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Old 02-23-12, 01:04 PM   #1
SamChevre
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Need recommendations for a big bike

I need bike recommendations.

Basics:
Ive been commuting for about 8 months, about 15 miles a day, all city streets. I also run errands with my children (so I tow up to 100 pounds in a trailer), ride in local alleycats, and ride occasionally for a 40-50 mile ride on weekends. Im looking to replace my current bike (satisfactory, but it somehow is always annoying me) with a bike (or maybe 2 bikes). Im a relaxed position rider; my grip on my bars is about 4 inches higher than the seat, and that suits me.

Key constraints:
I need a really big bikemy current bike is 25-inch (63 cm) top tube, 26.5-inch seat tube; the seat tube can be shorter but the top tube is as short as I want it.
Id like to spend less than $500, and I intend to buy a used bike. Im happy to get this frame, these wheels recommendations.
I want indexed shifting, and prefer flat bars.

First bike: a bad-weather/ride with kids bike. I want fenders, gearing that goes down to 34 front/28 rear, at least 35mm tires (40mm would be better), a rear rack, and no worries that the bike will be harmed by getting wet and dirty. Im open to an IGH. Id like to stay in the 30 pounds or less range if possible; my current bike, without fenders and rack, is 33 pounds.

Second bike: a good-weather/longer ride bike. Id be open to drop bars, although Id still prefer flats (which Id customize to what my current bike has). Id like something with a 63-64 cm top tube, still fairly relaxed geometry, and strong enough to tow the children if possible. (The other bike would probably be the main towing bike, though).

One of my major questions is how flexy a bike my size will be, so any specifics on that will be appreciated.

Here's my current commuter:
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Old 02-23-12, 01:17 PM   #2
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I suggest one bike for both purposes, basically a Euro style touring bike with butterfly style trekking bars and disk brakes with full rack and fender eyelets. Koga Miyata light trekking bikes are a good example.
To eliminate flex you need fat frame tubes which is best done (in a production frame) with aluminium.
You wont find anything bigger than 63 in a production frame. Bigger frames are custom but few people can build a good big frame. The goto guy is Zinn. He factors in long cranks, high bottom bracket and long chainstays.
Canondale used to build good, big tourers but not any more.
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Old 02-23-12, 03:57 PM   #3
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Warning - I don't really know what I am talking about. But my first reaction from the picture of your current bike is that is a very weird set up. Your seat is unnaturally low (i.e. little seat post showing), particularly for a bike with that amount of HT and ST, and for all the stem-up long-TT stuff you claim to require, your bars are rotated well down and back. The net is that all your set up of your peripherals seems to be working against your fairly extraordinary frame requirements.

When a guy measured me for golf clubs, the club builder said, basically, unless I was 7' tall with T-rex arms, I didn't need those clubs, I needed golf lessons. I think there might be some similar action going on with your setup.

My hunch is there's a good chance your frame requirements may not be as mutated as you lay them out if you opt for some funky bars, such as those MichaelW suggests, rather than insisting on all the funk being in the frame. By putting a little reach and rise into the stem and seatpost, respectively, you'll ratchet back on your 4 standard deviations outside the bell curve frame TT and ST/HT needs and open up to a world more stock in the second hand market. You just need to find a stem/bar combo with the rise you want.

Zinn would certainly be your oracle for this, but you're not getting in and out of there for anywhere close to your price point.
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Old 02-23-12, 04:12 PM   #4
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maybe a 29er mountain bike with big road tires like Big Apple Schwalbes..

Quote:
Id like to spend less than $500
that is a problem.. need both kidneys?

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-23-12 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 02-23-12, 05:18 PM   #5
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First off, Style points for having a set up quite unlike anything I've ever seen....

Secondly - A few questions. How tall are you? What is your inseam like relative to your torso? And honestly what exactly is it about your current set up that "annoys" you? I could think of a few things but you need to own it.

Lastly - Style points for optimism - $500 for 2 bikes with all those requirements?
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Old 02-23-12, 07:46 PM   #6
SamChevre
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OK--on the "what's up with your current setup" questions.

This bike has a 26.5" (68mm) seat tube and a 25" top tube; the top tube suits me, but the seat tube is long enough that I only have an inch of seatpost showing (hence the "I can go shorter on the seat tube.") The center of the bar grips is (forward to back) right about where the original drop bar top was--the advantage of the current setup is that it's wrist and shoulder positioning suits me better. (In other words, my replacement of bars and stem moved the grip up about 3 inches, and neither forward or back; while getting rid of aching wrists and shoulders.) For riding fast I rotate the bars more down (which (which effectively moves them forward and down), but the bike handles less well with that weight distribution.

I'm 6'4", and my riding inseam is 37". I'm tall, and relatively long-legged and long-armed.

If I could figure out what it is about this bike that doesn't suit me, maybe I could fix it; it's just a lot of little annoyances--it's sluggish-feeling even relative to my GT which was stolen, it gets twitchy when I lean forward, the seat is too far forward relative to the petals so I have to ride with my seatbones off the back edge of the seat to keep my knees from hurting...

And $500 is for one bike/each bike, not both bikes.
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Old 02-23-12, 07:55 PM   #7
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The long top tube isn't as desirable you might imagine, IMO. My guess is you think a tall frame is required to have your bars up higher but actually it's better to use a riser stem or even BMX style handlebars to achieve this aim instead. A long top tube will really hinder your efficiency and power output, especially uphill, and it will make the bike uncomfortable for longer rides if you're leaning against your handlebars instead of just resting your hands on the grips. You'd have to be at least 7' tall to ride that bike. 6'4" would fit comfortably on ordinary 58cm or 60cm frames. You really need to climb some monster-sized hills to gauge frame fit. Professional athletes use long-reach bikes but they stand out of the saddle and mash uphill while ordinary mortals have to sit and spin, and a short-reach, short-top-tube helps facilitates this. I'm 6'2" and the fit system at Competitive Cyclists' webpage recommends a 55cm top-tube for me, a fit that corroborates my own experience. Your wrists and shoulders ache because the reach is far-far too long, in my humble opinion.

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Old 02-24-12, 01:33 AM   #8
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A high bar position is indicative of too long reach. I find that length and rise are interchangeable.
The frame is too big and at 6'4" you should be OK on XL production frames.
Try some hybrid and 29 ers out for size. Make sure the 29er has full complement of eyelets.
You wont find cranks longer than 175mm on any bike but you really need longer ones to free up your legs and let then spin. Specialities TA make longer ones at a price.

You should be able to sell a specialist frame like that to the right person, at quite a good price. It looks like a custom XXXL size.
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Old 02-24-12, 09:01 AM   #9
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The fit advice is much appreciated. This in particular:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
A long top tube will really hinder your efficiency and power output, especially uphill
One of my frustrations has been that my hill-climbing ability is really poor--I blamed it initially on the road gearing, but even after swapping to smaller chainrings it's still frustrating. My old bike (which was stolen) was much better. This was a 23/23 frame; here's a picture.


Note, though, that I'm resting very little weight on my hands with my current setup. I can, and often do, ride with just my fingers on the grips.

And the Giant bike wasn't at all custom--it's a late-80's, hi-tensile steel Giant RS-910 that was given to me as a birthday present by my grandparents 20 years ago.
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Old 02-24-12, 09:53 AM   #10
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I'd also say that it is highly likely that the long TT is being compensated by a really short effective stem length (horizontal distance to center of bars), which can make a bike feel "twitchy". Looking at both setups, I'd say your TT is too long.
I'm 6'2.5 with a 37+ cycling inseam and even a Rivendell fit puts me at a 64-65 cm frame with a 57-59 cm TT and 80-100 stem set at seat level. The "eddy Merckx" (sporty) fit has me at a 56mm TT, 110 stem, and 62 cm seat tube, bars 2-3" below the saddle

The most classic "hands above the saddle" positioning would be a dutch bike, which is not well suited for 40-50 mile rural rides - these are more at home on 5-10 mile, flat rides. Maybe a Dutch Bike could suit your urban/family needs.

For the weekend rides, I'd suggest looking into the "French fit" / randonneur / touring style bicycles and fit to see if there's a potential match there.

The budget will be an issue, particularly given your preferences.

I hear your pain - I have a hard time finding "stock" frame geometries that work well for me.

Some newer bikes have longer head tubes to allow a higher initial handlebar position, with a sloping top tube to provide a comfortable standover. Something like this might suit you but, again the budget is a killer (perhaps a used bike on ebay or Craigslist, but it is a crapshoot).
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Old 02-24-12, 10:13 AM   #11
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That's an "interesting" stem/bar combination. I'm 6'4'' and really like my Surly Karate Monkey. The xl might work for your kids setup. Disc, rim, ss or what ever you like, can run many different setups. You could try some riser mt bars or some swept back bars to get your fit. You should get a professional bike fit to start. That will help a lot. Surly also makes a long haul trucker touring bike in 62 and 64 cm tt.
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Old 02-28-12, 09:00 AM   #12
SamChevre
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The suggestions on sizing are much appreciated. It seems like I should fit a 23"/60cm top tube, which puts me in the general range of XL bikes.

So I go back to my original question--any specific recommendations?
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