Do i need a shorter stem, lower back pain?



CycleLad99

Member
Apr 16, 2016
11
6
3
Ireland
Hey guys,
So I have a second hand 52 cm road bike which by what I went from should be right as I am 5ft 5 inches. However on very intensive rides like going up new hills etc or even longish distances I get lower back pain to the point of crippling that I have to pull over and get off the bike. The stem on it currently is 115mm and while on the hoods I can see the hub behind the bars. I also feel slightly stretched out. Weirdly, I never experience this pain on the trainer, only while out on the road. Do I need to strengthen my core? I can't afford a bike fit and also tight on money so need to decide on proper stem length before I buy!

I have included pics of my position while holding hoods and drops. I am getting quite annoyed now. And to move the saddle very far forward it goes past the max lines.

https://m.imgur.com/a/Gs6mS

Thank you!
 

BrianNystrom

Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2013
274
68
28
Anyone here?
Don't take the lack of responses personally, it's just really difficult to diagnose fit issues in a forum. The fact that your pics are taken from a slightly rearward angle makes is hard to get a good read on your position.

The old rule that "the stem should block your view of the front hub" may work for some riders, but it doesn't work for people like me who have long arms for their height. I've always been able to see the front hub on properly fitted bikes.

Although your current stem appears to be a 115, I don't know of anyone who actually makes that size, so it's probably a 110. That does sound a bit long for a 52cm frame, but it depends on the frame geometry and your body dimensions.

Stems are cheap and easy to change, so experimenting with a shorter one is easy enough to do. If you're in the UK, PlanetX has closeout prices on a several models of stems as we speak, so for $25-$40 you could pick up a couple of different sizes to try. You're not going to hurt yourself by experimenting.

As for the fact that your back only gets sore on the road, it's likely due to the increased vibration. If you're running high tire pressures, try dialing them back. I'm 175 pounds and with 25c tires, I routinely run 72/82, front/rear. You don't necessarily need to go that low, but if you're running a lot more, try dialing it back. It will make your bike a lot more comfortable and it won't cost you anything performance-wise.
 

Lostfreight

New Member
Feb 12, 2007
8
2
3
If the pain you experience is “crippling” it might be worth getting sized or at very least rely on your local bike shop for some sizing input. What is your good health worth? Especially when it’s a back issue.
 

KokoSlayer

New Member
Jul 8, 2021
1
0
1
34
If everyone used and tuned the bike correctly, there would be no pain.
Cyclists have back pain at least as often as they have knee pain. Low back pain is very common, and it is not uncommon to have very severe pain. First of all, I would like to turn to mountain bikers. It is possible that someone will consider our advice controversial, but we advise you to refuse from a hardtail for a while and switch to a full-suspension bike in case of regular back pains.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
10,606
678
113
Cyclists have back pain at least as often as they have knee pain. Low back pain is very common, and it is not uncommon to have very severe pain. First of all, I would like to turn to mountain bikers. It is possible that someone will consider our advice controversial, but we advise you to refuse from a hardtail for a while and switch to a full-suspension bike in case of regular back pains.

The OP mentioned road bike not a mtn bike.
 
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cyclintom

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2011
1,277
194
63
Hey guys,
So I have a second hand 52 cm road bike which by what I went from should be right as I am 5ft 5 inches. However on very intensive rides like going up new hills etc or even longish distances I get lower back pain to the point of crippling that I have to pull over and get off the bike. The stem on it currently is 115mm and while on the hoods I can see the hub behind the bars. I also feel slightly stretched out. Weirdly, I never experience this pain on the trainer, only while out on the road. Do I need to strengthen my core? I can't afford a bike fit and also tight on money so need to decide on proper stem length before I buy!

I have included pics of my position while holding hoods and drops. I am getting quite annoyed now. And to move the saddle very far forward it goes past the max lines.

https://m.imgur.com/a/Gs6mS

Thank you!
Now that you've gotten your fill of advice allow me to add some more - lower back pain VERY often comes from pressure on your prostate gland. Try a saddle with a cut-out and my guess is that you will be amazed. I have even gone back and forth and each time have had exactly the same relief (or not)
 

Dalton Bourne

New Member
Jun 27, 2021
16
0
1
25
I have a 54cm road bike and want to reduce the reach (probably legs longer than most of my height and therefore a shorter body). I went from 100mm to 80mm bodywork - this road bike stem is sourced from Origin8, it helps distribute weight evenly and makes riding more comfortable. Installing this bike stem wasn’t an issue, either, with its two-piece faceplate design. I can’t even imagine a newbie biker having trouble with it.
 

Dalton Bourne

New Member
Jun 27, 2021
16
0
1
25
I have a 54cm road bike and want to reduce the reach (probably legs longer than most of my height and therefore a shorter body). I went from 100mm to 80mm bodywork - this road bike stem is sourced from Origin8, it helps distribute weight evenly and makes riding more comfortable. Installing this bike stem wasn’t an issue, either, with its two-piece faceplate design. I can’t even imagine a newbie biker having trouble with it.
Installing this bike stem wasn’t an issue, either, with its two-piece faceplate design. It’s one of the most straightforward setup processes available for these products. I can’t even imagine a newbie biker having trouble with it.
 

cyclintom

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2011
1,277
194
63
I wonder why cyclelad hasn't responded after his "is anyone there" message. In his picture he was perhaps a little stretched out which would be easily fixed with a shorter stem or moving the saddle forward a little though this can have effects on pedaling angle. But I remain adamant that most lower back pain in men are caused by pressure on the prostate and you have to have a saddle with a cut out.
 

Mr. Beanz

Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2015
1,858
972
113
Cyclists have back pain at least as often as they have knee pain. Low back pain is very common, and it is not uncommon to have very severe pain. First of all, I would like to turn to mountain bikers. It is possible that someone will consider our advice controversial, but we advise you to refuse from a hardtail for a while and switch to a full-suspension bike in case of regular back pains.
You along with the OP need a good bike fit.

Paid or not fit, because your opinion is pretty far off.
 

comebackkid

Member
Aug 10, 2022
23
8
3
53
I have ridden a variety of bikes this year of different types a few thousand miles, a MTB and three different road-bikes all with different frames, geometries and accessories, and none of them has caused my back or anything else to hurt at all.

One of the road bikes stretched me out more than the other two as it's seat was a few inches further from the bars than I was used to and that caused me to slide forward on the seat while riding, but it did not make anything hurt.

I would think that if some bike was so badly matched to my body to cause me severe pain, that if the bike was the cause it would be easily noticeable as far as what needed to be changed.

Today I was able to modify the seatpost on the one road-bike that had me stretching out too far so that I could move the seat a few inches forward, and I think that will keep me on the seat where I belong. I could have put a shorter stem on the bike, but it was easier and cheaper to move the seat forward, and I have always found more power and comfort in having the saddle moved more over the pedal-crank centerline than in keeping it further back and using a shorter stem. Not having to reach forwards as much with your legs to pedal should take some of the strain off the lower back IMHO.
 

urmila alp2

New Member
Jun 8, 2021
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Dubai
vipescortsindubai.com
A more limited stem will decrease the span and give a more upstanding position, which could help in the event that you're feeling excessively loosened up. On the other side, on the off chance that you're feeling squeezed on the bicycle, utilizing a somewhat longer stem will expand the span.
 

comebackkid

Member
Aug 10, 2022
23
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53
Looking at your photos there is nothing unusual about your riding position, I don't think it should be hurting your back, so I am guessing you may have a back problem. Better photos might help. Here is a photo someone took of me on my favorite road bike which I have put thousands of miles on in much comfort, and I am sixty years old. See if you can get someone to take photos of you from further away that are more complete like this.

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