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Old 12-29-10, 11:47 AM   #1
aaronglawrence
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Frame size for commuter

I'm starting a project of building a new commuter bike (it'll be my first build), and I'm already stuck at the first step--picking a frame.

I've settled on a great frame that will allow me to mount racks, fenders, disc brakes, and all sorts of goodies, and the company is releasing a new line of the frame soon, so the current ones are on close-out at an incredible price.

The problem is that, because the current line is just about to end, no one has my exact size in stock.

I'm about 5'9" with an inseam of 31 1/2", so I've been told I should go with about a 54 cm frame. The only close sizes anyone has in stock are 52 and 58 cm.

How much of a stickler should I be about frame size? Will going down the 2 cm really be an issue, or is this something that can easily be adjusted through saddle height, stem size/angle, etc? Is there any reason it would make more sense to go up a bit in frame size to 58?

As I mentioned, this will be my first build, and I'm afraid I'll be exactly this annoying about every step of the process. I'd appreciate hearing what you all think.
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Old 12-29-10, 11:59 AM   #2
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I am about the same size as you. I assume this is a road frame? It all depends on top tube etc, but I think 52 would be too small. The vintage road bikes I have right now are 54 and I feel like they are a bit too small and I would rather have a 56. 58 may be too big. I have a 58 Lemond as my road bike, but I don't know if I would go with that size for a commuter. If you are ordering a frame I woud spend a few extra bucks on the right size or if you are on a budget find something used. If you post what you are looking to build people will give you lots of good suggestions on places to find frames or possibly complete bikes.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronglawrence View Post
How much of a stickler should I be about frame size? Will going down the 2 cm really be an issue, or is this something that can easily be adjusted through saddle height, stem size/angle, etc? Is there any reason it would make more sense to go up a bit in frame size to 58?
If 54 is really the best size for you, then a 52 is a much better compromise than a 58, by far, although 54 is ideal. A slightly smaller frame will be lighter and stiffer, and, also, in this case, it'll be closer to idea.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:13 PM   #4
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I'm also about your size, and I have a 52 cm Kona Jake that fits great and a 54 cm Surly Cross Check that is borderline too big, but I make it work with a short stem and short reach handlebar.

The thing is, without knowing what the frame is that you're considering, it's impossible to give you reliable advice. Monsterpile is right about top tube size being the key factor. The seat tube and head tube angles also play a part. For me, a top tube of about 540 mm is ideal. You can change about 20 mm either direction with a stem.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback so far!

Sorry I forgot to mention the frame--it's the Civia Hyland (http://civiacycles.com/bikes/hyland/hyland_frame/#build)

It seems like it's already a fairly "long" bike, so the top tube (effective) even at the 52 cm frame size is a relatively large 550 mm. This is pretty comparable to top tube length in some of the otherwise larger frames I've been considering.

The reason I'm leaning towards the Hyland frame is because it has sliding dropouts that will let me put an IGH on it in addition to having mounts for pretty much anything I can think of. There aren't a ton of other frames out there (that I've found anyways) that have drop-outs that are good for an IGH and that also allow mounting of racks, fenders, disc brakes, etc. Another frame that I was considering was the Cotic Roadrat, which is a bit more expensive (plus I'd have to import to the US from the UK, which I'd imagine is a hassle).
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Old 12-29-10, 12:50 PM   #6
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Yeah, I think you'd probably be fine with the 52 cm Hyland.

Have you looked at the Civia Bryant? I love the bolt-on dropouts it has.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:59 PM   #7
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Hmm, I hadn't really looked at the Bryant yet, but it looks pretty good...
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Old 12-29-10, 01:47 PM   #8
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Ok you have me curious what kind of a deal are you getting on this frame?

That frame seems like it should fit you fine. I like having more standover for a commuter so having a bit more in that area with the 52 over the 54 might be a benefit.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:56 PM   #9
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I too am within a hair's breadth of your size, based on your numbers. My daily commuter is a 56cm Kona Dew Drop, which fits me just fine. My old Dew Plus was a 54 which always felt a tad small, but I never really worked too hard at getting it dialed in. I also have a 58cm vintage road bike, and it is unquestionably too big for me -- the reach to the bars is just not comfy.

I suspect you'll never be able to get completely comfortable on the 58, so if you're committed to this direction, I'd head for the 52.
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Old 12-29-10, 02:08 PM   #10
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Something major to consider is that the fit of a 52cm between one manfuacturer is often different (and sometimes very different) than a 52cm between another manufacturer. The key is to look at the bike geometry, especially the top tube tength, and gauge it from there. If you have the ability, even do a bike fitting at a local shop. With the right equipment, they can suggest what frame size is optimal for you, and can also suggest stem length, handlebar width, etc. that will make the best fit.
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Old 12-29-10, 03:05 PM   #11
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So far agree with just about everyone's advice so far about checking the effective top tube length. You can do more to make a smaller bike larger (seatpost height and/or setback, stem length and/or height) than you can to make a larger bike smaller.

People of the same height can have very different preferences in fit. There was a google spreadsheet where Long Haul Trucker owners entered their height, frame size, and adjustments they made to their bike. People of the same height varied from size preferences of 52 to 58.
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