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Old 03-11-08, 05:57 PM   #1
dtipton
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Frame Size on older bikes

Has the idea of "proper size/fit" evolved over the years to put people on smaller bikes? I'm rather short at 5'5" and can ride a 21 inch frame although it does have me a bit stretched out. I'd love to have an older Paramount (lugs are sexy) but hardly ever see anything smaller than a 23 inch. Did short people just not ride bicycles in the 70's?

Thanks
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Old 03-11-08, 06:16 PM   #2
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Has the idea of "proper size/fit" evolved over the years to put people on smaller bikes? I'm rather short at 5'5" and can ride a 21 inch frame although it does have me a bit stretched out. I'd love to have an older Paramount (lugs are sexy) but hardly ever see anything smaller than a 23 inch. Did short people just not ride bicycles in the 70's?

Thanks
As always, the one and only Sheldon had the answer.

I'm not familiar with Paramounts, but '70s bikes in the 21" to 23" range should be plentiful. However, because they are popular sizes, they may be difficult to find in a particularly desireable bike.
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Old 03-11-08, 06:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link. Very informative!!
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Old 03-11-08, 06:36 PM   #4
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20 inch frame Paramounts do exist, my wife rides one.

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Old 03-11-08, 06:41 PM   #5
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20 inch frame Paramounts do exist, my wife rides one.

But I'm still looking for that tiny Paramount, so no bidding on the 19 inch ones, dang it!

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Old 03-11-08, 07:22 PM   #6
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1) I've also notice the scarcity of smaller Schwinns. I've been looking for a SS in the 54/56cm range for some time.
2) On the other hand, I find older 56cm frames to fit almost perfectly despite the CW that a person my size should be on a 54cm.
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Old 03-11-08, 07:24 PM   #7
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With an average bottom bracket height, 55cm C-T is "just my size." Fortunately, I have been able to find 3 Capos and a Bianchi in this size.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:46 PM   #8
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1) I've also notice the scarcity of smaller Schwinns. I've been looking for a SS in the 54/56cm range for some time.
Top
Although I'd love to have a Paramount I'd be content to find a 21 inch Campus Green SS in decent condition.
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Old 03-12-08, 08:53 AM   #9
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But I'm still looking for that tiny Paramount, so no bidding on the 19 inch ones, dang it!

East Hill
If I ever find her a chrome one, that one may be going. The Paramount is a bit smaller than her old Super Course. She is 5'4" tall.

I do watch CL constantly down here. I'll keep a lookout for a really small Paramount.
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Old 03-12-08, 09:35 AM   #10
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If I ever find her a chrome one, that one may be going. The Paramount is a bit smaller than her old Super Course. She is 5'4" tall.

I do watch CL constantly down here. I'll keep a lookout for a really small Paramount.
I think the closest anyone has found for me has been about the size of your wife's bike. I would imagine that the number of Paramounts that would actually fit me is miniscule, to say the least!

Which doesn't mean that they don't exist...!

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Old 03-12-08, 10:32 AM   #11
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Riders of racing bikes in the 50's and 60's typically rode larger frames than became the fashion by the 80's, certainly. I think this was partly because of road surfaces in Europe - even racing geometry involved slacker angles and longer wheelbases, and ultra-stiff wasn't necessarily better - comfort was more critical on super-long stages. Look at pictures from the era of Jacques Anquetil in the 60's - saddle only slightly higher than the bars, and only the proverbial "fistfull" of seatpost showing. Top tube lengths usually corresponded to this concept as well - and check out the typical larger amount of fork rake. I think this began to change in the 70's as road surfaces improved and racing bikes began to be sold in the US where the roads were less of a problem to begin with (and much racing took the form of criteriums). Racing became less about endurance and unpaved roads and gravel (especially in the mountains) and more about cornering ability and lower weight.
There has recently been a small but significant swing at least among some smaller bike builders away from the idea that stiffer and lighter is always better and back toward a more all-around type of geometry like that common in the 60's. Deteriorating, increasingly dangerous main roads are probably contributing to this trend. Rivendell was an early adopter of this concept, and there's a bunch of info on their site about how you'll typically need a larger frame from them than you're perhaps used to, as well as an interesting piece on the Hampsten site written about their Strada Biancha, which embodies this all-rounder concept as well. When bidding on or buying a bike from the 60's through the early 70's, I usually look for one a centimeter or even two larger than if I'm looking at a bike from the 80's. On racing bikes built for good roads and with tighter geometry, I typically ride a 57cm square frame, but on older bikes, I often find I'm perfectly comfortable (and usually more comfortable) with a 60cm seat tube - as long as the top tube isn't too long. I just don't expect to float up hills or corner like I'm on rails. My '68 Paramount, for example, is a 24-incher. (And consider the fact that the P-13 geometry changed during the early 70's while what had been the racing geometry in the 60's continued as the P10/P-15 "touring" models).

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Old 03-12-08, 03:28 PM   #12
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Back in the 1970's, the "medium" size for many Schwinn model road bikes was a size 23 or size 24, and a lot of smaller bike shops tended to stock lots of "mediums", and fewer numbers of small and large sizes.

The result of that was that most guys in the 5'8" to 5'10" range ended up on size 23 and size 24 bikes. And, guess what? Although such frames provided little or no clearance between the top tube and jeans if the rider was standing flat-footed over the frame, they provided a very comfortable riding position.

When Greg LeMond won the Tour de France on the last day, riding in a time trial position, it started a fashion of setting up road bikes with the bars three or four inches lower than the top of the saddle. "Joe Average" cyclists had no idea how BAD and how WRONG a three inch bar drop is for ordinary riding on streets packed with motor vehicles.

I used to be 5' 10", but have been shrinking decade by decade. The "traditional" geometry road bikes that fit me the best are in the size 58 to size 60 range, but I have a size 62 touring bike that fits well.
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Old 03-12-08, 03:51 PM   #13
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The result of that was that most guys in the 5'8" to 5'10" range ended up on size 23 and size 24 bikes. And, guess what? Although such frames provided little or no clearance between the top tube and jeans if the rider was standing flat-footed over the frame, they provided a very comfortable riding position.
I'm 5'8", and ride a 23" Motobecane I bought new in 1977...

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I used to be 5' 10", but have been shrinking decade by decade. The "traditional" geometry road bikes that fit me the best are in the size 58 to size 60 range, but I have a size 62 touring bike that fits well.
...and when I bought that Motobecane, I could've sworn I was 5'10".

Shrinkage?

Or wishful thinking?

Anyway, that 23" Motobecane fits me just fine, with very little clearance between the top tube and the naughty bits.
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Old 03-12-08, 04:33 PM   #14
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Rivendell makes the case for riding larger frames here.
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Old 03-12-08, 07:51 PM   #15
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Hello All

I was just on E-bay, and I saw two Paramonths, listed as 20
inch. I belive one is chrome and one is red........
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Old 03-12-08, 10:31 PM   #16
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Hello All

I was just on E-bay, and I saw two Paramonths, listed as 20
inch. I belive one is chrome and one is red........
The seller lists the one as being 51cm, which would make both of them be too tall...the red one has a ding ( ), and the chrome one is missing it's fork. Neither one has the headbadge!

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