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Frame sizes for vintage bikes

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Frame sizes for vintage bikes

Old 06-23-07, 09:09 PM
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benjamin831
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Frame sizes for vintage bikes

Hi,

I'm having a hard time finding a smaller frame sizes for older bikes. I'm pretty short - 5'6 tall, I'm trying to find sizes around 50 cm - so it almost impossible to find sizes that fit perfectly. Do you guys have any advice on where to look and what particular bikes are more...short people friendly?
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Old 06-23-07, 10:46 PM
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I'm a bit under 5'10",(a "bit" is a flexible term) with a 34 inch leg length and a 32 inch slacks inseam. I can ride bikes with traditional geometry anywhere in the size 56 range to size 62 range, with a size 57 to 60 being my ideal size.

So, at 5' 6", I'm thinking you ought to be on a bike in the size 52 to size 55 range. Go to your neighborhood bike shop and "stand over" a size 54 bike. If the top bar brushes your jeans, that's fine. If the top bar is pressing into your flesh, try the next size down.

You won't see many "vintage" road bikes smaller than about a size 54. Although most men in the 1965 to 1975 era were in the 5'6" to 5'9" height range, the most popular road bike size was "23 inches"...what is now sold as a size 58. And, in the more expensive road bikes, the second most popular size was "24 inches" and the third was "25 inches"...that is size 61 and size 63.

So, in 1965, a guy who was 5'6" was probably riding a size 58 bike...Yeah, it was probably "too tall" and his saddle was sitting about an inch off the top bar. But, lots of guys rode bikes with their saddle that low, and none are the worst for it, as far as I know.

So, you probably are going to have to settle for a size 21 (size 53) in a vintage bike...but I suspect that size may actually fit you rather well.
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Old 06-24-07, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by benjamin831
Hi,

I'm having a hard time finding a smaller frame sizes for older bikes. I'm pretty short - 5'6 tall, I'm trying to find sizes around 50 cm - so it almost impossible to find sizes that fit perfectly. Do you guys have any advice on where to look and what particular bikes are more...short people friendly?
At 5'6" you may think you are short. You aren't . If you read some older posts, you will see how helpful everyone here has been at finding me tiny bikes.

I've had a lot of luck with finding Nishikis to fit me. I have a 48cm Nishiki Pro, a 48cm Nishiki International, a 48?cm Nishiki Olympic 12, a Nishiki Sport mixte (don't know what size), etc. I also have a Woodrup frame coming eventually, that was advertised as a 48cm (I think).

All the Nishikis except for the mixte have traditional diamond frames.

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Old 06-24-07, 07:55 AM
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You should be able to find a vintage bike at or around 50 cm. I currently have two under 50cm and I would guess they are too small for you. I just sold a 50cm Raleigh to someone who is about 5'6''. For that individual, it was a good fit. Earlier this year I met a young lady about 5'4" and sold her a Ross 290S (yeah the classic!) that was 49cm. All too small for me at 5'9". The key to finding a vintage bike of a particular size is hard searching at yard sales, thrift shops, ebay and craigslists. While they may not be common, the person trying to sell it has a real problem, the buyers market for small road bikes is small.
I think its interesting that you're having difficulty finding smaller frame road bikes because it seems all I can find are small or large road bikes. Medium (52-56cm) road bikes just don't seem to come my way. But after persistant searching at local yard sales and craigslist I now have a few.
EDIT: IMHO you should take into account the length of your inseam when sizing a bike. I'm looking for smaller frames because my inseam is only 29.5", somewhat short for a guy 5'9".
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Old 06-24-07, 08:59 AM
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Finding a frame your size should be that hard, there were plenty of them. I can name about 2 dozen that offered frames under 50cm, to as low as 45cm. There was a big push to attract the sub 5"-4" female, starting in the mid-1980s.

If you go on Ebay and go under Road Bikes and Parts, select Complete Bikes and Frames and there will be a menu on the left hand side, sorted by frame size. Currently there are over 200 frames listed as 50-51 cm. There are about an equal quantity in even smaller sizes.

Another good source are triathlon related websites, with buy/sell pages. Females tend to favor this sport over traditional, competetive cycling, so there is a relatively high proportion of small frames. There always seems to be people getting out of the sport or upgrading to better bicycles.
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Old 06-24-07, 04:04 PM
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What's your trouser inseam? Mine is 30", and a 55cm C-T frame is perfect for me. If your proportions are similar to mine, you can probably handle a 52 or 53cm frame, which should not be too hard to find. If a 21-inch = 53.3cm frame is not too much of a stretch, you will have many options.
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Old 06-25-07, 04:52 AM
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Thanks guys. My inseam measures 29.5 inches so I'm that size 51 would be the "sweet spot" for frame size. I have a couple of low-end Raleighs that are 53cm (C-to-C). They ride fine but its obvious that it’s a bit big - stand-over really digs into my privates, ouch. I'm definitely gonna start looking hard on eBay to find a good frame size.

Speaking of low-end bikes, I've been riding a couple of Gitanes of Raleighs for most of my cycling life. I usually upgrade their components but they still have awfully heavy frames. I really want to try out some of the higher-end bikes. Are there any threads you could recommend I should take a look at?
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