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I have been riding mountain bikes since a long time, and I am riding only downhill/bikeparks since 2009. I've had several bikes, but I've never been in a real comfortable position when riding (or if I was, the bike was not good enough) : I feel that my upper body stands too much over the front wheel.

For reference, I'm 1.9m tall (6"2 approximately), but I have long legs, not a long torso, and a "normal" arm length.

I've owned several bikes:

  • Short ones (M size) : they were very playful and fun to ride, but uncomfortable because in attack position my head is way above the bars/over the front wheel
  • Long ones (L size) : my previous bike was a Kona Stab Deluxe, comfortable but too heavy, not easy to ride in tight singletracks. My current bike is a Scott Voltage FR 30 in L size, but seems a bit shorter than the Kona, so again I feel that my head is too much on the front of the bike.

My current setup:

  • 785mm wide bars with 0.5 inches of rise
  • 40mm stem with 0° of angle

Here's a picture with my bike so you get an idea :

enter image description here

I've spent a lot of money on buying bikes during the last 7 years, so buying a new frame is not an option for the moment, plus my bike is really fun to ride.

Question : would it help me to have a better downhill position if I install one or both of the following items:

  • Longer stem (50mm, 60mm..), or a stem with more angle (5°, 6°), or both
  • Bars with more rise (30mm, 40mm)

Update : I finally bought 40mm rise bars, which is much better : I'm less bent on my bike, and I can lift the front wheel more easily!

  • A side-on picture of you on the bike in riding position would be more useful. – Criggie Jun 21 '16 at 8:08
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    A longer stem would bring your head even more over the front wheel and slow the steering response so I wouldn't recommend that. – Andy P Jun 21 '16 at 8:25
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Are there other aspects that are causing you to position yourself wrongly on the bike?

I was taught that to get the best brake angle you should stand behind the seat, feet on the floor and reach for the bars. Extend your fingers forward to continue the line of your arm and the lever should be rotated to touch under your fingers.

I'm a short person so I'm not that qualified to say how a tall person should alter things but beware of over-reaching. As mentioned before, you'll get a more direct feeling from your steering with a short stem but a little less stability. I wouldn't go for a longer stem personally.

You may be able to raise your bars a little if you have spacers above your stem. Failing that, so you have a bike shop locally that would let you borrow an ex-demo or second hand bar? Could you try some bikes out in a shop to get a feel for reach? Some shops have turbo trainers that could at least give you and idea of how different frame sizes feel.

  • I do wonder if there's a market for a "parts library" where you can borrow saddles etc, to see if they work for you. Somewhat like a child's Toy Library. Noone wants to spend $hundreds on a flash saddle that might not help. – Criggie Oct 18 '16 at 0:00
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    The reason I mentioned it in the first place is that a shop near me loans saddles out so you can get one that best suits you. Good idea and possibly increases sales and reduces returns. – Chris Oct 18 '16 at 5:24
  • In the end I bought a bar with 40mm rise, which is near perfect. Should I answer to myself to close the topic? – Boris Oct 19 '16 at 8:06
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As a similarly-proportioned person I know your pains. But I don't go downhill off-road so comments are more road.

As for visualising change, try and sit on the bike, hold the bars where they would be after fitting the new part. I used a couple of F clamps to visualise the cockpit when planning an old rigid MTB, and that worked well enough for riding up and down my drive.

Its not perfect, but my old road bike went from a 110mm quill stem to a 20mm stem confident that it would help my lower back pains.

Stems are cheaper than bars, if that helps. Also, you can get stems with adjustments for angle and length, but they're a lot heavier and some have a reputation for undoing themselves after a while. Often these are used to figure out what you really want, and buy a fixed stem that matches the adjustment.

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    I think that an adjustable stem will not handle the downhill treatment, I fear it could break after jump or something like that! I just ordered some new bars with higher rise (40mm) : if it fits, that's good, if not, I can lower the stem (I have 5 spacers below). – Boris Jun 22 '16 at 8:22
  • @Boris Fair call - the adjustable one is for establishing the "correct" position for you. Then once you're happy with it, buy a fixed stem in the size and angle you get from measuring the adjusted stem. Then you can on-sell the adjustable stem or keep it in the bike toolkit at home. – Criggie Jun 22 '16 at 8:41
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Longer stem? No, I cannot recommend that, unless you are building a XC climbing machine. I am also 6'2" and I've tried stems of different angle/length. I would not recommend a longer stem on a DH bike... and yes the bigger the bikes get the harder it is to maneuver them on tight trails as you stated.

Bars with more rise? Those bars look really flat, that I think is worth a try, you can find them fairly cheap. I found a some Marin bars with good rise on ebay for 20 bux.... the deals are out there. I always like good rise out of my bars no matter what application it is for. But as far as stem, I go with what is recommended for the application, XC, DH, road... etc.

Have you looked into Salsa bikes? They size their frames on the evens 16/18/20 inch which seem to work well for me. I too have ridden kona and found the large frames to be too big.

  • Welcome to Bicycles @Eric. Looks like you haven't taken the tour yet. It will help you make best use of the site. Cheers – andy256 Sep 15 '16 at 1:26

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