Lowering handlebars: change seat position?
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1

    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    82

    Lowering handlebars: change seat position?

    I rode the whole season with my handlebars being about 1 cm lower than my seat (my first bike and I didn't know better). 3 weeks ago I lowered the handlebars by 3 half cm spacers, and now my seat is 2.6 cm lower than the top of my seat. I feel that this has changed the set of muscles I'm using when riding because I feel a little soreness in my thighs (above the knees). I'm a little concerned as I have one more race coming up. I can deal with the soreness but I wouldn't want to be losing power. I was told that you don't have to adjust your seat when changing the handlebar height. What's the truth about this? And you get more power with lower handlebars in addition to being more aero? Is there an optimal drop distance between the seat and handlebar height?
    Last edited by GaryJaz; 10-02-2005 at 08:51 PM.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    203
    Quote Originally Posted by GaryJaz
    I rode the whole season with my handlebars being about 1 cm lower than my seat (my first bike and I didn't know better). 3 weeks ago I lowered the handlebars by 3 half cm spacers, and now my seat is 2.6 cm lower than the top of my seat. I feel that this has changed the set of muscles I'm using when riding because I feel a little soreness in my thighs (above the knees). I'm a little concerned as I have one more race coming up. I can deal with the soreness but I wouldn't want to be losing power. I was told that you don't have to adjust your seat when changing the handlebar height. What's the truth about this? And you get more power with lower handlebars in addition to being more aero? Is there an optimal drop distance between the seat and handlebar height?
    Lowering the bars effectively increases the reach on the bike and also alters the included angle of the hip/thigh. To keep the same effective position would mean moving the saddle forward and up. That is bike fit. However, lowering the bars also decreases frontal area, permitting a more aero position, so for the same power output you should be quicker.
    Insofar as power is concerned - the general rule is that to make greater power you need to get your chest closer to the top tube - normally by pulling your chest down with your arms and using the leverage to exert greater pedal pressure. The optimal drop is determined primarily by the length of your forearms, your flexibility and your riding style. Generally, road riders aim to gradually increase their reach and stretch over a bike until age starts sending you the other way.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    10,160

    don't change the saddle...

    Saddle position should NOT be change due to a change in the handlebar height. Saddle fore/aft changes are intended to alter the relation of the knee to the crank centerline and height changes primarily affect maximum leg extension. A significant increase in saddle height should be accompanied by a forward movement of the saddle, since the saddle moves back 3mm for each 10mm that it is raised. The opposite woudl be required if the saddle was lowered.

    As for your change in the stem height, by removing 1.5cm of spacer, you also moved it forward .5cm, so your torso angle is lower and your reach is longer.

    A rule of thumb is to avoid knee to arm interferece when your hands are in the drops, fingers are in reach of the brake levers and your upper back is horizontal. If the bars are set real high or the stem is short, then it requires a fair amount of bend in the elbow to achieve a horizontal upper back and the result is knee to arm interference.

    As for a "normal" height difference, the handlebars are usually 5-10cm below the saddle on a racing bike. The amount of drop that you have is quite small. You should get a professional fitting, IMO.
    Last edited by C-40; 10-03-2005 at 10:47 AM.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    21,369

    Adaptation

    Per the excellent posts from cyclequip and -40, typically you don't change saddle position due to a change in bar position. However, you are experiencing the kind of adaptation discomfort one might expect. If you want to minimize this, put one or two spacers back in and ride for a while at the new position. Once you have adapted, remove another spacer and ride some more. Generally, changes in position should be made slowly to avoid pain or even injury.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    46

    Wait a minute...

    Don't you guys mean the stem / handlebars should be 5-10cm below the saddle?
    "Ah didn't ask ya to check the board, lad"

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: elviento's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    1,222
    When a rider moves from a relatively upright position to a more leaned forward position, the pelvis may rotate forward a little and effectively lower the legs slightly. Since the OP's symptom often results from a low saddle, it might be helpful to raise it by 2mm, and see how it feels...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons
    Per the excellent posts from cyclequip and -40, typically you don't change saddle position due to a change in bar position. However, you are experiencing the kind of adaptation discomfort one might expect. If you want to minimize this, put one or two spacers back in and ride for a while at the new position. Once you have adapted, remove another spacer and ride some more. Generally, changes in position should be made slowly to avoid pain or even injury.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    10,160

    good catch...

    I edited my post. Of course the bars are always below the saddle.

  8. #8

    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    82
    Quote Originally Posted by elviento
    When a rider moves from a relatively upright position to a more leaned forward position, the pelvis may rotate forward a little and effectively lower the legs slightly. Since the OP's symptom often results from a low saddle, it might be helpful to raise it by 2mm, and see how it feels...

    Interesting. I feel like I'm sitting a little bit further back in the seat. This doesn't make sense if I'm leaning forward ~5mm as one poster suggests. Your prognosis makes sense and I'll try raising the seat a bit.

    It's interesting that the slightest adjustments can result in your legs getting sore in new places. If you train for months in one position, aren't you developing/growing a particular set of muscles to some maximum? And when you make a slight adjustment, does this mean that some of these developed muscles will then atrophy while some new ones will grow? What is this soreness exactly?

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    203

    Pain=gain

    The soreness is the result of pounding pedals! I thought you knew that! It reminds me of the anecdote about Greg LeMond who never understood other riders complaining about sore legs - he used to get a sore back and only towards the end of his career experienced sore legs during the TdF.

    The soreness is normal as your muscles adjust to the altered demands and begin selective recruitment of different muscle fibres to deliver power in an adjusted position. Don't worry about it, it will pass as the neural and vascular pathways develop to handle the added loads. The other muscles will not atrophy in the normal sense - they just get selected less.

    it's interesting to note that a rider like Bobke admits to taking 15 years to get his position dialled in. Hooey.. Have fun!!
    Last edited by cyclequip; 10-04-2005 at 12:59 AM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT ROADBIKEREVIEW

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.