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Daily Archives: November 1, 2014

Cycling on Perfection

I upgraded my Venge, written about it a few times, over the last month or so with a new high-end handlebar and stem:
IMG_5173Part of the upgrade was for a nominal weight drop (less than one-quarter of a pound).  The majority of the upgrade was for what are often referred to as “style watts”.  My bike simply looks more awesome.  Once I decided to make the upgrade I knew exactly what I was going to do with the old handlebar from the Venge – it was definitely going on my Trek because I hated the original bar that came on the bike.

After getting my 5200 set up and ready for the winter the other day, I decided to take her out for a spin Thursday evening… Having ridden my Venge almost exclusively all season long, let’s just say riding the 5200 for more than a few miles was a bit of a shock to the system.

First, I couldn’t help feeling crammed into the cockpit. That and I had my saddle height set to my initial fitting, three years ago, it was just a touch too high. I fixed the saddle height (lowered it 2 mm) at the bike shop when I stopped by to say hello… I also figured once I fixed the saddle height, the reach issue would be a little less obnoxious.

Uh, no.

Saddle in the right location and height, I still felt cramped and couldn’t understand why – after all, the Trek was fitted and modified to fit me just so, when I bought it almost three years ago. When I got back home I pulled out a tape measure to figure it out. It didn’t take long. The distance from the nose of my saddle to the center of the bar on the Venge was 22-3/4″. The Trek was 21-1/2″ (both are outfitted with Spec. Romin saddles). An inch and a quarter difference, no wonder I felt crammed into the cockpit – I was. This is possibly why they say setups change over time.  It makes sense that once switching to Venge’s setup, the newness of the bike masked the fact that the setup was so different… Fortunately I had my old stem from the Venge so I put that on and now both measurements are within a millimeter or two but there’s a trick to this:  Both saddles are the same make and model (one’s a 2012 and the other is a 2013 though).  Had the saddles been different, this measurement may not have worked.

Now, is this the perfect fix? Maybe, but maybe not… The Venge and Trek geometries are different so while the measurement from the nose of the saddle to the center of the bar, on both bikes, are almost identical now, the measurement from the center of the seat post to the center of the bar on the Venge is a little shorter than the Trek (1/4″). The Trek is an old style, flat top tube while the Venge has a modern, sloped top tube.  The only way to be sure is to put time in on the saddle of the Trek but there’s no doubt that the fit should be better now that what it was last week.

This all came on the heels of a major assumption mistake on my part too… I just assumed that the original setup on the Trek was right but the Venge has changed my riding style considerably. I’m a lot more stretched out and lower than I used to be (helps with breathing but it takes a little more flexibility and strength – both core and arm/shoulder).

I swapped handlebars on the Trek a couple of weeks ago – I simply went with matching what I had on there originally – a 70 mm. The stem is now a 100 mm.

This is the beautiful thing about riding an exceptional bike, perfectly set up and expertly fitted… The only downside is that everything else feels terrible until it gets dialed in.

UPDATE: With snow still on the ground I suited up and headed out to check my work. Interestingly, I did feel stretched out but not too much. The problem was back at the saddle. I kept creeping up on the saddle so my sit bones just couldn’t stay on the happy-spot on my saddle. On getting back home, I swapped the 100 with my racing 90 on my old 3700… Took that for a spin and problem solved. Bike setup is a funny thing – even though the numbers make sense, sometimes you just to have to go with your butt.