Shortening Effective Toptube?
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  1. #1
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    Shortening Effective Toptube?

    Can I successfully shorten the horizontal tube top length by purchasing a shorter stem? I believe the current stem, pictured below, is about 110mm. I'm hoping to purchase a 60mm stem to get a slightly better fit. My rides are relatively short 1-3 hrs and 10-25 miles. As a female I know I would probably best fit a wsd design or on a smaller frame (I have a runner's body- long legs for my height) but I've found limited selection in my price range so I'm hesitant to sell my bike, or give up on a 2nd project bike.The frames are about 3cm larger than what many bike charts list for my height. Will a stem swap to 60mm and recabling make the reach feel better? Selling would leave me without a bike and in a situation where I likely would be downgrading to an entry level build.

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  2. #2
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    The shorter stem will work fine. If you feel the difference you'll acclimate by the end of your 1st or 2nd ride. You can just swap out the stem without shortening the cables until you've sorted out the stem length.

    You may even be able to borrow a stem or two of assorted lengths to find the length that works best, and then get the stem of your choice and adjust cable length. By not shortening the cables till you're set on length you're allowing yourself some room to experiment, and if you're not happy with things, the original stem can go back on, if need be, or to sell.
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  3. #3
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    A 'slightly better fit'? 50mm is huge. You're moving your center of gravity back a ton (taking weight off the front wheel=less traction). If you need a stem that short to make the bike fit you're on the wrong frame. Do you have anyone that can help you w/ the fit? Someone that can figure out if you actually need a stem as short as a 60?
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    I rode oversized bike for years with short stems, no handling problems. I think I have a 50mm, it is SHORT!
    I wasn't very flexible so the large frames let me ride a race bike & I didn't have much drop from the seat to the bars. I am more flexible today and ride a slammed stem on a medium bike with a 70mm stem.
    I do run a setback seatpost also, to the max, but I my KneeOverPedal is spot on.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    I do run a setback seatpost also, to the max, but I my KneeOverPedal is spot on.
    There is no such thing as "spot on" KOPS. KOPS is just a starting point for fit. Some should be ahead of KOPS and some should be behind.

  6. #6
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    As to the 60mm stem: I remember a time when such a stem was merely "short", not freakishly undersized. But, it used to be a viable albeit not a perfect option.

    As for the "Womens specific" frames out there, it might work, but it might not. Most of that was just advertising balderdash. What you seem to have is a short trunk compared to your legs. The first thing I would try is a no-setback seatpost.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    As to the 60mm stem: I remember a time when such a stem was merely "short", not freakishly undersized. But, it used to be a viable albeit not a perfect option.

    As for the "Womens specific" frames out there, it might work, but it might not. Most of that was just advertising balderdash. What you seem to have is a short trunk compared to your legs. The first thing I would try is a no-setback seatpost.
    Well, moving the saddle forward would put rider's nice long legs pretty far forward on the crank. That might be great for a spinner, but chances are rider has long thighs and would benefit from leaving the saddle set back where it is.

    A slightly large frame would also put the handlebars up close to saddle height. A smaller frame would put the bars lower than the ideal saddle height, without an extension.

    Shortening reach would not also increase drop that much. So rider could experiment with reach and drop, viz. fore-aft weight distribution, within more upright "touring" geometries. Larger frames are just a little bit more comfortable on a long ride than smaller frames.

  8. #8
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    Yes. That's why stems are replaceable and sold in different lengths and angles.

  9. #9
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    Also, I'd just like to mention that since your bike is a "mail order" bike, this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you buy a bike which you haven't actually tried out first. Buying a bike from Bikes Direct is something you should do ONLY if you know EXACTLY the size you need. After switching out a few components because the bike just doesn't fit you, a purchase from a bike shop would end up being the better deal.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  10. #10
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    Agree. From 110 to 60 seems like too big a jump.

    What in the sizing charts seems 3cm off? Top tube lengths? Seat tube lengths? These can be pretty arbitrary and unless you know how to compare apples to apples (adjust for seat tube angle, etc.) are seldom really useful.

    Instead of randomly picking stem lengths to try, you might be better served by going to a shop and getting a fitting. Compare the price of a fitting and a new stem to new stem #1, then new stem #2, #3, etc. I've played the stem swap game before, it can get pricey pretty quickly, even using the second hand and discount markets.

  11. #11
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    So that's why I have a big bag of stems? OK, and now they are all the wrong shaft diameters!
    But I went from a 100 to a 70 and it worked out perfect. But then again, I looked at it real hard before deciding.
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  12. #12
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Also, I'd just like to mention that since your bike is a "mail order" bike, this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you buy a bike which you haven't actually tried out first. Buying a bike from Bikes Direct is something you should do ONLY if you know EXACTLY the size you need. After switching out a few components because the bike just doesn't fit you, a purchase from a bike shop would end up being the better deal.
    Oh yeah, that Ritchey stem is worth a fortune compared to spending 200% more at a LBS. And most bikes I see at my LBS have crap on them that I'd want to switch out, which is why I don't buy bikes at the LBS.

    That stem should have the length written down on it. Like other folks have said, going from 110 mm to 60 mm is a pretty big change. Got a picture of you sitting on it?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    ..... Got a picture of you sitting on it?
    Oh, good lord, don't do that! You'll get 10 responses making fun of your wardrobe and decor!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Well, moving the saddle forward would put rider's nice long legs pretty far forward on the crank. That might be great for a spinner, but chances are rider has long thighs and would benefit from leaving the saddle set back where it is.
    I've been a member of this forum for a couple of years now and I swear I haven't read a single thing from you that's made any sense. I feel like they keep you around because nobody has the heart to tell you otherwise.


    OP, if you need an adjustment that large - or think you need one - you may be really off with your fit to begin with. I see many people riding with their seats too far back thinking they need to shorten reach or believing themselves to be some sort of genetic anomaly. Sliding the seat into it's proper position allows you to rotate your pelvis and may actually allow your knees to either remain same relative to the pedal spindle.

    I would be surprised if you could ride a bike that really needed a 60mm stem to get you positioned properly. I know that's a grand statement never having seen your or the bike, but be careful about thinking you need things outside of the fat middle of a bell curve.

    What you may not know is that you can also reduce effective reach by swapping out handlebars. A bar's reach can vary by 20mm. Today's bikes are spec'd with short reach bars so chances of you riding with bars that have a reach of 90 are small, but it doesn't hurt to pull up specs for your bar and get the reach figure. You can do it in the stem, or the bars. You choice of which will have implications on where the bar top falls and how it feels to be riding on the tops.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9W9W View Post
    I've been a member of this forum for a couple of years now and I swear I haven't read a single thing from you that's made any sense. I feel like they keep you around because nobody has the heart to tell you otherwise.


    OP, if you need an adjustment that large - or think you need one - you may be really off with your fit to begin with. I see many people riding with their seats too far back thinking they need to shorten reach or believing themselves to be some sort of genetic anomaly. Sliding the seat into it's proper position allows you to rotate your pelvis and may actually allow your knees to either remain same relative to the pedal spindle.

    I would be surprised if you could ride a bike that really needed a 60mm stem to get you positioned properly. I know that's a grand statement never having seen your or the bike, but be careful about thinking you need things outside of the fat middle of a bell curve.

    What you may not know is that you can also reduce effective reach by swapping out handlebars. A bar's reach can vary by 20mm. Today's bikes are spec'd with short reach bars so chances of you riding with bars that have a reach of 90 are small, but it doesn't hurt to pull up specs for your bar and get the reach figure. You can do it in the stem, or the bars. You choice of which will have implications on where the bar top falls and how it feels to be riding on the tops.
    Ah, sorry to upset you. . My comment addressed the issue of thigh length. OP says she has long legs. Long legs = saddle back. Short legs = saddle forward. We can fine tune it from there. The frame is one size too big? Ok, saddle in the middle. But not all the way forward. Never move the saddle forward only to reduce reach.

    Fit is not rocket science. I try to relate to the geometry of the bike, not some fit figures or opinions from "experts." I've worked in bike shops off and on for over 30 years and can tell you the best way to find fit is experiment yourself and think it through.

    Bike shop fitters are amateurs; most of them don't know what they're talking about. I have many examples. I also never sold a customer the wrong sized bike, including women with long legs on road bikes. So I know what I'm talking about, Joisey.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Ah, sorry to upset you. . My comment addressed the issue of thigh length. OP says she has long legs. Long legs = saddle back. Short legs = saddle forward. We can fine tune it from there. The frame is one size too big? Ok, saddle in the middle. But not all the way forward. Never move the saddle forward only to reduce reach.
    I will agree w/ this.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    A 'slightly better fit'? 50mm is huge. You're moving your center of gravity back a ton (taking weight off the front wheel=less traction). If you need a stem that short to make the bike fit you're on the wrong frame. Do you have anyone that can help you w/ the fit? Someone that can figure out if you actually need a stem as short as a 60?
    Assuming the OP has a very small frame 60 probably isn't 'too short' any more than the current 110 is 'too long' relative to what the frame was designed for. So yeah 50mm is a big move but probably not as bad as it sounds with regard to center of gravity considering the starting point.

    Just speculation and it looks to be a motobacane so who knows about design but it's common for makers to spec their small frame with an 80mm or so which is presumably what the think it the sweet sport for center of gravity.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Assuming the OP has a very small frame 60 probably isn't 'too short' any more than the current 110 is 'too long' relative to what the frame was designed for. So yeah 50mm is a big move but probably not as bad as it sounds with regard to center of gravity considering the starting point.

    Just speculation and it looks to be a motobacane so who knows about design but it's common for makers to spec their small frame with an 80mm or so which is presumably what the think it the sweet sport for center of gravity.
    Just eyeballing it, that stem looks more like an 11 cm than an 8 cm. BD probably bought 5000 Ritchey 11 cm stems and put them on every size bike they sell. I think part of what's to be expected from a BD bike is a little extra expense getting the fit dialed in. But their prices are incredibly low and at least in their higher end offerings, they don't slap on BS crap like FSA or Rotor cranks or Tecktro brakes. Most have those crappy $150 a set Mavic Asskerium wheels, but I see $4000 bikes at the LBS that have those junky wheels as well. Wheels have to be the biggest cost cutting item in the business.

    And I gotta agree with Fred -- I have long legs and my saddle position is to the back.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    And I gotta agree with Fred -- I have long legs and my saddle position is to the back.
    You do realize this is a completely useless observation without the attendant details about STA, post setback and rail range?

    Your position on the seat isn't static, to the extent that your overall position on the bike informs where the seat is. If you're an older guy with level bars you're going to sit more square on the seat and your arse will hover over the apex of the rear wheel. If you're running decent drop and your hips are pivoted forward you are going to want your seat more forward. It may seem counter intuitive, but in both instances you will be same KOPS.

    These are real life observations you can make on any weekend ride.

    Seats that are slammed back contribute to a riders' low cadence, freewheeling, and lower back pain.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

  20. #20
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    Stem length does affect handling. Suggest the OP read the following article.

    https://cyclingtips.com/2015/03/how-...-and-handling/

  21. #21
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    Please note how many times in a ride you turn your handlebars 30 degrees? Totally bogus!
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontbetoomuchofa? View Post
    Stem length does affect handling. Suggest the OP read the following article.

    https://cyclingtips.com/2015/03/how-...-and-handling/
    Not this again. The way the bike 'handles' can be slightly affected by stem length but the will steer the way the bike steers. This is a quote from that article:

    "Ultimately, the steering of a bike is dictated by its head angle and trail—not stem length—but the stem can enhance or dull it to some degree. "

    A VERY small degree. Most riders never turn the bars more than 5-10*.
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