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  1. #1
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    New to road biking, low back gets sore on rides

    I'm 6'6" and just bought a Fuji Gran Fondo 2.0 in a 61cm frame and my low back gets sore on rides starting at the 10 mile mark or so.


    My arms are locked out so I feel like I might be reaching too far. Do I need a shorter stem (mine is 120mm I think)? Do I need to move my seat forward?


    I can deadlift 500+lbs and squat 400+ so I don't think (hope) its lack of core strength.


    My legs are 36" (heel to groin) and my wing span is just barely wider than my height.

  2. #2
    Dr. Buzz Killington
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    You may need the bike fitted. Lower back soreness tends to happen to a lot of new road bikers, but it goes away after a little while.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SauronHimself View Post
    You may need the bike fitted. Lower back soreness tends to happen to a lot of new road bikers, but it goes away after a little while.
    My arms are locked out and it feels like I'm reaching. I can also see the front wheel hub below the handle bars, which makes me think my seat is too far back or my stem is too long.

    Anyone think a 61cm frame is too big for me at 6'6"? I feel like it can't be because I know people on 58cm frames who are 6-7" shorter than me.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    My arms are locked out and it feels like I'm reaching. I can also see the front wheel hub below the handle bars, which makes me think my seat is too far back or my stem is too long.

    Anyone think a 61cm frame is too big for me at 6'6"? I feel like it can't be because I know people on 58cm frames who are 6-7" shorter than me.
    AFAIK, your saddle fore/aft has nothing to do with where your bars are or your reach. Your goal with saddle position is to position the knee (KOPS) and not over extend your joints (knee and hip).

    Are you able to provide us with a side photo of the fit? You may need a shorter stem or shorter bars if the reach is too far. Also, do you know your inseam?

    As SauronHimself said (LOL), lower back pain often happens to new riders simply because they are using new muscles. Consider doing some yoga and core workouts on your days off.

    Edit: Just saw the measurement... it sounds to me that you have a reach issue.
    Last edited by jsedlak; 04-15-2013 at 11:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Recycle King
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    Adjusting the saddle may help but if you move it too much forward, it will put strain on your hips, knees and toes due to out of alignment. The best option is to go to your LBS and get a professional fit. I used to do the fitting myself but I can't see myself while I'm on the bike unless I have a video camera to record my form. Though I can get close. The bike mechanic used measurements to fine tune my optimum saddle height and aft positions as well as my handlebar reach.

    To answer your original question: No, you are not suppose to see your front wheel hub when your hands are resting on top of the hood of the shifters.
    "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

    "Common sense is not too common these days."

    "Cheap things have no value, valuable things are not cheap." - Fortune Cookie

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadrunnerLXXI View Post
    To answer your original question: No, you are not suppose to see your front wheel hub when your hands are resting on top of the hood of the shifters.
    What...? I can see the front hub on all of my bikes...

  7. #7
    Recycle King
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsedlak View Post

    As SauronHimself said (LOL), lower back pain often happens to new riders simply because they are using new muscles. Consider doing some yoga and core workouts on your days off.

    Not just new riders, seasoned riders who haven't ridden all winter like myself also get sore back. Though doing spin classes has minimize my pain until I get use to riding in the drop position again.
    "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

    "Common sense is not too common these days."

    "Cheap things have no value, valuable things are not cheap." - Fortune Cookie

  8. #8
    Recycle King
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsedlak View Post
    What...? I can see the front hub on all of my bikes...
    I have misspoken. It is suppose to be when your hands are resting on the top of the bars, not the hood.
    "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

    "Common sense is not too common these days."

    "Cheap things have no value, valuable things are not cheap." - Fortune Cookie

  9. #9
    Recycle King
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    Convenience we are talking about fit and someone else posted this video a few minutes ago...

    Cool video about bike fitting.
    "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

    "Common sense is not too common these days."

    "Cheap things have no value, valuable things are not cheap." - Fortune Cookie

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadrunnerLXXI View Post
    I have misspoken. It is suppose to be when your hands are resting on the top of the bars, not the hood.
    I've gotten every possibility of hand positioning that exists for "where are my hands supposed to be when I shouldn't see the hub?"

    Can more people chime in on what's true?

  11. #11
    Recycle King
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    Regardless what other bikers tell you, I still recommend a pro fit to optimize your riding position.
    "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

    "Common sense is not too common these days."

    "Cheap things have no value, valuable things are not cheap." - Fortune Cookie

  12. #12
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    I've gotten every possibility of hand positioning that exists for "where are my hands supposed to be when I shouldn't see the hub?"
    The conclusion from all those conflicting answers should be: the not-seeing-your-front-hub rule is basically worthless for anything except very rudimentary positioning subject to some major changes.

    As to your back: I'm not going to offer a solution over the internet. But keep in mind that locked-out arms and a feeling that you're reaching often are the result of sitting too upright and too close to the handlebar. I know, I know: it sounds completely illogical. But moving your handlebars closer to you and up higher could make things even worse. Have someone experienced observe you and follow their advice, even if it sounds contrary to what you currently believe.

  13. #13
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    You could try to do most of your riding in the drops and compare how you feel after doing most of your riding on the hood. If you feel better after riding in the drops, you might wanna raise your saddle just a bit for longer hood rides.

  14. #14
    .je
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    2 things I did, for free, that helped me almost immediately, with a sore lower back were these: simple easy core exercises (what a difference), and lowering my bars another 1" or more (you could try the drops for a while to mimic that). It seemed backward, but once I was supporting my weight on the saddle, and not my arms, I didn't need to keep my back engaged for support. That worked, but what also worked was having the bars high almost cruiser-like

    The core exercises only take a couple of minutes a day, you might try that out as a habit to start even if your back doesn't hurt any more. It definitely won't hurt you.

    Other things that gave me a sore back have been: bars too far from the saddle, saddle too high, saddle too far back... but I'm sure you have or will set that up correctly.
    Last edited by .je; 04-15-2013 at 04:50 PM.

  15. #15
    B05
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    I've had fitting before.

    Your bars are too low. You may need more spacers or a different stem that put you upright.

  16. #16
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    Get a side picture. I'm 6'5 but of rather normal proportions and ride a 58cm Secteur. I do have back issues but I can ride comfortably for 40+ miles.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadrunnerLXXI View Post
    Regardless what other bikers tell you, I still recommend a pro fit to optimize your riding position.
    +1.

    This is essential.

    Everyone is different, and a good fitter will dial in your bike to your needs (and may or may not recommend a different size frame).

    Bottom line, get thee to a fitter and read the rest of the posts with a sizable grain of salt.

  18. #18
    Steaming piles of opinion
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    I've gotten every possibility of hand positioning that exists for "where are my hands supposed to be when I shouldn't see the hub?"

    Can more people chime in on what's true?
    Yes. Ignore it. There's no particular truth to it at all. It's way too variable all around, and has nothing other than coincidence going for it.


    On thing? How flexible are you, especially in your hamstrings? One common (and commonly-overlooked) source of lower back discomfort is having a saddle a tiny bit too high if one is inflexible. Another is from sitting 'on' the saddle and bending forward, rather than sitting 'in' the bike - essentially, rotating your hips forward. Coincidentally, that also effectively lengthens your spine, making that 'hidden hub' thing come closer to happening.

    at 6'6", a 61 probably isn't too big.
    A good habit is as hard to break as a bad one..

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    Get a side picture. I'm 6'5 but of rather normal proportions and ride a 58cm Secteur. I do have back issues but I can ride comfortably for 40+ miles.
    I'll try to get a picture tomorrow or something. I'm just hoping that even if I "should" be on a 58, that 3cm won't ruin the experience and that I can make other adjustments (stem/seat/etc) to make it work.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    I'll try to get a picture tomorrow or something. I'm just hoping that even if I "should" be on a 58, that 3cm won't ruin the experience and that I can make other adjustments (stem/seat/etc) to make it work.
    As much as frame sizes and body dimensions vary, a 58cm frame for a guy who's 6'5" seems kinda small to me...

    As worthless as the bicycle frame size guides sometimes appear to be, on the average, they work for most people in the ballpark. The one below ain't dat bad.

    Frame Sizing Guide:

    Road Bike Sizing and Fit - What is the Right Size Road Bike for Me?
    Last edited by Zeet; 04-15-2013 at 09:27 PM.

  21. #21
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    There are a lot of general rules about fitting (like kops and not seeing front hub) but they are just that - general rules that may not work for your body. One thing for sure is that your arms should not be locked out. Although each part of the fit is theoretically separate (such as saddle placement and stem length), in fact, one affects the other.

    And there can be some give in some of the fit to make you comfortable without sacrificing too much. So you can change your ideal saddle position to give you some relief in another area. But I doubt anyone can tell you what to do without visually seeing you. You should try a fitter or start making small adjustments, starting with seat height and saddle placement. I suspect at a minimum, your stem height and length will be important factors.

  22. #22
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    The one other thing I'd throw into this mess is posture.

    Road bikes work best when we keep our backs straight and pivot forward from the hips. Planting one's ass on the saddle in an upright position then bending the spine to reach the bars puts strain on the back and makes the reach to the bars seem much longer, thus causing locked arms.

    Use a mirror, ask your ride buddies, or see a fitter to be sure it's not a case of bending at the back instead of pivoting at the pelvis.

  23. #23
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    I recommend a stretching program that includes the back, hamstrings and iliotibial band. Your ability to deadlift 500lbs may actually be working against you.

  24. #24
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barratt2rika View Post
    I can deadlift 500+lbs and squat 400+ so I don't think (hope) its lack of core strength.
    Even if it was, it probably wouldn't matter much. The "core strength" often invoked in cycling literature as a cure-all is poorly researched and recommendations in that direction are often no more than wild guesses. If you are properly balanced on a bicycle, you need very little core strength to be comfortable and still generate a great deal of power.

    Anecdotal, but here it is anyway: I never had any core strength. But while pushing a fairly large gear, I was easily able to take my hands off the drops and keep my upper body in the same position it had when my hands were on the drops. Had I sat unbalanced on the bike, I would never have been able to do that. (Past tense because I quit cycling recently—too old and too slow for it to be any fun.)

  25. #25
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    The problem is that frame sizes do vary A LOT.

    A Fuji Gran Fondo 2.x 61cm has a reach that is 10mm longer than a Venge 61cm (the comparison will make sense in a second). The Fuji 61 comes with a 120mm stem too, the Venge only comes with a 110mm stem. I don't think the stem is included in the reach statistic, and if so, together that sums to a 20mm difference between the two bikes in reach. This doesn't include bars either... what if he's not running Short/Shallow?

    Though I recommend a professional fit as well (BG Fit is awesome!), I recognize that he is not simply 3" taller than me, but that the 3" is all in the legs (I have a 33" inseam, 6' 2"). If I'm not doing something stupid in my head (and that is possible!!) then our upper bodies are probably close to being the same, which leads me to believe that the Fuji is simply way too long.

    I ride a 56cm Venge (395mm reach) with a 100mm stem but I am a bit freaky (compared to the average cyclist) when it comes to flexibility (stem is slammed...). I could probably ride a 54cm with a longer stem, but there is no need. I'm willing to bet he'd feel better on a 58cm with a shorter stem (90mm or 100mm).

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    As much as frame sizes and body dimensions vary, a 58cm frame for a guy who's 6'5" seems kinda small to me...

    As worthless as the bicycle frame size guides sometimes appear to be, on the average, they work for most people in the ballpark. The one below ain't dat bad.

    Frame Sizing Guide:

    Road Bike Sizing and Fit - What is the Right Size Road Bike for Me?
    And btw - seeing the hub really doesn't matter. I find that when my fit is good, I can just see the hub over the bars. But if I had a bike with a fork that hade more rake, I'd probably see more of it! If I had a steeper head tube angle and less rake, I'd see less of it! Likewise if I needed more reach and got a longer stem, it'd disappear altogether!

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