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  1. #1
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    Small frame a problem?

    I have a possibly silly, newbie question here re. bike sizing:

    Would a smaller than recommended frame cause you problems in the long run on a touring bike?

    I'm about 180cm tall and was recommended a 480mm frame at the local bike shop. I tried out a 430 and a 480 and all I can say is that the 480 just didn't feel right. I felt more stable on the smaller frame and it seemed like I was sitting more upright. My last bike was a similarly large size and gave me really bad back pain on long rides. I realise this probably wasn't simply due to the frame size, but it's made me supicious of getting a bigger bike.

    A quick browse through the forums and it seems that a lot of people are saying go for the biggest bike that'll fit you. Why is this? Are there any drawbacks in going for a smaller frame?

  2. #2
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    The modern fashion for touring bikes is for more standover clearance than in olden days, but this fashion is not so extreme as found in some racebikes or MTBs.
    With touring bikes you often need the front of the bike to be much higher than a race bike (ie a longer head-tube) for comfort and for improved bearing life. Big frames have a longer head-tube but so do compact style frames.
    Given that you have sufficient standover clearance, then the more critical dimension is the reach from saddle to bars, i.e. the top tube length.

  3. #3
    Year-round cyclist
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    Framesize depends on the length of your legs rather than on your overall height. I measure 1.81 m, but have an 88-cm pubic-bone height (i.e. long legs and short torso).
    My frame is a 64-cm one with a horizontal top tube.

    Unless you have really short legs or your prospect bicycle has a very sloping top tube, I think that even a 480-mm frame is very much on the small size. Maybe the stem was too long?

    As for pros and cons of a tall frame, a tall frame means:
    - less seatpost exposed,
    - shorter struts holding the rear rack to seatstays, hence a more stable rear rack;
    - shorter seatpost, so less stress here and a more stable bicycle when you ride seated;
    - more room for water bottles
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  4. #4
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chari-chari
    I have a possibly silly, newbie question here re. bike sizing:

    Would a smaller than recommended frame cause you problems in the long run on a touring bike?

    I'm about 180cm tall and was recommended a 480mm frame at the local bike shop. I tried out a 430 and a 480 and all I can say is that the 480 just didn't feel right. I felt more stable on the smaller frame and it seemed like I was sitting more upright. My last bike was a similarly large size and gave me really bad back pain on long rides. I realise this probably wasn't simply due to the frame size, but it's made me supicious of getting a bigger bike.

    A quick browse through the forums and it seems that a lot of people are saying go for the biggest bike that'll fit you. Why is this? Are there any drawbacks in going for a smaller frame?
    I think you need to describe the bikes you were looking at. If they are based on traditional touring geometry, and are road bikes, and if you are referring to seat tube dimensions, then both those bikes are way too small for someone who measures 180 cm, even if you had very unique body proportions. I am 181 cm or so, and I would not ride anything smaller than a 580 mm frame, and most of my current bikes are around 600. Even if I was a racer, I wouldn't ride anything less than a 560. So unless these bikes are very different (without any information that is hard to assess), then they are absolutely too small for you. That is even by the standards of contemporary racing sizing. So more information is needed.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the ideas guys.

    I don't think the bike is based on a traditional road bike - the top tube slopes down like a mountain bike etc.

    The actual bike I'm talking about is a Giant Great Journey - seems to be made only in Japan. You can find more details here http://www.giant.co.jp/2005/index2.html
    Click on Products > Adventure Bike - Great Journey > Specs & Enlarge Pics > Specs & Geometry.
    Nearly all the info should be in English.

  6. #6
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    With the compact frame design that Giant is using, I would pick the one that had the handlebar in more comfortable position.

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