arms. Generally wingspan is a lot more consistent and within a few cm of your total height. There are of course outliers, but leg length doesn’t have much to do with it. See Michael Phelps and his tiny inseam, but huge wingspan.

mattr
Posts: 4356
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

Primorsky wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:57 pm
Sportive usage and speed are on my top priorities list, above comfort.
You can have all three. In fact, comfort and sportage use go hand in hand.
Primorsky wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:57 pm
Yes, i didn't did a "scientific" bike fit yet.
Might be a good idea, if you've got knee and elbow pain after 30+km. Maybe a good independent fitter (not at a bike shop) to get some numbers. Even a rough cut set of figures will be better than guessing. Especially if you are new to cycling. TBH, even if it's a fitter attached to a shop, they'll at least be able to point you at a decent bike that fits. (Most of the mainstream brands will have a handful of bikes with suitable geometry.)
TobinHatesYou wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:37 am
Going to have to disagree with the point about people with short torsos and longer legs having longer arms.
TBF, they do quite often look like they have longer arms. As they finish further past their waist line than expected.

osw000
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:23 am
Location: Girona

by osw000


TobinHatesYou wrote:.

The OP is currently looking at an "endurance" bike with the reach of a 50cm race bike and the stack of a 60cm... No amount of mental gymnastics can justify a "race bike" here. With your saddle position, the extra wheelbase will be much appreciated.

TL;DR, get an endurance bike...get a VERY endurance bike.
The fact he's still looking at an endurance geometry doesn't make his choice the one that will fit him better. Specially since he have some trouble with his current geometry and got no pro bike fit yet.

Low mental gymnastics is stating that he needs what he is looking for without evaluating his capabilities or other options.
OP seems that already made his choice but still have a lot of doubts.
We don't have enough info to recommend in one sense or another (BTW what's his current saddle height?).
This is why I just suggested to "try" before buy and don't disregard a conventional road bike.

Also read that OP wants his new bike to a be a Time Trial- aero kind of bike. As he states that has a good flexibility he should try how low he can go.

H2 geometry would enter in my description of a "race bike with a not too agressive geometry". So I agree it would be the perfect place to start making a proper fit and test by himself what hip and back angle is able to confortably sustain. Its stack is still way lower than Eddy Merck's, for a close reach value.

I agree with other poster: long legs/short torso situations must start by defining your relationship with the BB and balance you on the bike before defining what's the reach you can afford. And here pelvis flexibility, back and core streghth are as important as the body measurements and theoric angles.

So the best advise we can give the OP is he try to test other geometries, or at least don't be closed to, and get some kind of professional fitting service.

As the Trek example arised maybe the best starting point is approach a dealer which have demo bikes and try.

Enviado desde mi SM-J530F mediante Tapatalk


Pinarello GAN 2016 - SRAM eTap - Alu wheels. 7,2kgs.

Primorsky
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:01 pm

by Primorsky

osw000 wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:45 pm
Why not trying a road bike with race geometry in your size (L or 56cm) and see how it feels?
Winter season is here with snow, ice and mud. Fortunately, I have the turbo trainer (direct-drive). But It's problem to rent some road bike in my area (limited choose, but this can be solved with some insistence though). Too bad, i can't check how good it will be in handling.
I had small and not common experience with the rented "Focus" carbon road bike. The bike was in small size - ETT=550 if i'am not wrong, typically short HT for "S" size, 100 mm normal's angle stem. And extremely lowered bar with no spacers, because its owner small in height with short legs). With my saddle height setup, the saddle/bar drop was approx 15 cm. I almost wasn't able to stay down on drops and had body pains in the end of 50 km real ride.

Once in the local bike shop I sit on the Merida Scultura (M/L size, ETT=560, STACK=574, REACH=390, HT=170),which is within my budget too, in the real shop with my saddle's height setting. Quick impression - I don't like how its fit. No real ride experience on it, though.
Since you have some disconfort with your current ride I wouldn't try to fix it without trying first any alternative.
You should check first for causes of knee pain, usually related to seat height/position. This can give you some hints for fitting your next bike.
Understand. But still not sure that knee pains actually comes from my seat position (medical examination required). The pain in elbows after relatively long ride much more annoying and limiting for me. Probably, not my true frame size of the current Gravel bicycle. Too long reach, maybe i should try even shorter stem e.g 80mm instead of current 100mm (bought with 120mm).
Your rides are not too long so you should care about it.
My typical training rides are up to 80 km long. But I have plans to do 100-150 km weekend rides on my new road bike.
Frankly, I don't see any TT potential in the Eddy Merck's, although it has a lower stack than your current bike it's still a confort geometry. I think that any road bike with not too agressive possition will do better.
Woman-specified frames (just like milano72) sometimes are being suggested for riders with long legs because they are tall, but not too long in same time.
Any road bike(not overagressive one) - you mean endurance bikes, ok. As for a more common road bikes, more likely they will require some tuning with rising stem and spacers.
What you need first in a flat and windy area is to stay down on drops while pushing the pedals confortably. A TT handlebar won't help if your body is in an upright position.
With a longer stem (up to 130mm) on Milano72 and saddle/bar drop appox. 10 cm (virtually meansured with the 5 deg. slammed 100mm stem), my position should not be noticeably upright. So, I should get more or less flat position of my torso when on clip on aero bar. If I go with a slammed stem, i can increase drop to 12-13 cm and should get even more flat-back position.
Weight balance due to short frame/long stem and handling (considering Milano's not typically slack steerer) are yet another questions.
Last edited by Primorsky on Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Primorsky
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:01 pm

by Primorsky

Etienne wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:56 am
interestingly, I'm in a very similar situation and even longer legged than you (183cm tall for a 93cm inseam) ... I am no bike fitter but I can tell you my experience, as a former competitive triathlète and now a recreative, but still looking for speed, cyclist.
First of all, don't forget that if you have a short torso, the long legs are often paired with long arms ... I can't say if it is actually the case with your measurements but if it is, your arms length will partially compensate for your short torso, so no real need for a super short frame.
Thanks for input.
My arms lenght more or less conforms with the Da Vinchi's formula: the span of the arms is equal to height. So they are more likely normal than otherwise.
Second reflexion : in my opinion, the main problem of long legs short torso cyclist is the weigt balance over the bike ... I'll try to explain : your upper body being relatively short, your shoulders will likely be more over the bottom bracket than over the handlebar if your saddle is set too far back, consequences will be too much weight on your saddle, causing disconfort, need to set the handlebar higher than normal if your are not flexible enough, etc. and not enough weight on your front wheel, that could create handling problems.
That's probably my case with the bike i am using now. My feelings make me think that there are too much pressure on my saddle. However, it should in considering that my saddle is far from being optimal (too width for me). My current seatpost has offset. My saddle height (from BB) approx 80 cm, cranks 175.
I think (and that how my bikes are fitted), that you could benefit from a "not to rearward" saddle set back,
Milano72 has a pretty steep seat tube angle (74 versus 72.5 on my gravel). May it help in some way?
If I sum up : >200mm headtube length won't be a problem for road use (you can even have your stem slammed), <400mm reach should be good but you will probably end up using a 120mm stem. About handlebar drop, 10cm is OK but if you plan competitive TTing, a endurance bike could be a restrictive choice.
What about the "slack" head tube resulting atypical high "Trail" value?
Don't forget you can't have a do it all bike that will be the best in every situation ... you'll have to decide what is your priority
TTing is not priority for me, but more likely option to fight the wind sometimes.

Etienne
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 11:41 am
Location: France

by Etienne

Primorsky wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:12 pm
Milano72 has a pretty steep seat tube angle (74 versus 72.5 on my gravel). May it help in some way?
Yes, it will ... with such a steep seat angle, you will have something reasonable with a offset seatpost :idea:
Primorsky wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:12 pm
What about the "slack" head tube resulting atypical high "Trail" value?
Trail and headtube angle is not something simple, nor independant from the rest of the bike's geometry, chainstay length for instance, and I guess this model was correctly build when it comes to geometry. Should be more stable than nervous, but it could be a good thing.

E

Primorsky
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:01 pm

by Primorsky

Hello again

Finally, I bought the bike and now thinking about the proper fit with another stem. Too bad, I still can't ride my bike due to roads condition (winter still here... :( ).

Rider:
Height / inseam = 187 / 93 (cm). Summary: long legs, normal arms, a bit short torso

Bike:
ETT=548 mm / STA = 74 / HTA= 71.4 / Tall head tube = 206 mm
Saddle to bar drop is approx 10.2 cm. with my current saddle height
Stem 115 mm, -8 degrees

I want to change stem to the -17 mm to get a better fit for position on aero bar (my target saddle/bar drop ~12.5 - 13 cm). I have to order the new one stem (probably from US or EU), because i can't find any of 17deg stems in my LBSs.
Of course, I hope to keep the acceptable road position too.

I can't wait to get my PD's V4+ aero bar (low stack's model with extensions under the bar). Already got the Red Shift sports dual-position seatpost (simply, I'll able to switch the saddle from road to aero position and vice-verca, changing angle and height of the seat). This thing is heavy :? and expensive :( , but looks promising.

Please see my photos. Sorry for clothing and quality. Any criticism from you will be welcomed. What length of a -17 deg stem you can suggest? Keep 115(120), or go with 130mm (or even 140)?

Thanks.
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silvalis
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by silvalis

Is there any reason why you haven't gotten a professional fit yet? Will save you buying random stems and a flat back in TT isn't necessarily the fastest position for you.
Chasse patate

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wheelsONfire
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by wheelsONfire

I think you look cramped. That stem seems short for you. Part from that, i think it's impossible to say anything of your fit to the bike.
Bikes:

Ax Lightness Vial EVO Race (2018.12.21)
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dj97223
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by dj97223

I think you need a shave.
“If you save your breath I feel a man like you can manage it. And if you don't manage it, you'll die. Only slowly, very slowly, old friend.”

Primorsky
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:01 pm

by Primorsky

silvalis wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:32 am
Is there any reason why you haven't gotten a professional fit yet? Will save you buying random stems and
Yes, for sure. Unfortunately, I need to travel to another city (500 km away), at least for a professional "computer" bike fit. I want to try at least one (or two) inexpensive stems as starting point.
a flat back in TT isn't necessarily the fastest position for you.
Good point. I am understand that too. But unlikely I'll be able to sit (in aero) with a wholly flat back (due to insufficient saddle/bar drop, even with -17 stem) .


wheelsONfire wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:08 am
I think you look cramped. That stem seems short for you. Part from that, i think it's impossible to say anything of your fit to the bike.
Really? By the way, I don't feel so cramped when I'am sitting on my new bike. I think my torso is limiting factor here. Also, I've checked the saddle height on my indoor photos - knee maximum angle too low. Probably, the saddle need to be set higher with adjusted horizontal position. I had used the trainer, lycra shorts and SPDSL road shoes to get my initial saddle height setting.

What you think about the torso angle, when on hoods? Too much relaxed ?
Also, there is an opinion that my weight balance too far ahead related to the bottom bracket position. The bike has specific geometry with the "steep" seat tube 74 deg.

by Weenie


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