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Our Bikes!
My Peugeot.....

My Wife's Gitane........
Hi Jan;

The suicide levers are scary dangerous. On both bikes, the saddles appear too high relative to the handle bars, and too far forward - it may be the angle of the photos.
What are suicide levers? I don't know what you mean...

As we ride, butt says on seat, and legs extends to pedal at bottom, does not bend at bottom.. That's where my riding comfort level is. Wife not as high up as I, but simelar. (Age is Late 60's)

Both over 6' high, neither of us feel comfortable in a bent over form , or pedaling bent at the knees. I couldn't grip bars as I see others do, or use the front handles of the brakes, and be able to look forward if I wanted.
So we grip bars right adjacent to the stem... 4-5" apart.
(I believe they call them safety levers) become the brake levers we use.
The bars/stem is adjusted as high as it can safely go... Have heard there used to be higher stems available, but I've not found them... I've yet to find any parts.....

How could one go about moving the seat back?

(10-26-2014, 06:51 PM)nfmisso Wrote:  Hi Jan;

The suicide levers are scary dangerous. On both bikes, the saddles appear too high relative to the handle bars, and too far forward - it may be the angle of the photos.
I think Nigel wrote it backwards, as the saddles are both lower than the bars, and with road bikes (downturn bars) the opposite is more common. Be that as it may I don't know quite where to begin, but I want to give a complete answer (partly in prep for getting my website up) so I'll start with a little history.

Both of your bikes are illustrative of the bike boom, where 10 speed bikes then more common in Europe (especially in racing situations) were imported to the U.S. Quickly though they were adapted to make them more (to use a modern term) "user friendly" - shift levers on the stem instead of the down tube, extension levers for the brakes, and softly padded seats. I have seen it claimed that extension levers were eventually required on bikes sold in the U.S. Those changes were made mainly on the basis of economy rather than effectiveness. The other changes that would have allowed comfort without attendant sacrifices in safety and operation, but at a much greater cost, did not occur.

As a result the design of your bike has successfully encouraged you to ride on the "tops," as you noted with your hands only a few inches from the stem. The problems attending that position are as follows:

1. You have minimal leverage on the bars, making emergency maneuvers difficult.
2. When you shift you exert a turning force on the stem and have to shift your weight on the bike.
3. Your hands are trying to grip a cylindrical surface while horizontal, which is not a strong position, and open to sliding with any significant side force.
4. If you were to hit an object (more on that below) you will likely either break your wrists when they rotate under the bar or your grip will be easily broken as they rotate over the bar (any student of martial arts will tell you that the weakest part of your grip is your thumbs).
5. The extension (suicide) levers insure that your brakes will operate with minimal efficiency. Look at where they interface with the normal levers. That space they take up between the lever and the brake hood is braking distance you no longer have, even if you use the regular levers. Operate the levers and notice that the lever travels up your fingers as you brake - that travel represents a loss of efficiency and reaction time. Now hold the extension levers all the way up as far as you can. The odds are that the regular levers have not reached the handlebars - further loss of potential braking power. The end result is that when one uses extension levers braking will be slower and less effective, to the point that they can be up to 1/2 as effective as the regular brakes. It's likely you can't even make the rear wheel skid with the extension lever. They were not randomly named suicide levers by some bike snob, but rather more likely by someone who saw the end result on the streets or in emergency rooms.

"But I'm too bent over and can't reach the regular levers." Again, that is a result of the wrong solution to a valid concern. Bike frames for 10 speeds were based on what was in production in Europe, which were primarily racing frames, which tend to have fairly long top tubes, and in addition have fairly long stems, to allow a streamlined position and the ability to "pull" on the bars for more speed. Retooling for a shorter top tube and having to allow for different stem lengths was not practical nor economical. Besides, the longer stem looks "racier" and they were called 10 speed racers after all.

I agree the saddles appear to be too far forward, possibly as a result of the seat clamp being in front of the seat post rather than behind it. The distance from saddle to bars problem is very likely why they are mounted that way. I would guess that either an owner or a bike shop did that in order to increase comfort. The problem is that it tends to decrease pedaling efficiency, comfort, and most importantly it increases stress on the knees.

Rather than leave you with a host of problems I will tell you what solutions are available for the bikes at hand.

The first step would be to adjust the saddle for correct position. That is the core of your contact with the bike and the basis of your pedaling - the wrong position can be not only less efficient but painful to harmful to your behind and your knees. The saddle nose and tail generally should be as level as possible. Nose up may interfere with pedaling and cause discomfort, nose down tends to push one toward the handlebars, creating more pressure on both your seat and hands. Secondly the height needs to be such that with a normally heeled shoe on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke and your other leg hanging free (so as to keep hips level) you just reach the pedal. That results in just a slight bend of your knee at the bottom. Higher than that and your hips will rock, causing the bike to weave and your bottom to hurt. Lower than that and your knees may interfere with trunk and arms and you are less efficient (if memory serves about 10% less efficient for 1/2 inch low). Lastly comes fore-aft, the most difficult. KOPS (http://sheldonbrown.com/kops.html) is a starting point, at least better than too far forward.

Once the saddle is correct the rest of the "cockpit" can be addressed. In your case the only change that makes sense is the stem. A Nitto Technomic stem or this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Kalloy-Bicycle-Bike-Quill-Stem-22-2-40mm-Silver-/371159060425 would allow you to have the handlebars higher at the same time that you would not have to reach forward as far, but ideally a shorter "reach" stem that is not so long would be better.

I'm sorry for the length, but I hope some of the above is helpful to the OP and to other.
There are a lot of fit systems out there and your comfort and feeling good after a ride will tell you what works for you. Most fit systems are for racing not casual riding.

You keep on saying that you are 60's that's not old, stop thinking you need to act any age. Get in shape ride the bike, go to gym and workout. Take Tai Chi Chuan classes to improve movement and balance. Get in shape to retire.

As per seat adjustment for start you can set the height so that at the bottom of the stroke (ball of foot on pedal) you have some bend in your knew. The seat can be moved back and forth on the rails on the bottom by loosening up the locking nuts, also tilt. You can set the seat so that when the pedal is forward your knee is over the axle. From there after a few rides you can find your sweet spot.
Not many people really use the lower portion of their racing handlebar and most ride with hands on top like you do. That's not so safe or comfortable.

Consider pulling your handlebars putting them in upside down putting the brake levers back on. Than find a comfortable hand hold leaving an extra inch above the levers. You can also buy new handlebars.

I have done this on my bike kind of tri athlon style and find this to be the most comfortable set up for me ever. Better than my mountain bikes straight bars.
Never Give Up!!!
I read the response last night and again this am, after not being 100% clear on it...
First of all, thanks for your responses... After re-reading your (fortunately) lengthy responses and then seeing the picture above, I understand clearly what you are saying about the seat position. That error is on me. I looked this am, and see that yes, I did put the seat mount on backward (I had to remove it to bend it outward for the thicker than normal french post thickness..
I also examined the stem compared to the ebay one, which sounds promising... (Wonder if that fits the thicker french tubing?), but have a question....
Existing stem looks like GeorgeET's in pix above... Ebay doesn't seem to be as far forward....

I will gain about 1-maybe 1.5" by fixing seat, but ebay stem (Though a good bargan--maybe I should get it for testing) would loose about the same amount of space from what I see...

So I can move myself back by fixing seat... but loose that same distance on the bars, is this a gain or loss in your opinion....

I should have seat fixed (moved back) this evening after work.

P,S, The Kops link didn't work.
1. I assumed that the saddle was forward and the stems so high because you "don't feel comfortable in a bent over form" so I was trying for a solution that allowed you to have LESS reach to the handlebar - thus the short stem. Many people who have trouble reaching the bars or bending over raise the stem when the better first step is to shorten the stem. **BTW make absolutely sure that the "MAX HEIGHT" line on both stems in NOT showing.

At this point I would say to get the saddle in a better position (including lowering yours, especially because moving the saddle back increases distance to pedal) and also play with stem height to see how things feel. A higher stem shifts your weight back (thus more padding needed on the saddle) but moving the saddle back will also shift your weight. Like everything else on a bike it's an interplay of different factors. Recognizing the limits of budget and what is appropriate for upgrade costs, modern saddles also can be much more comfortable - hard to tell what is on your bikes.

Downturn bars came about because they produce a more efficient position by far (streamlined, better balance of leg muscles used, use of arms to help in climbing and acceleration) and also balance weight between front/back arms/butt. It can also with proper fit be very comfortable - that's why the vast majority of touring cyclists who ride for an entire day at a time use those bars.

The solution George chose is called "bullhorn bars" and is a pretty good one for someone who prefers a higher hand position without going to an upright bar. I don't need that so I have no direct experience with it, and of course it entails extra expense unless you do reverse the bars you have and cut them off. (nice looking classic bike, George). Having your hands further out greatly increases comfort and opens up your chest for easier breathing, and using the standard brake levers is a huge safety increase. One complication in your case is that the foam grip increase the distance your fingers have to reach to the brake levers. The biggest disadvantage is the longer reach to your shift levers - I can't imagine navigating the reach to down tube levers!

2. French stems are 22 mm instead of 22.2 OD, but a standard one can be made to fit into the fork with the use of some sandpaper and some patience. You also will need a metal shim between stem and bars, as the French standard is also smaller for the bar clamp.

3. Just Google "KOPS fit." I agree with the critiques of the method, but without a good fit consultant it's a starting point.

Those are both beautiful classic bikes, and if you are on a budget you need to work with what you have, but they are limited in how much they can accommodate your needs. Much as I love the classic bikes (my 1972 Motobecane Grand Jubilee was my favorite bike) the latest wave of bike popularity and development that started in the 80's brought huge advances in comfort, operation and adaptability.
You guys are gonna hammer me, but what the heck. Careful reading of JanJ's posts make me think something else is the root issue.
I think an upright riding position is a primary issue. Just my opinion.
JanJ go to anywhere that sells bikes & seat a few different models OR mount yours & imagine your hands gripping different bars. In MTB bars perhaps a 2 1/2" rise or more. Maybe a cruiser type bar, like a Northroad or Northwind, whatever.
[Image: 3306.jpg]

So it would be sorta like this:
[Image: 1980-schwinn-voyageur-118-modified--larg...197587.jpg]

or this

[Image: 1955-schwinn-varsity.jpg]

We would need to make an inexpensive cable, brake lever & grip change.
You are correct... Both Wife & I are using upright riding position.. If I could grip bars where they 'should' be gripped (I've tried, and occasionally use that grip, but I must say, Not Often)...
I find my neck position I'd need is 'extreme' in order to see 'forward'.

Bit of History:

Bought this bike in 1982 from K-Mart (early big box store).
No one walked me through it. I didn't like the knee bends, so I lifted seat. That made legs feel better, but back didn't like it, so I raised stem, only to find it needed to go up higher than where I thought maximum (No marker that I ever saw) could go.
It stayed that way, and I'm guessing that's when I started riding upright...

Over the years I changed seat twice.... Latest was early this year when I found the most comfortable seat.... Believe it or not at Aldi Food Store! I posted in Seat area about MFG type.

Tonight I'll fix seat mount so that it's mounted further forward, and the seat further backward.

I'm sensing this is a multi-step change!
OK... Looked at and changed the seats -- mounting..

On both, the seat shaft support was 'behind' the nut... Changed both to 'in front' of nut. This moved rear of seats back about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2"... On my seat I then saw there was some front to back adjustment as well for about 1/2 to 5/8"... but only 1/4 -- 3/8" on Gitane (Wife's).
I'm guessing rear of seat is 2" further back than it was before on mine, 1 1/2" on Wife's.
Lowered my seat 1/2" and sat on it... Doesn't feel bad. Left wife's seat height as is...
At this point I'm holding on, and start reading about the Kop's thing...

I measured the handlebar mount as 22.0MM
I for one am not going to hammer Jef - you have a point. Jan is trying to make the bikes into something they are not, but it pains me to recommend bastardizing a classic bike too much. If I were to go entirely by what I thought was best for the OP's usage, not taking into account things such as sentimental attachment, I would say to sell both bikes (many people like collecting those) and acquire some nice hybrids with smooth tires and flat handlebars. That way you get the position you want for comfort and safety (modern brakes and levers give much better stopping power, especially if you have old rubber on those brake pads) and still can have fairly easy riding.
A simple mod like this will get you all you need for around $50 each

There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
Sure are pros and cons regarding kops. Dropped seat another half an inch, verified the move of seat backward was correct with bolt on a string, and rotated the bars, which raises the ends, which also allows a wider/higher stance on bars without reducing access to the safety brake arms. They (Brake arms) do not hit the bars when used, before nor now...
This is a temporary fix until I determine what to do with the bars and stem. I'm vacillating between change vs. keeping it relatively stock...

Now on to the bearing re-builds
After much searching and discovering the issues with French Part measurements, I've decided to keep them both looking stock.... as opposed to changing stem/bars to accommodate Kops. I did learn from Kops and many Bars/Seat adjustment threads. By lowering the seat and twisting the bars counter counter-clockwise as mentioned in above thread, I've found a more comfortable 'feel' to the bike, and still have good access to the safety bars/brakes. I'd say I went from 1.5" from perfect Kops, to almost perfect (by less than .5") Kops...
Adjusting Gitane for Wife was easier than me & Peugeot. She's shorter than I am.
Please note that KOPS itself is hardly perfect. I noted that it ONLY as a starting point. Also, those levers are by no stretch of the imagination "safety bars." As I noted previously they will never achieve the efficiency/safety of using the normal levers. The point of rotating the bars is to give access to the real levers instead of the "extension" or suicide levers.

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