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Fifteen years ago I wrote a very popular series of article prescribing bikes for certain types of riders. I named these riders Spark Plug Doug, Long Body Roddy, Long Leg Craig. We had Babe N. The Woods, Beer Can Dan, Rick Plastic (he liked carbon bikes before they were popular). Laidback Jack, we have a few of you still here reading Slowtwitch. We’ll get to you. Provincial Pete didn’t buy anything mail order, bless his heart, only from his LBS, which limited his prescriptions.
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I thought I’d change it up and replace fictional people with real people, or, fake real people. For this article series each of my prescriptive articles will be for a Game of Thrones character. I’m starting with Ramsay because he’s 5’8” (in real life), he’s fit and trim, and he is quite athletic (have you seen him with a sword? very dangerous). And, he’s low down. Murdered his own father in cold blood, he did.
A person who is between 5’7” and 5’10”, riding pretty steep (saddle forward), riding fairly but not super-aggressively low, is likely to have a Pad Y and X (rise and run from the bottom bracket) of about 600mm x 485mm. Alternatively, he might be average in his saddle fore/after position but he gets that extra length by being long in the torso.
In the chart above we have a sampling of 26 Slowtwitchers, and each blue diamond represents the Pad Y and X of their current bikes. Leaving off whether this should be their positions, about a third of them are in the “consensus” range, which in my parlance means they’re positioned about how a very good fit and trim high-level athlete would be. Another third are positioned tall relative to the length of the pads, and another third are “long and low,” that is, their armrests are not as high above the bottom bracket versus the distance the pads are in front of the BB.
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We recently polled Slowtwitchers, and asked them how they fit aboard their bikes and half said about right. About 26 percent said that their bikes are either too tall or not long enough and I suspect those two complaints are often the same complaint. If a bike is not long enough, that may well mean that the next size up is too tall, forcing the rider to ride a lower bike (which means it's not long enough). Only half that number answered in the reverse, that is, "my bike is too low" or "too long."
This makes the fit problem for Ramsey more acute. Let me explain. Three Slowtwitchers in the graph highest above (in the circle) are clustered around 600mm of Pad Y and 485mm of Pad X. Their range is Pad Y of 600mm to 605mm and Pad X of 480mm to 487mm. Ramsay is roughly the mean of these.
Ramsay fits in the slightly long and low end of average, but not long and low enough to be in the long and low category, if that makes sense. The way tri bikes are made today, long and low geometries are pretty much gone. I explained this last week (See: Your Ideal Tri Bike, link below). Furthermore, most bike makers today are putting pretty high profile aerobars on these bikes, so middlin’-geometry bikes are rendered a bit tall by the spec choice of tall aerobars.
If Ramsey, then, is slightly low and long, and bikes today are slightly narrow and tall when you add their geometries plus their aerobars, you can see that Ramsey is okay, but there are fewer bikes for him than their used to be. The old Cervelo P2 and P3, the QR CD01, these are more on the long and low side and would fit him nicely, but these aren’t made anymore.