Suddenly my pedal stroke is ruined.

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by AyeYo, May 11, 2014.

  1. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Somehow, some way, I can no longer pedal. I'm not sure what did it, because there was a combination of changes at once. I've adjusted the bars to a more aggressive position, got new pedals, new saddle, and the bike shop messed with my seat position and it took me a couple rides to notice and readjust. Now I can't pedal. I used to be able to smoothly pedal 115rpm on the trainer and 120rpm on the road. Now anything over 95 and I'm bouncing like a rubber ball on a trampoline. Please NOTE, this is not a normal bounce. I've experienced poor pedal technique bounce, this is different. This is like a dead spot in the pedal stroke. I can't tell if it's at TDC or BDC because I can't pin point which leg is causing it. I don't NEED to pedal faster than that, but towards the end of rides when my legs are tired and I'd like to spin a little faster to make the power, I now find myself hunting through the gears to get comfortable. Can a handlebar position change actually effect pedal stroke or is it more likely that by seat to pedal distance was thrown off in the shuffle? What's weird is, the lower I get, the worse it gets. On the hoods I can do almost 100rpm, barely. On the drops, 95. On the aero bars, 85-90 at best. It almost feels like the crank arms are too long, but that makes no sense seeing as how I was spinning far faster a couple weeks ago.
     
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  2. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Hip/pelvic rotation?
     
  3. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    None that I can tell. My hips seem as stable as ever. I'm going to try dropping the seat a couple MM before my ride tonight anyway, just to see whether it makes it better or worse.
     
  4. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Just HOW did the bike shop change your saddle position?

    Just WHAT was your old riding position?

    WHY don't you consider going back to your previous setup?
     
  5. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    The bike shop likes to clamp the bike into the stand via the seat post. Why they're unable to do this without extending the seat post way out and then NOT returning it to its original position is beyond me. I'm fairly certain I've gotten it back to where it was, but maybe I haven't. Or maybe the new pedals changed the height of my shoes a little.

    My old riding position had about 15mm more spacers under the stem and the bar was rotated up slightly (hoods were slightly above horizontal).

    I have no plans of going back to my old riding position because I'm significantly faster in the new position and the bike handles better. I honestly can't see how that would effect my pedal stroke unless my hip angle was way way off, but I'm still well short of 90* and in the grand scheme of things my "aggressive" riding position on this endurance bike is on par with the very unaggressive stock positions on most race bikes.
     
  6. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    [COLOR=FF00AA]HMMmmm[/COLOR] ... Okay ... Well, in addition to NOT going back to your former riding position, you should probably NOT go back to that particular bike shop for 'maintenance' OR any other work ... BTW. When you lowered your handlebars, you changed the reach ... Consequently, you may actually want to try a SHORTER stem ... If your current stem is 110mm long, then try a 100mm stem ...
    • When in doubt, just buy one for
     
  7. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Not a bad idea. Current stem is 100mm so I might grab a cheap 90mm just to try out. Do you think that would effect pedal stroke though?

    And yes, I'm done with bike shops period unless it's for press work. I'm slowly accumulating bike specific tools and learning to do all my own work.
     
  8. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    While some people would certainly like to think that there is a simple formula for fitting a rider to a bike, as OTHERS will certainly tell you, SOME trial-and-error is necessary to determine what's what ...
    • If you were to get a shorter stem to use for the next few weeks-or-months, you may find that going back to the 100mm stem will eventually work for you ... And possibly, even a 110mm stem could be in your future as YOU are more acclimated to riding in the more "aggressive" riding position.
    BTW. The lesson for the FUTURE is that if-or-when you opt for a new bike that you need to be very aware of the reach which you will experience as a result of the combined length of the top tube (real or effective) + stem length + handlebar reach & drop + actual brake lever 'platform' before contacting the brake lever's 'horns' ...
     
  9. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    With lower bars you changed your hip angle at TDC. Your thighs may be striking your midsection or a lack of flexibility is resisting the upward stroke of the pedal.

    In my personal experience, I get a little bouncy trying to go to low with a high cadence.
     
  10. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    I commend you for being striving to maintain your cadence. Cadence is good for you.

    I think maydog is looking up the right tree for hip angle, but my hunch says it's just using different muscles. My suggestion is, make note of the current saddle height and lower it to where the bouncing goes away. Then, when and if your cadence and smoothness returns, try raising it toward this height gradually. And if you never return it to this height, don't sweat it. Once you're in the ballpark and using good pedaling form, saddle height isn't nearly as critical as setback and angle.

    And alfeng is right about the stem length, once the bar is lower than the saddle. Jeez, I'm in an agreeable mood tonight.
     
  11. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Better than an apple a day!


    Fully agree. The push for longer crankarms, bigger gears, "pro" fits, yada yada has seen saddle heights creep up in my time. It does feel like we get more leverage turning over a bigger gear, but that "souplesse" the old timers love to waffle on about goes out the window. If a profile picture with you on the bike suggests you'd be qualified for the ballet, it needs to go down. Even if not, the suggestion above is good. And fer chrissakes, once you get the fit established again, write it down! On a piece of paper, marking it on an old tape measure, wherever. It'll also make setup on a new bike a snap - saddle height, saddle tip to bars, distance of saddle tip behind bb, stack height, and Bob's your uncle. And don't count on a piece of electric tape around the seatpost doing it, you might come across a mischievous teammate who gets the damn idea to move it ;P
     
  12. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Lowering it slightly is exactly what I did and it worked great. I dropped it 2-3mm prior to a fast group ride. First time I looked down and expected 95rpm it was more like 110rpm of smoothness. That made me happy. I was able to do some hills at 120rpm towards the end of the ride, just like I used to. Hard to believe just a few mm can make such a difference. When I raised it back up after the bike shop screwed it up, it must have been just slightly too high to the point that my knee must have been locking out or nearly locking out at BDC.

    I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I'm still going to look into that shorter stem too. My arms don't have much bend when in the drops.
     
  13. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Good call. I need to go do some measuring tonight. It took me an entire evening of riding to get my new saddle right, then another half day of riding the next day. I don't even want to think about readjusting if I have to take it off for some reason. Writing down measurements is certainly a good practice.
     
  14. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Quote by Dan:
    "The push for longer crankarms, bigger gears, "pro" fits, yada yada has seen saddle heights creep up in my time."

    I've noticed the opposite. With lower oxygen uptake, the lower saddle height of many pro and amateur racers is what I've seen. Flat-footed or even heal down pedal strokes at BDC instead of the French 'supplesse' dropped toe ankling technique that was de rigueur in the 1970's.

    But, yeah, there are so many factors and preferences it is what works and what makes power for the individual that matters.
     
  15. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    I kind of like ankling. It's a good power boost when going up tough hills, but I can't sustain it for an entire ride. I'm still thinking of trying a 165mm crank to see what it does for me. I feel like spinning smoothly, quickly would be easier turning a smaller circle and dropping from 172.5mm to 170mm seems like a joke. I'm 5'11", but my inseam is only 31".
     
  16. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    By "pro" ironically I did not mean actual pro, but I have noticed quite a few locals riding high. Maybe it's just the anomolies that I remember, cause well, they look funny riding a bike. Then again coming from the Sean Kelly paradigm of bike fit I may be skewed. The souplesse I mentioned would just be that ability to spin up from 90 to 110 rpm in a pinch, and essentially work in harmony with one's machine. Big Bernie Eisel's got it delivering his man to line in the last 1k at 120+rpm, Tony Martin's got it turning that huge gear over at 80rpm. It's unfortunate the term has been monopolized by the nonsense of ankling and Jaque Anquetil, who don't get me wrong was a great cyclist, but is only one expression of the concept.
     
  17. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Glad the lowering worked out.

    Btw, if you haven't already tried a 170mm 2.5mm may seem like a joke but on a crankarm it's a big deal, to me anyway. It was a big enough deal for me to sell my new P2max 172.5 crank at a $400 loss because I couldn't deal with the death of my pedal stroke. It just died. I tried to keep positive thinking I would adjust but 3 weeks later I was just dreading hopping on the bike and thinking about that huge circle I'd have to make with my legs, and how my capacity to spin up from 85 to 125 with ease (yes, you read that correctly) simply evaporated. Unfortunately I took the advice of friends and fellow cyclist who said I "probably won't even notice", and made the purchase without trying the new length first. My inseam is 31.5. YMMV.
     
  18. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    That's good info. I'll give the 170mm a try first. Wiggle has the new 6800 compacts for only $203 shipped. Even if the crank length doesn't make a noticeable difference, at least it's a way to scratch that upgrade itch lol.
     
  19. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    There you go.

    I bounced all over the place when I first tried to maintain 90-100 rpm like the rest of the cool kids (that was 40 years ago), so I lowered it about a full inch. It crept back up as my feet learned where the pedals went, but never back to the full height I used when I wrecked my knees as a tourist.
     
  20. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Plus, just think of all that extra lean angle ;)

    (hitting a pedal mid turn can be catastrophic btw, best just to keep the inside leg in the 12 o'clock position)
     
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