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  1. #1
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    Riders who are 5'9": What size is your touring frame?

    Trying to size myself correctly for a bike and I'm wondering what others are using.

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    It sounds like you are planning on buying off-the-shelf.

    If you are looking at Surly Long Haul Truckers, there is a spreadsheet that owners have filled out with body dimensions:
    LHT owners size spreadsheet

    Obviously, the ideal is to test ride as many bikes as possible.

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    It really depends on the make/geometry/frame type (compact or not) of the bike and the tire size. Most importantly, it depends on your inseam and body type. Some people have long torsos and short legs or vice versa. The other consideration is top tube length. I like short top tubes and generally ride and like to ride bikes that are 56cm or maybe 57cm, but my touring bike is 55cm and has stand over height of 32", which is taller than my 56cm road bike and the same height as my 57cm with 700x32c tires.

    For myself, I know that ideally I like a bike that is 31.75 stand over height, but I can and will go to 32ish", which feels a bit more comfortable to ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
    It sounds like you are planning on buying off-the-shelf.

    If you are looking at Surly Long Haul Truckers, there is a spreadsheet that owners have filled out with body dimensions:
    LHT owners size spreadsheet

    Obviously, the ideal is to test ride as many bikes as possible.

    I'm trying to decide between the 54cm and 58cm versions of this bike: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm

    If the LHT is anything like it, the 58 might be too big for me.. Seems people who get the trucker in 58 are almost all 6 foot or more.

    I'm in Canada so it's gonna be a hassle to ship from Bikesdirect... so I want to make sure I get this right the first time. If I get it and it's too big or small I'm pretty screwed. If they had a 56 cm version I think I'd probably go with that. Damn my freakish body between standard sizes.

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    Yeah... upon further research and measurements, I've determined I should have a 56 cm frame. Since there's only 54 and 58, this begs the question: Am I better off with a bike that's slightly too big or slightly too small? Or is this important enough that I should not buy this particular bike at all and instead go for something that comes in a 56?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Standover should be about an inch, give or take, between the top tube and your crotch in spandex. A tad too large is probably better than too small.

    Top tube length is nearly as important as standover, maybe more so. Generally, ppl who tour prefer a more upright position than the racing dudes. This tends to translate into shorter top tubes. But, as you're dealing with a specific bike, probably not much play available to you in top tube length vs standover. The most important measurement is the distance from where your sit bones hit the saddle and where your hands hit the bar. That is highly adjustable.

    Some folks are just not built right for off-the shelf bicycles, but there are lots of options to make them fit. And it sometimes takes a lot of riding to tune one in exactly. So, don't fret too much about getting the perfect top tube length, as that is unlikely to happen. Just get as close as possible(too long is better)and modify it later. Stem length, angle, and saddle position are the biggies. A local bike shop can help you make it a custom ride.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  7. #7
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    I'm 5'9" with a pubic bone height (inner leg length) of 86 cm. My touring frame (and my road bike frame) are 58 cm c-c. Look through the information on the Rivendell website (http://www.rivbike.com/) on bike fit. There are several articles on the website, read them all. Another good source is http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/ . For a more racing oriented viewpoint, try http://www.coloradocyclist.com/bikefit/ .

    I gave my pubic bone height because that's more important than overall height in determining seat tube length. A 5'9" rider with long legs might ride a bike that's a size or two larger than a 5'9" rider with shorter legs. Also, some bikes are built with steeply sloping top tubes, others with nearly horizontal top tubes.

    Since you're in Canada, take a look at http://www.marinoni.qc.ca/IndexEn.html . They're primarily a road racing company (Giuseppe Marinoni was on the Italian national cycling team before he started building frames), but they do make touring frames.

  8. #8
    Senior Member garethzbarker's Avatar
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    Well just to screw you up more and let you know sizes vary a lot the guy above me is 5'9 and uses a 58; I'm 5'8.5 with long legs and prefer a 52.
    My motobecane is an MTB. For what it's worth I was in the middle of two sizes and went up (18) but probably should have went down. The standover was a tad higher than their chart suggested.

  9. #9
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    I am 6'2" and have 2 bikes. Both have a 58 cm seat tube. One bike is just right, and the other is a little small but I've raised the seat and handlebars. It looks a little goofy, but is comfortable. The point is, bike geometry makes a difference.

    I bought the bike that fits from a local bike store, and the other over the internet. Nothing beats being able to ride the bike before making a commitment.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  10. #10
    Stealing Spokes since 82' Fizzaly's Avatar
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    Ive never owned bikes that are the same size, im also 5'9" and right now have three bikes that are three different sizes so i think it depends on the bike. If you are unsure of size you want or need, internet buying may not be for you. Or go to LBS and test 5 or 6 bikes all different makes if poss. and just kinda average them out. I have a 17", 19.5" and a 22" and each one of them "fits" me.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I have a 56 x 565 road bike an RB1 and a 54x55 trekking bike ,
    both horizontal top tubes,
    and with a sloping top tube on an 18" frame has a 57 top tube,
    if one measures as a virtual length.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-24-11 at 01:52 PM.

  12. #12
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    My "touring" bike is a Specialized Tricross Expert that I'm using for light/cc touring. I'm 5'9" and it's a 54cm bike. Regarding 56 or 58, or a little big vs a little small, I'd go with a little small and get a longer stem if necessary. 58cm seems huge to me, FWIW. Also, my first mountain bike was a size larger than it should have been, but I bought it anyway. I always felt like it was too big and that I was wrestling with it, so I won't make that mistake again.
    Last edited by SBRDude; 01-22-11 at 07:46 PM.

  13. #13
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    5'9" and ride a 54cm bike. Anything beyond a 56cm top tube too long for me.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Since the online vendor only offers the Motobecane Gran Turismo on sizes 54 and 58cm, if I were you I'd go with the 54. You're in between sizes 54 and 56 based on the based on the dimensions you provided on your other thread. 56 would be optimal, but you'll be fine on the 54cm frame as well. A 58cm would be a complete overkill and I don't believe you're going to be comfortable with a top tube so high and long. The differences with the 54cm frame will be so minor that you can play around with the rest of the components (stem, seat position) to get you properly fitted. You're getting a good deal on that bike and the savings can translate into spending a few extra bucks on the components you need to make you feel comfortable on it. If it makes you feel more at ease before unloading your hard-earned cash, call up the online vendor on Monday and ask them what they think based on their experience. Ride a few 54 and 56cm bikes at a bike shop tomorrow if they're open where you live. BTW, what size frame do you ride now?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    A 58cm would be a complete overkill and I don't believe you're going to be comfortable with a top tube so high and long.
    Got a buddy who is 5'9" and rides a 58. I'm 5'7", ride a 50 cm, and can't even get aboard his. He must have very long legs.

    Play it safe and go with the 54. Fix any geometry problems after you've ridden it awhile. Sometimes takes a long time to dial everything in just right.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Since the online vendor only offers the Motobecane Gran Turismo on sizes 54 and 58cm, if I were you I'd go with the 54. You're in between sizes 54 and 56 based on the based on the dimensions you provided on your other thread. 56 would be optimal, but you'll be fine on the 54cm frame as well. A 58cm would be a complete overkill and I don't believe you're going to be comfortable with a top tube so high and long. The differences with the 54cm frame will be so minor that you can play around with the rest of the components (stem, seat position) to get you properly fitted. You're getting a good deal on that bike and the savings can translate into spending a few extra bucks on the components you need to make you feel comfortable on it. If it makes you feel more at ease before unloading your hard-earned cash, call up the online vendor on Monday and ask them what they think based on their experience. Ride a few 54 and 56cm bikes at a bike shop tomorrow if they're open where you live. BTW, what size frame do you ride now?
    Right now I have a 54cm

  17. #17
    fiddling with my bike msviolin57's Avatar
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    I'm 5'9" and have one bike that's 55 and another that's 54 (and that's the bike that fits best). For what it's worth, my height's in my body, not my legs.

  18. #18
    Crazyguyonabike
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    I think it's a mistake to go purely by your height when considering buying a bike sight unseen. Bike fit isn't just about standover clearance - more important to your overall comfort on the bike is the top tube length. Everybody has different relative body dimensions - some have longer legs and shorter torso, or longer arms, or shorter legs and long torso, etc. The top tube length will determine how stretched out or scrunched up you are in the saddle, and that aspect is what will affect you most when spending long days on the bike. If you're too stretched out then you'll be putting too much weight on your hands, too scrunched up and you'll never feel like you're getting the power you should have on the hills. When I was shopping for a Long Haul Trucker a few years ago, going by my PBH on the online charts, I should have been on a 58cm or even 60cm. But when I went to do some test rides, I found that those were impossibly stretched out for me. I ended up on a 56cm, and even that had to have a 90mm stem just to make it work. A couple of cm here and there on a frame may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference - don't assume you can fix it with a different stem, because that changes the handling of the bike. If the stem is on the shorter side (90mm or less) then handling becomes more twitchy. It's best to find the right size frame from the start. The best thing to do would be to determine what distance you like to have on the top tube, and if the online bike matches that, and the standover is good, then you stand a good chance of making it work. Go into it with those two numbers, not just your height, otherwise you may be in for much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and selling on craigslist at a loss) once you get it built up and go on your first ride.

    Neil

  19. #19
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    I'm about 5'9", but with proportionally short legs (inseam around 29-30"). So, I tend to ride frames that are "technically" too big for me. For road bikes, I'll ride a 21 inch/52-53 cm. I don't have much (any) clearance between the top tube, but that's never been a problem (famous last words, right?).

  20. #20
    Senior Member Ansir's Avatar
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    I am 5'9 and I feel my 54 could not fit any better. Just my 2c

  21. #21
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Top tube length is nearly as important as standover, maybe more so. Generally, ppl who tour prefer a more upright position than the racing dudes. This tends to translate into shorter top tubes.
    Sorry Cyclebum, I will respectfully disagree. A shorter top tube will result in a smaller frame size, and a smaller frame will have a shorter head tube. A shorter head tube will result in lower handlebars and lower handlebars will result in a less upright position.

  22. #22
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    "I'm trying to decide between the 54cm and 58cm versions of this bike: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm "

    Be careful, that website lists different geometries in the description and in the chart. (Click on "Geometry Sizing Chart" under "Sizes")

  23. #23
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Hermit View Post
    Sorry Cyclebum, I will respectfully disagree. A shorter top tube will result in a smaller frame size, and a smaller frame will have a shorter head tube. A shorter head tube will result in lower handlebars and lower handlebars will result in a less upright position.
    Unless you just have them leave the fork's steerer tube uncut and then you can have higher bars and a shorter top tube for closer and higher bars.

    Oh, and you almost indefinitely want the 54 unless you have the physique of an lower primate, longer than average upper torso and shorter legs.

  24. #24
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    Unless you just have them leave the fork's steerer tube uncut and then you can have higher bars and a shorter top tube for closer and higher bars.

    Oh, and you almost indefinitely want the 54 unless you have the physique of an lower primate, longer than average upper torso and shorter legs.
    This is true, but at some point the bike is too short and the rider is using his/her arms to hold their upper body in a scrunched up (technical term) position. As the handlebars are raised up they come closer to the rider because of the angle of the head tube. So to achieve a more upright position, without an awkward looking number of spacers under the stem, or an awkward looking quill stem extension, and without an awkward looking amount of seatpost showing, I would still suggest the bike with the longer top tube. The steer tube can still be left uncut and the handlebars raised, effectively shortening the reach, (or making the arms longer) for a more upright position.

  25. #25
    eternalvoyage
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    My experience with this: At first I went with a frame that was 'just right' -- neither too large nor too small, but dead center, and toured on that bike for a few years. Then I tried a larger frame -- one size up from the standard version of 'just right' -- and toured quite a bit on that frame. Then I went one size down -- one size below the 'just right' frame. And then bought a few other bikes that were either in the middle or on the large side.

    I am most comfortable touring on the medium and smaller frames. Larger frames tend to be a bit awkward, especially in off-road situations. They feel somewhat bulky and clumsy. The smaller frames are more tossable, controllable, and maneuverable.

    That said, I do like the longer wheelbases of the larger bikes, in a way, for cruising. But some of the mid-sized (for me) bikes have geometry that makes them handle like longer bikes. So they are fine.

    The smaller bikes are more fun to ride, in my experience.

    My suggestion would be to avoid going too large -- better to find something that is either right on or smaller.

    Bruce Gordon has a lot of experience fitting bikes, and has mentioned that many people seem to (mistakenly) lean toward frames that are too large. He suggests going smaller, and giving it a month or so, with an open mind. He says that many people have thanked him for steering them in the direction of smaller frames.

    John Schubert has written about similar experiences of his own.

    From what you have said, my guess is that the advice that is steering you toward 56 is steering you large, and that 54 would be better than 56, and much better than 58.

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