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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 02-07-12, 12:00 AM   #1
laxpatrick
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Big/Tall Build Beginning!

Building a bike around a set of cranks sound like a good idea? Suuuuuuure!

I'm just a shade over 6'8", 240 on my way to 220 lbs. and have been enjoying a 66cm Cannondale CAAD3 for a number of years. Been reading too much lately about the benefits of looooooong cranks. Not long like my Dura Ace 180's -more like 210's. I'm a sport/fitness rider, I like to zip around and do some local and regional rides including RAGBRAI, no plans to race.

So I just ordered a set of integrated cranks from High Sierra Cycle. Those are gonna take 4 weeks to get done, so I have time to contemplate wheels and components.

Frame? Decided on a local (ish) builder who's got stock sizes all the way up to 68cm - Gunnar. Gunnar is a branch of the fine folks at Waterford. Been working through the geometry details and hope to have that settled and a drawing in my little hands in the next couple of days. Chose their Sport model as a starting point since I'm 41 and want a "quick enough" bike that will deliver some degree of comfort - hold the rear rack braze-ons, please! Steel Waterford fork and custom geometry - more on that in my next update.

So, I'll be sure to keep the details of this build coming. Just figured I'd start somewhere...
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Old 02-07-12, 04:15 AM   #2
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Building a bike from the cranks is really the only sensible way to go for tall riders.
Long cranks set the bottom bracket height for pedal cornering clearance, and the front-centre dimension (bottom bracket to front axle) to avoid toe clip overlap with the front wheel. Long cranks also solve the issue of saddle layback (horizontal distance from pedals to saddle), so you dont require a really slack seatpost angle to get "knee over pedal spindle"
Does the Gunnar have the correct BB drop and front-centre for your chosen cranks?
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Old 02-07-12, 05:23 AM   #3
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Great question - yes. Between my LBS guy and Richard Schwinn (that guy) there has been quite a bit of extensive measuring, discussing, and more. I also spoke with Tom at High Sierra to confirm our thinking. Hope to have the drawing in the next day or so, I'll try to share that here also.

Considering the options for the freakishly tall (ill fitting stock bikes or very high dollar custom builders), I thought this was the way to go. Time will tell...

Thinking mainly Ultegra components - but part of me REALLY wants to build up a set of wheels with either PW or CK hubs... LBS guy almost has me talked into a Brooks too.
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Old 02-07-12, 02:23 PM   #4
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I love Brooks saddles. If you're gonna put it on a Gunnar Sport (that's their "comfortable long-day road bike"?), I'd suggest a B17 Narrow, Swallow, or Swift - depending on your price and weight concerns.
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Old 02-08-12, 05:33 AM   #5
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Custom wheels to match your custom bike. That just sounds right. I got my custom Waterford last year, you're going g to love it!
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Old 02-10-12, 12:27 PM   #6
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Hit a slowdown in the process...

Started to go through the geometry in detail and not happy with what I've got. They left the seat tube waaaaaay long - I'd been hoping for a bit more standover clearance and also a slightly compact frame dimension to keep it as stiff as possible.

For comparison's sake, here's the dimensions of the Gunnar compared with the KHS a la Zinn and a Zinn Ti frame that I can't afford (that is a little small for me, granted).

Gunnar Custom Zinn Ti KHS Flite 747
Seat Tube C to T 680 572.9 568
Eff Top Tube 605 641 620
Head Tube 273 270.6 248
Chainstays 430 421 416
Seat Angle 72.5 72.5 73.5
Head Angle 72.5 72 72
BB Height 340 297
BB Drop 50
Standover 932.1 ? 869

They also suggested going to 440mm for the chainstays - but I'm not sure I want to go past 430. I also asked if they could do a larger seat tube diameter/seat post dia for more stiffness - they spec a 27.2mm.

So now this leaves me questioning whether the $1000 I'll save on this frame isn't a wash and I should just have Lennard build it. $1000 could buy a lot of peace of mind, after all - right?

Compounding this is the lack of response from my LBS guy to my inquiries. I know, it's off season, I need to be patient.

LAX

Last edited by laxpatrick; 02-10-12 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Attempt to fix column alignment
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Old 02-10-12, 01:57 PM   #7
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Sounds like a cool project! Do you have any preliminary sketches?

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Hit a slowdown in the process...

Started to go through the geometry in detail and not happy with what I've got. They left the seat tube waaaaaay long - I'd been hoping for a bit more standover clearance and also a slightly compact frame dimension to keep it as stiff as possible.
Did you discuss the slope of the top tube? Perhaps Gunnar is designing around more of a horizontal top tube, which would lengthen the seat tube.

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So now this leaves me questioning whether the $1000 I'll save on this frame isn't a wash and I should just have Lennard build it. $1000 could buy a lot of peace of mind, after all - right?

Compounding this is the lack of response from my LBS guy to my inquiries. I know, it's off season, I need to be patient.

LAX
I think your LBS guy should be happy to be doing business during the winter, and ought to be giving you his full attention.

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There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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Old 02-10-12, 03:24 PM   #8
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For $1000 difference on an already expensive bike, I'd probably go with Zinn...
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Old 02-10-12, 04:19 PM   #9
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I hear this... Checking in to final price and lead time from Lennard. I mean, the guy knows his ... when it comes to bikes for the freakishly tall. Since he, himself - well, 6'6" is pretty tall.

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For $1000 difference on an already expensive bike, I'd probably go with Zinn...
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Old 02-10-12, 05:28 PM   #10
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I'm probably going to do that next time. I have weird dimensions that make fit an interesting experiment on a standard sized road frame. I'm almost 6'6", but only have a 32" inseam (jeans, not cycling inseam), so I've got an extremely long torso. Leg wise, I ride a 60/61 cm frame, but that makes fitting my upper body a chore, and we're still not dialed in yet. Lots of compromises... I'll probably go custom eventually and Zinn makes sense because he specializes in big guys.
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Old 02-10-12, 06:46 PM   #11
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LBS guy called, acknowledged that he needs to take the lead on this. I plan to be totally honest with him. Just discovered his shop, seems like a truly good guy, so will suss it out with him and see where we get.
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Old 02-10-12, 08:46 PM   #12
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...and Zinn has a 5 month lead time on steel. Ouch!
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Old 02-11-12, 06:44 PM   #13
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Sounds we had a little miscommunication between the LBS and Gunnar, they sent me an updated spec that now includes 7.4 deg of slope on the top tube and a reasonably shorter seat tube. That'll get the standover I want and a more compact frame. Feeling much better about it. Hope to pull the trigger next week after I meet with the LBS - going to bring my Cannondale and go through final geometry.
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Old 02-11-12, 07:13 PM   #14
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Besides seat tube length, the other dimension that caught my eye was the fact that they were only spec'ing 60cm top tube length. I don't know what your 66cm C'dale has, but, my 63cm Caad4 has 60.1. At a reasonalby proportioned 6'4 1/2" I use a 140mm stem with that top tube. Can only imagine that you might require more reach than me and might enjoy the possibility of using stem length to fine tune fit instead of just using the longest available.
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Old 02-12-12, 11:44 AM   #15
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Very good point, BigFred. At our meeting next week we'll verify every dimension in comparison to my current ride. That dimension matches the 'dale I'm on. I have 3 fused vertebrae in my neck thanks to a chiropractor, so I can't stretch out too much and also can't have any more drop than current.
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Old 02-15-12, 09:22 PM   #16
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Almost there... Spent a good two hours at the LBS on my existing ride and various sizing tools. In summary, ended up going another cm on the top tube and getting the TT slope to 6.8 degrees with a standover close to my Cannondale. Net result is this frame will get my bars a little higher and farther out, which felt really good.

Getting stoked about this build. 8 week estimate and the cranks are going to take another 6 weeks from now. Planning Ultegra brakes and derailleurs. If all goes well, wheels will be 32 hole Mavic OP's with Phil Wood hubs (always wanted a set).

For gearing thinking 12-27 in the back and 34 ?? In the front. I live in western WI near the Mississippi, so need some climbing gears. How big for the big ring? Not sure... Have a 39 53 currently...

LAX
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Old 02-17-12, 11:34 AM   #17
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Id definately go w/a compact crank (50/34) if you want climbing gears. The back is up to you and how strong of a rider you are. I have lots of hills in my area so I have compact cranks and an 11/32 cassette (needed long cage mtn derailleur) on my commuter. On my carbon road bike I use compact cranks and an 11/28 cassette in the back - seems to work pretty good, but some of the real steep hills can still be hard to spin up.
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Old 02-29-12, 05:33 AM   #18
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She is built! That didn't take long... Cranks are still going to take another 2-3 weeks.

Thinking Ultegra GS rear der, Ritchey post, stem, and Biomax bars. Brooks B17, Phil wood hubs and HED Belgium rims. Cane Creek brakes (long reach, don't ask), all in Black. Wish that rear der came in black... Still trying to source some Ultegra 9 speeds new at a good price. Yep, I said 9 speed.

Will post more pics as the build progressess...


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Old 02-29-12, 08:53 AM   #19
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That, my friend, is a beautiful frame.
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Old 02-29-12, 11:44 AM   #20
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I dig it. Hmmmm, new bike,................Ahhhhhhh.
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Old 02-29-12, 12:29 PM   #21
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Where the heck are you going to find Ultegra 9 new? And why 9, sturdier chain?

Is it just the viewing angle or does the head tube have a much different angle on it than the seat tube? Must be the viewing angle, your data up higher seems to be the same... a little more upright than your typical manufacturer speced bike. It'll be interesting to hear your comments after you get a few miles under your saddle.

Heck,, get Ultegra DI2 while you're at it. mmm push the button.

Nice classic looking bike you have there!
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Old 02-29-12, 02:30 PM   #22
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Going with the 9 speed for perceived reliability (a tish less fussy than 10 speed?). Levers are out there, just not super easy to find. Just the viewing angle. It does have a significantly sloped top tube. Yes, it's not a crit bike. Really more of a sport touring geometry. I've got the 'dale for zigging around - this one's intended to be a more comfortable, forgiving ride as I face up to riding into my 40's and beyond...

MANY thanks for the kind words, folks!

Di2 IS tempting...
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Old 02-29-12, 09:24 PM   #23
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I was worried about 10 speed too but frankly, given that Shimano only puts 9 speed in their low end stuff now, and given that 9 speed equipment from ultegra is nearly as pricey as 10 speed, I'd skip it. Chains are cheap and I haven't really heard any horror stories about people snapping them.

Post some pics when you get your bike all assembled.
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