Author Topic: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...  (Read 12262 times)

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Offline Stevenp

Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« on: May 14, 2011, 01:08:03 pm »
I am trying to save money by not paying to have the bike fitted to me. Initially I had the store where i bought the bike get the seat height set and the saddle set forward and all, so it's been adjusted somewhat. But I had never really ridden bikes so I don't know what it feels like to have a bike fit me just right.

Now that I have been riding for over a month I am beginning to notice things that don't seem right. For instance, I feel like I'm leaning over to much and it puts too much pressure on my hands. It makes me want to lock my elbows for support, which then causes my hands to go to sleep.

I feel like an adjustment that is needed is to bring the handlebars closer to my body. Like buying a new stem, although I don't know what the part would be that I need. Help?

When I purchased the Surly LHT, I was right inbetween a 54" and a 56", and I was advised to go with the 56". It does feel a tad big on me (I'm 5'll, 170lbs). My arms are a bit shorter than normal i think. So it causes me to reach more than usual.

I'm looking for some suggestions to help me. I do know of the option of deciding to have the bike fitted to me, but I am looking for alternatives to that.

Thanks for your help.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 03:40:14 pm »
I'd suggest you take the bike back to the shop where you purchased it, explain to them what you've just posted, and see if they'll work with you.  You may need a higher or shorter stem, or they may be able to slide the seat forward a half inch or so.  Most shops that I've seen want to make you happy with your bike.

If they want to charge for a fit, it might be a good idea, depending on the expertise of the fitter and the price. 

Alternately, do a web search.  There's a number of good resources out there -- Peter White's fit page, Sheldon Brown's, Colorado Cyclist, etc.  Approach this with caution; you can spend an awful lot of money buying parts that never do fit quite right, that a good fitter will pick the one or two right parts the first time.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 07:27:13 pm »
Ask them to look at HOW you sit - are you arms ridged? May need to sit up straighter and almost be in a position were you hands are not taking all the weight, hard to keep like that after several hours in the saddle, but I have to keep reminding myself about my posture.

yes it needs to be set up as best as the shop can for you and then try making very small adjustments at a time. 
Gel gloves and extra padded tape all help.
Good luck
Just starting to record my trips


  • Guest
Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2011, 10:13:00 pm »
Have you tried adjusting the angle of the seat? If it's tilted too far forward, you slide forward on the seat and lean more on your hands. Start with it level, then tilt it back slightly and see if that helps. The only part touching the seat should be your sit bones (the lowest part of your hips).

If you're leaning forward a lot, it sounds like your seat could be too high. You said you had the seat height fitted, but as your body gets used to the bike, sometimes it helps to make small changes.

You can get an extra collar put on your headset to make it higher. Or can also get an adjustable stem (so that you can change the angle).

After riding a poorly fitting bike for years, I can't tell you how great it is to have one that actually fits me! I also have a second layer of bar tape. It's worth going to the bike shop and asking about your options.

Offline sprocketman

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2011, 12:24:24 am »
I am 6' 4". I put a higher stem on the bike. This raised the handlebars and did wonders. My bike is extremely comfortable now. I have been on the bike for 11-12 hours a day with little neck, back, and arm troubles. Just remember, it will take some time to condition the arm and neck muscles needed for touring. Give it time. Your body is not used to being in that position.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2011, 09:18:43 am »
The adjustable stem sounds like a good idea. I also purchased a Selle Italia Max Flite Gel seat. It was a bit expensive, but I can always go down from there if I need to exchange it again. I've done my homework and that seemed to be the best option. I also think that tilting the seat backward will help too. I tried tilting my handlebars back a bit but the cradle didn't feel right then either, I think I overdid it trying to find the solution. I'm going to visit the bike shop as soon as I get the new saddle. My stem already has 4 collars on it. I used all four that came with the bike. The shop owner said that nobody ever uses 4, but I asked him to put the 4th one on because it felt better.

Also, I bought the bike in MN and now I'm in SC, so I can't go back to the same shop.

What is a good price for fitting a bike?

Thanks guys for all your help!

Offline Tourista829

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2011, 11:50:47 am »
StevenP, you picked a terrific bike. There is no bike, that I know, that is so tuned for touring that you can get for around $1100. However a stock bike, out of the box will not fit all and some modification might be in order. There is no guarantee that getting a professional fitting, from a bike shop will help. They charge, on average $75-$150+ (my dealer threw in the $95) I think that if you purchase a bike from a dealer they should do a professional fit and include it in the cost of the bike. Many dealers are use to racing and mountain bikes and not an advocate of a more upright riding position we use in touring.

If you purchased the 56c Surly LHT it tends to run long in the top tube length, I believe 570mm (22.4") and has a standard 100m (3.9") stem with a stem angle of 17 degrees. If you give me 3 measurments I may be able to save you some money. I first need your inseem length, (bare feet back against a wall, shove a book up as high as you can between your crotch (pardon me) and get someone to measure from the floor to the top of the book. make sure it is parallel to the floor. The 56c is 812mm (32") stand over height with 700c rims. At 5'11" you should be close. Not done with the book yet. measure your torso length next. from the top of the book to the soft area below your adams apple, just above the top of your breast bone. Now you can put the book down. Finally, measure your arm length. If I remember correctly, arm extended out, have someone measure from middle finger to where the boney part where the shoulder begins. There are other measurments but if I have those three, I can see how close you are to the 670mm (26.3") (I am looking for the combination of the torso and arm length combination) Raising the stem about an inch above the seat height may help, a slightly higher angle, changing your handlebars to a shorter drop, and shortening the stem length will help. However, it may also have an affect on your handling and getting out of the saddle. If you want to email me I can try to help you. I have a custom touring bike and the fit is perfect. Like the others have said, fit is very important and when you will spend many hours a day, in the saddle, it makes all the difference in the world.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2011, 12:43:36 pm »
I tried the email but it bounced back to me. Mine is stevenp(at)integra(dot)net. Feel free to email me.

Inseem Length 32.25"
Torso Length 25.375"
Arm Length 27.875"
Reach Length (finger tip - finger tip is 71"

Let me know if you need anything else. I'm also posting photos of the bike.

The photos are not showing for some reason...?
Here they are:
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 05:56:52 pm by Stevenp »

Offline happyriding

Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2011, 02:57:50 pm »
The first thing I would do is make sure your saddle is level.  Put a broomstick on top of your saddle and parallel to the top tube.  Put a level on the ground underneath your bike, and note where the bubble is.  Then put the level on the broomstick, and adjust the tilt of your saddle until the bubble is in the same place as it was when the level was on the ground.

Next, you probably need to raise your handlebars to bring them closer to your body.  If you have room, put another spacer under the stem.  If you don't have anymore room for a spacer, then you need to get a shorter stem.  Make sure the stem has the same angle as your current stem, but is shorter in length.   That will reduce the reach to the bars.  However, a shorter stem with the same angle will also lower the bars slightly, so you might want to get a stem with more angle(i.e. it points upwards towards the sky more).

Also, when you lay the broom along your saddle, how close to the broom is the top of your bars?  For touring, you probably want the bars even with the saddle height or a little higher.

You can also shorten the reach to the bars by sliding the saddle forward on the rails--however, the *proper* position of the saddle is independent of the reach to the bars.  You *should* position the saddle so that when the rightside pedal is forward and horizontal to the ground, the front of your knee is directly over the pedal spindle.  You can check that by tying something heavy to a string, putting the string on the front of your knee and seeing where the string lines up with the center of the pedal spindle.  If you don't use clipless pedals, then where your foot is placed on the pedal can vary, so you will have to guesstimate.

You can also shorten the reach to the bars slightly by getting a different set of handlebars.  Different handlebars have different distances between the top of the bars and the curve of the bars.

For hand numbness, you can also double wrap the bars with bar tape for more cushion(which will also make the top of the bars a little higher), and wear gloves(which is a good idea anyway).

When you buy a bike, the bigger the frame you buy, the higher you can get the handlebars, but with bigger frames the top tube's are longer, so the reach to the bars is further away.  Ufortunately, the Surly LHT's have seat tube angles that are too steep and top tubes that are too long for touring.  Despite their geometry, they are the most often seen touring bikes on the road.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 03:16:02 pm by happyriding »


  • Guest
Re: Surly LHT: Adjustments needed to fit me...
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2011, 04:26:36 pm »
Ufortunately, the Surly LHT's have seat tube angles that are too steep and top tubes that are too long for touring.

So the 1000 or so comfortable, stable, fully-loaded miles I have put on both of mine were all in my mind?  Guess I had better a new bike before I head off to Montana in 7 weeks.