Bad balance on bike (wrong frame size or rubbish rider)

by nicholassmith   July 7, 2014  

I started trying to get back into cycling last year, and was mooching about on a mountain bike and enjoying it, but it hurt my knees (long running problem) and wasn't too fast so picked up a road bike (Carerra TdF from Halfords). When I bought it they let me try both sizes sat on frame in store and the large felt best for my knees, but I always feel unbalanced when I ride it and when I try to indicate that I want to turn i wobble a fair bit, which makes me a bit of a risk so I've not been out as much as I'd like. So could it be the frame is a bit too large for me (5'10") and my centre of gravity is off, or am I being a bit rubbish? And if I am being rubbish where should I start?

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Do you find yourself bent very far over on it? Could be too much weight on your hands as your core isn't developed enough, the weight on your one hand then unsettling the steering?

I see from the geometry of the bike it has a 58cm Top tube with a 110mm stem which would make the reach quite big for someone 5'10" unless you've got quite long arms and torso or are quite fit and flexible.

posted by ajmarshal1 [271 posts]
7th July 2014 - 22:14

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Yeah I do feel like I'm leaning my body quite far forward just even riding on the hoods, let alone on the drops. And pushing on towards 30 after a life sat in comfy office chairs hasn't leant itself to fitness or much flexibility, sadly!

posted by nicholassmith [62 posts]
7th July 2014 - 23:05

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You would be surprised in the difference a few cm make. When I bought my road bike I thought I was 5ft 10 so my LBS tried me out with a 56cm frame. They could see I wasn't totally right on it and I did feel a bit out of kilter and stretched, but I assumed that it was just me not being used to it and that all the info I had read about my height meant it should have been a 56cm. However I jumped off and they measured me whereupon I discovered I have been lying to myself for years and that I am only 5ft 9! They suggested a 54cm and it felt much better (so much so I never changed my position hence my recent forum post about a seized seatpost!). Changing the saddle position on the smaller frame may have worked out better for your knees, as opposed to the larger framesize. (Remember though that my 54cm and 56cm are based on Specialized measurements-each manufacturer measures their bikes slightly differently so a 58cm Carrera could possibly be a 56cm in another brand and as I have already pointed out-that few cm could mean a big difference).

Otis Bragg's picture

posted by Otis Bragg [113 posts]
8th July 2014 - 1:12

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nicholassmith wrote:
Yeah I do feel like I'm leaning my body quite far forward just even riding on the hoods, let alone on the drops. And pushing on towards 30 after a life sat in comfy office chairs hasn't leant itself to fitness or much flexibility, sadly!

Without all your body measurements it's difficult to know for sure but it seems to me as I suggested in my first post, that your bike is too big for you. I'm 5'11" and a bit and all my bikes have 695mm of reach from seatpost to bar (For example: 565mm top tube + 130mm stem) and I'm fully stretched out with average arm length and good flexibility and I sure wouldn't want to go any further forward. In comparison you've got 690mm yet are an inch and a half shorter than me. You might have monkey arms though but from what you've suggested I think the size is the issue. Not you being rubbish.

You could try fitting a 90mm stem but I think it's an elastoplast for a bullet wound. I would suggest looking at going to a proper bike shop and look at getting a smaller bike. If the saddle is adjusted correctly your knees will feel just as good, you'll be more comfortable and confident on the bike.

A good shop will let you test ride. Do that and see how a smaller frame feels.

posted by ajmarshal1 [271 posts]
8th July 2014 - 8:33

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The above advice all sounds sensible regarding your balance. However, given that your knees are also an issue, I'd suggest a proper bike fitting to try and get you comfortable in all aspects. Are you using clipless pedals? They're awesome, but if I don't set mine up correctly my knees are toast.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3103 posts]
8th July 2014 - 9:37

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Just normal sized arms really, but I think you're right about mucking round stem changes. I'll head off to a bike shop this weekend for a proper fitting, thanks ajmarshal1 I was worried it wasn't the bike and I'd have to take some remedial bike lessons!

posted by nicholassmith [62 posts]
8th July 2014 - 9:38

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nicholassmith wrote:
Just normal sized arms really, but I think you're right about mucking round stem changes. I'll head off to a bike shop this weekend for a proper fitting, thanks ajmarshal1 I was worried it wasn't the bike and I'd have to take some remedial bike lessons!

Let us know how you get on! Working on your core is an aspect that you should also think about looking at. It will help in every aspect of riding a bike from balance, comfort and bike handling. If you've been fairly sedentary it's a consideration.

posted by ajmarshal1 [271 posts]
8th July 2014 - 10:39

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Yeah I was doing some core strength training last year as I was doing some light weight training to help with a neck/shoulder problem, so it shouldn't be too hard to get back into that as well. Thanks for all the suggestions!

posted by nicholassmith [62 posts]
8th July 2014 - 12:07

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