Newbie seeks advice

by latestarter   September 27, 2013  

got my first road bike just under a year ago - a Raleigh Stratos of very uncertain vintage but it was only £100 which turned out to be good value because not withstanding the fact that it was rather on the large side for a guy who is only 5' 10" it did a few thousand miles in that year adn I'm very fond of it. However, yesterday I moved into the 21st century with a Vitus Zenium and discovered how easy life can be when your not pushing pounds of steel uphill. However one thing puzzling me; I have never found the drops a natural position before but yesterday the reverse was true and on 30 mile run I did about 29 on the drops because it just seemed the natural positon whereas riding on the hoods seemed kind of awkward. Is this normal or is the stem maybe too high? Thoughts welcome.

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In my experience, it's the bike's frame dimensions that determines how comfortable it is. My winter hack was cheap as chips when it was acquired, steel so it's very sturdy and the ride feels solid and am most comfortable on the hoods (can't climb very well on it though). Frame seems more compact. My main bike is alu - a much better bike (for it's time) - and despite shortening the stem for better reach, it just doesn't feel as comfortable and I have to switch more often between the hoods and the drop bars. Seem to spend more time riding it like Chris Froome going up a mountain (even though I'm not). It's the right size, but I actually get a better/more enjoyable ride out of my cheap old Raleigh.

posted by Ghostie [93 posts]
27th September 2013 - 14:55

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Your old bike probably has classic drops which are pretty deep.

The new bike probably has shallower drops, more common on modern bikes - and much more comfortable in my opinion!

As for the hoods feeling awkward - is it a much smaller frame than before? are you used to a more stretched out position?

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [602 posts]
27th September 2013 - 14:58


yes the Raleigh was/is on the big side for me - 23" top tube. I'm 5'10" but quite short in the leg and long in the bask so it was ok. However, I didn't want to repeat that mistake got a 54cm frame and am now a bit worried that I might have gone too much the other way. Its certainly very comfortable on the drops but I do most of my miles on single track roads and not every car coming the opposite way slows down! I used to feel I had more control in those situations in an upright position but noticed again tonight that the drops seem steadier.

posted by latestarter [2 posts]
27th September 2013 - 20:10


54cm effective top tube sounds a bit short for 5'10", but if you are short in the leg then perhaps it is ok and you need a slightly longer stem to compensate for your longer upper body.

I am 6' and ride a 56cm with 100mm stem, the missus is 5'8" and rides a 54cm with 90mm stem . . .

manoirdelourde's picture

posted by manoirdelourde [28 posts]
27th September 2013 - 20:42

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