Fitness questions and answers for January 30, 2007

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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com) is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com) is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com) is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com) is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com) is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com) has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com) is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com) has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com) is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.

Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Michael Smartt (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com) has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.

Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns MyEnduranceCoach.com, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Modern frame sizes too small?
Riding at altitude
Maximum heart rate
Kcal expenditure on heart rate monitors
Numb feet
Shoe angle problems
Cleat angles
Holding tempo on climbs
Custom bike geometry
Leveling the saddle

Modern frame sizes too small?

Do today's bicycle manufacturers, in an effort to reduce weight, make bicycle frames too small for the rider that they are supposed to be catering for.

Looking at older pictures of racers like Eddy, Coppi, Van Looy, it seems that these racers rode frames that may have been larger than today's frames. If you look at the saddle to bar drop, it seems that they do not have the large differences of today's racers. Van Looy made the comment in an interview in a magazine, stating that if you cannot get into the drops to get aero, what is the point.

This made me think. If say for instance I am riding a 54cm Cervelo Soloist, I run a 120 mm stem. I have noticed that I have toe overlap on the front wheel when turning sharply, this has never been a problem in a race situation, only in slow speed maneuvers. I feel sometimes that a larger frame may be something that would work for me. I know this is vague, because I do not have any measurements to give you. I have been told that my legs are long as well as my arms for my size. I am 5'-8.5" tall, my inseam is 32in, and I weigh 145 lbs.

I race competitively as a Cat 3 racer, and hope to make the upgrade to Cat 2 by mid-to-late season. I can ride 6 to 6.5 hours without problems on the hoods and tops, but when I get in the drops I feel a good bit of pressure in the perineal area. I have remedied this with a saddle change.

Back to my previous question. I have often thought that if I could find a frame that had a taller seat tube than the top tube that I would be in the ball park as far as position goes, possibly a 55 seat tube with a 54 top tube.

In your dealings and fittings do you find that for the most part, frames are getting smaller? I guess that is the underlying question.

Bruce Humphries

Steve Hogg replies:

You are right. 30+ years ago, larger frames for a given rider than they would ride today were common. Riders had less gears to play with too, so pedaling fast for extended periods was more valued than it is now. This meant that seat tube angles were often (not always) steeper on many frames of the 70's than they are now. Leather seats of the era had much shorter seat rails than modern seats which steepened the effective seat tube angle by a degree typically. The net effect of all of this was that riders rode further forward generally.

As a rider moves forward, there is a weight transfer onto the upper body which has to be supported by the arms and upper body. This mitigates against reaching low because the back tends to arch and tense to assist in stabilising the rider. As an example, forward positioned triathletes with low positions would struggle to cope if their aero bars were removed. So the answer in the 70's and prior was to have larger frames and hence higher bars relative to seat position. If you have a look at photos of Van Looy on the drops he was VERY hunched over as tends to happen when the seat is too far forward and real effort is being applied. Coppi wasn't as cramped as Van Looy and Merckx less cramped again but still, they had higher bars than is common today.

Another thing that may have played a part is that races were often longer than they are now (Grand Tours were four weeks not three), road surfaces often weren't as good resulting in comfort being a higher priority than aerodynamics. Cycling then was basically a working class European sport where there wasn't a large amount of money to throw at biomechanical or aerodynamic studies and so on. Riders did the best they could with what they had.

That's my take on this but if anyone has other ideas I'm keen to hear them as it something I have thought about occasionally too. Van Looy is absolutely correct about the drops. If a rider can't COMFORTABLY ride under load in the drops, then the drops need to be placed where the rider can reach them. I think the pendulum may be swinging back. Many manufacturers now have a line of road bikes where the front end height is higher than on their out and out racing bikes. Giant's OCR, Cannondale's Synapse and Specialized's Roubaix spring to mind though there are plenty of others.

Re your own problem: If the bars are too low, or low and a touch too far away, perineal pressure in the drops can be one of the earliest signs. Equally, if the seat is even 3mm too high, then perineal pressure can occur with hands in drops that won't be present with hands on brake hoods or bar tops. I would pull the bars up in 10mm increments until the perineal pressure disappears and reassess after a few weeks of riding and racing with that bar position.

Riding at altitude

I'm a male 54 year old, 185 lb avid recreational cyclist who logs about 3500 miles a year and does the typical circuit of charity metrics and centuries throughout the year including a lot of hill work. My wife and I also take cycling vacations with companies like Backroads and Trek Travel and have a trip planned this summer in the Santa Fe area where we'll be riding for a week at altitudes of between 7000 and 9100 feet.

For sea level people like us, I was wondering if there are any tips for making our acclimation to altitude smoother considering we will begin cycling at altitude in hilly terrain for 30 to 60 miles a day for a week. Our schedule only allows us to arrive a day and a half earlier than the trip start and we intend on spending one of those days taking a moderately strenuous hike.

Other than keeping well hydrated, is there anything we can do in our training at sea level which will help acclimate us and/or are there any supplements, energy bars or the like which help the acclimation process.

Bill Morelli

Dave Palese replies:

I'm envious of you and your wife's travels! Sounds like fun.

As simple as it sounds, I wouldn't try to do anything different. Your thoughts of staying well hydrated are great. Otherwise, you body will take care of the rest. You have some new limits as far as output at a particular level of effort to deal with. By the end of the week you should start feeling like old sea level self.

Have fun, is my advice to you.

Maximum heart rate

I am 36 years old, 173 cm and 69 kg and have been cycling for 3 years now. This year I started training for the season about a month ago and I have noticed that my maximum heart rate (MHR) has changed.

Last year I had a resting heart rate (RHR) of 52 and a maximum of 195, as of this year the numbers have changed and I have 51 RHR and 201 MHR! Why is that happening and is it considered positive or negative regarding my fitness level?

Could it be because this year I have included some weight training in my program and my muscles keep pounding over the 195 without getting tired as of last year?

Telis
Athens, Greece

Scott Saifer replies:

Thanks for the inquiry. It is normal for resting heart rate to decrease a bit as you develop greater aerobic fitness. The change from 52 to 51 is barely large enough to be sure the change is real though. I'd recommend not getting to excited about it.

Maximum hear rate generally increases as an individual goes from sedentary to mildly trained. This increase can be a few beats to a few tens of beats depending on just how out of shape the individual is before training. This is a result, as you suggest, of the individual being able to sustain a higher work load but not specifically because of cardiac development. The changes may be some combination of changes in the muscle and changes in motivation and the ability to maintain motivation.

As an athlete goes from mildly trained to well trained, maximum heart rate typically decreases by 6-10 beats. The only exception is that an athlete who overtrains early in a career and is therefore tired and unable to reach his or her "real" maximum heart rate. (I put "real" in quotes because the highest heart rate you can reach is your maximum, no matter what factors are actually limiting it). Such an athlete may show an increase in maximum heart rate after resting up. I suspect this is your situation. Could be?

Are you as fast or faster than last year at moderate heart rates? That's the best indicator of developing fitness. An increase in maximum heart rate can mean increasing fitness in a beginner or decreasing fatigue in an experienced rider. A decrease can mean increased fatigue or developing fitness. So increases and decreases in maximum heart rate by themselves don't tell you much.

Kcal expenditure on heart rate monitors

I recently changed from a Polar heart rate monitor (HRM) to a Garmin Edge 305 unit with HRM. I note that the Garmin gives a significantly higher calorie expenditure number for a typical ride than the Polar did. For example, on a recent 42.5 mile ride, average speed of 19.4 mph, flat terrain, 2 hours 11 minutes duration, the Garmin gave a Kcal figure of about 3200 (rounding some).

Now, I wasn't using two HRMs at the same time, but I know from several years experience with the Polar, that I probably would have had a calorie expenditure of about 1800. I am a 59 year old male, 5 ft. 11 inches, and on both units I entered my actual max heart rate (177) derived from a stationary bike protocol. I am an experienced road rider. I inquired with Garmin's tech support about their Kcal calculations, and they simply responded that their formula was "proprietary."

I have two questions. What factors are typically included in the Kcal formulas used by HRMs? Do these formulas vary between manufacturers? With the discrepancy between the 2 units with which I've had experience, the question of accuracy of the Kcal estimates comes up. I always knew these were estimates, basically ball park figures, but with this recent experience, I almost wonder if these figures are garbage.

Merrill Anderson
Bellaire, TX, USA

Richard Stern replies:

I don't know how either Polar or Garmin calculate energy expenditure with their heart rate monitors. That said energy expenditure can, only be accurately ascertained within a laboratory setting, as the amount and types of expired respiratory gases need to be determined to work out 'fuel' use. This obviously requires fairly expensive equipment.

Outside of the laboratory (or a portable gas analyser) we can estimate energy expenditure from actual mechanical work done. This can be done accurately with a power meter, such as a Power Tap or SRM.

Work done (Kj) = power in Watts (/1000) * time (in seconds)

We know that 4.18 Kj = 1 Kcal, i.e. to convert the above in Kj to Kcal divide by 4.18

We also know that the human body is 20-25% efficient when cycling (i.e. multiply the Kcal from the previous equation by 4 to 5 to arrive at 'ball-parked' energy expenditure).

As the 4 to 5 and the 4.18 virtually cancel each other out, we can estimate our energy expenditure by suggesting that whatever the work done is in Kj is essentially the same as the energy expenditure in Kcal, i.e. if you had done 2000 Kj of work, you can say this is 2000 Kcal. This is suggested as thermodynamic efficiency alters under various conditions (e.g. cadence, temperature, power output, altitude, etc).

Going back to your data, the Garmin suggests that you expended 3200 Kcal in 2hrs and 11 mins (7860 seconds). Rearranging the work done formulae we arrive at

Power (Watts) = (work done / time) * 1000
Power = (3200 / 7860) * 1000
Average power from that Garmin session is therefore 407W.

Using an online calculator, or my previous experience, 407W seems inordinately high to travel at 31 km/h on flat terrain. I can make a guess using www.analyticcycling.com that your estimated power for 31 km/h on flat terrain would more likely require about 200 W or less than half what the Garmin is estimating (of course, if your route was actually uphill this would alter the estimated power from 200W to a higher figure).

On the other hand you suggest that the Polar would have shown about 1800Kcal, which works out at about 229W or about 15% higher than estimated figure I obtained from analytic cycling.

Numb feet

I am a 35 year old club racer with over 15 years of riding under my belt. On and off over the past four years I have had a problem with numb feet. I switched from Sidi's to Specialized Carbon Pro's to no avail. My bike, clothing fit is correct and I do not need orthodicts. Usually, after and hour and half of in the saddle riding results in my feet going numb, nothing else. No one as yet has been able to help me. Any suggestions?

Brian

Steve Hogg replies:

The most common reasons for numb feet in no particular order are:

1. Shoes that are too tight across the MTP heads compressing the joints and putting pressure on the nerve plexus.
2. Nerve compression somewhere between lower back and feet, generally any pain is more severe in one side than the other. This is more likely if you are tight in the hips and lower back.
3. Cleat position that is too far forward on the shoe. Have a look at these posts on cleat setup and 'ball of the foot' positioning for more info on that.

And lastly, just in case it is applicable, I'll relate a recent experience. A gent came to see me last year whose major issue was foot numbness that became acute pain on the bike. The onset was typically 20 minutes into a ride and the pain intensity meant that after two hours he could take no more. He is an Ironman and half Ironman triathlete so this presented a problem. It also prevented him from running off the bike. If he ran without riding prior, not even a hint of a problem. After positional changes, a change of shoes, orthoses, physiotherapy etc, etc, there was no real improvement. Shoes with less stiff soles delayed the onset but the pain levels were unchanged.

Then through his own efforts he found what I would describe as an esoteric chiropractor who assessed him and told him to eliminate dairy products from his diet and all would be fine. I am waiting to speak to this woman to have her explain the rationale behind this advice but as I write this three months later, he is pain free for the first time in some years. He said that eliminating dairy products didn't immediately solve the problem but there was a gradual reduction in severity over a month or a little more and now he can do whatever he likes on the bike without foot pain.

Shoe angle problems

I am having problems getting my cleat positioning correct, and I think it has to do with an anatomical problem. No matter what I seem to do, my right heel always wants to point outward, and my left heel always wants to point more inward (basically angling my legs to the left). I am uncomfortable unless they are angled about a half centimeter this way. As far as I know I don't have a leg length discrepancy, but my chiropractor feels that the pelvis is slightly rotated.

This has just seemed to develop within about the last two years, and I've been riding as an elite amateur triathlete for about 10 years now.

Does this stand out at all in your list of fit problems? And any idea how to correct this?

Ryan

Steve Hogg replies:

What you describe is not common but not rare either. In the short term set your cleat angle to allow your body to do as it pleases because any other way risks injury. The bike is not the place to try and remedy structural problems. On a bike we need to accept who we are in a functional sense and work around any shortcomings in the way best judged to keep us performing injury free.

That doesn't mean that you have to accept the situation though. I suspect that your pelvis is more than slightly rotated. Here is a suggested to do list:

1. Get an X-ray or scan to accurately determine leg length. Often leg length differences play a part in problems such as yours and it is better to know whether this is the case or not. Don't let anyone tell you that they can accurately determine leg length by external measurements. The potential error range is too high.

2. See your chiropractor or other structural health practitioner of your choice and have a stripped to underpants global structural assessment so that you know the state of play of your own body in a structural sense. Then you both can plan a regime to straighten you out.

As an aside, the smartest triathlete I know (Olympic medallist, Euro long course champ etc) once told me that the secret to long term performance in your sport was to treat triathlon as five sports in this order of priority.

A. Sleep and rest
B. Stretching and other structural maintenance.
C. Run, ride and swim in any order of priority you like.

That is about as sensible advice as you will get.

Cleat angles

Is there a rule of thumb technique that you can use to set the correct cleat angles on cycling shoes? Most of the time my knees feel okay while cycling, but occasionally I feel like making a small adjustment might improve things. I have Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL pedals with Specialized Sport Road shoes.

Dieter Spiller

Steve Hogg replies:

Rule of thumb? No.
Method to get cleat angle right? Yes.

Tighten the release tension on your pedals to the maximum. Go for a ride with a 4mm allen key in your pocket. Get into the large chainring and put some pressure on the pedals. Stop pedalling and coast with one foot forward. Attempt to turn that heel inwards. Is there available free movement?

If no, stop and angle the nose of your cleat further towards the centre line of the bike.
If yes, ride with effort again, stop pedalling and coast with foot forward and attempt to turn the heel outwards. Is there available movement?
If no, stop and turn the nose of your cleat outwards a touch.
If yes, fine.

Repeat this until you have a modicum of movement either side of where your foot naturally wants to sit on the pedal under load.Once done, repeat the entire process on the other side and then recheck the first side again.

Now loosen the release tension on your pedals to whatever you prefer. The reason to tighten them is that SPD-SL's, have limited freeplay and if the method of adjusting cleat angle above is followed with a low release tension setting, often what the rider perceives as 'freeplay' is actually the plastic spring loaded retention lever at the rear of the pedal moving as the cleat contacts it.

Another concern is that SPD-SL's don't have much margin for error as they have limited freeplay. There are plenty of people out there whose functional issues mean that their feet are going to move around on the pedal no matter what. For them, a system with a greater range of movement can be a better choice. That aside, they are a good pedal.

Holding tempo on climbs

I have been riding/training for about a year and a half. I'm 18 years-old, 177cm tall and 63-65kg. I mainly do criterium races.

My problem is this: On short steep climbs (1km long, 70-100m rise) I am able to keep up with older A grade riders. However, when it comes to longer climbs (3km or more at 5%) I get dropped, as I can't hold the consistent high tempo of other riders. I barely am able to keep a constant speed let alone increase the pace like the experienced riders.

What do I need to do to improve? The only 'mountains' around town are about 6-7km long at 5%, which I do two or three times every week.

Leo Z
Melbourne, Australia

Dave Palese replies:

You sound a lot like me. I raced mainly criteriums when I was younger growing up in New Jersey, USA. New Jersey is the home of the industrial park criterium.

The first point I'd like to touch on is the frequency of the climbing workouts you are doing (two-three days per week, as you state). I don't know the intensity level of these sessions, but if you are climbing these sessions at a 'hard' pace, you could be carrying fatigue through the week, and your overall performance could be suffering. Again, I don't know that this is case, but you should consider it when setting up your training. You guys are 'in-season' now, and rest should be a big part of your program now between weekend racing.

I suggest doing a session where the key workout consists of climbing the climb at a steady pace (not quite race pace), and then accelerating for two minutes to an overspeed intensity (overspeed being like you are responding to an attack). After two minutes, return to your steady climbing pace. Ride steady for four minutes between accelerations. Each climb should include two accelerations, for a total of 12 minutes. If the climb you are training is long enough, you can add time to the acceleration over a period of several weeks, always keeping the steady riding between double the length of the acceleration. If the hill is not long enough, then by all means, make the accelerations harder.

As with any interval workout (repeatability workouts being the only exception), the key is for all the intervals to be of equal quality. To do this, be sure not to over do it on the first interval. Always be thinking 'I have one (or two) more effort(s) to go. Going at this level of intensity, can I make the same effort of the same quality one or two more times?'

If you have this workout once a week; a hard repeats workout; and a race, that should be more than enough intensity for a week during the competition period. If you find that your legs are tired on race day, I'd throw out the hard repeats session. These are very general suggestions, but the general idea is there.

I hope some of this helps, and have fun!

Custom bike geometry

This is my situation: A few years ago I was fitted by a bike designer, who incidentally is no longer working, these are the dimensions that he came up with: Tubing: Reynolds 531; frame style: road; seat tube: 58cm (centre to centre); top tube: 60cm (centre to centre); seat angle: 70 degrees; head angle: 73 degrees; wheel base: standard.

He measured me up, went ahead and built me the bike and I've been running it since. Just recently I wanted another road bike and went to see John Kennedy. He measured me up and came up with these dimensions: Seat tube length: 59 (centre to centre); top tube length: 58 (centre to centre); seat tube angle: 71 degrees; crank length: 175 mm; handlebar width: 44 mm; stem length: 110mm; handlebar drop: 14cm.

Now I'm reasonably comfortable with my existing bike. What do you think of John's suggestions? Am I going to be more comfortable? Is it going to be a better geometry as far as the bike is concerned? I'm 1.83m tall, weigh 105kg. The problem is a number of years ago I weighed 70kg for many many years. Now I'm a lot heavier with a large pot belly. That's the reason why I ride with a high bar.

Any suggestion will be much appreciated because if I go ahead this new custom made bike it's going to cost me a small fortune (I've been saving up for it for a long time).

Steve I have great respect for your opinions and I still believe you should publish a book on the subject.

Joseph Alicandro

Scott Saifer replies:

I'll let Steve give you the super duper Steve detailed answer, but here's what I thought as I read your note just based on the dimensions and before I read the lines that follow, and I quote myself here, "If he liked the old bike he's not going to like the new bike unless he's gained a bunch of weight. If he has gained a bunch of weight and liked the old bike, he's going to like the new bike more".

Here's why: The longer seat tube is irrelevant because you can always show one more centimetre of seat post. The one degree difference in seat tube angle is not quite irrelevant but doesn't matter much because you can always put the seat 1cm farther back though you may need a set-back seat post to do it, but the shorter top tube and shortish stem are going to let you get your seat a lot farther back without ending up uncomfortably stretched out or with too little weight on the front wheel.

If you read Steve's posts you'll see that getting far enough back is key to keeping your weight off your hands. I'll guess that if you liked your old bike, you are in fact going to need a set-back seat post on your new bike now that you've gained 30 kilos, and that you are going to need an up-angled stem to get high enough to make room for the new fuel-pod.

One thing I like to remind people who are considering custom bikes: If the geometsry you are looking for is not too weird, you may be able to find it in a stock bike and save yourself a pot of money. 59cm seat tube with 58cm top tube is a common combination in stock bikes. 71 degree seat angle is pretty slack. I don't know if that is available or if you have to go custom to get that.

My knowledge is only deep enough to say which direction effects will go. Steve may be able to tell you the extent of the effects so I'll shut up now.

Steve Hogg adds:

I can't answer your question in the way you would probably like me to as I know nothing about you other than what you have told me. What I can say is this: If you are in any doubt about buying a bike to the newer set of dimensions, have John Kennedy set your existing bike up in the position he intends you to be in and ride around in that position for long enough to be able to make a decision based on your own experience.

This will probably cost you some money to do this, but as you aren't certain about what to do, it is better to spend a little now and find out first hand how you will like the position the new bike will dictate.

As to the book; it's coming.

Leveling the saddle

I am a five foot eleven male and I weigh 155lbs. I have been riding for two years now, and I just recently decided to switch to a Selle San Marco Concor Light saddle. It has a completely different shape to it than my old saddle. On the back of the saddle it kicks up with a slight curve, so leveling the saddle becomes difficult.

I have been using a carpenters level but I don't know if I should level the nose with the back. To me it seems like that would bring the nose up way to high, but I also don't want to leave the nose to low and slide forward. I was wondering if you have had any experience with these saddles and could offer me some help. It would be greatly appreciated.

Ryan

Steve Hogg replies:

If you level a Concor Lite between front and rear, the nose will be too high for comfort for most riders. Position it so that as viewed from the side, the seat nose rises slightly from the dip in the middle of the seat. This will leave the rear of the seat a touch higher than the nose. Typically with Concor Lites, a dial protractor will read nose down by 1-1.5 degrees.

People vary a bit though and I know one rider who rides with them level and is happy. Experiment a bit if in doubt.

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