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Picked up a new Focus Mares Comp for my first "real" CycloCross bike.
I've ridden a few races on my old flat-bar Trek Hybrid and wanted to
move to an entry-level dedicated CX bike and turn the hybrid back into
the grocery-getter.

My question is this: with the seat set at the correct height for me
(I'm 6'4" tall with a 36" inseam), the top of the bars are 3.75" lower
than the top of the seat. I've read a ton of articles on setting up CX
bikes, but most don't give any sort of actual range/numbers, but just
usually recommend setting the bar height to saddle relationship about an
inch higher than your roadbike.

My roadbike is more of a tourer and set up with the seat height and bar
height even. I don't race on the road and mostly do longer road rides
(centuries) in the summer. My flat bar Trek is set up the same way.

So naturally, riding the new Focus with almost a four-inch drop to the
bars isn't too comfortable -- I took it out to the park yesterday and it
felt like I had way too much weight over the front of the bike and
really felt every bump and ripple being transferred through my arms to
my shoulders.

So, does anyone have their CX bike set up with that much of a drop from
the seat to the bars? Where is everyone else at?

I have the largest frame Focus makes in this bike (XXL/60), so it looks
like my only alternative to raise the bars would be to use a steerer
extender (which I've never used before -- anyone else?) or a stem with a
*really* steep incline.

Any thoughts/advice for a newbie?

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Replies to This Discussion

Why not just set the two bikes up the same?
I'm about 6'3" and have a similar inseam. My BB-to-seat height is around 842mm, and I found my first road bike and my first cx bike just weren't big enough (their frames were 61 and 60cm respectively). I found a four inch drop from seat to bars as well was too painful for my bike on rides.

The only way I solved this was to get a bigger frame. I eventually ended up with one of the custom Kona team frames for Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks (found in a midwestern resale store on ebay, strangely enough). After a season on that, I realized the twin giants of Kona are both too tall for even me and I needed a slightly shorter top tube. I went full custom Ti to get a 64cm seat tube with a 61cm top tube on my cx bike (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathowie/4601814467/)

It has a monster-sized head tube and I have to run the two different forks I tried for it uncut. But the saddle to bar drop is a more comfortable 1.5 inches. I set it up with custom fender mounts and rode it last winter as a rain bike and then proceeded to ride it all summer as well, eventually selling my road bike.

So I guess my answer would be to look for a frame with a much longer head tube that can accomodate a better bar height for you.
Sounds like the bike needs some spacers, but the problem is that you're not going to put 2" of spacers in there because it would void the warranty on your fork. Ryan Trebon is another tall guy and he has some enormous drop, but that's just not normal. I try to stay away from General Rules, but as a general rule, you want to be about 2cm up and up to 1cm back from a road race position. That rule works pretty well for people of average height, but 6'4" is definitely an outlier so maybe you would want to go even a bit more.

BAsically, the real thing rule is ride what feels comfortable and works for you. If you feel like you're too low, then you are. Not to say that in time that position won't be perfect for you, but you have to deal with what is, and the last thing you want to do is to fall out of love with cx because the bike doesn't feel right.

Good luck.
There's already about two inches of spacers underneath the stem, and the stem is 110mm long with an approx. 25 degree rise. So there's no where to go with what I have. I picked up a steerer extender at my LBS yesterday, which will give me up to 3" of additional height. I'll play with it today and Saturday, then race with it on Sunday and see how it feels. If I like the additional height, that gives me a reason to buy a nice new set of carbon fiber forks, right? ;-)

Thanks to all for the advice/feedback.

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