Fit changes to improve bike handling?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
TobinHatesYou
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Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Getting forward and low has a profound effect in situations where front tracking is already squirrelly, like gravel, ice, etc. Any situation where a sudden input could result in a total loss in traction/grip. In dry ideal conditions however it’s the opposite. Putting more weight on the front will increase your cornering grip.

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MayhemSWE
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden

by MayhemSWE

wintershade wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:44 pm
Hmm, interesting point. I do get a fair bit of hand numbness and shoulder fatigue "bracing" myself in that position. But wouldn't I feel even more elongated with straight arms if I moved back my saddle and got rid of my 25mm spacer stack? Or do you have the stock 100mm stem, so basicly you're just moving everything back by 2cm? At a minumum, sounds like a worthwhile experiment!
Can you ride no-handed with your current saddle position? Not necessarily fully upright with a straight back, but just hover your hands above the bars longer than a few handful of seconds? Typically this is much more difficult with your saddle far forward.

Before eventually finding road cycling I was not a sports/training person and very unfit. Like many beginners I ended up putting too much weight on my hands. With some experimentation, two things turned out to help my posture a lot: some saddle setback made it easier to hold the body up by pushing against the pedals, and increased saddle to bar drop which kinda forced my core to adapt and get stronger quicker in order to take up more of the slack.

So yeah, I'd definitely try moving the saddle back at least a little as well as lowering the bars. Which in turn may necessitate going back to a shorter stem, if you still have that available… Be prepared to give it some time though and not immediately dismiss any changes after just a short ride!

by Weenie


TheRich
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:41 pm
Getting forward and low has a profound effect in situations where front tracking is already squirrelly, like gravel, ice, etc. Any situation where a sudden input could result in a total loss in traction/grip. In dry ideal conditions however it’s the opposite. Putting more weight on the front will increase your cornering grip.
That doesn't make any sense.

The ideal position works in low or high grip situations...although when you're not actually at the limits of traction, position doesn't matter. It's strange that road bikes are the only vehicle where a front weight bias is supposed to result in better grip....and this data is based on tradition from a time when nobody knew jack about anything.

In practice it doesn't matter, since a big slide resulting from actually exceeding the limits of traction from either end on the road is generally unrecoverable. (not referring to a small slick spot, which is a crap shoot, but actually exceeding the ability of the tires to hold onto the pavement which is incredibly rare)

TobinHatesYou
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by TobinHatesYou

TheRich wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:03 pm

That doesn't make any sense.

The ideal position works in low or high grip situations...although when you're not actually at the limits of traction, position doesn't matter. It's strange that road bikes are the only vehicle where a front weight bias is supposed to result in better grip....and this data is based on tradition from a time when nobody knew jack about anything.

In practice it doesn't matter, since a big slide resulting from actually exceeding the limits of traction from either end on the road is generally unrecoverable. (not referring to a small slick spot, which is a crap shoot, but actually exceeding the ability of the tires to hold onto the pavement which is incredibly rare)

It makes perfect sense. When you ride over ice or loose gravel/sand, do you scoot forward or back? Hint: you scoot back and sit up.

The reason being is that while more weight over the front will help take you to the limits of grip, in those situations you are actually periodically beyond those limits already. You don't want any twitchiness from putting extra weight forward. You want the the front to float a little bit as you balance the "tight rope." You also don't want the rear end slipping and sliding any more than it needs to since that will also result in steering corrections up front (which is bad when you're already slipping up front too.)

mag
Posts: 402
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:23 pm

by mag

There's nothing so much wrong with his saddle position if that's what suits him. It's individual and what suits you may not suit him. I use a similar setup to his and like it very much. Much better than when it's more backwards which I tried several times and never liked it.

Someone tried to compare with pros which isn't the best thing to do I think, but if you go that way - there's certain guy named Alejandro Valverde (also riding Canyon bikes by the way) who uses similar setup, I'd even say he goes into bigger extreme there. He even uses a 120mm stem I think and often rides with his arms quite stretched out. So it's a perfectly "valid" setup seat position and stem length-wise, only the amount of spacers is the biggest difference of course.

So what might be worth trying out is changing the front-end setup - less spacers to begin with, maybe shorter stem as the next step, and see what effect it has on how he perceives the bike handles. I think that should help here, but if it will suit him fit-wise is another matter. He'll need to adjust the saddle position a little then, but only in reaction to the changes to the handlebars position.
Sure he may try moving the saddle back anyway as it's entirely possible his current position isn't quite right for him and he's yet to discover it.

TheRich
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:20 pm
TheRich wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:03 pm

That doesn't make any sense.

The ideal position works in low or high grip situations...although when you're not actually at the limits of traction, position doesn't matter. It's strange that road bikes are the only vehicle where a front weight bias is supposed to result in better grip....and this data is based on tradition from a time when nobody knew jack about anything.

In practice it doesn't matter, since a big slide resulting from actually exceeding the limits of traction from either end on the road is generally unrecoverable. (not referring to a small slick spot, which is a crap shoot, but actually exceeding the ability of the tires to hold onto the pavement which is incredibly rare)

It makes perfect sense. When you ride over ice or loose gravel/sand, do you scoot forward or back? Hint: you scoot back and sit up.

The reason being is that while more weight over the front will help take you to the limits of grip, in those situations you are actually periodically beyond those limits already. You don't want any twitchiness from putting extra weight forward. You want the the front to float a little bit as you balance the "tight rope." You also don't want the rear end slipping and sliding any more than it needs to since that will also result in steering corrections up front (which is bad when you're already slipping up front too.)
In low grip, and assuming a suitably low speed, you'd want the back tire to slide first, because a rear tire slide is far more recoverable than a front end slide...just like in mountain biking where sliding around a little is normal. So you'd obviously want to shift more weight to the rear wheel.

IF you exceed the grip of the front tire on pavement at anything remotely approaching high speeds, you.are.going.down. Which makes the idea of messing with overloading the front end a little questionable, especialy since IF the front tire regains grip, it can cause a change in steering angle, which causes even more instability. You'd want your weight centered to allow maximum grip from both ends since tire size, contact patch, and the resulting level of traction available is usually identical f/r.

But I don't think people are even approaching the real limits of adhesion, which allows them to pretend that a road bicycle doesn't have to follow the same rules as anything else. It's virtually impossible to play with the limits of traction on the road because the result is a sudden and unrecoverable slide, so as long as you don't crash, you're doing it "right enough," which can reinforce sub-optimal technique. Try that on a low grip surface and it isn't "right enough" any more, so what made it "right" in the first place?

Generally, and ignoring outside factors like deflating tires, people crash because they brake in corners (self induced gross overloading/underloading of a tire), hit a spot of suddenly and significantly lower grip, or they simply fail to negotiate the corner.

TheRich
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

mag wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:41 pm
There's nothing so much wrong with his saddle position if that's what suits him. It's individual and what suits you may not suit him. I use a similar setup to his and like it very much. Much better than when it's more backwards which I tried several times and never liked it.

Someone tried to compare with pros which isn't the best thing to do I think, but if you go that way - there's certain guy named Alejandro Valverde (also riding Canyon bikes by the way) who uses similar setup, I'd even say he goes into bigger extreme there. He even uses a 120mm stem I think and often rides with his arms quite stretched out. So it's a perfectly "valid" setup seat position and stem length-wise, only the amount of spacers is the biggest difference of course.

So what might be worth trying out is changing the front-end setup - less spacers to begin with, maybe shorter stem as the next step, and see what effect it has on how he perceives the bike handles. I think that should help here, but if it will suit him fit-wise is another matter. He'll need to adjust the saddle position a little then, but only in reaction to the changes to the handlebars position.
Sure he may try moving the saddle back anyway as it's entirely possible his current position isn't quite right for him and he's yet to discover it.
You have to have a position that feels good to you. Start conservative with a shorter stem and higher stack and move out and down until you don't want to any more.

spartacus
Posts: 108
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm

by spartacus

I say slam it and go long then go from there if your back still hurts and or you aren’t fit, also moving the saddle back takes weight off your hands, from that point move forward if it makes your pedal stroke better but not so far that it ruins your balance, shorter riders need less setback, someone 5’10 needs a decent amount of setback imo.

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Lewn777
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by Lewn777

spartacus wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:34 pm
I say slam it and go long then go from there if your back still hurts and or you aren’t fit, also moving the saddle back takes weight off your hands, from that point move forward if it makes your pedal stroke better but not so far that it ruins your balance, shorter riders need less setback, someone 5’10 needs a decent amount of setback imo.
I agree. :thumbup:
wintershade wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:20 pm
My saddle height is 755mm.

Here is a picture of my position. Not sure if this is helpful or not.....

Image

FWIW - My fitter said this was the best fit, not just because it will be easy to cross over between the TT bike and the Ultimate, but from a pure numbers perspective... just working up from the foot/cleat position, knee position over spindle, ass comfort, shoulder/neck position, etc. I'm very comfortable sitting on the bike, just not with how it handles. Does this just mean the Ultimate doesn't "fit". What would then?
You can either have great handling or have some hybrid version of your favored TT position. Being far forward IMHO is never going to be good for handling, although you could adapt. Like mountain bikes often with softer front tires/more tread on the front and road motos with softer compound or lower pressure front tires I've never really understood why road riders feel the need to run matching tires front and rear. For good handling it's better to have your bodyweight further back, and to increase confidence and reducing the chance of low-siding (when front wheel washes out) you can run a lower front wheel pressure or run a softer compound or even thinner/latex tube. Weight distribution in my view should be very rear biased. If you are wearing through your rear tire at twice the rate of the front and wearing through your front brake pads at twice the rate of the rear you're proabaly running a good setup. Smaller frames help, and long stretched out frames that put more weight over the front hinder handling especially as already having a fair seat bar drop already puts weight forward. Being far forward doesn't really hinder braking before corners other than making the back end more likely to jack up, but it's during the corner where things don't feel quite right.

It's simply up to you what's more important, I live for downhill technical mountain sections and anything that damages good descending is not for me. But your priorities are your own.

TobinHatesYou
Posts: 4032
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

TheRich wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:53 pm
TobinHatesYou wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:20 pm
TheRich wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:03 pm

That doesn't make any sense.

The ideal position works in low or high grip situations...although when you're not actually at the limits of traction, position doesn't matter. It's strange that road bikes are the only vehicle where a front weight bias is supposed to result in better grip....and this data is based on tradition from a time when nobody knew jack about anything.

In practice it doesn't matter, since a big slide resulting from actually exceeding the limits of traction from either end on the road is generally unrecoverable. (not referring to a small slick spot, which is a crap shoot, but actually exceeding the ability of the tires to hold onto the pavement which is incredibly rare)

It makes perfect sense. When you ride over ice or loose gravel/sand, do you scoot forward or back? Hint: you scoot back and sit up.

The reason being is that while more weight over the front will help take you to the limits of grip, in those situations you are actually periodically beyond those limits already. You don't want any twitchiness from putting extra weight forward. You want the the front to float a little bit as you balance the "tight rope." You also don't want the rear end slipping and sliding any more than it needs to since that will also result in steering corrections up front (which is bad when you're already slipping up front too.)
In low grip, and assuming a suitably low speed, you'd want the back tire to slide first, because a rear tire slide is far more recoverable than a front end slide...just like in mountain biking where sliding around a little is normal. So you'd obviously want to shift more weight to the rear wheel.

IF you exceed the grip of the front tire on pavement at anything remotely approaching high speeds, you.are.going.down. Which makes the idea of messing with overloading the front end a little questionable, especialy since IF the front tire regains grip, it can cause a change in steering angle, which causes even more instability. You'd want your weight centered to allow maximum grip from both ends since tire size, contact patch, and the resulting level of traction available is usually identical f/r.

But I don't think people are even approaching the real limits of adhesion, which allows them to pretend that a road bicycle doesn't have to follow the same rules as anything else. It's virtually impossible to play with the limits of traction on the road because the result is a sudden and unrecoverable slide, so as long as you don't crash, you're doing it "right enough," which can reinforce sub-optimal technique. Try that on a low grip surface and it isn't "right enough" any more, so what made it "right" in the first place?

Generally, and ignoring outside factors like deflating tires, people crash because they brake in corners (self induced gross overloading/underloading of a tire), hit a spot of suddenly and significantly lower grip, or they simply fail to negotiate the corner.

Did you just decide to ignore that part where I mention loose gravel/sand, ice, standing water, etc? I’ve ridden my road bike in those conditions in the last week. Shifting my weight forward in those conditions makes amplifies otherwise minor steering inputs. That can lead to a loss of adhesion in what is otherwise a balancing act of keeping the CoG directly over the bike at lower speeds.

TheRich
Posts: 386
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:36 am

by TheRich

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 12:25 am
Did you just decide to ignore that part where I mention loose gravel/sand, ice, standing water, etc? I’ve ridden my road bike in those conditions in the last week. Shifting my weight forward in those conditions makes amplifies otherwise minor steering inputs. That can lead to a loss of adhesion in what is otherwise a balancing act of keeping the CoG directly over the bike at lower speeds.
I was hoping that you would realize the contradiction. The question is what makes the proper weight distrubution change when the grip level is high?

Hint: It doesn't, you can just get away with it on pavement.

zefs
Posts: 438
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

wintershade wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:44 pm
Hmm, interesting point. I do get a fair bit of hand numbness and shoulder fatigue "bracing" myself in that position. But wouldn't I feel even more elongated with straight arms if I moved back my saddle and got rid of my 25mm spacer stack? Or do you have the stock 100mm stem, so basicly you're just moving everything back by 2cm? At a minumum, sounds like a worthwhile experiment!
If you want to try more saddle setback: Note how your current saddle height feels, move saddle back 1cm (and 3-4mm down for each cm of movement to achieve the same knee angle). Do this until you can ride with no hands without slipping forward in the saddle. Don't slam the stem as going more to the rear requires a higher handlebar position and you seem to have a correct 40deg back angle currently. This will allow your arms to bend and relax the hands/shoulders. Then you can start lowering the front end spacer by spacer if you wish to achieve faster handling/lower position.

wintershade
Posts: 239
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:12 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA

by wintershade

zefs wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:10 am
wintershade wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:44 pm
Hmm, interesting point. I do get a fair bit of hand numbness and shoulder fatigue "bracing" myself in that position. But wouldn't I feel even more elongated with straight arms if I moved back my saddle and got rid of my 25mm spacer stack? Or do you have the stock 100mm stem, so basicly you're just moving everything back by 2cm? At a minumum, sounds like a worthwhile experiment!
If you want to try more saddle setback: Note how your current saddle height feels, move saddle back 1cm (and 3-4mm down for each cm of movement to achieve the same knee angle). Do this until you can ride with no hands without slipping forward in the saddle. Don't slam the stem as going more to the rear requires a higher handlebar position and you seem to have a correct 40deg back angle currently. This will allow your arms to bend and relax the hands/shoulders. Then you can start lowering the front end spacer by spacer if you wish to achieve faster handling/lower position.
Thanks zefs. This is very helpful - the sort of step by step approach I was looking for to try to "fix" the way my Ultimate handles. Assuming I end up moving my saddle back 2cm and down ~7mm, will I want to switch back the short 100mm stem/cockpit that came with the bike (vs the 120 that's on there now)? It seems like if I'm moving my body backwards, I'd need to bring the cockpit towards me as well, especially since my arms seem overly straight and extend as others have commented, right?

zefs
Posts: 438
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

If you end up 2cm further back and like the change but feel that you are overstretching to reach the hoods you could try the 100mm stem but make sure the saddle position is correct first (as you move the saddle back it goes up so make sure the saddle area feels the same as your current setup). This will help with your fit issues though and not the handling per se, since moving the weight to the back of the bike gives stability, not more responsive steering although if you end up with the 100mm stem it might feel similar.

by Weenie


Alexandrumarian
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:34 pm
Location: Romania

by Alexandrumarian

Your current position is not preventing you from having bent arms. Just lean forward and your arms will bend. How low and for how long depends primarily on your flexibility and core. If the bike is too small/short reach, you will feel the bars under your neck and want to push your butt over the saddle. As for the saddle position, I happened to settle very close to the kops thing. I didn't search for it, it happened in years of tinkering with the position. More forward I get all sort of knee issues, more backward I feel too closed to put down the power.

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