Alright so I bought an Empella Bonfire from a friend, and I'm wondering now if it's too big for me. The geometry is such that the top tube is identical to my road bike (55cm). I'm running a stem that is 3 cm shorter than on the road bike, so I am actually a good bit more upright. It feels just dandy as far as riding position goes.
Here's my concern. The standover height is very tall. Standing over the TT, I can plant both feet on hard ground, but in tube is in the crochal zone. On grass/soft ground it gets hard to put both feet flat down. Also, using the Lemond saddle height formula (which always works well for me) I can dial the saddle in properly, but it is very close (an inch or so) to being all the way down.
The goal for the bike is primarily cx racing, which I haven't done yet, so I am looking for input from that angle.
the empella must have a super high bottom bracket. my ridley is the same way. if it fits you while riding, i say it's fine. you won't be fred flintstoning it on the course anyways. what size tires are you running?
as for your saddle height, i was looking at the bonfire's specs on cyclocrossworld.com; it looks like the seat tube measurements for the frame with a 55 tt is 54 c-c and 58 c-t. that would put the collar sort of high. so, that could be part of the issue. again, if it fits you, i'd say it's fine.
I agree with isotope. Standover height is often pushed as a simple way to fit a bike, but so many things play a role (BB height, tire size, placement of top tube relative to seat collar/top of head tube) that it ends up being a highly variable measure. On top of that, it's not a very practical measure, since you're presumably buying the bike to ride it, and not stand over it. I've taken some nasty hits and crashes on my CX bike. Never has standover height been an issue. It's also a moot point for dismount/remount, since that happens over the back of the saddle.
If it fits you when you're pedaling, you're good to go.
Tires are Michelin Jets (32s). And yeah both the bottom bracket and seat tube collar are very high. In fact, while reading around today I found someone suggesting that both Ridleys and Empellas are horrible for people with short legs and long torsos (i.e. me). They are both made in the land of the uber long legged people, so I should not be surprised I guess.
So yeah, the bike fits just fine other than standover. I rode it on a 50 mile club ride (with my road wheels) this weekend with no fit problems. I suppose what I am really worried about is the obvious: sudden unplanned dismounts. I suppose when you're crashing it doesn't really matter if the top tube is 3 cm lower. If you're gonna hit it, you're gonna hit it.
Er 30s on the Jets, but they are seriously much closer to 34s. In my defense, when I bought the bike, my friend had 23s on it and it fit much less snugly around the TT.
Yeah, Michelins are well known for being larger than marked. Just wait until you try some 42s on there and take it on some singletrack! If it makes you feel any better, I set up the straddle cable on my cross bike with 23s on, and it turned out to be dangerously close to some 40c tires I occasionally run. Had to readjust the whole thing.
You are right about the unplanned getoffs. If you're going to smack the top tube, it's a very narrow range of situations where 2cm will make a difference. In my experience, most of the time you either going over the bars, or off to one side, so it's not a big deal.
Thanks for the helpful input all. I think unless something occurs to convince me differently, I'm going to ride it through this season. I *really* like the bike and would rather not have to switch frames.
Yeah that is me. I either ride a bike I can stand over comfy with a 140mm stem (my road bike setup) or something I can barely stand over with a 110-120mm stem. And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to have my cx bike be one in the second category for handling reasons.