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  1. #1
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    Sizing question - can a large frame actually be this comfortable on a small person?

    Hi folks,

    So I'm new to cycling and am loving it completely. I bought an old road bike and have been commuting to work and now want to buy a nice road bike for long rides and races. I am just below 5'5'' and was looking for a 50cm when I was shopping for the old road bike and when I found one it felt too small. The guy I bought it from put me on a slightly larger frame and it felt much better and still feels fine to this day (I've been riding for a month now). However, while gathering the measurements of my current bike to take a guess at what to get for a nicer bike, I've found I'm riding a 56cm frame. Now, I know that in the end it's what's comfortable, but doesn't that seem to big for someone who is just under 5'5''? Any thoughts or comments on this?

    In the end, I'm going to test ride a bunch of bikes at work (I'm lucky to work where some nice bikes are sold) and BS with the bike shop guys and figure it out from there, but for the time-being, I'm puzzled. To the best of my knowledge I'm fit to the bike, with the right amount of leg extension while pedaling and not too much of a flat back or too much of a curved back for my comfort (though I've wondered what a longer reach would feel like) so I don't think I'm riding all funky or whatnot.

    So once again - any comments that might shed light on this? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure what the question is here...you tried a bike and liked it, but it wasn't the size you thought you'd ride? Maybe you were wrong...
    For what it's worth, there's a school of thought that most people are on bikes that are too small. Sizing standards changed several years ago when racers moved to smaller frames on the premise that they were stiffer and lighter. Ordinary riders, who are mostly slaves to racer fashion, followed, and pretty soon everybody was riding around on bikes that didn't fit, with long seat posts sticking out, reaching way down to the handlebars, and a whole generation of Americans learned to hate "10-speeds" because they were uncomfortable.
    Grant Petersen at Rivendell (www.rivbike.com) has written a lot about this, and his ideas really worked for me, at least. His sizing chart put me on a frame 3-4cm larger than I thought I needed. I ordered hesitantly, but was instantly more comfortable than I'd been in more than 20 years of riding. It's worth reading his essay even if you don't follow his advice.

  3. #3
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    Very interesting ... I'll check out that reference.

    And to clarify my question for future readers: Is it atypical to find a bike with a frame size outside of your expected range to be more comfortable?

    -- Does torso length have anything to do with it?

    And again - I'm sure it's all about what's comfortable, but I was curious to know what the general thinking on this was from a professional community.

    Thanks for your response.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaraLa View Post
    -- Does torso length have anything to do with it?
    It has everything to do with it. Having a bike that fits your torso is more important than the seat tube length. The top bar decides how stretched out or cramped you are and how much pressure is on your butt and hands.

    I have short legs and arms for my torso. Ideally for me, I would have a short seat tube, a long top tube for the size of the seat tube and a short stem. Luckily for me, there are many bikes made this way in my size. It has to do with fitting the 27" or 700c wheels in the frame. Either the bottom bracket shell has to be raised up or a longer top tube is needed.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Hey, the day I bought my 54cm Tricross, a girl identical in height to me was buying a 58cm of the same bike. She likes to ride "stretched out". Her (expert) dad was mumbling that she wouldn't enjoy that position while touring. She was comfortable. I was (eventually) comfortable. I think flexibility also matters - I'm very stiff, but she looked pretty sporty.

    Steve

  6. #6
    Soma Lover
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaraLa View Post
    -- Does torso length have anything to do with it?
    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    It has everything to do with it.
    I'm 5'7" with short legs and am constantly watching for bikes with 1-2cm longer top tubes than what is typical for a given size. My Felt F50 fits me with a cm of standover. Bianchi's with a long enough top tube usually leave me with negative standover. Cross bikes, touring bikes, and full suspension mountain bikes have been especially problematic.

  7. #7
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    To add to this - I'll explain that I'm looking at a Scott Speedster S30 (it'll take some growing into, technically, but my plan is to improve ) and while really comparing my ancient Nishiki Olympic 12 to the geometry of the Speedster, I realized that the brake hoods on the Nishiki are only about 6 inches away from where the top tube and down tube meet while they look MUCH farther away on the Speedster (could be 4 inches more) - totally different philosophy on geometry is my guess, so I bet a 56cm Speedster would be way too much of a stretch. I'm lucky to know someone who owns a 2007 Scott Speedster S30, size small (which "should" be my size) that I can jump on and test out.

    But so far I really appreciate everyone's comments, thanks!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gazoo's Avatar
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    I don't believe smaller is always better -- there I said it -- I'm out of the closet.

    I ride a Ridley M and could fit a S but I'd rather have the bike that fits my body dimensions, middle age flexibility and comfort level the best.

    Try the fit guide/calculator at http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO

    to get at least an idea/starting point of what may or may not work for you and don't let all the racer wannabes here dictate what will fit YOU the best.

    Also get an opinion from more than one bike shop and preferably not from some 20 year old know it all who thinks everyone is a racer like him. Find someone who has been in the industry a while and realizes how important TRUE fit is, especially to someone new to cycling.


    ______________________________________________________________________
    "Life can only be understood backwards...........but must be lived forwards".
    -Soren Kierkegaard

  9. #9
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    Silly bicycling sizing.

    You should ride a bike that is the correct size for you to stand over, after all, don't you stand around profiling more than you ride?

    Back before "Safety Ober Al" (Strangely, that is also prior to the bike boom.) bicycles were sized to ride, not stand around with them between your legs, and were a couple of inches larger than they claim you need for safety. For instance they say I need a 21 inch frame, but I find a 23-24 inch frame much more comfortable to ride. That is partially because I have a fairly long torso in relation to my leg length, but mostly because the so called safe bicycle is simply too small.

    So the short version is; your bicycle is probably the proper size for you.
    Graywolf--
    http://www.tomrit.com

    Longing for a stately old roadster

  10. #10
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaraLa View Post
    the brake hoods on the Nishiki are only about 6 inches away from where the top tube and down tube meet while they look MUCH farther away on the Speedster (could be 4 inches more)
    If the brake hoods on the new bike are even a couple of inches farther forward than on the old one you will definitely have a problem. The frame gives you an approximate fit, but seat height and positioning, stem length and rise, handlebar shape and tilt, brake hood placement and other adjustments fill in the details.

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