New bike - help needed

by notfastenough   February 8, 2013  

Morning folks,
Right, sorry in advance for ramble, but there is a reason. Due to issues with my back and my flexibility (long-standing, and yes I do stretching exercises), I have a fairly relaxed setup on my bike; the stack height is 550mm, plus headset (10mm) and 45mm of spacers(!!), giving an effective total stack height to the stem of 605mm. Reach is 407mm + 110mm stem.

However, I still experience a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, despite consciously trying to vary my hand position on the bars, relaxing that area when riding, performing off-bike exercises to improve strength and using heat packs and massage to relieve tension. I can't use the drops for very long. These symptoms are after fast club runs of 50-70 miles, where I've put quite a bit of effort in, so they aren't easy rides anyway.

Now, I've tried a shorter stem (100mm) but felt too cramped. I think the stack height needs to be larger, but I can't add any more spacers. (I have actually got another 5mm, but the handling starts to get funny if I add it).

So I'm thinking of at least a new frame. If the deal is right then maybe a bike. If I had thought of this a couple of months ago, I could have snapped up a bargain, but they are a bit thin on the ground now.

NB. I'm 180.5cm tall with an 84cm inside leg, or 5 11" and 33" in old money. I use the bike for fast club runs (maybe 4 hours), 90-minute mid-week blasts, sportives and the odd time trial.

Given the choice I would go straight to my LBS, explain the problem, and check out the options. Indeed, I will be doing this anyway, but realistically I need to save money where I can, so I don't have a firm view on where I'll be buying from. On the other hand, I don't want to just go it alone and end up spending a wad and not solving the problem.

Anyway, I'm currently thinking of:

Cervelo R3 - the 58cm has a stack height of 605, plus 10mm for the headset, so it's 10mm higher than my current position. Suppose I could add a single spacer if necessary (I'd rather not). Also has 11mm shorter reach than my current bike. If this fitted me, it's the one I'd buy - quality, I like the brand/image and it's cheaper than a recent s-works or Domane etc. Frameset about £1700.

Specialised Roubaix 58cm - with a stack height of 631 (including a 10mm headset) it's 26mm taller at the front without adding spacers. I can find a 2011 SL3 frameset from Sigma sport for £1400. Doable, but seems a bit much considering it's a 2011 design. No way am I paying £2k+ for an SL4. Not as keen on the zertz inserts or the big S brand.

Trek Domane 58cm - with a stack height of 621mm including h/set, this is an option. Pricey, though I haven't been able to find a frameset price. Domane 5.2 is £3.1k. No idea what I'll make of the isospeed thingy.

Merida Ride Carbon 95 56cm - 16mm taller than my current position without spacers, although with a reach difference of 29mm, it might be too short. The 59cm is another 24mm taller and 8mm longer. Whole bike with Ultegra can be had for £2k. Not sure of the quality, don't like the looks or image.

Cannondale Synapse - 6mm taller stack height without spacers than my current bike with spacers - cutting it a bit too fine, so probably not an option.

Assuming that a taller stack will solve the problem, I don't know how much taller. If I thought 10mm was going to cover it, the Cervelo would definitely be edging ahead.

Canyon, Wilier GranTurismo, Spesh Tarmac, Trek Madone, Cannondale Supersix are out due to insufficient stack height. I'd rather avoid spacers this time round.

So, help/advice is sought:
1 - Any other suggestions for cause of pain/tension?
2 - Any other suggestions for an appropriate frame/bike?
3 - Any particularly good deals on appropriate frames/bikes including the above list?

If you've read this far, thanks very much!

11 user comments

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Admittedly, given what you say and the fact it will sound like I am giving in to my Spesh bias, I am going on a limb here.
However, a friend of mine has back problems and neck issues. He went for a 58cm Roubaix. The basic '12 model which he picked up on sale for around £1250.
He says its by far the most comfy bike he has ridden. He did have a Secteur in 56cm before he was knocked over and the bike a write off. He is slightly taller than you though.
I am pretty much your height and my bike fit had me bordering 56 / 58 on a spesh.
I'd say try one before dismissing it fully.

posted by Super Domestique [1504 posts]
8th February 2013 - 15:33

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Before you go for a new bike..... presumably you have tried flipping the stem to raise the bars?

Although not trendy, there are variable angle stems out there - why not give one a go for a while to find out the correct geometry and then either keep it (!) or at least you will know what frame geometry you really need.

posted by jimmo62 [59 posts]
8th February 2013 - 15:37

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Before you buy another bike I'd get a proper bikefit with someone like Adrian Timmis at Cadence Sport and a consultation with a good sports therapist.

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posted by Simon E [1776 posts]
8th February 2013 - 15:45

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With neck problems, it is probably best to as Jimmo says, a variable stem to get things right. However, another thing to do is to pop in to a LBS and have a discussion about it. That way you would be able to try a couple of bikes, let them see how you sit on the bike and adjust accordingly.

Another suggestion would be to knock the seat forward slightly to stop you over stretching without going to the extreme of a new stem... or bike...

I wouldnt buy a bike based on what the geometry table says... but I don't need to tell you that...

posted by Ben Chamberlaine [2 posts]
8th February 2013 - 15:45

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Simon E has it bang on. Go and get measured properly with the advice of a Dr or Sports injury specialist. Then get exactly what you need

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posted by Wooliferkins [47 posts]
8th February 2013 - 15:51

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Ha - I knew my ramble still wouldn't be enough!

The stem is a 7 degree tilt and is flipped already. I'm certainly not planning on buying anything based on geometry charts, no worries there!

I had planned on visiting a few bike shops and getting fitted. I hadn't considered an adjustable stem to play around with position - good idea that, thanks.

[looks on Wiggle - god they're ugly!]

I saw a sports therapist a while ago - really knew what he was talking about re knees, pedals, cleat setup etc, but I'm not sure about this aspect. I'll need to have a think about that.

Thanks for all the replies already, any more welcome!

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
8th February 2013 - 16:16

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Try looking at the Giant defy (ally or carbon) by the way... really great bike in terms of geometry and value! ally atarts at £500 and carbon starts at £1250

http://www.chamberlainecycles.co.uk/m5b0s6p4009/GIANT-Defy-Composite-3-c...

http://www.chamberlainecycles.co.uk/m5b0s6p4008/GIANT-Defy-Composite-2-c...

http://www.chamberlainecycles.co.uk/m5b0s6p4007/GIANT-Defy-Composite-1-c...

Smile

I ride it and its lovely!!

posted by Ben Chamberlaine [2 posts]
8th February 2013 - 17:02

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Simon E wrote:
Before you buy another bike I'd get a proper bikefit with someone like Adrian Timmis at Cadence Sport and a consultation with a good sports therapist.

+1...good advice from Simon E... you could spend a lot on a bike and still be in pain...

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posted by colhum1 [98 posts]
8th February 2013 - 22:27

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Wasn't Adrian Timmis a pro with Raleigh Banana back in the day? The surname rings a bell.

There are many bike fitters about these days, but I've no idea who to see. Cadence is down south, right? Anyone suggest someone in the Manchester area?

Edit: aye-aye, he's only 90 minutes down the M6. Hmm.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
8th February 2013 - 23:14

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notfastenough wrote:
Wasn't Adrian Timmis a pro with Raleigh Banana back in the day? The surname rings a bell.

There are many bike fitters about these days, but I've no idea who to see. Cadence is down south, right? Anyone suggest someone in the Manchester area?

Edit: aye-aye, he's only 90 minutes down the M6. Hmm.

Never had a bike fit myself, but I've heard Eddie McGrath Cycles of Urmston recommended.

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posted by Crosshouses [142 posts]
8th February 2013 - 23:40

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I'd say get fitted and go custom. You'll never spend another dime on your frame for the rest of your life, and you'll have the best chance of it reducing your pain since it'll be tailored to you Smile

posted by mdavidmedia [4 posts]
9th February 2013 - 0:37

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