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Help sourcing vintage short-top-tube steel

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Help sourcing vintage short-top-tube steel

Old 07-09-20, 09:01 PM
  #1  
ctak
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Help sourcing vintage short-top-tube steel

Hello, I'm interested in learning about vintage road bikes that offer appealing geo for leggy BF'ers. To be specific, I have a 35.5" cycling inseam out of 71.5" in total height. This presents some challenges for me not limited to stack (too short) and reach (too long). My 60x56.5cm Davidson fits well enough (frameset originally a custom build for someone else), however bar height is lower than ideal. Similar story with my 59x55cm Romani SLX... the 55cm toptube ctc helps with reach but the head tube isn't tall enough to use a normal looking stem to achieve desired bar height. For the type of riding I enjoy (usually 50+ miles at a moderate clip), I've been able to "make do", avoiding next-day neck pain by using 60-70mm long quill stems with shorter reach (~78mm) drop bars. Handling and stability at speed with this cockpit has been a non-issue thanks to the ability to extend wheelbase via the adjustable dropouts on both bikes. Yet, the hoods feel just slightly too far away and the bars a little low.


crappy diptych v1

I think what I'm looking for is a 1960-90s road bike, made with quality tubing, with specs similar to:
  • Seat tube 62-63cm ctt
  • Top tube 55cm ctc
  • Head tube 20cm
  • Standover 34.0"
  • Clearance for 700x32mm GP5000s (actual width 31.8mm)
  • Flexible on HT and ST angles as well as wheelbase

RiddleOfSteel told me that Schwinn offered optional short top tube geo for their 1989 Paramount (in the range of 59x53cm!).
In browsing old Koga Miyata catalogs, I've noticed several race and touring models that feature shorter top tubes, but these are rare in the Pacific Northwest.

Do C&V bikes exist that fit this profile or is custom the practical choice here?
(any pointers to makes / models that resemble the above specs much appreciated)

Last edited by ctak; 07-19-20 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:12 PM
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I seem to remember tbat Gios had short-ish TTs
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Old 07-09-20, 09:30 PM
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Your desired dimensions are very much outside of the norm so I can't imagine any production frames that fit your criteria. Probably somewhere there is a custom frame made similar but of course that is going to be a very rare find. In my 45 yers of making frames I never made one within a couple of centimeters of your needs. I'm going to recommend getting a custom frame made to your specific dimensions. Why die unhappy?
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Old 07-09-20, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
I seem to remember tbat Gios had short-ish TTs
Thanks - I do recall seeing Gios, Casati, Fuji, Miyata and Centurion (late 70s) offerings featuring top tubes approx 2-3cm shorter than their respective seat tube measurement (ctt). But are there more extreme alternatives floating around with greater disparity, like the '89 Paramount?
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Old 07-09-20, 09:35 PM
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I don't get it. Is it really so bad to use a nitto technomic if you need it? It looks like you could still raise the stem (assuming they're technomics) a bit, or is it fully extended? Your desired frame is going to be incredibly hard to find without going custom.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
Your desired dimensions are very much outside of the norm so I can't imagine any production frames that fit your criteria. Probably somewhere there is a custom frame made similar but of course that is going to be a very rare find. In my 45 yers of making frames I never made one within a couple of centimeters of your needs. I'm going to recommend getting a custom frame made to your specific dimensions. Why die unhappy?
Point well taken
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Old 07-09-20, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Piff View Post
I don't get it. Is it really so bad to use a nitto technomic if you need it? It looks like you could still raise the stem (assuming they're technomics) a bit, or is it fully extended? Your desired frame is going to be incredibly hard to find without going custom.
Very much like my two Nitto Technomic Deluxe stems and yes, definitely room to extend further. This is more about a desire to learn from other leggy folks who may or may not have found other non-custom frames with geo near the parameters above
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Old 07-09-20, 10:09 PM
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70s Raleighs had short top tubes for the larger frames.
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Old 07-09-20, 10:30 PM
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ctak ,
Remember that top tube length, without the corresponding ST angle, might be a bit misleading. As I recall, on big frames like ours (mine are 62-63cm), one degree of ST angle changes the TT length by about 1cm.

I’m also leggy (don’t remember my PBH right now, but it’s close to yours) for my 72” height. If we ever had a chance to meet up on a ride, you’d be welcome to check the fit on whatever I rode that day. Photos of them are here, along with many shots of me on them that I use for fit confirmation.

https://dfrost.smugmug.com/Bicycles/...ikes/i-GsKk8Wh
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Old 07-09-20, 10:40 PM
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.
...my impression from owning and setting up a lot of frames from the 70's and 80's is that the 80's ones (in general) have shorter wheelbases, and that usually gets designed into the frame with a shorter top tube as part of the package. But not nearly as short as you state in your requirements.
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Old 07-10-20, 01:37 AM
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If you could use a late 1960s, Italian bike, 60X55cm with a headtube around 18-19cm located in Seattle let me know. Mid range frame. with a friend.
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Old 07-10-20, 08:30 AM
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80's Batavus bikes often had fairly short top tubes.
Batavus Randonneur GL geometry measurements
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Old 07-10-20, 09:00 AM
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Let me check the Olmo, it's a 60cm seat. It's pretty short top tube, and I've been think of releasing it from my grubby paw.
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Old 07-10-20, 10:22 AM
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Both my English frames have shorter top tubes than seat tubes. Ron Cooper from the '70s is 63 ST and 58 TT and Holdsworth/Claud Butler from the '80s is 62 ST and 57 TT.
My Vitus 979 is 60 ST and 57 TT.

My old tandems are even more extreme, but I compensate with long stems.

My '82 Trek 61x in 25" size has a longer top tube, making the frame just about "square" (top and seat tube same length). I've been using a 100mm stem and the bars are fairly far away. I'm experimenting with the long/low position on this bike. The whole thing is long! Chainstays too. I would not recommend a vintage Trek like this for long legs/shorter torso.
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Old 07-10-20, 10:27 AM
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How about an old Nishiki? My 1971 American Eagle [Nishiki] Semi-Pro [Competition] had a 23" frame (C-T), which is taller than I normally ride, but it was so short in the top tube that I had to buy a long-reach stem.

In stark contrast, my 57cm 1980 Peugeot PKN-10 was so long in the top tube that, even with a minimal-reach stem, I was never able to feel comfortable and secure on it. My elder son stands 3" taller than I do, and he loves it.
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Old 07-10-20, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Dfrost View Post
ctak ,
Remember that top tube length, without the corresponding ST angle, might be a bit misleading. As I recall, on big frames like ours (mine are 62-63cm), one degree of ST angle changes the TT length by about 1cm.

I’m also leggy (don’t remember my PBH right now, but it’s close to yours) for my 72” height. If we ever had a chance to meet up on a ride, you’d be welcome to check the fit on whatever I rode that day. Photos of them are here, along with many shots of me on them that I use for fit confirmation.

https://dfrost.smugmug.com/Bicycles/...ikes/i-GsKk8Wh
Nice to hear from you, enjoyed flipping through your album. Love the long chrome stays

Last edited by ctak; 07-10-20 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 07-10-20, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
If you could use a late 1960s, Italian bike, 60X55cm with a headtube around 18-19cm located in Seattle let me know. Mid range frame. with a friend.
Certainly interested in learning more. I'm also in Seattle.
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Old 07-10-20, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW View Post
80's Batavus bikes often had fairly short top tubes.
Batavus Randonneur GL geometry measurements
Interesting, maybe I can find a similar GL in the next size down. Btw, I was admiring the color scheme of yours on Pedal Room a few months ago
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Old 07-10-20, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Dfrost View Post
ctak ,
Remember that top tube length, without the corresponding ST angle, might be a bit misleading. As I recall, on big frames like ours (mine are 62-63cm), one degree of ST angle changes the TT length by about 1cm.

Im also leggy (dont remember my PBH right now, but its close to yours) for my 72 height. If we ever had a chance to meet up on a ride, youd be welcome to check the fit on whatever I rode that day. Photos of them are here, along with many shots of me on them that I use for fit confirmation.

https://dfrost.smugmug.com/Bicycles/...ikes/i-GsKk8Wh

Figuring out this relationship between seat tube angle and top tube length was was a "eureka" moment for me because I suddenly understood why I just couldn't make some frames work no matter what I did. (I also need a 73 degree seat post, or close to that, or--once I set my saddle far back enough, my legs actually hit the seat post when I pedal.)

A crude way to determine seat post angle is to get a protractor app on a smartphone. Put the bike on a level floor and then place phone flush again the seat tube. If you want to check if the floor is level, turn the bike around front to back and repeat the measurement.

I know stack and reach measurements take this into account also.
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Old 07-10-20, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW View Post
80's Batavus bikes often had fairly short top tubes.
Batavus Randonneur GL geometry measurements

‘78 Batavus Competition = 60X56 w/ 18cm head tube. I made it work with a 13cm stem and Ergo 9sp (rounded tops 2nd gen hoods) which allow a long ramp to the hoods. The rounded tops are a palm position for really stretching out. Which is most helpful on this bike.


60’s Frejus is gone - gave up on 60X55 w 18 HT. The 14cm stem made handling a bit squirrely; OK, less than desirably acceptable. Also felt too tall in a city bike mock up.

Last edited by Wildwood; 07-10-20 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 07-10-20, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Headpost View Post
Figuring out this relationship between seat tube angle and top tube length was was a "eureka" moment for me because I suddenly understood why I just couldn't make some frames work no matter what I did. (I also need a 73 degree seat post, or close to that, or--once I set my saddle far back enough, my legs actually hit the seat post when I pedal.)

A crude way to determine seat post angle is to get a protractor app on a smartphone. Put the bike on a level floor and then place phone flush again the seat tube. If you want to check if the floor is level, turn the bike around front to back and repeat the measurement.

I know stack and reach measurements take this into account also.
Fortunately, the ST angle of the Davidson is 1 degree steeper than the Romani so neutralizing the difference on kops and tt length hasn’t been difficult with minor stem and saddle changes (including fore and aft adjustments). I agree that I'll have to re-evaluate my methods depending on what turns up...

Last edited by ctak; 07-10-20 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 07-10-20, 02:26 PM
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I've got an 81 Shogun that is 63x55
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Old 07-10-20, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by droppedandlost View Post
I've got an 81 Shogun that is 63x55
Nice, is it the Aero?
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Old 07-10-20, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ctak View Post
Nice, is it the Aero?
It has no model decal so I don't know. Looks like a standard frame though.
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Old 07-10-20, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ctak View Post
Interesting, maybe I can find a similar GL in the next size down. Btw, I was admiring the color scheme of yours on Pedal Room a few months ago
Why the next size down? With a 35.5" inseam I would expect you to be pretty comfy on a 64cm seat tube. I am 6'1" with a 35" inseam and share your enthusiasm for tall and short bikes. I just bought a 64.5 x 56 Raleigh.
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