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Thread: 57cm or 54cm

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    57cm or 54cm

    Hello all. I'm new to the board and have a couple questions for the experts here.

    I bought a very nice 2001 Bianchi Veloce off of a friend a few years ago for an amazing price. We are the same height and of similar build. He was upgrading to some higher level carbon bikes for competition and just wanted to move the Bianchi to help offset his high end bike costs and wanted to sell to somebody who he knew since it was his baby. Being of similar size to him, I trusted that the bike was the right size for me and he even fitted me on a trainer at his house. The bike is a 57cm frame. I've never taken the bike anywhere to get tuned up as I've been keeping it in good condition myself. I actually haven't ridden it too much. Most of my rides have been 20 miles or less and I didn't really have anybody to ride with the last two years since I moved away from that area and my wife wasn't really interested. It's not a good excuse, I just haven't been riding.

    My wife is now interested so she and I are looking at getting into biking more seriously and are getting her a new bike and went to a handful of local stores today to look at bikes for her so she can ride with me.

    I decided to test a couple bikes out while we were at the stores and told them the size of my current bike and they all said it was much too large for me?!?! They said the reason that I felt probably fine was that I haven't ridden it too much and never for more than 15-20 miles and with no previous road bike experience I had nothing to compare the bike to. None of them offered any real decent suggestions about what I should do other than sell the bike and get one that fits. I rode a bike that was 54cm and it just felt so much better than my current bike.

    I found a few sizing guides online and lo and behold, I should probably be riding a 53-54cm bike. I feel like an idiot as I never felt the need to consult somebody at a store. I never questioned the feel as I just felt that is what road bikes were supposed to feel like. I feel like such an idiot for not going to a professional, but oh well. Live and learn and move on.

    My questions for any experts out there are as follows:

    1. Would I be best off trying to sell the 57cm bike and buy a new one that's 54cm that fits better? Or were the salepeople just trying to make another sale?

    2. Is there anything I can do to my current bike to make it fit? Is 57cm really too big for me? I'm around 5'-9"/5'-10" with an inseam of 31 inches or so. Again, I've ridden it and haven't had problems other than, looking back, feeling that something was a little off. I plan on building up to 40-50 mile rides as a goal and am afraid that this bike might end up being very bad for me if I don't do anything.

    3. One thing I thought of doing was buying a new frame that was 54cm and just putting all my other parts on that and I'd end up with a bike that fits for less than a new bike. I found a Scattante frame with a carbon front fork and carbon on the rear for $300. My current frame is steel with a carbon front fork. This would be lighter and I was quoted around $200 extra dollars to take my old bike, strip it down and rebuild with the new frame and all new wiring. This could be nice as I'd be using all Campy Veloce parts. I'm just not sure if I want to deal with all that and if it's the best way to go. A problem with going this route is that I can't afford a really good frame. The Scattante frames were all I've been finding for a decent price and I'm just not sure if I'll be really happy with this frankenstein bike.

    This all sucks as I wasn't anticipating any major money needing to be spent on my part to get going. Now I'm looking at $500 to swap out the frame or if I can sell this current bike for a decent price and then buy a new one with a few extra hundred dollars added. I don't feel experienced enough to do the rebuild work myself and am just not sure what I could get for my current bike.

    Last question. 4. If I was going to sell my 2001 Bianchi Veloce, which has all Campy Veloce components, a carbon front fork and a steel frame, what should I try to sell it for? The bike is definitely worn and well ridden. The components are in great shape. The frame has a handful of aesthetic paint scratches and very minor paint chips, etc. but the frame is solid, no cracks and to my knowledge, never wrecked. It just seems like typical wear for a bike that's been ridden very well, at least up until I bought it. It's not a bad bike and I've heard there is a niche market for Campy lovers along with Bianchi lovers along with steel frame bikes with carbon fork lovers. So, who knows.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Mike

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    Good rule of thumb in a bike fit:
    1) Your leg, when at the 6: o'clock position of foot on crank arm should have a slight bend of no more than 10 degrees or so.
    2) Same with arms (both of em) when stretch out on handlebars. Slight bend.
    3) When out of saddle climbing; shoulders should be over handlebars or slightly behind.
    4) Arch in back should not cause pain when hands on hoods. This may be more apparant after 50 miles or so.

    A set back/forward seatpost and stem length can compensate for geometries. Thomson is recommended in this category for their strength and quality.

    Thats the rules I go by....and I ride a 57-58cm being 6', 32 inseam at 191 lbs.

    While your don't have a high end bianchi, you should be able to sell it with campy stuff fairly easily on e-bay or craiglist.

    Good Luck

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    After a ride, where do you ache?

    If it doesn't hurt, it ain't broke so don't try to fix it.

    If at some time in the future you start to develop aches, you can address those when it happens.

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    I am 5'9" and always had frames between 53 and 55cm. I currently have a Rush Hour (53cm) and cannot imagine feeling good on a 57cm frame. My suggestion: Sell it before you develop some chronical condition on your disks (happened to my girlfriend).

    Good luck.

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    57 frame seems big for someone 5'9". I'm 5'12" and ride a 56.
    Bike riding New England gentleman.

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    I think the Scattante frame with the Veloce parts for $500 would be a great deal. Have the xshop install the bars with some spacers above to allow height adjustment until you a sure where you want them. What did you decide on for your wife - I hope it is a better bike than yours.

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    If it is a traditionaly sized frame with a horizontal top tube it is probably not too big. Compact frames tend to have longer top tubes, and people tend to ride a smaller size.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
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    Thanks for all the responses. My only major concern is that when I am standing in front of my seat over my top tube, I can't stand with my feet flat. Is this a major problem?

    I haven't put enough miles on it to really know if the size is really bad for me. I can say that when I'm riding, I don't have any problems or discomfort. I feel that my seat placement in relation to the pedals and to the handlebars feels good. I've thought of rotating the brake/shifters up just a hair, but I've never questioned the fit per se. Most of my feeling of something being off is when I come to a stop, I can put both feet on the ground, but there is zero space between me and the tube. I assume, maybe correctly or not, that there should be space when standing in front of your seat between the tube and me.

    One of the things I was thinking about today is to just keep riding it as it is and start saving up money. When I've finally saved up enough money to get a new bianchi frame that is a little smaller, I'll go ahead and swap it out. I also think I can save some money and do the work myself. It will take me awhile to save the money, so I can spend that time learning the ins and outs of my bike and it's components. That would save me about $200 than having a shop rebuild it for me. There are classes at local stores all the time to help people learn some of this stuff.

    Once I save enough for a new frame that I'm completely happy with, I'll swap it out and then try to sell the old frame to recoup some of the money. I've seen this Bianchi frame online with a quick search for about $900.

    Bianchi B4P 1885 Hydro/Carbon FRAME

    I could hopefully then sell my current 57cm frame and fork to recoup some of the cost.

    I love the bike and the quality level of the components. I fully understand that I will not be able to afford even close to this level of bike if I sell this. If I could just ride this for now and work towards a new frame, it would be fantastic. I could keep all my Campy parts and it will force me to learn more about the interworkings of the bike. Win win all around.

    I just got scared when all these people at all these stores looked at me like I was crazy having this 57cm bike.

    Thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mad5427 View Post
    Thanks for all the responses. My only major concern is that when I am standing in front of my seat over my top tube, I can't stand with my feet flat. Is this a major problem?

    Once I save enough for a new frame that I'm completely happy with, I'll swap it out and then try to sell

    I could hopefully then sell my current 57cm frame and fork to recoup some of the cost.

    I love the bike and the quality level of the components. I fully understand that I will not be able to afford even close to this level of bike if I sell this. If I could just ride this for now and work towards a new frame, it would be fantastic. I could keep all my Campy parts and it will force me to learn more about the interworkings of the bike. Win win all around.

    I just got scared when all these people at all these stores looked at me like I was crazy having this 57cm bike.

    Thoughts?
    The highlighted part about not sitting over the top tube with your feet flat is a concern. Unless you already sing Tenor. You may not ever have a problem if everything else is adjusted ok, saddle height and bar reach but you may also never be completely satisfied with the 57. I have been slowly upgrading my bikes and when I get new parts for one I move the other parts to the backup bike. You should be able to stand over the top tube and have some clearance at least.

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    The bottom line is a 57 is way too big for you. If you can stand over the bike, you need something much smaller like a 53. Even if you sucessfully ride the 57 with the seatpost low, the handlebars are too high.

    Sell the bike on eBay and get something that fits you.

    By the way, I'm 6'0" with a 33 inch inseam and ride a 56.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    57 at your height is a mistake. I'm the same height and a 52/53 would be about right. Also note that virtual top tube is more important than seat tube, which unfortunately is what most people are still primiarly concerend about.

    At any rate, you should be looking for bikes in around 52-54cm range. Top tube length should be your primary concern when purchasing a new bike. Don't buy a bike from anyone who doesn't understand that.
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  12. #12
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    I'm 5'10" with about a 32-33" inseam and ride a 57cm Bianchi. I wish it was a 59cm. A 57cm Bianchi is about like everyone elses 56cm. Your bike is not too big for you, if it was you wouldn't have to wonder you would know. Unless you're going for the "pro" look with alot of seatpost showing.
    1996 Bianchi Veloce
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    Thanks for all the responses. I want to clarify the feet on the ground and top tube.

    I can put my feet on the ground flat when standing over the bike. There just is no room between "me" and the bike. It doesn't seem like a major problem, just always felt like there should be an inch or so of room. I can stand there with my feet planted and the bike can slide forward and back, it just rubs against me. No pressure, just exactly touching. When I said earlier that I can't touch, I meant without the bar touching me. I need to stand on my toes a bit to get the space between me and the bar. If this isn't a huge problem than the bike definitely fits me. The seat height to the pedals is fine and the seat location to the handlebars seems pretty comfortable on all the rides I've done which were up to 20 miles.

    I also don't know how to accurately measure my inseam. Measuring inside I was getting around 31" or so, but it seems to be a little longer. I measured the bike and it is exactly 32" from the top of the tube to the ground. I'm around 5'9"/5'10" and just standing over the bike seems my inseam is exactly 32".

    I'm going to take it to a store, maybe more to see if they'll fit me on my bike and see if it is truly too big. All this truly stemmed from talking to people in stores and they instantly jumped on it being huge. It wasn't from me riding it and feeling like it was a problem. I checked out a 57cm bike in one of the stores and yesterday I checked my bike out and my 57cm does seem a bit smaller.

    Again, I never noticed anything completely wrong and have never felt any pain from riding it, just a slight off feeling. It might just need to be slightly adjusted to better fit me.

    I really like the bike and it's in very good condition. I'd like to keep it if all possible.
    Last edited by mad5427; 04-13-09 at 07:14 AM.

  14. #14
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    This tells you how to measure your inseam and converting that to a size.

    http://www.coloradocyclist.com/bikefit/

    If your inseam is 31, a 57 definately is too big.

    My advice is go back to a store and get another opinion. Ask them to test ride a bike the size they recommend. Since you don't have experience on other than the bike you now have, you may be amazed on how another one handles.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mad5427 View Post
    It wasn't from me riding it and feeling like it was a problem. I checked out a 57cm bike in one of the stores and yesterday I checked my bike out and my 57cm does seem a bit smaller.

    Again, I never noticed anything completely wrong and have never felt any pain from riding it, just a slight off feeling. It might just need to be slightly adjusted to better fit me.

    I really like the bike and it's in very good condition. I'd like to keep it if all possible.
    Thats the main thing. Don't worry so much about what other people think, you're the one who rides it. Yes I'll admit it sounds like it might be a bit large for you but it's not way out of your range by any means.
    If it was causing you real problems then it would be a different matter.
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    I just took it into a shop to drop off to get a tune up, but mainly so I could have somebody look at me and the bike and tell me what they thought.

    The mechanic there did say that it is definitely on the big side but didn't see any problem with me riding it since I haven't felt any discomfort yet and I would of known on any and every 15-20 mile ride that I've done. He said that I would be best off saving and when I feel ready to buy a new bike in a year or two to buy a bike that is a size smaller. He said that this bike seemed to be in the same range as some 66cm bikes and that I would be best suited for a 64cm when I get a new one. So, it's about one size too big. If it was two sizes too big, he would of recommended to me to definitely no ride it. As it stands, it's not perfect, but it's what I got and I just want to ride.

    He told me not to just buy a new frame and put all the components from this bike on that new frame. Because of the size of the frame compared to standards of most frames today, I'd need a new stem as well as a few other parts. He said that my Campy parts are on the lower end of Campy as well and not really worth much. It's the frame that is desirable. He said the frame was in fantastic shape and being an Italian steel frame with a carbon fork made by Bianchi, I'd have no problems selling the frame and fork when I'm ready. He also said that I'd most likely get the same or very near the same amount of money today for it as I will two years from now so I might as well start saving money and then when the time is right, buy a new bike at a 64cm size or I might find a great deal online for a decent used bike that is my size.

    I like that idea as I can enjoy the bike now and then get a little money back down the road, barring me somehow destroying the frame in the meantime.

    It's being loved by some pros who will make sure it's in tip top shape for this novice, I've got new tires on the way and already have the new tubes waiting at home. My wife is getting her new bike towards the end of the week. Saturday is shaping up to be a pretty good day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post
    I'm 5'10" with about a 32-33" inseam and ride a 57cm Bianchi. I wish it was a 59cm. A 57cm Bianchi is about like everyone elses 56cm. Your bike is not too big for you, if it was you wouldn't have to wonder you would know. Unless you're going for the "pro" look with alot of seatpost showing.
    I still wonder about the comment made about not being able to stand over the top tube flat footed. I see a quick stop and both feet hitting the ground in the future and it takes my breath away just thinking about it.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    The Old School Rule was a fist of seatpost. The idea was to get as big a frame as you could. I'd just bet you have about a fist.

    I have short legs, and on most of my bikes, I haven't been able to stand flatfooted.

    I got used to it.

    Like the other guy said... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Btw, you were in a bike shop talking to bike salesmen whose job it is to sell..... you'll never guess this one.....wait for it...

    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

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    Yeah, I fully agree that they were definitely selling me on it being horrible to have my bike.

    My bike is getting tuned up at the moment at a shop that didn't try to sell me on it being bad. They agreed that it's not ideal, but if I'm not hurting, keep riding it. When I can afford to upgrade, sell the current frame which I was told has value and get the size that will be perfect.

    I'll see how it goes. Again, my longest rides have been a little over 20 miles and always pain free and nice. I'm going to try to push that number up to around 40-50 this summer. After looking at me on my bike, a couple guys at the shop told me to pay attention to a few areas during and after my rides. Below my neck on the back shoulders and my hands were two that they brought up because how I fit on the bike. They said that is where I would feel any pain if at all.

    So, I'm going to just ride it and stay aware of potential issues.

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    Hi - I was in a very similar situation to you about 4 months ago. I bought a new bike with a 56cm seat tube and 56.3cm effective top tube and I am your height and inseam. I believe the Bianchis have a slightly more relaxed geometry, meaning your top tube is probably similar to mine - this means, in terms of reach, your bike is comparable to mine. After I bought my bike, I rode it and started getting a little back ache and thought I had definitely bought a size too large. I flipped the stem up, shortened it from 100mm to 90mm and pushed my saddle all the way forward. This helped relieve the aches. Then, as I got more riding in and after a little more conditioning, I flipped the stem back down and removed both my spacers. My saddle has also gone up about 5cm in the last 4 months. Surprisingly, the fit got better with the bars lowered and the saddle raised. Now I am considering putting the 100mm stem back on. Now, if you read all the literature, someone our size should not be riding a 56-57cm bike. And I am told the pro riders tend to go for a slightly smaller size for a lower centre and adjust saddle fore-aft and stem size to fit. But I'm now riding 100 miles a week on a bike that I initially thought was way too big for me. I was taking measurements and using all the formulae like you to calculate this, which all suggested that I should be a 54cm.... but in the end, my opinion is, if it feels comfortable, then don't bother changing it yet. Now, I wouldn't want you developing any back problems in the future, so if anyone has had a situation where they've felt comfortable on a bike but have developed an problems in the future please yell out now! From my very limited 4 month experience, I would say, ride the bike for another few months, put 1000 miles on it, make adjustments to the saddle, bars, stem position, your cleats, the position of the brake hoods on the bars, anything you can adjust, and then make your assessment based on how you perform and how you feel after that. Having said all this though, I am likely to upgrade to a slightly smaller frame as I prefer to have a longer stem and to have my saddle back a little - but, I'm happy with my current bike for the next 12 months and by that time, I will have put 5000 miles on it. I am happy with it, even though most people said it was too big (even the guy at the LBS who sold it to me). Anyway, the next size down they were selling was a 53cm, which would have been too small. So - I think you would be wise to go with what feels right and if you are ok with a longer reach (which also means getting lower, more aerodynamic) then don't worry about switching frames for a while. Also, making those adjustments will allow you to get to know your bike more and after some time you'll know enough to build one from the frame up! Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    The Old School Rule was a fist of seatpost. The idea was to get as big a frame as you could. I'd just bet you have about a fist.

    I have short legs, and on most of my bikes, I haven't been able to stand flatfooted.

    I got used to it.

    Like the other guy said... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Btw, you were in a bike shop talking to bike salesmen whose job it is to sell..... you'll never guess this one.....wait for it...

    Hi - I'm about the same size as the OP and ride a 56cm. I had the same problems he had about sizing but now adjusting to it. (see my earlier post) I was thinking about a smaller bike when I upgrade next, so interested in what you say about getting the largest size you can get. Is this right? I thought pro riders got smaller frames for lower centre of gravity? I have about 1cm standover clearance, a fistful (and two fingers) of seatpost and no spacers. But my saddle is way forward. If I got a 54cm next, I could push back the saddle and lengthen my stem, but how would this impact the performance compared to the 56cm? I rode a 53cm and it felt like a BMX.

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