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Vintage frame for long torso

Old 07-13-19, 05:46 PM
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Demet
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Vintage frame for long torso

Hi all, thanks for reading my Uber nooby newb post. I'm wanting to put together a nice bicycle for myself after being away from riding for many years. I'll use the bike for around town errands, and light commuting. I don't own a car, so for now it will be my primary transportation. I plan to run straight bars, bigger tires, with fenders, a basket, etc. Finding a high-quality vintage frame I can put some love into is the goal. I might even repaint it if needed to achieve classic/elegant style I want.

My main challenge is I have a really long torso. I'm 6'4" but inseam is 33" or so. So on frames I can stand over I end up feeling like I'm way over the front of the bike. On bigger frames where I feel more entered on the bike, the standover is dangerously uncomfortable lol.

Any advice out there? Any particular makers or models I should look for? Or strategy/website for finding one? I live in Portland Oregon, so there seem to be a lot bikes around. Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 07-13-19, 05:49 PM
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Early 80's Gitanes had quite long top tubes. I still remember my brother's 1983 Gitane Criterium. having such.......
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Old 07-13-19, 05:56 PM
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Many '80s road frame I have actually have shorter top tubes that one might expect. I think you would be happier with a vintage mountain bike, like a specialized or trek. You can trick it out to be a great road machine with slicks, fenders, racks, different stem length, trekking bars, etc. They are bombproof and still pretty responsive. My old '90s Trek 7000ZX converted to a tourer is still one of my favorite all day rides.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:09 PM
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I think it's more like most vintage road frames have a more medium sized top tube than one might expect, due to lugs.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:16 PM
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A vintage mountain bike might work since they typically had a longer top tube than seat tube.

Also I think Puchs were famous for having long top tubes, at least the ones Sears sold as Ted Williams bikes.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:42 PM
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Lemond

Lemond Bicycles were known to have long top tubes. Road bikes not Propad or Wayzata.

In general look for more racing road bikes as they tend to have longer top tubes. I feel like high end Bianchi's did.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:42 PM
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Most Italian bike frames came with Longer top tube lengths,The stretched out classic road racing riding position led to the longer top tube. Most of all my Italian frames have this thing in common, I do have a Concorde that has equal length top and down tube sizing.

Of course Criterium frames dont fall under this guideline.

Beater frames are cheap and easy to come by, just measure the 2 lengths, find what you need and you'll be o.k.
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Old 07-13-19, 06:59 PM
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You really don't need a lot of standover clearance. So, you might just try a 60 to 62cm frame for a few weeks and see how you like it. Sometimes hop off and stand slightly off-centered.

Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
A vintage mountain bike might work since they typically had a longer top tube than seat tube.
Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I think you would be happier with a vintage mountain bike, like a specialized or trek. You can trick it out to be a great road machine with slicks, fenders, racks, different stem length, trekking bars, etc.
If you find the right frame, they do tend to be longer, but fewer with tall seat tubes, so it can take some hunting to find the right one.

You can do a 26" to 700c conversion (narrow tires), probably abandoning the canti brakes and adding caliper brakes. Perhaps also replacing the fork.

This was my Litespeed frame-up build with a 26" frame (bought as a bare frame) built into a 700c road bike.



A few issues that crop up such as dealing with super-wide chainstays.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:00 PM
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Be careful when looking only at the tube lengths, since a more-relaxed seat tube angle steals roughly 1cm out of the frame's REACH dimension for each 1 degree of lost seat tube angle.
On taller frame sizes, it might be slightly more than 1cm per degree, but for frames less than 58cm is is slightly less than 1cm (per degree of seat tube angle lost).

I should consider trading frames with you, I'm long-legged. But I usually need a 58cm frame with more like a 56cm frame reach.
The Merckx Century frame was more or less made for folks like myself, the only change was to relax the seat tube angle which shortened the forward reach by a cm or so.

I have a ~56cm raleigh Pro, and the Record seatpost is fully up to the limit line with a non-sagging Brooks Pro saddle on it. The stem is fully up there as well. It's a great-riding bike set up like this, but visually it looks a bit stretched.

Last edited by dddd; 07-13-19 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:09 PM
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My '75 Grand Record has a long top tube. Too long for me, actually.

I wish I had a longer torso. Long reach stems are all kinds of sexy. Sadly, all mine are around 90mm.
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Old 07-13-19, 07:18 PM
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If you really don't like a tall top tube, you can also look at the Mixte frames.

Soma Buena Vista Mixte came in a 62cm size. I think they've tried to discontinue it, but perhaps there is still some old stock around.

https://www.somafab.com/archives/product/buena-vista
https://www.somafab.com/archives/pro...disc-frame-set

https://www.bikehighway.com/soma-fab...-set-disc.html
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Old 07-13-19, 11:15 PM
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Wow, thanks so much everyone for all the valuable info.! I learned a lot and still have more to digest. I def could do a mountain bike conversion, I do see bikes that could work, but they don't quite have that vintage style I'm after. So i think I will pursue these Italian frames people have mentioned, and the others mentioned. The problem with just a longer stem is that doesn't get me more centered on the bike. I want the forks and front wheel more in front of me I think.

What do y'all think of this frame I found, it has 60mm top tube. Could I build it up with straight bars, slightly bigger tires? I love the patina, but might paint it eventually:

Crusty but cool 62-cm vintage Italvega "Nuovo Record" Columbus steel lugged butted road bike frameset, nice long pointy chromed lugs with horizontal Campagnolo dropouts. Made in Italy. Chrome dropouts, the rear dropouts have axle adjusters. Has the metal headbadge on it. Made for 700C wheels. Chrome fork blades, fork crown and lugs. Includes the original Stronglight Competition headset and bottom bracket. Color is brown, original paint and some of the decals. Has the Columbus steel sticker on it too........Includes the original headset and bottom bracket, fork, seat post, seat post binder bolt included. Frame size is 62-cm center to center on the seat tube, top tube measures 60-cm center to center. Rear spacing is 120. THE CHROME HAS SOME SURFACE RUST ON IT, though you could probably use some chrome cleaner and some steel wool and shine it up some. No dents, no dings, no crashes, just some weathering on the paint and chrome. Give it some love and bring it back to life..........

Edit: I'm not able to post the pictures, but it looks intact.
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Old 07-13-19, 11:37 PM
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Ditto, some 1980s-'90s mountain bikes and MTB-lite/hybrids. My Univega Via Carisma has a conventional diamond frame, and a longish top tube, enough that I needed an albatross swept bar to reduce the reach to suit my old neck and shoulder injuries.

I think it's a 58cm or 60cm frame and technically fits me -- I'm 5'11" with 33" inseam. Even with 175 cranks it feels right while pedaling. But the top tube was uncomfortably long with the original flat bar.

I've considered trying it as a drop bar conversion, but I'd need a shorter stem. Right now it's wearing the zero angle stem from my Centurion Ironman road bike. I have an angled stem too but it tends to set the bar too high, and looks odd with drop bars.
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Old 07-14-19, 12:48 AM
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Avoid vintage Raleighs. They all seem to have 57 - 58cm top tubes. Even the really big ones.

My 86/87 Merckx Corsa Extra really has me stretched out. The LeMond Zurichs I've ridden all have relatively long top tubes, too.

Since you live in Portlandia, you have the luxury of trying out lots of bikes there to get a really good feel before you actually buy. Very active market.
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Old 07-14-19, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Demet View Post

My main challenge is I have a really long torso. I'm 6'4" but inseam is 33" or so. So on frames I can stand over I end up feeling like I'm way over the front of the bike. On bigger frames where I feel more entered on the bike, the standover is dangerously uncomfortable lol.

Any advice out there?
Step 1: Focus on top tube length. Lots of sizing tools out there.

Step 2: Measure bicycle inseam, not pant inseam, I bet yours is higher than you think.

Step 3: Standover isn't that important. My road bikes all have zero standover clearance (I have really short inseam and a long torso). To get a long enough top tube, short of getting a frame custom made, you have to give up something. One reason I do MTB drop bar conversions is to get a longish top tube.

That Univega looks like not a good choice for someone with a long torso. Typically, seat tubes are measured center to top. So I bet that bike has a 64cm Seat tube and a 60cm TT (top tubes are center to center). Thats one problem on some vintage bikes. As the seat tube gets longer, the top tube does not increase in length proportionally. It varies.

Go to a sizing site and figure out what top tube length you need.

Last edited by wrk101; 07-14-19 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 07-14-19, 10:00 AM
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Pic assist

Pics of frameset in OPís gallery

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Old 07-14-19, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by CO_Hoya View Post
Pics of frameset in OPís gallery
thank you, CO_Hoya! Yes that's the frame i mentioned above. If that fits me, I would be very happy.
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Old 07-14-19, 11:30 AM
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Interesting older frame. Probably dating back into the late 60's to mid 70's.

I'm not sure that the Italians ever adopted the 27" wheel size, at least on road bikes. So, that bike could have been designed for 700c sewups.

For my old Colnago of a similar era, I usually run 25mm tires on it, although I think I've had up to either 32mm or 35mm tires on it which were a tight fit.

My Colnago frame is "square", with a 60cm Seat tube, and a 60cm Top Tube. And, with some hunting, you may be able to find a 60cm x 60cm frame, although that 62 may fit you too.

As far as your frame. The headset may be toast. But, the light rust on the frame shouldn't be a big problem.

Do you have a better view of the triangle shaped decal on the seat tube?
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Old 07-14-19, 02:21 PM
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I sent an email asking for more pictures on that frame.

I roughed in some numbers on a bike fit calculator (don't have anyone handy right now to help measure), and it came back with top tube 70cm ctc! Seat tube was 61.5 ctc. I wonder if it would be worth finding a local fitter to help me dial it in. I'd rather spend a little money up front and maybe save me some time/money in long run...?
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Old 07-14-19, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Step 1: Focus on top tube length. Lots of sizing tools out there.

Step 2: Measure bicycle inseam, not pant inseam, I bet yours is higher than you think.

Step 3: Standover isn't that important. My road bikes all have zero standover clearance (I have really short inseam and a long torso). To get a long enough top tube, short of getting a frame custom made, you have to give up something. One reason I do MTB drop bar conversions is to get a longish top tube.

That Univega looks like not a good choice for someone with a long torso. Typically, seat tubes are measured center to top. So I bet that bike has a 64cm Seat tube and a 60cm TT (top tubes are center to center). Thats one problem on some vintage bikes. As the seat tube gets longer, the top tube does not increase in length proportionally. It varies.

Go to a sizing site and figure out what top tube length you need.
You are right, when I measure inseam using techniques from bike fit calculator it's more like 35.5" But damn, my torso must be long, as calculator says 70cm top tube. I may have to seriously look at MB frames I guess.
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Old 07-14-19, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Demet View Post
You are right, when I measure inseam using techniques from bike fit calculator it's more like 35.5" But damn, my torso must be long, as calculator says 70cm top tube. I may have to seriously look at MB frames I guess.
The calculator is subjective, don't consider it absolute. Put on an offset seatpost, 100-110 stem, and you'll probably be OK.

Italian bikes prior to 1960 typically had a top tube 2cm longer than the seat tube. Except when you got to the bigger frames. You get to 60cm, they are pretty much square.
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Old 07-14-19, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
The calculator is subjective, don't consider it absolute. Put on an offset seatpost, 100-110 stem, and you'll probably be OK.

Italian bikes prior to 1960 typically had a top tube 2cm longer than the seat tube. Except when you got to the bigger frames. You get to 60cm, they are pretty much square.
Offset seat post and 110mm stem were part of that 70cm top tube recommendation 😂
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Old 07-14-19, 11:30 PM
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I tend to deal with my long torso by going up a size and having a very snug stand over as Bill said, I have a 30 inch inseam but am 5' 10" and ride mostly 58 cm bikes so I can get the TT length I need. Good luck on your search OP I would try lots of bikes, bring your tape measure and make note of what works and what doesn't. Knowing the dimensions, including reach on my fleet helped add some data to why one bike felt great and one bike felt meh or gave me various aches over longer distances
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Old 07-15-19, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Demet View Post
I sent an email asking for more pictures on that frame.

I roughed in some numbers on a bike fit calculator (don't have anyone handy right now to help measure), and it came back with top tube 70cm ctc! Seat tube was 61.5 ctc. I wonder if it would be worth finding a local fitter to help me dial it in. I'd rather spend a little money up front and maybe save me some time/money in long run...?
I would agree with this strategy, plenty of good fitters in PDX, Dave Levy at TiCycles is the guy I would recommend as he builds the frames from his fittings. Micheal Sylvester is a literal guru at Bike Fitting Services who also teaches yoga and among many other things developed the system that Trek finally started using.

I would also encourage you to keep in mind that your physiology has likely changed if you have been off the bike for a long time. I would also guess the type of riding you are planning isn't the main type of riding you used to do back when and with your fitting challenges will have a definite impact.

I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from you, at only 6 ft I have a 37 in inseam. I do have fairly long arms so I can reach ok when they get long and tall but don't like to hunch over at all so end up with my bars way up and tilted up and back. I have recently found out that as the numbers tell that I can, should and do ride 64-66 cm frames that work much better for longer and harder for me rides. Funny thing is they "feel" big after riding bikes that are small for me all my life, 2 fists of seatpost, tall Technomic stems and all.

I'm in PDX also and would be glad to meetup to talk. We also have a BF member here in PDX that is a frame builder with a great sense of what it takes to get what you want and need out of a bike and makes many expert mods to get there.
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Old 07-15-19, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
I would agree with this strategy, plenty of good fitters in PDX, Dave Levy at TiCycles is the guy I would recommend as he builds the frames from his fittings. Micheal Sylvester is a literal guru at Bike Fitting Services who also teaches yoga and among many other things developed the system that Trek finally started using.

I would also encourage you to keep in mind that your physiology has likely changed if you have been off the bike for a long time. I would also guess the type of riding you are planning isn't the main type of riding you used to do back when and with your fitting challenges will have a definite impact.

I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from you, at only 6 ft I have a 37 in inseam. I do have fairly long arms so I can reach ok when they get long and tall but don't like to hunch over at all so end up with my bars way up and tilted up and back. I have recently found out that as the numbers tell that I can, should and do ride 64-66 cm frames that work much better for longer and harder for me rides. Funny thing is they "feel" big after riding bikes that are small for me all my life, 2 fists of seatpost, tall Technomic stems and all.

I'm in PDX also and would be glad to meetup to talk. We also have a BF member here in PDX that is a frame builder with a great sense of what it takes to get what you want and need out of a bike and makes many expert mods to get there.
Thanks, I think that would help a lot, talking to people with experience. I saw my dream bike from the Max today lol. Couldn't make out the make name, but it looked italian, at least that was the vibe.
I'll shoot you a PM.
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