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1980s & 90s Italian Road Bikes - Appropriate Frame Size To Height

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1980s & 90s Italian Road Bikes - Appropriate Frame Size To Height

Old 12-09-23, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Fine by me. You don’t understand how to size an 80s frame. Good luck.
Based on all of the other responders here, you're literally the only one who didn't offer the correct advice. Even with a super tall 30cm bottom bracket height set up for criterium racing and a 59cm frame I would have about 5cm of space left between my inseam and the top of a frame - which is two inches.

The image below shows how bottom bracket height is measured. The standard measurements of a frame (seat tube, top tube, main angles) is done on top of this and bottom bracket height does not influence any of those factors.

If you have a bicycle with a 57cm frame with a 25cm bottom bracket height, then your standover height is going to be five centimeters lower than a 57cm frame with a 30cm bottom bracket.

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Old 12-09-23, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes
58/59 ctc seems about right. I’m about 1/2” taller than the OP.

I tried everything from 56-62cm and found that seat tube angle and top tube length are also important parts of the fit equation. Slack seat post angles (less than 73 degrees) don’t work for me.

Some 1980s Italians I’ve owned:

56 ctc - fun, but required setback seatpost and 130 stem. Ended up selling



57 ctc - good ride overall. Need to get this one back on the road.

58 ctc feels a little less racy than the Ciocc and the tt is 1 cm longer.
there are a few ways to address frame design, overcome what the builder made or attempt to work with those decisions.
way way back I had a track bike that was really unsuitable for my gear limit and racing. Was a British bike, 21-1/2” center to top with a 22 1/2” top tube, very slack seat tube angle, 71.5 degrees!
really a big bloke pursuit bike or an argument as a board track 6 day sword.
this was my first track bike and was a frameset, not easy to find track bikes in 1974. I also was able to buy it on time payments! So, that or nothing. It was not until someone gave me an image of me from the side that I realized how my position was just Wrong.
adjusted the seat forward, which placed me in a much better position to the cranks for high cadence racing but too close to bars. I went from a 95mm to a 135mm stem, I looked much better on the bike after but really went contrary to the geometry.
A compromise for sure. I was fortunate to order a new bike at the end of the year, unfortunately it did not show up until just after the nationals.
I still have that bike. Was amazing from the first ride.

the vast majority of bikes purchased by forum members are as built purchases, one has to adjust the saddle and bars to work, the key is to understand what was built and if that is suitable.
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Old 12-09-23, 10:24 AM
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One thing to keep in mind is that typical Italian frames are measured ctc, while most American companies size ctt. So what an Italian would call a 57 we would call a 58. But that's just height. On US geo charts, Top Tubes tend to be slightly longer than Seat tubes up until size 58, while Italians often go "square" at smaller sizes, meaning that they generally have slightly shorter top tubes for the same size bike.

Given the OPs height, something between 58 and 60 seems appropriate, depending on how it is measured and TT length.
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Old 12-09-23, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
One thing to keep in mind is that typical Italian frames are measured ctc, while most American companies size ctt. So what an Italian would call a 57 we would call a 58. But that's just height. On US geo charts, Top Tubes tend to be slightly longer than Seat tubes up until size 58, while Italians often go "square" at smaller sizes, meaning that they generally have slightly shorter top tubes for the same size bike.

Given the OPs height, something between 58 and 60 seems appropriate, depending on how it is measured and TT length.
Yes, I'm used to measuring old British frames in half inch incrememts from center-to-top so I tried to adjust appropriately for this conversation. I did mean to imply center-to-center if I didn't state that clearly. Annoyingly, many European vendors selling used vintage frames seem to be just doing their own thing these days, with some using c-c and others c-t for all of the same sorts of frames that I would generally expect to have been measured c-c out of the factory. One has to read the descriptions very closely!

-Gregory
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Old 12-09-23, 10:32 AM
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A lot of talk of the Lemond fit. A couple of things come to mind. He was flat out racer and a freak of nature. He was very much in an aero dynamic position in peak form.

I had one of his 853 frames in my size. As a casual rider omg it was horrible, as a racer it was nice and weird at the same time. I felt like I was a bus driver, twitchy steering from a back seat.

I don't like the reach in conjunction with saddle to bar drop as much as used to.
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Old 12-09-23, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66
A lot of talk of the Lemond fit. A couple of things come to mind. He was flat out racer and a freak of nature. He was very much in an aero dynamic position in peak form.

I had one of his 853 frames in my size. As a casual rider omg it was horrible, as a racer it was nice and weird at the same time. I felt like I was a bus driver, twitchy steering from a back seat.

I don't like the reach in conjunction with saddle to bar drop as much as used to.
I had a Lemond and have read all the geo charts, and used his book for my fit way back when. I don't know what you guys are talking about. The geometry is typical (but based on ctc), and the seat set back is KOPS. All of his talk about geometry was in defiance against bikes that were 74/74, which are almost unheard of since the '80s.
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Old 12-09-23, 10:43 AM
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A few weeks ago there was a review posted of the Merckx/Hamsten bike and I thought it was interesting. Eddie moved Andyís seat back, with a longer stem and a larger frame. But Andy wasnít taller or more flexible😉
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Old 12-09-23, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
I had a Lemond and have read all the geo charts, and used his book for my fit way back when. I don't know what you guys are talking about. The geometry is typical (but based on ctc), and the seat set back is KOPS. All of his talk about geometry was in defiance against bikes that were 74/74, which are almost unheard of since the '80s.
While I havenít read Lemondís book/s, I suspect his approach was influenced by, and developed upon, Hinault/Genzlingsí philosophy. Merckx Century geometry also played its part in the move away from 74 degree seat angles, especially in non-US/English speaking markets eg. continental Europe, although it used shorter top tubes in larger sizes than I think Lemond would have advocated.

Important I think to remember that seat tube angle is only part of a geometry/bicycle fit equation. Zero setback seat posts were almost unheard of in the 1980s but have become fairly common as some cyclists sought to return their saddles to where a 74 seat angle would have placed them, but which their newer 72-73 frames would not otherwise allow. Nowadays several popular _race_ frames have returned to 73.5 if not 74 degree seat angles.

Another observation is that the OP asks about 1980s and 90s road geometry. I and others have answered from a racing perspective because at that time the distinction between road and racing was far less than it is now, with the subsequent evolution of a large non-racing road population riding ďenduranceĒ bicycles.

In a conversation such as this there will always be broad generalisations and countless exceptions, but to come back to the OPís question of 1980s/90s c-to-c seat tube ie. frame size for a road cyclist of his height, from a racing perspective Iíd expect to see at that timeÖ

1. A 59 or more likely 60x57 74/74 frame if adopting the then-traditional 70s/80s school of thought and corresponding frames with a degree of US criterium and/or UK time trialling (with its short wheelbase/cigarette paper clearances) mindset thrown in.
2. A 58/59x58 74/74 frame with 12-plus stem and max. saddle setback if adopting the emerging school of thought popularised by Hinault/Lemond to frames then available. Maybe even a 57cm c-to-c frame if top tube length could be sacrificed.
3. A 58/59x59 72.5/74 frame if well-funded and buying to order, or sponsored by someone offering such a frame, and on trend with what emerged into the 1990s.

In re-reading the above itís only a cm or two here and there but in my corner of the world 2. was most common into the early 90s, when sloping top tubes and even greater saddle to bars drop loomed on the horizon and I lost interestÖ



Of my current bicycles this 59x60cm c. 1995 Ron Cooper is most representative of what Iíd have raced, or wanted to race, from a geometry perspective, in the early 1990s, although Iíd _never_ have considered an all-leather saddle then, nor have left 2cm of steerer tube and spacers below the stemÖ whatever saddle Iíd have used would have been further back on its rails and the rear hub would also have been fully forward in the dropouts.
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Old 12-09-23, 03:47 PM
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Gregory,

Lots of back-and-forth here, but I can only say that I'm 6'4" and ride a 63cm Bianchi with a 59.5cm top tube. I've never put much faith in the "lift the bike and it should go up some amount" because, as you say, the bottom bracket drop changes things. I tend to size frames by the top tube, since seatposts and stems are now available to make the vertical fit work. But, as you allude to, the seat tube angle makes a difference there, too. The aforementioned Bianchi is a 72-degree seat tube angle.
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Old 12-09-23, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by seagrade
While I haven’t read Lemond’s book/s, I suspect his approach was influenced by, and developed upon, Hinault/Genzlings’ philosophy. Merckx Century geometry also played its part in the move away from 74 degree seat angles, especially in non-US/English speaking markets eg. continental Europe, although it used shorter top tubes in larger sizes than I think Lemond would have advocated.

Important I think to remember that seat tube angle is only part of a geometry/bicycle fit equation. Zero setback seat posts were almost unheard of in the 1980s but have become fairly common as some cyclists sought to return their saddles to where a 74 seat angle would have placed them, but which their newer 72-73 frames would not otherwise allow. Nowadays several popular _race_ frames have returned to 73.5 if not 74 degree seat angles.

Another observation is that the OP asks about 1980s and 90s road geometry. I and others have answered from a racing perspective because at that time the distinction between road and racing was far less than it is now, with the subsequent evolution of a large non-racing road population riding “endurance” bicycles.

In a conversation such as this there will always be broad generalisations and countless exceptions, but to come back to the OP’s question of 1980s/90s c-to-c seat tube ie. frame size for a road cyclist of his height, from a racing perspective I’d expect to see at that time…

1. A 59 or more likely 60x57 74/74 frame if adopting the then-traditional 70s/80s school of thought and corresponding frames with a degree of US criterium and/or UK time trialling (with its short wheelbase/cigarette paper clearances) mindset thrown in.
2. A 58/59x58 74/74 frame with 12-plus stem and max. saddle setback if adopting the emerging school of thought popularised by Hinault/Lemond to frames then available. Maybe even a 57cm c-to-c frame if top tube length could be sacrificed.
3. A 58/59x59 72.5/74 frame if well-funded and buying to order, or sponsored by someone offering such a frame, and on trend with what emerged into the 1990s.

In re-reading the above it’s only a cm or two here and there but in my corner of the world 2. was most common into the early 90s, when sloping top tubes and even greater saddle to bars drop loomed on the horizon and I lost interest…



Of my current bicycles this 59x60cm c. 1995 Ron Cooper is most representative of what I’d have raced, or wanted to race, from a geometry perspective, in the early 1990s, although I’d _never_ have considered an all-leather saddle then, nor have left 2cm of steerer tube and spacers below the stem… whatever saddle I’d have used would have been further back on its rails and the rear hub would also have been fully forward in the dropouts.
The frame angles don't play much of a role in fit unless you are choosing less saddle set back, or don't know to read a geo chart to convert TT numbers. Mainly I was talking about steering angles and short wheelbases.

Today, road and race style bikes aren't really any different from then, except many have taller headtubes. So-called endurance bikes are sometimes road bikes, and sometimes they are sport touring bikes. But long wheelbase Endurance Bikes aren't road race bikes - they are a new category that is supposed to be different. Same with Gravel Bikes.

So I don't know what era you are talking about other than that some steeper angles were briefly embraced in the '80s for crit minded, and pro road racers largely did not use them.


As far as Lemond fit goes, that's all Cyrille Guimard.
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Old 12-09-23, 04:13 PM
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I am mostly riding 56cm to 57 cm road frames with a 130mm stem.My Grandis, My Coppi and My Pinarello steel frames from the 90's are all of the same size.
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Old 12-10-23, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
Based on all of the other responders here, you're literally the only one who didn't offer the correct advice. Even with a super tall 30cm bottom bracket height set up for criterium racing and a 59cm frame I would have about 5cm of space left between my inseam and the top of a frame - which is two inches.
"Correct" advice? I offered you perfectly good advice. You decided you didn't want to take it and proceeded to use silly arguments about frame angles and bottom bracket heights as reasons for not taking it. You wanted to know how bikes were sized in the 80s and 90s, and I told you. Like most trolls, you feigned ignorance on the subject to get people to respond to you, and when you got advice you didn't like, you made up reasons to not like it. I admit--I fell for it. I won't make that mistake again.

Figure out what size you need on your own.
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Old 12-10-23, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4
"Correct" advice? I offered you perfectly good advice. You decided you didn't want to take it and proceeded to use silly arguments about frame angles and bottom bracket heights as reasons for not taking it.
You offered advice that is not helpful at all because apparently you don't even know how basic considerations of frame geometry like bottom bracket height and tube angles affects standover height. Anyone using Lemond's sizing chart or taking the advice of almost every other experienced rider/racer here that responded would probably have between 2-3" between the top tube and their inseam. I currently have a 62cm frame with 700x23c wheels sitting in front of me right now that still provides me with more than 1" of space between the top tube and my crotch because it has slack frame geometry and a low bottom bracket, which are apparently things you can't comprehend.

Please refrain from responding to my posts until you learn more about how bicycles work.

I was able to figure out what size I need based on the informed and educated comments provided by others in response to my query, for which I am appreciative.

-Gregory
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Old 12-10-23, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
Please refrain from responding to my posts until you learn more about how bicycles work.

-Gregory
Iíve forgotten more about bikes than youíll ever know.

And learn how the forumís signature function works so you wonít have to re-type your name on every frigginí post you make.
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Old 12-10-23, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Iíve forgotten more about bikes than youíll ever know.

And learn how the forumís signature function works so you wonít have to re-type your name on every frigginí post you make.
You've made it clear just how much you've forgotten. And please, make more childish insults.
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Old 12-10-23, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by droppedandlost
You've made it clear just how much you've forgotten. And please, make more childish insults.
And what brilliant nuggets of bike wisdom or knowledge have you contributed to this discussion?

Oh right. None.
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Old 12-10-23, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
You offered advice that is not helpful at all because apparently you don't even know how basic considerations of frame geometry like bottom bracket height and tube angles affects standover height. Anyone using Lemond's sizing chart or taking the advice of almost every other experienced rider/racer here that responded would probably have between 2-3" between the top tube and their inseam. I currently have a 62cm frame with 700x23c wheels sitting in front of me right now that still provides me with more than 1" of space between the top tube and my crotch because it has slack frame geometry and a low bottom bracket, which are apparently things you can't comprehend.

Please refrain from responding to my posts until you learn more about how bicycles work.

I was able to figure out what size I need based on the informed and educated comments provided by others in response to my query, for which I am appreciative.

-Gregory
Shorter people do not have 2-3" of standover clearance, and neither does anyone riding a well sized frame that has short legs for their height.

Further, BB height differences aren't sizing differences. If you buy a cyclocross bike with a high BB, you still look at overall fit instead of standover. But "road bikes" don't have considerable variation in BB height. They are all going to be within a centimeter - and usually they are within less than that.


And of course your 62 still has clearance - look at the math. The difference between a 60 and 62 in standover height is only 3/4 of an inch. If you had 2" of clearance with 60 you will have 1 1/4" clearance with a 62.
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Old 12-10-23, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Shorter people do not have 2-3" of standover clearance, and neither does anyone riding a well sized frame that has short legs for their height.
So, I do have long legs for my height. And, of course, the shorter the frame and the shorter the person the less difference there will be but I clearly stated my height and the other fellow even said he is the same height. I also clearly stated my inseam, which is 86cm. According to the Lemond chart that would put me on a 56 frame with my inseam (c-c), which is more than two inches shorter than the 62cm frame that I can straddle with an inch of space left between my crotch and the top tube (barefooted).

I clearly stated that I'm more used to researching and riding road bicycles from the immediate post-war era, when bottom brackets could be as low as 10" on many models of English bikes with 71 degree seat tubes. Alternatively, I've ridden more modern road bikes with 11" bottom brackets and 74 degree seat tubes, which could make the standover almost equivalent for frames as much as 5-6cm different in size.

Originally Posted by Kontact
Further, BB height differences aren't sizing differences. If you buy a cyclocross bike with a high BB, you still look at overall fit instead of standover.
Exactly the point I was arguing above. The advice given was that an appropriately sized frame would have a one inch gap between the top tube and my crotch, which makes no sense whatsoever and isn't helpful for correct sizing.

-Gregory

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Old 12-10-23, 12:41 PM
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Here's my best fitting Italian, I think it's a 60x58 with a Nitto Pearl 10 stem


The Olmo is different it is 60-56 but its a fit

I am 6'1" ish with 32" inseam, I'm rather balanced proportional.

Neither of these have Lemond's length of top tube. The Olmo is criterium geometry.

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Old 12-10-23, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Shorter people do not have 2-3" of standover clearance, and neither does anyone riding a well sized frame that has short legs for their height..
Just to be clear, anyone with the same inseam (i.e. the same sized legs) would end up with the same size frame (along the seat tube measured c-c) based on the Lemond chart, so their standover height would not vary, whether they're 6' tall or 6'5". They would need to be adjusting their top tube and stem lengths from there. That makes sense, right?

For my inseam the total measurement, assuming a 10.75" bottom bracket) in the chart adds up to 2cm less than my inseam. That does not including frame angle disparities, which lead to significantly more difference in reality.


However, regarding your point about people shorter than myself, which I had not considered, the shortest inseam listed below, 66cm, would result in 71.3cm from the ground to the top of the top tube (adding 1cm onto the c-c measurement shown). That's 5.3 cm higher than the inseam. So yes, you're absolutely correct about shorter people based on these calculations and that's rather fascinating to realize!

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Old 12-10-23, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988
Just to be clear, anyone with the same inseam (i.e. the same sized legs) would end up with the same size frame (along the seat tube measured c-c) based on the Lemond chart, so their standover height would not vary, whether they're 6' tall or 6'5". They would need to be adjusting their top tube and stem lengths from there. That makes sense, right?

For my inseam the total measurement, assuming a 10.75" bottom bracket) in the chart adds up to 2cm less than my inseam. That does not including frame angle disparities, which lead to significantly more difference in reality.


However, regarding your point about people shorter than myself, which I had not considered, the shortest inseam listed below, 66cm, would result in 71.3cm from the ground to the top of the top tube (adding 1cm onto the c-c measurement shown). That's 5.3 cm higher than the inseam. So yes, you're absolutely correct about shorter people based on these calculations and that's rather fascinating to realize!

The Lemond chart references US product safety law that mandates minimum standover clearance for any complete bikes sold. Don't confuse that with how people were or are actually sized for bikes.
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Old 12-10-23, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
The Lemond chart references US product safety law that mandates minimum standover clearance for any complete bikes sold. Don't confuse that with how people were or are actually sized for bikes.
So that was another bit of advice I should have taken with a caveat earlier in the thread. Thanks for clearing that up! Even assuming I moved up to a 59-60cm frame (which I think sounds much more comfortable at my height based on experience) if one were to go down the list towards shorter inseams I thiink your suggestion that shorter legs would have diminishing differences between the top tubes and top of the inseam still makes sense, and is something that I had no considered. So thanks again for the enlightenment!

-Gregory
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Old 12-10-23, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
When I was racing it was the C.O.N.I. Manual, aka the Cinelli Book. I have one somewhere. They sell for solid money now on eBay.
I am surprised no one has not scanned it.
A free digital of C.O.N.I. has long been circulating.

Anyways, moving into the mid-modern racers. Merckx adapted to era. When Eddy M. came aboard the 7-Eleven team, he completely disrupted Andy Hampsten's fitment due partly the secret sauce of shrinking the frame. Transformed him to make the record book.

Last edited by chain_whipped; 12-10-23 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 12-10-23, 02:55 PM
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LeMond could ride anything and crush it. Best among the beast's!
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Old 12-10-23, 03:03 PM
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How old you are and rate your physical condition is what matters.

Touring comfort widely varies among riders. Subjectively endless.

Racing is another matter. Discussion of aero plays a huge part and around 70% of it is rider body. The remaining aero advantage is the bike, etc..

So if you're young and fit, want to be fast on your 80's bike, size down, slam that stem. Cow bells!
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