Modifying the stem on a Trek Madone 3.1

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by tsj7cf, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. tsj7cf

    tsj7cf New Member

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    Hi, I'm new to the forums, but am kinda stuck with a question needing answering. I have been mountain biking for a while now and have recently become interested in getting a road bike to get into triathlons. I found a crazy deal for a 2012 Trek Madone 3.1 for $1,000 on clearance (regularly $2000) but it's a 62 cm frame. I already bought it, but am now having second thoughts since I may be better off with a 60 cm frame. The salesman at the LBS suggested that I could always shorten the stem later if I had issues with arm/shoulder soreness or if I wanted to mount aerobars for triathlon use. Is this a feasible option? I've looked on trek's site on the bike's geometry and the effective top tube length difference is 1.2 cm between the two frame sizes. Unfortunately, its wintry and icy here so I haven't had a chance to take it out for a long ride to see if this is really even an issue for me. What I've also seen is changing the stem's angle. Thanks for any thoughts!
     
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  2. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    If you include your height one of the taller fellas may have some feedback about the size. Do you have short/long arms relative to your height? Longer legs? Not sure? Some compensation can be made with a shorter stem (what's the length of the current one?).

    About swapping out to a shorter stem... that answer is most likely yes as larger sizes usually come equipped with longer stems. It takes all of 5 minutes, and a new stem. And is the stem angle question about wanting to be higher or lower (which is altogether different than wanting to be more/less stretched out).

    I'm gathering returning the bike for an appropriate size, if this bike is indeed to large for you, is not an option?
     
  3. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, there are all sorts of stem options you could try, and I'm sure the shop that sold you the bike would love to sell you a couple. It would be better if they gave you a refund. Riding a bike that is so large that it requires radical stem remediation is no fun.
     
  4. tsj7cf

    tsj7cf New Member

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    Oh yeah, should've included my height, I'm 6'1"
     
  5. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Most 6' 1" riders with 'typical' body proportions will be on a 58 CM or maybe a 60 CM frame.

    Back in the early 1970's you may have been on a conventional 60 CM or 62 CM (center to top), but those days are long gone.

    I'm no Madone fit guru, but I'm guessing you can easily dial in a correct seat height and setback. The low seat may 'look' a little odd in today's era of 9" of seat post sticking out, but you should be OK there.

    The correct fit in the reach to the bars department...maybe a bit more difficult to achieve. A 'normal' fit for a 6' 3"-6' 4" rider on a 62 CM might have him using a 120 MM or 130 MM stem to get a comfortable, efficient position on the bike.

    You, on the other hand, may have to dial back to a 90 MM or 100 MM stem length. Any shorter than that and the weight distribution on the bike might be off, the steering could get weird, etc. Your age, flexibility, conditioning and riding style factor into the equation.

    All that said...the other two replies contain the best advice: Return the bike for the CORRECT fit for you. A bike is never fit by the price tag or discount percentage, only by the geometry.
     
  6. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    Just as an FYI, I'm about 3/4" taller than you, and the correct frame size Madone for me was 60 cm. I think the stock stem was 110 mm. I think 100 mm would have been the ideal stem length, but a 1 cm (10 mm) difference didn't affect my comfort, so I stayed with the 110 mm.

    Two people the same height can have different fit criteria though. I have a 32" inseam and a 32" sleeve length. Long torso, short limbs (relatively speaking).
     
  7. tsj7cf

    tsj7cf New Member

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    No, It's currently a 110 mm. I've found a 60 mm angled stem that would shorten my reach and I do have a longer inseam at 34 in, so my legs feel comfortable. I'm just not sure if it would make the steering more fidgety.
     
  8. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    60mm is a huge jump from 110. Even if going this route to solve the problem I would suggest a lower delta on the first iteration or two.

    Aside from trail, fidgety steering is also a function of how one's weight is distributed over the steering axis, relative to ones "ideal" position. A shorter or longer stem doesn't in itself guarantee anything - a stem that is too short relative to ones ideal overall reach will quicken steering, and subsequently a stem that is on the longer side relative to ones appropriate reach may slow things down. Quick (and maybe oversimplified) example: My previous frame had a 54.5 top tube and 90mm stem, my current frame has 53.5 top tube and a 100mm stem. Both frames have identical rake and trail. Both bikes handle pretty much identically despite the different stem lengths... my weight is positioned similarly relative to the steering axis despite the different sizes/stem lengths. If I were to have run a 100/110 on the 54.5, or a 110/120 on the 53.5, I might expect the steering response to slow as my stem length relative to my ideal reach would have increased. And visa versa going short.

    A non cycling example would be to hold a bowling ball close to your stomach, then hold it a little further out. You can rotate at the waist and still have a good degree of control without it's mass becoming unwieldy. When going too far out from the center however, you'll notice less control. My size/stem example above puts the "bowling ball" in the roughly the same place relative to myself despite the different measurements.

    This conjecture btw is from my own experience on having worked with a number of ill-fitting frames, and is somewhat subjective so take with a grain of salt.

    But as Bob mentioned the weight distribution over a frame that is incorrectly sized may (or may not) affect things.

    The longer inseam would suggest a shorter top tube, but I'm gathering an exchange of frame size is not an option. Maybe the dealer would consider a restocking fee? Overall a small price to pay considering the original good deal.

    That said, I have gotten both smaller and larger frames to work using various stem lengths, handlebar drops, headset spacers etc. but always better to start from the closest to ideal size.
     
  9. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    By most estimations your Madone should be a 58, maybe a 60 if you have one of those bodies that unfolds larger than your height would suggest.
     
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