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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    127

    What is a "long torso," exactly?

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    I have been avoiding "women-specific" bikes because I'd assumed my proportions were off -- I'm 5' 2.5" with a 28" inseam (barefoot). BUT I do like the smaller handlebars and levers on a women's bikes -- which most LBSs here charge extra to swap out. It's hard to know what to feel for when I test ride a bike, as this is my first road bike after being on a mountain bike for 8 years.

    This has all made for a very confusing bike shopping experience. This weekend, I bought a used 19" Terry Symmetry. It felt great on the test ride, and I took it out for a 30 mile loop yesterday. My only discomfort was between my shoulder blades -- gone the moment I stopped riding. I think I need a slightly longer stem, and I think the new "road" position was a factor, too. Again, the ride was so new to me that it was hard to know what I should be feeling!

    But: my question -- what is a "long torso," and is it true that if you have one, a WSB is really not the way to go?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    NY, NY
    Posts
    397
    I think a long torso refers to the proportion of your torso to your legs. It can get rather confusing given other measures such as the rise (crotch to waist), etc. For bike fit, it may not be as simple as whether you have a long or short torso, but consider arm length, shoulder width, flexibility, etc. Try a few of each. You may discover that you generally feel more comfortable on one or the other, or that you always need to try both (where available) for any model you look at.

    For example, I have a short torso and very long arms. My two bikes are not WSD. I usually feel scrunched up on WSD bikes, though I recently rode a Terry hybrid and found it very comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    2,024
    Its really easy to swap the stems. Terry bikes do usually come with unusually short stems. If its a quill style stem, a nitto technomic will fit. I even have a 10cm nitto technomic stem that I took off of my 19" terry isis when I gave it to my daughter and she wanted me to replace it with a shorter one. PM me if you are interested.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    589
    I'd wait a bit before swapping the stem, at least for a longer one, personally.

    Pain between the shoulder blades could easily be from looking up from the "road" position over distances longer than you are used to, and since you aren't used to a road position at all...

    I got the exact same pain at about mile 75 of my first century because I was only used to going 50-60 miles. Like you it was gone when I got off the bike.

    Raising the stem, if possible, or getting a stem with more rise will help that by sitting you more upright. You don't want to go too far either direction though, and some of it is just getting the feel for a new position, so waiting a few rides and letting your body adjust some might be the better option.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,023
    I have a proportionately long torso for my height and yet I ride a WSD. I also have short legs and short arms, so for me, it's really about the overall geometry of the bike.

    Coincidentally, I'm 5'4" with a 28" inseam and I ride a 19" Terry Isis. My guess is that at your height with the same inseam as me, you don't have a long torso. You may have longer arms or a more flexible upper body than I do...so it is possible that you do need a longer stem. Currently, I have a 10 cm stem on my Isis (and on my 19" Terry Classic), but again, keep in mind that my torso is longer than yours.

    I agree that you should do a few more rides with the bike as is...it may just be your body adjusting to the road position.
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littleton, CO
    Posts
    33
    Hey Zia!

    Like GLC1968, I don't think you have a long torso either. I am exactly your height (5' 2 1/2") and my inseam is 29" barefoot and I'm considered to have a short torso by bike fitters, alterations people, etc. With your inseam only being an inch shorter I think your torso sounds like it is either shorter or at least normally proportioned for a woman.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    127
    Thanks, everyone. Very reassuring. I guess I'm not as long-torso-ed as I thought!

    I think my multiple bike shopping trips were starting to undermine my confidence in terms of knowing what felt *right.* I do know that when I hopped on that Terry, I felt great (downright happy!), whereas with the gender-neutral bikes, it was always, "This would feel great IF..."

    I think I will play with the stem length, since putting my hands on the drops is incredibly awkward. Seems like swapping a stem is an easy thing to do.

  8. #8
    Jolt is offline Dodging the potholes...
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    1,668
    Quote Originally Posted by graceomalley View Post
    Hey Zia!

    Like GLC1968, I don't think you have a long torso either. I am exactly your height (5' 2 1/2") and my inseam is 29" barefoot and I'm considered to have a short torso by bike fitters, alterations people, etc. With your inseam only being an inch shorter I think your torso sounds like it is either shorter or at least normally proportioned for a woman.
    Wow, what does that make me? I'm the same height as both of you but have a 30-inch inseam!
    2011 Surly LHT
    1995 Trek 830

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    127
    Update for future confused women: paid for a fitting this morning. Fitter said the bike was very appropriate for my frame. He replaced the 7 cm tube ("that's very short") with a 9 cm, moved the seat forward, dropped the bars, and I was good to go! YAY! Better now!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,708
    I have a longer than average torso and shorter legs. How I always knew this before ever cycling was by a couple things.

    One, my GFs of equal height would go jean shopping together. Same size /style jeans. Their's would be the right length. Mine would be dragging the ground too long flat-footed. Always need heels, a hem, or a roll up.

    Speedo swim suits... their is a specific way you measure your torso. I used to think I'd need a larger size. Because it was cutting into my shoulders etc. After talking to some of my tri buddies from the gym on fit, and visiting Speedo's web-site... they make a "long torso" and a regular. I'm pretty much the first one.

    On bike fit... after painfully riding a two frame sizes too large wsd sport frame road bike, I paid for a fit at a diff shop. Now I know my correct size for one thing. Ideal geometry. And if any of my proportions were outta the norm enough to warrant a custom build.

    There are a series of math calculations the fitter performs. One of which is your ratio of body parts. Like is your torso longer, leg--femur to shin bone ratio, etc.

    I could fit a man's bike. But, my Orbea happens to be a wsd. However, they as a brand are known for their slightly longer TTs. Thus, mine fits like a glove. The brand geo was just made for me.

    On the back pain between the shoulder blades... I had the exact same thing! My lbs place of purchase went with a shorter stem upon my local guys recs. Even though the lbs owner told me I should go longer. Just spinning the parking lot, it felt like someone had stabbed a hot fireplace poker in the middle of my upper back. We put on a longer stem (just a wee bit long, but what was on hand at the time)... and viola. No more brutal pain as with the shorter one. The deal is... before, my back was too scruched up and rounded at the top... with the longer, I can get stretched out *flat* = nice straight spine = no pain.

    Good Luck!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    57
    Yep, if you had a long torso you'd already know it. You'd find that shirts are often too short, and jeans are often too low-cut.

    My example - I have the same inseam as you and I'm 5'6"! *Very* long-torsoed.

    Anyhow, I wound up getting a wsd bike anyway because I have short arms (to go with my short legs, I guess). I put a slightly longer stem on it, but otherwise it's worked well for me.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    185
    You want long-torsoed. I'm a freakin' Hobbit. I'm 5'6" with a 26.5 " inseam. Capri pants come to my ankles! Mini skirts, below my knees.My flightsuit looked ridiculous on a hanger...all body with these short sleeves and legs. Fitting me for a bike is a nightmare. I hate it.

 

 

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