Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking - Bought small as advised - too small?
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I'm new to the forum and serious cycling in general. I recently purchased a 2003 Jamis Nova for commuting. I'd been told it's good to go a little smaller with cross bikes. I'm about 5'10" with about a 32" inseam. I bought a 53 as a) it was the largest size available at my LBS, and b) it was a great deal.
I feel pretty good on the bike and think the fit is decent, but when on the brake hoods with my arms slightly bent, I'm definitely seeing the front hub. I'd been told it should be obscured, but that is only the case if I have my arms stiff and I'm all the way back on my seat. Otherwise it feels ok. My seat height is good, I'm in a good position in relation to the crank, and I don't feel cramped.
I'm thinking I'll ride it for a while and adjust it as needed. Any thoughts? Thanks!
You may need to play with the stem length and also make sure your saddle is properly set-up.
Look at www.zinncycles.com and use his fit calculations for the bike- including top tube plus stem dimension. Ideally you want your stem between 110 and 120 for the bike to handle well. However, you could go a little longer if you need to.
Since you swing your leg around the back of the bike when you step through- I don't buy the smaller argument. I talked a lot to guys in the Portland area that race A's and also run the cross pre-season clinics. They all indicated the "buy smaller" stuff was not a good idea. You really want the same set-up as your road bike. A frame that's too short on the seat tube will only have to be lifted that much higher to shoulder. I stressed about this too a few months ago before I bought my first real cross bike.
I'd make sure the top tube plus stem is within a few mm of what Zinn recommends as a starting point. You may need to get a +15 degree stem to get the bars up where you need them.
If you did err, err'ing small is better than erring big though...
I won't be doing cross racing, so shouldering the bike quickly isn't that big of a deal for me. I forgot to mention, I have about 1-1.5 inches of clearance above the top tube.
If it feels good, don't mess with it. That's what you are shooting for. The "hub rule" is just a guideline.
OK- so shouldering isn't an issue. How stretched out on the bike you are is a product of the top tube length, proper saddle position for and aft as well as the stem and the drop from the seat to the top of the bars. A lot of people raise their stem in the winter to be more comfortable with the additional clothing they are wearing too.
Everybody focuses on the seat tube... but that's the only tube with a really nice adjustment system- the seat post.
If you can- look at ZINN and the sum of the stem plus top tube. For me, the magic number is 58.5 cm top tube with a 120 stem. I buy whatever size I need to in order to get a 58-58.5 or shorter top tube. Your bike sounds really small- I have a 32" clothing inseam, but about 34" when measured the ZINN method and I usually ride 59 cm seat tubes. Once you figure out what to start with, you LBS will likely let you swap stems around for a few days until you get it right.
I also think bikes ride like crap if the stem is not between 100-130 and preferably 110-120. A friend of mine always sets his bikes up with 140 stems, they ride like garbage. If you're a little more upright on a shorter bike that won't kill you.
One more thing... 1.5" standover clearance is reasonable. You're probably fine. A well fitting stem would only make things better. The real question is: Does it hurt when you ride? If not, you're cool.
No pain so far, except a little at first in the neck & lower back. After riding a bit more and reading about correct form, it's no longer a problem. It honestly doesn't feel too small. Also, it's right in the middle of their sizes, which I think are 46, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, and 60. I'm only about 5'10", so if it was too small I think it might just be one size small. The specs say the stem is 100 mm but 120 mm for the 55, so perhaps a 120 would work better if I start to feel cramped. I'll ride it more and see how I feel.
You also can do a lot just by rotating the handlebars. A lot of folks ride with the upper part of the bar- including the curve before the hoods, set basically level. This usually points the end of the bar pretty close to the rear axle. This also gives you a lot of places to put your hands. That would lift up your position and would probably help with that initial neck thing that you had.
And... if you drop a level on top of the seat, most people find that the top of the bars is 2" or less lower than the seat. Really aggressive riders may ride up to 4" of drop, but typically 0-2" is comfortable for people.
If you want some flexibility, there are some adjustable rise stems. This allows you a lot of flexibility while you figure out what you do long term with fit.
10-24-04, 02:48 PM
Well, I have been riding 140 mm stems for over twenty years and think a long stem, and long reach give me the best ride i could possible have.
They steer better and the ride is more enjoyable. Anything smaller ruins the ride.
All perspective and personal choice.
I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know a couple frame builders- where my stem size "rules" came from, in addition to my experience. A stem that long puts a lot more weight on the front wheel- I guess you like that in your ride characteristics.
How much drop do you ride with? Your CG would be back more if you were relatively upright (i.e. low drop).
11-01-04, 06:57 PM
Deepest drop bars I can find, I hate anatomic bend bars and shop for old style Cinellis, DEEP drop.
When in the drops, my back is basically flat.
This is always the way I've liked my bike set up - 44 now - see no real reason to change.
I like the feel, the steering and handling.
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