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How To Perform A Bike Fit – Reach And Stem Length For Road Cycling

How To Perform A Bike Fit – Reach And Stem Length For Road Cycling


The reach to the handlebars is so important because of the static nature of cycling for the upper body, so it’s one
of the few sports where there’s such a difference between upper and lower body. The majority of the time you’re in the same
position bent over essentially for massive,
massive periods, and very static. So if you get that reach
wrong, over that amount time it can add up to discomfort and at worst, pain and injuries. Most people’s default
position is on the brake levers, obviously that’s where the gear changes doing,
that needs to be in people’s comfort zone, if that’s too far away they generally
overreach. Most people will bend forward people will have a small bend in their mid-back
and they’ll take up the slack with their shoulders so if the reach is
too far away the shoulders bow round, they’re always using their pecs slightly to hold themselves out, very straight-armed, and it means that the connecting muscles, the rhomboids in the shoulder blades are always being stretched and not being
used, so over a period of time they get weak, get very tight, and people end up like this.
If you’re too far away and you’re overreaching, there’s a lack of
stability and strength. If you’re going to do something dextrous, for
example when you chop an onion at home you do it close in where you’ve got the
most control and strength, you don’t do it way out, and it’s the same on the bike, you want
to have control and strength so you can handle the bike, change gear, adapt, make small changes
descending, this needs always to be close and in your comfort zone. If you’re set in a natural seat position, so
we’re talking about having the front of the knee over the pedal axle, so that standard position,
most people a good balance between aerodynamics and
comfort for your average sportive rider is that 45 degree angle. Some people who might be able to move
forward more are guys who have more natural flexibility in
the chain, which is the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. So part of that is work so flexibility, stretching, and part of it is
just a natural ability really, some people are naturally more flexible that others. Occupation is a big factor
as well, so people who spend a lot of time in that seated position are more likely
to be quite stiff in the hamstrings and also quite stiff
it the hip flexors. So we’re talking about back angle of about 40
to 50 degrees on the top of the levers is a good compromise
between comfort and aerodynamics. Like I say, Si being ex-pro and being able
to handle those lower tolerances from years of riding a bike he’s
at the lower end at 39.3 for his back angle. So what we’re looking at here with Si is keeping that upper arm angle at less than 80 degrees, so it stops that
rotation of the shoulder blade. So about 90 degrees. Like I say, Si is on the edge of that limit but coming from an ex-pro background he’s
got that extreme position but with Si it’s sustainable. So he was at 39 degrees before, we’re looking to 40-50 as a
good balance, and Si is getting a little old now and winding it down so actually he does need a bit more comfort
going into his older age! So actually going up from 39 degrees to 43
actually suits the relaxed position, it now suits his relaxed style of riding. At 80 degrees, we’ve now brought him to a far
more comfortable 76, so taking a little bit of stress off his shoulder blades by bringing that arm back a little bit and also visually you can see that the shoulder
blades now the arms have gone back a little bit so we’ve
taken a bit of slack off the lower back by coming up a touch and a bit of slack by bringing the shoulders back, but that was quite an extreme change – 2cm off the stem, and 1.5cm up.
Overall, Si has probably got a less aerodynamic position, but for
his style of riding now it’s a more comfortable position.

86 comments on “How To Perform A Bike Fit – Reach And Stem Length For Road Cycling

  1. So lets get this straight – in order to set my bike up I need to install 'Steam' … hmmm – does that mean I can play Call of Duty while kicking the breeze with my mates in the peleton.

  2. What wasn't discussed crank length ???? and saddle height…..top-tube length, also – a very understated subject !

    Soo many bikes now are soo fixed in geometry – I'm surprised that wasn't discussed either – hence my choice of 'custom 😉

    Best line of the video: 'Simon's getting a bit older now – going into his older years' CLASSIC

  3. Haha, let's keep this quiet, but I've left the spacers under the stem and put my 130mm back on. Dare I say it, I kind of like it. – Simon

  4. Hi Lee, this is just one of many videos about bike fit that will feature on GCN. We've covered some of your points already in a previous video, but we'll add the others to our "to do" list.

  5. give that short stem a try! my fit guys says comfort = power because you're less fatigued.

    what really proved this was when i sat on a 58cm domane and realized where the handlebars were

  6. So you had a 110cm fitted and now just gone higher with the 130cm… = makes sense – bike fit is imperative

    Like Mike Brooks says – relaxed fit is the deal 😉

    GCN videos THE BEST just like OGE videos lol

  7. What's the best way of doing this at home? are there any programs I can download and use my own pictures etc? Thanks

  8. In speaking of bike fit, can you please get some info on Johan Van Summerens bike and fit. how does he fit on a 58cm? pros & cons? Thanks guys! Keep the videos coming!

  9. Mark Cavendish's approach to a lower handle bar but stuffing it with foam to raise the tops when climbing, what is your verdict on this technique?

  10. Being a Bike fitter, I like this video and the info does give people the impetus to look to getting a PROPER bike fit, but cant emphasise enough how important a proper bike fit is, I have had customers that have come to me with 'mates' advice or something I read in a cycling mag and have done themselves some real damage…..

  11. Excellent video, everything well explained. I had a pro bike fit recently and it has made a huge difference to my performance and my comfort on the bike. I'm getting more out of every pedal stroke with seemingly less effort. I would thoroughly recommend a proper fitting to anyone considering it.

  12. So. If I would have problems on my bike, the handlebar is probably to far away? i changed from 100mm to a 80mm stem. Hope its going to be better

  13. What measurements do pro mechanics use to set up each riders bike? (in other words, how do they repeat the exact position when setting up a new bike) I thought that information would be useful for us weekend warriors. great channel. thanks.

  14. They tend to have a measuring rig that travels with the team mechanics truck so that they can repeat the same measurements each time. Without a rig, it's a bit more difficult, but there are a few key measurements that you can take – seat layback, saddle height, reach and drop. We'll have to do a video!

  15. Hi Simon, just a question . As Oli said the ideal back angle range is 40° to 50°, but wich is the ideal shoulder angle range? Thanks for your attention

  16. Hi Julio, Your shoulders to your upper arms normally sit at a bit under a 90° angle to your chest when on the hoods. Your shoulders should be relaxed across your back and not being pulled in towards your chest – as Oli talks about at 0:50.

    Hope this helps!

  17. HI, I just want to know what computer software you were using to see how much degree certain parts of he's body was at? Thanks

  18. @josephbourne….it does not have to be that high tech.  you can really feel this in your body…how does your reach feel?…how does your bottom feel?…how do your shoulders feel?…sometimes we want to look like the pros, but it's actually better to come back a bit…relax…move the bike in ways that make sense to move your body so it does not hurt….that said, this is the 2nd GCN video I have watched and they are amazing.  This stuff is golden.  &  remember it is all a process…  I ride a very different setup than I did years ago, and that was different from even more years ago.  ups and downs….

  19. hi
    what software can i use to watch the angles? i'm really needing to fit my bike because i'm with an unbearable pain back.
    And congratulation for the videos, continue the awesome work 🙂

  20. I just got new 3t ergo nova handlebars , same width as previous ones but a better feel , I feel I could do with a shorter stem length as I am stretched out a touch and my hands are just shy of the hoods for the favoured riding position , will a 1cm difference make much difference at all in the steering and handling of the bike ??

  21. I keep getting quite bad numbing and pins and needles in my left hand when riding, is this due to incorrect riding position and what can I do about it?

  22. Can anyone help me? My frame size is 59/60 and I'm 5' 10" tall and while cycling I don't feel any discomfort, but I know that the frame size is a little big for me, so the question is – will it bring me any bad consequences in the long run?

  23. What would you recommend for someone looking for all out comfort who has no interest in speed/aerodynamics , like on a touring bike ?

  24. I just returned from a bike fit.raising the seat 1 cm and reducing the stem from 120mm to 90mm changed my power output from 235 to 479. Need to get used to the new feeling. Would certainly recommend a fitting if you do at least 150 mile a week.I used watt bike at giant Liverpool. Lasers.

  25. Great video as usual! I have a 56cm frame with a 57cm top tube length. I feel that maybe the reach is a bit far as I tend to not grip at the end of the brake hoods. But a cm or so further back plus I can see the front axle spindle in front of the handlebar whilst resting on the hoods. My question is :- I have a 110cm stem at the moment on a few spacers, should I just go to a 100cm? I'm worried that I'll change/spoil the handling if I go too short? What do you advise chaps? Thanks 🙂

  26. Thanks for the great videos.  They're both useful and often hilarious.

     I've been tinkering with my own fitting numbers from measurements I entered at competitivecyclist.com and by measuring some angles with the bike fast fit app.  Seems like I may need to lower my handle bars.  Do you have a video on how to remove spacers?  Also, is it possible to alter angles by rotating the stem?

  27. Cheers Hicham
    Ive gone down to 10cm from 11cm and got a 9cm just in case but the 10cm seems spot on now :-)) so I think that I'll leave it as it is and see if anything needs changing when I get better flexibility and core strength.
    Ta
    Richard

  28. Thanks for great videos. I've learned more than a lot here.

    I have a little fitting problem: I've tried on various sizes of bikes (seat tube ranging from 52cm to 57cm with top tube 56cm to 57cm) and I can adjust the seat position according to length of my legs just fine.

    However, I just can't get my upper part of the body in the right position as my arms and torso are kind of short relative to my leg length (arm and thigh are almost equal length), so the steering is always slightly out of reach – either too low on smaller bikes or too far in front on bigger ones. If my torso is somewhere around 40 degrees from horizontal (i'm comfortable with that), the angle between my arms and torso is somewhere around 100 to 105 degrees, which makes the bike kind of hard to steer when cornering and weakens my grip. Shortening the stem doesn't seem to make much difference.

    Do you have any idea how to tackle this problem? Here are my measurements:

    Inseam: 82
    Trunk: 61
    Forearm: 30.5
    Arm: 60
    Thigh: 58
    Lower Leg: 53
    Sternal Notch: 130
    Total Body Height: 161

    I assure you I'm not a T-Rex, I just look that way on a bike. 😀

    Thanks.

  29. Hmm my stem is 100mm but I'm far more comfortable on the corners of the top bar as supposed to the huds,,,, would a 40mm reduction in stem be too severe? What length stem could you safely drop too?
    Cheers

  30. I ride 56cm bike. But one bike i buy is 57cm. Stem is 120mm. I feel i stretch for reach the handlebars. if i replace the stem and i put 110mm stem the shorter stem is go do my 57cm bike as 56cm bike?

  31. How i calcualate the torso and arm measurements for i found what size top tube is good for me and also i try found the stem length

  32. Nice video, but a little arbitrary on how you measured the angles. Compare 2:16 against 3:03 and you'll see the line extends to the middle of the ear in the first case, as opposed to way above the ear in the second case. This exaggerates the increase in the back angle you were trying to demonstrate.

  33. hey guys, could you teach us something about crank arm length? I aaaalmost bought a new chainset today, but when the website asked me which crank length I wanted I just didn't know if my old cranks were the ideal size for me…

  34. Si, did you feel more comfortable on the bike after his alterations or have you gone back to your old set up?

  35. Most fitters and info online recommend shooting for a shoulder angle of 90 deg when measuring between the elbow, the shoulder and the hip. In this video, Oli shoots for a 90 deg angle when measuring between the wrist, the shoulder and the hip instead, which will result in a "shorter" cockpit. Which is correct?

  36. How do you determine which points on the body to measure angles from? It seems like depending on where you measure the torso angle could have a huge affect on what angle you get.

  37. I am 6 feet but I am not sure how high my saddle should be should it be such that when I sit my foot should touch the ground?

  38. Make an video: Take your normal beginner cyclist. Take him all out bikefit and all out new bike buy and ride…even one year followup for that. ✌🏻☝🏻☝🏻☝🏻☝🏻☝🏻☝🏻

  39. @Global Cycling Network. When I use the plumb line method I find my vastus medialis fatigues almost to the point of DOMS after the ride, should I just stick with it and build the muscle up or should i stay sat slightly further back?

  40. i see riders all the time, that ride bow legged..? Why do they..? I rode motorcycle for years and was always taught to squeeze the tank with my knees. . On the bike, I have always concentrated on keeping the knees pointed forward and the hips level..

  41. Están pasando en Ecuador estos vídeos para los que no le hacemos al inglés como nos vamos a suscribir si no sabemos que dicen y se ve interesante no como esos otros videos de esas personas que dicen saber y no explican nada

  42. I don't understand: the shot at 1:44 shows a good angle between the arms and back to be 90 degrees. Later in the video, the commentator changed Simon's arm and back angle from 89.3 (very close to 90) to 76 degrees.

  43. Before the video began another 'Fitting Master' ran his commercial, and has different ergonomic points and thus all theses angles end up being CRAP. I like one uses the ear but is that head up or down like a racer. Different place. Angle of back he says in 45-50 deg the commercial said over 52. No agreement acuts or obtuse. Each rider would get a different answer by all these fitters.

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