Some tweaking is necessary …


I was surprised how comfortable I was on my son’s Cervelo last weekend. I was worried the setup would be too aggressive and that I would not be able to maintain the more aerodynamic position for any length of time. Not so. The bike seemed to fit better than my own.

This week I got the tape measure out and set the bikes side-by-side. It turns out the saddle heights are identical, measuring from the top of the pedal at the bottom of the stroke to the top of the saddle. Surprisingly, even the reach is very similar, measuring from the forward tip of the saddle to the back of the handlebars. There is only a 1/8″ difference. What surprised me, is the height of the handlebars. I expected those on my Garneau to be higher. In fact, they are 1″ lower, the result of a different frame geometry. That’s right. The Garneau is actually setup more aggressively than the Cervelo.

The Cervelo and Garneau frames are the same size but the geometries, tube lengths and resulting angles, are different. Not a lot. Just enough to change the length and height of the stem on the bikes.

Lou: “I thought so. I thought I looked faster just standing there.”

I went for a 40 km ride with Lou today, tacking several lengthy climbs and descents. I wasn’t as comfortable as I was on the Cervelo. I felt more stretched out, as if the reach was a little too long. Although it measures similarly, the bars are lower. I’m going to try a shorter stem. I currently have a 110 mm stem on the bike. I’m going to try a 90 mm one. This will bring me in a little closer. I don’t have one onhand. Longer ones but notย shorter. In the meantime, there isn’t much I can do.

Lou: “It’s not so bad. You have never complained before.”

I’m continually tweaking the setup. A mm here. A mm there. You wouldn’t think it would matter but it does. Also, I find near the end of the season, when I’m stronger and more flexible, changes up front are necessary. Once I get the saddle height and position set, I never change it, But the stem length and height is a different matter. I experiment with different setups depending on the type of cycling I’m doing and my flexibility.

Chas: “What about me?”

I also compared the setup of the Roberts to the Cervelo. Surprisingly, they are very close, ย closer than the Garneau. Maybe that is the reason I enjoy riding with Chasย so much. I thought it was the steel frame and the larger, more forgiving tires. Maybe it’s the fit.

Chas: “I’ve always been a good fit, don’t you think?”

12 thoughts on “Some tweaking is necessary …

  1. It’s amazing how a small difference can make a huge impact. It took me one year to find the right bike for me and hubby and I would go to bike shops with a tape measure as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Very interesting… I am the opposite – I recently dropped my stem the last 5 mm after a long season with the same setup since early last year… That small (well not very small) change was exceptionally painful. With several thousand miles in the exact same position at the end of the season… I’m better changing in the spring – before my body gets used to my position.

    • I’m always tinkering with the stem height and length. I have found there is no one perfect position. It depends on the type of cycling I’m doing, who I’m cycling with. I usually start the season in a more relaxed position and gradually lower and lengthen the stem as the season progresses.

  3. I imagine you sitting next to your cottage, a dog next to you, and you’re writing a book for children about Chas the bike ๐Ÿ˜€

    • That’s funny ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been thinking about writing something more but never considered a children’s book ๐Ÿ™‚ I introduced Chas and Lou to demonstrate how close cyclists get to their bikes, and to add comic relief.

      • I bet kids would love Chas and Lou, an on top it would send a great message like “it’s cooler to ride a bike than to sit in front of the tv” ๐Ÿ™‚

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