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Old 05-20-08, 08:31 AM   #1
Tony (Michigan)
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Bike too small? How do you know?

Hi! I'm new here. 54 years oooooooold
I have a Trek 520 road bike. I'm 5' 11" and wear 33 pant leg.

I sometimes have knee pain. I bought the bike about 3 years ago and the knee pain was so bad I hung the bike for almost all that time.
Now I have it out again and have been going back to the bike store I bought it from. I should have done this three years ago.

The seat was too high so they lowered it. It has three front gears. They told me for now just keep it in the middle one and just spin. This has helped immensely.
I believe the frame is 52cm.

One of the mechanics there says the frame is too small.
The other guy there told me (when the mechanic was not around) that the frame is fine.
The mechanic told me that he was biking on a smaller bike and his knees were hurting so bad he had to walk home. And he was a young guy. He bought a larger bike and no longer do his knees hurt.

I do a cadance of around 77 to 80 and around 11 to 14 mph.

My seat is now just a little higher than the handlebars. Yet it feels uncomfortable on my hands to put pressure on the bars. If I got a bigger frame wouldn't the handlebars be further more from the seat causing me to lean more onto the bars?

Any ideas?

Thanks!
Tony
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Old 05-20-08, 08:35 AM   #2
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Have you got pictures of you and the bike?

52cm does sound a tad small at 5'11''

I would recommend a fitting but that costs.
george
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Old 05-20-08, 08:35 AM   #3
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Too small.. hard to tell if that's the culprit with your knee pain. But having had a
bike that was too small I do know they're a pain.

What you need to find out is the top tube length you need. It will likely be 58+/-
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Old 05-20-08, 08:39 AM   #4
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For a rough starting point...............not the final perfect fit by far.

1 measure your inseam height using the book method.

Find a large book, stand against the wall, push the book against the wall to keep it level and up against your crotch as hard as is comfortable. Have an assistant measure from the floor up to the top edge of the book. This is your inseam height for bike measurements. (do it with you shoes on)

Multiply the inseam measurement by 0.67 This is the approximate starting point for your proper bike size. You can convert back and forth from inches to cm depending on the type of bike.

In addition, you measure you overall height and devide it by your inseam height. If the answer is greater than 2.2 then you need to get a slightly larger bike than indicated in the begining. If the answer is less than 2.0 you are pointed toward a slightly smaller bike.

None of this is to be considered as the last word in bike fit for you, merely a starting point.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:42 AM   #5
Tony (Michigan)
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Thanks. By the way, when standing over the top tube my pubic bone is about 4 inches above it with shoes on. About 3 1/2 without shoes.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:46 AM   #6
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Have you got pictures of you and the bike?

52cm does sound a tad small at 5'11''

I would recommend a fitting but that costs.
george
It seems small with that inseam. I'm 6' 1" with a 30.5/31 inseam, and I'd probably fit that bike, if the top tube were long enough.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:46 AM   #7
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Sorry, had to edit previous post due to premature Entering.
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Old 05-20-08, 09:31 AM   #8
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Thanks. By the way, when standing over the top tube my pubic bone is about 4 inches above it with shoes on. About 3 1/2 without shoes.
That sounds pretty small to me. However, if the bike has a long enough top tube for you to stretch out without banging your elbows with your knees and a long enough seatpost to give you a proper leg extension, you should be fine. Just for comparison, I wear 30" inseam trousers and find older 55cm C-T frames ideal. My 54cm Peugeot also works out well, because of its long top tube.

The best advice you got was to use the lower gears and to keep your crank cadence up, instead of mashing the pedals.
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Old 05-20-08, 09:37 AM   #9
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I'm 5' 9". 30-inch inseam. Ride a Lemond 53, and it feels good. All other things being equal, racers seem to like smaller frames than us touring types, but that's my experience, fwiw.
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Old 05-20-08, 09:39 AM   #10
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Maybe it's just me but I feel like when I'm riding on a level surface and reach to grab the horns of my handlebars it is just too uncomfortable. And to reach way down to where the handlebars loop down under is too uncomfortable. So I do most of my riding by grabbing onto the handlebars that run across the top.

The seat post can go very high. My legs were pretty much straight before when at the bottom of the pedal. Now there is about a 10 degree bend.

I have not been wearing my lock-in shoes lately either but my feet don't move much anyway.

For the life of me though I don't know how some can do a cadance of 90 to 100. I'd get burnt out after about 10 minutes of that speed! Maybe as I get more seasoned I can up the cadance to about 90.

Thanks everyone for your input.

Also I wonder if I could scavange most of my parts of my Trek 520 if I did go with a different, larger frame?

Tony
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Old 05-20-08, 10:06 AM   #11
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Assume the geometry is still the same as on Trek web site. There is no size 52 listed. Just S-M-L etc. The frame size should be on the seattube somewhere. The small has an effective toptube of 54cm so this bike is in the traditional LeMond frame style(longer toptube relative to other brands).

Based on what you have said the frame is too small for your size body. However you are much better off riding a frame that is too small than one that is too large. You may be able to make the stem and seatpost adjustments that will make it work. Traditional sizing theory calls for a 5 degree knee bend when the pedal is at the bottom of the rotation. 10 degrees sounds like knee pain in the making.

A picture of you on the bike would help greatly.
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Old 05-20-08, 10:23 AM   #12
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Just to throw in another rough measurement, you can find a pretty good starting point for seat height by setting it so if you peddle with your heel your leg is fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. This should give you about the right extension when you move your foot back to peddle on the ball of the foot. From recent personal experience, a seat that is too low will induce knee pain.

Most road bikes are set up with the handlebars lower than the seat so that is sort of to be expected. Part of the design is intended to put part of your weight on your arms. How much lower than the seat depends on the specific model, lower roughly equates to more agressive. The extension out to the brake hoods or to the drops may just be something you haven't put in enough miles to get comfortable with. When I bought a road bike after putting in several thousand miles on a comfort bike it was a huge adjustment that I'm still working through. Only now do I find myself spending most of my time out on the hoods and only going to the bar tops to stretch or take a drink, etc. You might find a set of decent padded bike gloves is a real help, I did.
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Old 05-20-08, 10:35 AM   #13
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Knee problems can also be a result of the seat being too far forward. My wife was having knee pain till I moved her seat back a little bit. As for frame size, yours sounds a bit small for you. I'm 6' 1" and am comfortable on 60cm to 62cm road bikes.

+1 on some good gloves. More comfortable and will protect your hands in case of a crash (I know this from experience).
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Old 05-20-08, 11:51 AM   #14
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Knee problems can also be a result of the seat being too far forward. My wife was having knee pain till I moved her seat back a little bit. As for frame size, yours sounds a bit small for you. I'm 6' 1" and am comfortable on 60cm to 62cm road bikes.

+1 on some good gloves. More comfortable and will protect your hands in case of a crash (I know this from experience).
For the rest of Us--It may be a compact frame so untill we get pics- We cannot tell.

If you can get the saddle high enough and in the fore and aft position for the knees- then the frame can be made to fit. Now I actually ride compact frames and even go for a size that is too small. This gives me a shorter top tube and aids my neck.

We do need pics of you on the bike- but so you don't feel too downhearted. Attachment is of my Bianchi- You can see how compact frames differ as the road bike is just one size larger.
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File Type: jpg Bianchi2.jpg (41.1 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg B2.jpg (51.0 KB, 52 views)
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Old 05-20-08, 11:56 AM   #15
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Sounds too small for a regular frame.

I am about 5'11", with a pants inseam of 29" and use a 55 cm bike. However your geometry may vary.

On a regular frame, don't worry too much about the standover height - especially for a road bike.

You might want to get your cadence up to about 90.

Have fun and welcome.

(54 is YOUNG)

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Old 05-20-08, 12:06 PM   #16
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I am a woman with longer legs than upper body, am 5' 8" and ride a 52 (and I think the bike is too small for me). I would think for your size you should be on a 56 or 58 but you need to get measured. There is no set size for everyone.
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Old 05-20-08, 03:05 PM   #17
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Tony,

The frame is just too small for you. I think you would be much more comfortable on a larger frame.
4 inches of clearance over the top tube says it all. An inch is plenty. Your top tube is too short and you are all scrunched up. You don't need to spend $$$ on a fitting as there is plenty of info on the net. Try www.rivbike.com and look a LeMonde's fitting rec's too. The salesperson that sold you that bike needs to be better trained.

I am 5'8" and ride a 55 Bleriot. I was in between a 55CM an 57CM but chose the 55. The 520 is a touring
bike and the Riv method of fitting applies.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/road/520/520/
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Old 05-20-08, 05:53 PM   #18
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Floridaboy, according to Riv and my calculations, my PBH is 35.5 inches and subtract from that about 4 inches the top of my seat to the center of my crank should be 31.5 inches but right now it is 30.5 inches so I guess I'm not too far off with that. (using PBH - 10 to 10.5 cm) where PBH = pubic bone height.

Or if using the other method on Rivs site (PBH x 0.873= SH.) I get 35.5 x 0.873 = 30.99 inches. So I'm really close just from what I played around as to what was comfortable for me without measuring.

Tomorrow I hope to post a pic or two of me on the bike.
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Old 05-20-08, 06:19 PM   #19
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I just find it hard to believe that your frame is a 52CM. From what you measured you seem to be close. Pics would help.
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Old 05-20-08, 07:14 PM   #20
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I'm 5' 7.5" and have a 28.25" inseam. I've been laser-measured and fit by multiple shops. On a compact geometry frame, on most bikes, the proper size for me is 52cm.

I'd guess 5'11" w/33" inseam as being no less than a 55-56, unless you have very short arms. I know guys of your size who ride 58's.
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Old 05-20-08, 07:52 PM   #21
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I'm 5' 7.5" and have a 28.25" inseam. I've been laser-measured and fit by multiple shops. On a compact geometry frame, on most bikes, the proper size for me is 52cm.

I'd guess 5'11" w/33" inseam as being no less than a 55-56, unless you have very short arms. I know guys of your size who ride 58's.
I'm 5'11", 33" inseam. I ride a 56cm and 57cm road bikes, a 54 cm TT bike, an 18" hard tail MTB. I size my bikes by effective top tube, on the road bikes and MTB that's always 56-57cm (TT bikes are different).
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Old 05-20-08, 08:21 PM   #22
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I just find it hard to believe that your frame is a 52CM. From what you measured you seem to be close. Pics would help.
I just checked my frame and it states it is a 53.5 cm 21" frame.
If I could find my card reader I could snag the pics off of my camera card. I'll just have to wait till tomorrow. I believe my arms are normal length.
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Old 05-21-08, 06:05 AM   #23
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Here is a picture of me on the bike

This is me. So, what do you experts think of me on this size bike?

Tony
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Old 05-21-08, 06:32 AM   #24
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This is me. So, what do you experts think of me on this size bike?

Tony
Your arms look locked and you look a little cramped.
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Old 05-21-08, 06:40 AM   #25
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I just checked my frame and it states it is a 53.5 cm 21" frame.
If I could find my card reader I could snag the pics off of my camera card. I'll just have to wait till tomorrow. I believe my arms are normal length.
I'm 5'3" with a 30" inseam. I just bought a Trek 520 - 19" (48cm). They had a 21" at the LBS but it was just a tad too big for me. I could straddle the bike but I didn't have any room left between me and the bike
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