Upgrade from Flatbar to Road

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by Jotjepoes, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Jotjepoes

    Jotjepoes New Member

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    I bought a flat bar road bike (Sublime 2) about 14 months ago and really love it and have got completely hooked on riding. I'm at the stage where I'm researching getting a road bike, trying to work out what I want, what is realisitic and so I know what to save for. I'm hoping to get something for the next "Round the Bay" in Melbourne.

    I'm pretty sure I need a WSD as I'm small (5ft) and also have very small hands. I've got a few questions which I hope some of you can answer:

    1. I went into a bike store close to home, and the guy I spoke to said there were 3 types of carbon used for bikes: Chinese made carbon, Taiwanese made carbon and US carbon. The latter 2 are good but not the first - any truth to this? After talking to him further, I gather that Scott and Canondale (both of which they stock), some of the better Specialised use Taiwanese made carbon. Whereas Giant and Avanti use the Chinese made carbon. Any views on this?

    2. What's the advantage of an Ultegra set over a 105 set? And of a Dura-Ace set over an Ultegra set? What's the difference in weight (I've heard conflicting amounts ranging from 175g to 500 g)? Anything else?

    3. Any recommendations on a WSD road bike? My flatbar is about 12kg, so I'm looking to get something lighter than that so I can really go on the hills. I assume this means carbon and a price tag of at least $3,000+? I'm still saving (and I'm a good saver), but I guess the more expensive the bike, the longer it will be before I get it. Models I've been thinking about - Subzero (3 or pro), Specialised Ruby, Scott Contessa CR1. Any views or suggestions?

    Thanks
     
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  2. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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  3. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    I don't buy the salesmans assessment of carbon frames. there's no point in going into a detailed critique of it other to say that Giant make some of the best carbon frames out there. Its not that I'm a huge fan of Giant and I ride a custom lugged steel bike anyway but you need to give Giant there due and making such comments as that are nonsense.

    I'm 5' 1" myself and I've done a fair bit of research into fit for short riders and at 5' I reccomend that you would be better off with a 650c wheeled bike. Maybe even a custom frame but it will come down to how much effort you are prepared to go to and how much better you wan't over your present bike.

    I guess your current bike is a xs frame with 700c wheels and sure you can ride it but its not a great fit. I used to ride a VERY simmilar bike in a Giant CRX 1 flatbar bike which was an xs 700c bike to and while I could ride it and did a few 80 km + rides on it it wasn't that comfortable and I'm MUCH more comfortable and perform MUCH better on my custom 650c wheel bike.

    OK I'm starting to make an epic post here :) but good fit for a small rider is proportional fit and this starts with proportional crank length which is SHORTER than is commonly available which means going to an engineering firm to get cranks shortened. Your lucky in Melbourne as Greenspeed who make trikes also shorten cranks. I use 135 mm cranks for reference and its the best thing I've ever done. The next step is to get a frame built around the cranks. You will NEED small wheels such as 650c because the smaller the wheels the shorter they can genuinly make the top tube length while still having a reasonable seat tube angle.

    Still with me?

    I can go into more detail if you wan't and unfortunately if you wan't a realy good fitting bike its a proccess you should go through.

    What are your easy options. Well the easiest way to get the best fitting bike with the least trouble at your size would be to go for a 24" road bike. Sure its not a carbon fibre bling bike but it will fit better and you will be more comfortable. To get a realy nice bike I think you need to go custom and I can give you more information if you wan't.

    Regards, Anthony
     
  4. thomas_cho

    thomas_cho New Member

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    I fear commenting on your bike fit questions, as there are so many variables to consider. Visiting a reputable bike shop and getting more opinions might give you a better idea regarding fit. Also a comparison between what your current bike is giving you (in terms of fit) and what you expect from a proper fit might lead you in the right direction. Eg, if you were too stretched out on your current bike, perhaps you'd want the road bike to have a shorter reach.

    However, one thing I can say about your quest for lightness and climbing hills. Will you notice a difference climbing between 2 bikes with a weight differential of 1kg? As a comparison, if you carried two bottles 500ml each, and you ditched them when trying to climb the hill, would that make the hill appreciably easier to climb? Would that be worth a few thousand in your quest to lighten the bike?

    I dont think there is a shortcut other than to keep on going at the hills, and build stronger legs, and a better engine(ie your fitness). This would lead to you climbing hills better. One thing you might want to consider is a wider gearing range to give you easier gears to help you climb.

    You can also get some really light aluminium frames. Some pros are still riding on Aluminium frames, and it wasnt that long ago (3-4 years?) when the whole peloton was riding on Aluminium frames. Also frames are just 1-2kg in weight. So the weight comes from the rest of the components.
     
  5. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    There's no BS like bike store BS. I'll second the comment that Giant make some of the best composite frames around.
    Aluminium, by the way, seems to have become a highly underrated frame material.
     
  6. Jotjepoes

    Jotjepoes New Member

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    Thanks guys for the confirmation that the carbon story was just BS - I thought it sounded a bit sus!

    Yes, the carbon fibre thing is a bit of a bling but personally I'd rather spend my $ on a bike that's going to get me riding more rather than a new sofa or plasma TV or fancy clothes etc. Having said that perhaps I should elaborate more. I bought my flat bar to function as a commuter bike and for what it is I'm extremely happy with it, fit and all (including, I believe, shorter cranks). However, as I do more riding on the weekend, I find I want more efficiency in my set up for my longer rides. I've put my handlebars as low as they can go and put the seat a little further back to get a more aerodynamic position and get more leverage from my legs. But I don't want to and don't think I should do much more than that on this bike as the basic geometry of the bike is that of a hybrid, designed for a more upright position (which is great for the commuting anyway).

    I'll keep my flat bar as a commuter bike, with its rack for all the stuff I bring to work everyday. But I'm also looking for a road bike to do my longer rides (which hopefully will get even longer as I become a stronger rider). The difference in weight between my present bike and the ones I have been looking at is about 3-4 kg, and I do feel that difference when I've got that much on my rack. I'm open to any suggestions of WSD bikes with aluminum frames of around 8 kg. Of course, I am doing and will continue to do hill training as well, but the promise to myself of a new road bike is also a nice incentive!

    As for custom built, I'm not quite sure about that yet. My Sublime, which is a WSD has a great fit (I nearly bought a CRX 2 and would have liked to get the Avanti comp but they didn't quite fit right), which makes me think a WSD would be a good starting point. I'll look into getting a bike fitting. Has anyone got any experience with Kennedys in Melbourne? I'm just a bit worried they'll start putting pressure on me to get a custom built bike.

    But getting back to one of my initial questions - What's the advantage of an Ultegra set over a 105 set? And of a Dura-Ace set over an Ultegra set? I'd just like to know what it is you get for the extra $ for the "better" set.

    Thanks Jo
     
  7. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    105 is by far the best value, as the higher groupsets offer only small touches of improvement here and there, and a bit of weight saving. The 105 crankset is the stiffest on the market, at any price.
    My gripes with 105 include a cheap and nasty metal sleeve bearing on the RD G-pulley, and slightly doughy-feeling shifters, with the right shifter occasionally seizing up. However, I've never used 10spd 105. The"105" wheelset, the R-550/560, is heavy and inadequately spoked.
    Get the frame and the fit that you want, before worrying about the groupset, as long as it's at least 105, or Campagnolo. Watch out for makers that swap out various parts of the groupset for their house/cheaper brand -this may not be too bad, but you could try asking for real Shim/Campy instead.
     
  8. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    Yeah the whole fit and custom fitting issue is a HUGE rabbit hole you can fall into without any absolute guarantee of the outcome but if you put the effort into researching it first it really is worthwhile, paticuarly for someone of your size.

    I've seen the SUB bike range in a local bike store and they're your typical flat bar road bike. ie a road bike with a flat bar rather than a drop bar and their geometry is exactly the same as any relaxed road bike, mindyou the differences between the so called relaxed models and the "racer" models isn't that much realy with the biggest difference being that you can get the handlbars lower on the "racer" models. There's a little more to it than that but that's the principal difference.

    OK where am I going. Simply changing to a road bike with drop bars isn't going to make you more efficient or faster than you could acheive by simply bending your elbows and lowering your head on your current bike so can you do this currently?

    Using drop bars can make it more comfortable to adopt a lower position and the various hand positions are good for a long ride. Also down in the drops is a good position for sprinting but I'm not sure if your putting this on the top of your priority list.

    The biggest problem for small riders is that our weight is placed too far forward on the handlbars compared to larger riders who are positioned with more weight on the saddle and the relitively longer cranks in comparison to our leg length means our hips and knees are going through a greater range of movement which has our leg muscles working outside their prefered range. These are problems that larger riders just don't understand because they have never experienced them. This is done as a comprimise to fit smaller riders on larger bikes.

    Short cranks as far as the big manufacturers are concerned is 165 mm but to me that's still too long. I use custom 135 mm cranks and I was using 140 mm before. My view is that idealy you shouldn't be using cranks longer than 152 mm anyway.

    Anyway as far as an off the shelf bike goes the Giant 650c road bikes look like the best out there to me. They have 2 carbon fibre 650c bikes that look very nice and while not ideal in my view they are better than anything else I've seen lately.

    Here's some references on bike fit,

    http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html

    and here's a reference on crank length, http://www.cranklength.info

    Here's my custom bike,

    [​IMG]

    It's very comfortable to ride because the weight is on my backside and not my hands/shoulders and the short cranks makes it easy to adopt an aerodynamic position and pedal with a high candence. See the problem with long cranks (even 165 mm is long) for short riders is that your knee's lift into your chest at the top of the stroke making it difficult if not impossible to adopt a tucked position.

    Regards, Anthony
     
  9. thomas_cho

    thomas_cho New Member

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    If your budget is still at $3K or thereabouts, I think that might be in the league of a Cervelo Soloist Aluminium with Ultegra groupset.

    Team CSC rode that in the Paris Roubaix last year.

    Whatever choice you make, $3.5K puts you in the area of some very nice bikes.

    Cyclingnews.com had a review of the 105 10spd groupset not too long ago, and it received pretty good review. I have some 105 parts on one of my bikes, and hardly notice any difference in functionality. Very good value. Also if it makes any difference, the 105 shifters can shift a triple chainring, but Ultegras and above need dedicated triple shifters.

    As to the R550 wheelset, I may be one of the lucky ones, but I have ridden this wheelset from when I was 100+kg to now, and its been good. I have had to balance the tension, and true the wheel tho. But you gotta do that for any wheelset anyway.

    You might also consider a customised steel frame, if you cant find a size that suits you. Its a whole other debate, but I am hooked on steel. Good luck with your bike search, and let us know how you go.
     
  10. Jotjepoes

    Jotjepoes New Member

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    Thanks guys for your input - lots of food for thought, lots of research, lots trying out bikes and lots of saving! It'll be a few months off before I actually buy... but I'm getting a better idea.

    I'm not sure about the custom route, seems a bit scary for me. I once got a suit tailored in Hong Kong to fit but it didn't quite turn out right, so I kinda like the idea of trying out before paying.

    Anyway, having briefly tried out some bikes, definitely need a WSD, otherwise I just won't be able to reach to brake. Looks like either something in the Subzero, Specialised Ruby, Scott Contessa range or, if I'm feeling like a real bling the Cannondale Synapse feminine (Although this had 170 cranks - and I could feel the difference! But the BS said they could maybe change them for 165s. I've got 165s and I feel pretty comfortable with these).

    When I get there - I'll post up what I've bought....Thanks for the help so far!
     
  11. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    Yes your spot on with this observation. If you went straight to a custom builder and asked for a custom frame they would start by selecting a crank length of 165 mm and build around that making exactly the same mistakes that the mass producers make so there is no benefit there for you.

    They need to build a bike for you around significantly shorter cranks and you will basicaly be a difficult customer for them but its a learning experience for all.

    Now let me go back a step. Its your money so buy what YOU want. I'm just trying to give you good, independant and unique advise based on my own experience of finaly getting a good fit on a bicycle at 5' 1" after MANY years of riding poorly fitting bicycles.

    Now I agree that starting straight off with an expensive custom bike isn't the best way to go and I was riding around on a cheap "test mule" for a while before committing to an expensive frame. Now my "test mule" was a cheap 24" wheel bike and I am reccomending that as far as off the shelf bikes go a juvenile 24" wheel racer is probably the best place for you to start as well.

    So you feel OK on your current bike so why would you wan't to follow my advice anyway?

    The issue is that your current bike is OK as long as you have an upright riding position. As soon as you try to get into a more aerodynamic position it all falls apart and you have stated that you wan't to go to a drop bar road bike to get more aerodynamic, hence my advice to you thus far.

    i'm going to post part 1 now and edit.

    Part 2,

    Compared to taller riders short riders using the same crank length have cranks that are a greater percentage of their leg length. This means that the hips and knees are going through a significantly larger range of movement and quite importantly our knees are lifting up significantly higher. Now what bike makers do is move the small rider further forward putting them further on top of the cranks which opens up the leg angles making it easier to handle. The consequence of this is that it places more weight on the hands/shoulders of small riders making it far more difficult and uncomfortable to remain in a aerodynamic position and you may notice that small riders spend far more time on the "hoods" rather than in the "drops" compared to larger riders or as in your case with the flatbar bike you have a more upright position anyway which moves your centre of gravity rearward so the balance isn't too bad. So as you say your current bike is OK but you wan't better.

    So you lean forward on your currently sized bike and your knees rise into your chest and you have way too much weight on your hands/shoulders so you can't stay aero for long, its rather uncomfortable and your not going any faster than you can on your current bike.

    But you wan't it better for long rides.

    What you need is a bike that has your legs going through the same range of motion/angles as that of a large, long legged rider with the same sort of weight distribution as a larger rider and how you do that is start with significantly shorter cranks (see http://www.cranklength.info ). You also want to have a frame with a normal or relaxed seat tube angle of 72-73º which takes the weight off your hands/shoulders to the point that even I who is a serious weakling in the arm/shoulder department can ride in the drops with no weight on my hands. This just can not be acheived with a standard 700c wheel bike for small riders and their 75-76º seat tube angles.

    The other big problem with larger wheels is that it limits how short the top tube can be because when you push the seatpost back in relation to the Bottom Bracket then next thing you need to do is pull the head tube back towards the Bottom bracket and this can't be done with larger wheels.

    OK I'm ranting again.

    My advice is that if you wan't to acheive your stated goals of being able to ride comfortably in a more aerodynamic position then you realy should start with a 24" wheel juvenile road bike with cranks no longer than 150 mm and possible fit shorter cranks anyway. Use it as a test rig and you will probably want to buy a rear set seatpost to move the saddle further back. When your happy with that you can go to a custom builder and get a 650c wheel bike built to your specs that you are happy with based on your experiences with the test bike.

    Regards, Anthony
     
  12. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    Given that the shorter crank is going to make all the gears taller, what chainset/cassette do you recommend for use with these cranks?
     
  13. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    Well I've had some concerns about this myself but to my suprise I've found it to be a non issue. The gearing is going to be a little bit shorter anyway due to the smaller wheels but the short cranks make it easier to spin at higher cadences.

    I recently just went down from 140 mm cranks to 135 mm cranks and I thought that hill climbing might be an issue but much to my suprise it didn't slow me down one little bit. If you adjust things properly you should slide the seat back a little when you go down in crank length and it just puts you in a stronger position and the shorter range of movement that you hips are now going through keeps you in a stronger position for more of the stroke.

    The other issue that I think comes into play is that leg length is a lever that's working AGAINST long legs. The long leg will move faster at the end for a given muscle contraction but with LESS force than compared to a shorter leg with the same muscle mass. Now yes larger legs can have more muscle mass but it takes work to develop this.

    Whats important is that you have a crank lever length that's in proportion to the leg lever length and when these match reasonable well you have the best performance.

    To Jotjepoes, I don't want you to think that I'm saying that a 24" juvenile racer will fit you straight out of the box but its just that it will be the best place to start from for ONE very important factor and that's a frame with a genuinely short reach (horizontal distance from the Bottom Bracket to the centre of the head tube). I suspect you will need to fit a rear set seatpost to move your saddle further back and probably a longer, higher rise stem to get the handlebars further forward and up as the head tubes on these bikes is very short. See at least with a frame thats a tiny bit small you can add extensions to make it bigger but when its too big there is nothing you can do about it and 700c wheel frames are going to be too long in the reach/top tube length area. Even off the shelf 650c frames are too long in the reach department for me and I strongly suspect that they will be too long for you as well.

    Regards, Anthony
     
  14. climbo

    climbo New Member

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    anthony, why the setback seatpost? A more relaxed seat angle may have given you a better fit. An extended head tube would have been nice also, does Hillbrick not do them?
     
  15. Thylacine

    Thylacine Member

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    You're very limited when it comes to lugs. They only come in 73/73 angles and I think it was a small miracle Paul even made that bike. The lug manipulation musta been pretty hefty.

    If I was Anthony, I wouldv'e however gone with a TIG or Fillet Brazed frame though. He coulda extended the headtube, laid the seat angle back, and angled the top tube down for more standover.

    But anyway, I've told him all that already. :)

    Bottom line - if you're a little bloke or a big bloke (like me), you'll never be completely happy unless you a) get fitted properly, and c) Go custom.
     
  16. prhino

    prhino New Member

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    You're right, this may not be too bad. Felt, for instance, use decent substitution components.
     
  17. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    Yes Thylacine gave the correct answer. I was in a retro-grouch mood and insisted on lugs. The origional design called for a 69º seat tube angle but I said to steepen it a little if that was required for lugs and so its built at 71º.

    If I was to do it again I would go without the lugs to make it a lot easier on the builder. Also at the time of the fitting I was using butterfly bars instead of drops and they were better lower but when I went to drops I needed them higher. I can use the drops lower but I have no power which defeats the purpose so they had to come up and in future I would get a frame built with a taller head tube.

    EDIT: and I should add that I could and did use a standard seatpost but I just happened to have a setback post on hand and that it supports the saddle rails better than a standard post would.

    Regards, Anthony
     
  18. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    Of all the groupset, the bit that I'd most like to be Shimano is the crankset, yet this seems to be the part they swap out first. To be honest, even if I had a Campy Record bike, I'd still put a Shim. crankset on it.
     
  19. mikesbytes

    mikesbytes New Member

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    Just thought I'd add that WSD isn't really about your overall height, its more to do with the body shape differences between a male and female of the same height. Compared to a male of the same height, females usually have longer legs, shorter body, wider hips, narrower shoulders etc. A propely designed WSD will differ from the male equivilant in having a wider seat, shorter top tube, narrower and smaller handlebars and easier reach to the brakes, to cater for smaller hands.

    650c wheels have higher rolling resitance than 700c wheels, so if your legs are long enought for 700c wheels, I'd recommend them.
     
  20. anthonyg

    anthonyg New Member

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    Whats with the predudice against 650c wheels?

    Not that long ago it was believed that 650c wheels were FASTER than 700c wheels because they were more aerodynamic.

    The truth is that there pluses and minuses for both 650c and 700c and its awash realy.

    I'm obviously riding a 650c bike and when it comes to rolling down a hill with a group of riders on 700c bikes I will roll away on them. Its not that I'm heavy either because at 57 kg I'm a featherweight. No it can only come down to better aerodynamics so if there is any real difference in rolling resistance between the different wheels it doesn't amount to anything in the real world.

    Also you mentioned that one of the supposed differences between a WSD bike and a mens bike is shorter top tube length for women and the only way to genuinely acheive this on small frames is to go to smaller wheels.

    Regards, Anthony
     
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