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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 12-27-07, 08:24 AM   #1
foul smell
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Losing out on efficiency/performance with a one size smaller bike?

I 5'11-6' and 155 lbs. I ride a 56cm bike but I recently found a 54 that is a super sweet deal. I do road riding and race. Is it a big mistake to go for the 54? I can get a longer stem and of course seat height is adjustable. My main concern is if I am giving away efficiency or handling performance since I do race. Comfrot is not a big deal, it's a road race bike and I have a flexible body so I can adjust well.
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Old 12-27-07, 08:36 AM   #2
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You might be fine. But you may not be.

Last season I rode a frame that was way too small (5'9.5" on 50cm frame). And while a set back seatpost, and 140mm stem got me relatively close, the problem was weight distribution over the frame. Too much weight was too far forward. Out of the saddle climbing just felt weird. On steep grades, the back wheel lost all traction when climbing hard out of the saddle.
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Old 12-27-07, 08:38 AM   #3
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I'm surprised that a 56 fits you. I've 5' 11" and I ride 58cm bikes. I think that 54cm will be much too small.
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Old 12-27-07, 09:16 AM   #4
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I'm surprised that a 56 fits you. I've 5' 11" and I ride 58cm bikes. I think that 54cm will be much too small.

Theres more to it than the seat tube size. I am 5'11 and ride a 54 Cervelo Soloist. The next size up is just a tad too big. Its better to go a little small than a little big (thats what she said). TT length is more important IMHO.
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Old 12-27-07, 09:18 AM   #5
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I'm similar height but with a short inseam so I've "always" rode 56 (C-C). However I just built up a 58cm frame and seem to be riding more efficiently. My wife who has a better spin than I comments that I'm harder to keep up with.

Of course there are some real geometry difference between the bikes as well so it's hard to say. However, I'd rather go a size bigger than a size smaller.


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Old 12-27-07, 09:24 AM   #6
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I'm 5'11" and also ride 56's. I've got a track bike that's effectively a 54 (it's a 56 measured to the top of the seat tube). It fits but has a lot of seat post showing.

The big think you need to look for it the top tube length and the cockpit. I wouldn't want to go with a stem longer that 120mm because the handling starts to be impacted with a 125-130 stem. You also don't want a saddle too far back on the rails either because you end up with less that efficient pedalling and potential knee problems.

But if the top tube and stem is fine, you should be okay. In fact, may pro's at 5'11 - 6'00" ride 54's.
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Old 12-27-07, 10:00 AM   #7
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Its better to go a little small than a little big (thats what she said).
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Old 12-27-07, 09:27 PM   #8
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Thoughts on bicycle sizing has changed quite a bit over the decades. Many people would tell Coppi if he were around today that he rode too large a frame. OTOH I'd imagine he'd think today's racers are riding bikes too small.

I'm in the minority older school when I say I'd rather ride a frame that is just to the large size rather than a smaller one but you're the one that has to determine what fits you best. (Does the last clause of that sentence qualify me for a "Mr. Obvious" award? )


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Old 12-27-07, 09:34 PM   #9
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you'll be fine!
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Old 12-27-07, 09:50 PM   #10
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Thoughts on bicycle sizing has changed quite a bit over the decades. Many people would tell Coppi if he were around today that he rode too large a frame.
The bars have changed a bit since the 50s also, they've gotten wider with more reach and drop. This mandates a shorter frame.
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Old 12-28-07, 05:33 AM   #11
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You'll be fine.

As the stem gets longer the handling becomes more stable. The shorter wheelbase will decrease your turning radius but the bike will hold a line better at speed.

There's a reason the pros ride bikes with 120-150mm stems.

I'm 5'10 and I ride a bike with a 53.5cm tt- I run a 120 stem and Newton bars with lots of reach.

The longer stem will also give you more leverage when climbing out of the saddle.

Remember- It's easy to make a bike bigger but impossible to make it smaller.
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