Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Classic & Vintage
Reload this Page >

A very hypothetical frame size question.

Classic & Vintage This forum is to discuss the many aspects of classic and vintage bicycles, including musclebikes, lightweights, middleweights, hi-wheelers, bone-shakers, safety bikes and much more.

A very hypothetical frame size question.

Old 12-16-11, 07:05 PM
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Akron, OH
Posts: 421

Bikes: 2008 Seven Axiom Steel, 1984 Colnago Nuovo Mexico, 2008 Cervelo P2C, 2000 Trek Multitrack 7200

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A very hypothetical frame size question.

Suppose you're about to bid on two classic Italian road bikes. Both are in excellent condition, both are priced the same. One has a frame size of 56 cm and the other 58 cm. Your frame size is 57 cm. Which do you buy and why?

tsappenfield is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 07:20 PM
Senior Member
shnibop's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 734
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
depends on top tube length
shnibop is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 07:24 PM
lostarchitect's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 6,897

Bikes: See sig

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 40 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
The one you like better.
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 07:25 PM
Dolce far niente
bigbossman's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 10,832
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by shnibop View Post
depends on top tube length
^ This.

But, assuming your 57cm bike and the other two are more or less square, I'd choose the 56cm. Going down one cm is easier on me than going up one cm.
"Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, itís the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

S. J. Perelman
bigbossman is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 07:28 PM
Half way there
gmt13's Avatar
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 1,110

Bikes: 69 Hercules, 73 Raleigh Sports, 74 Raliegh Competition, 78 Nishiki Professional, 79 Nishiki International, 83 Colnago Super, 83 Viner Junior

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I would lean towards the 56 cm frame because of the stiffness advantage of smaller frames. You would surely have enough saddle height and bar reach adjustability to suit your metrics with just a 2 cm difference.

gmt13 is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 08:48 PM
ciocc_cat's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Prairieville, Louisiana
Posts: 1,659

Bikes: Late 1990s Ciocc Titan

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Will you be using the bike for the same purpose as your current ride? Assuming that it isn't for touring/rando, I'd go with the smaller size.
ciocc_cat is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 08:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 18,240
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 30 Posts
It really depends on your fit. I think C&V bikes look a little silly if they are too small. Then again, 1cm is not going to be particularly noticeable. It would be important to know the TT length though.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 08:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 38
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What is the effective toptube length of both bikes?

If the 56 and 58 numbers are the actual measurement, I'd go 56. It's whole lot easier to gain cockpit distance (with a longer stem, longer reach bars, and setback seatpost) than it is to try and shorten it.
ducnut is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 09:18 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Work in Asia, now based in Vienna, VA
Posts: 1,695
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Gee! Since it's hypothetical, the answer is easy!

Buy them both. Ride each of them until you decide which you like better. Then sell the other one for a profit.

All the items raised above are correct, which suggests that what you posit as known simply isn't adequate to decide.

One cm in seat tube length is rarely a significant difference. I have one bike that is 3 cm smaller than my "normal" frame size, but I've set it up to compensate thru use of a setback seat post and longer stem. For several reasons, I really love to ride it.

Having bikes with slight variations keeps you attentive to fit & feel. Changing wheels & tires does that, too.

1959 Hilton Wrigley Connoisseur (still my favorite!)
1963 Hetchins Mountain King (the gravel grinder)
1971 Gitane Tour de France (The War Horse)
1971 Gitane Super Corsa (The Garage Queen)
1980 Ritchey Touring (The Grail Bike)
1984 Tom Ritchey Team Competition (NOS show bike)
(replacing the stolen 1981 Tom Ritchey Everest custom)
1985 ALAN Record (Glued & Screwed. A gift.)
LeicaLad is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 09:32 PM
Senior Member
iab's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: NW Burbs, Chicago
Posts: 9,678
Mentioned: 99 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1346 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 39 Posts
I'd get the blue one.
iab is offline  
Old 12-16-11, 09:35 PM
steppinthefunk's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,372
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What length stem do you have on your 57?
If they are both square, and you can run a shorter stem I would probably go with the larger.
Theoretically, the larger will offer a lower seat height to bars distance without having to raise the bars too much.
(I prefer the look of a lower stem)
steppinthefunk is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 04:21 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 2,461

Bikes: 1984 Miyata 310, 1986 Schwinn Sierra, 2011 Jamis Quest, 1980 Peugeot TH8 Tandem, 1992 Performance Parabola, 1987 Ross Mt. Hood, 1988 Schwinn LeTour, 1988 Trek 400T

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 217 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
I'd go with the smaller one for the same reasons stated above. It is easier to stretch a size to make it fit than to shorten a frame.
Pompiere is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 05:42 AM
Senior Member
randyjawa's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada - burrrrr!
Posts: 9,147

Bikes: 1958 Rabeneick 120D, 1968 Legnano Gran Premio, Rocky Mountain Cardiac

Mentioned: 144 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 594 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 29 Posts
This is a pretty good question, actually.

I used to ride 54cm seat tube, but these days I ride a 56cm. As I got older, I found it increasingly difficult to get into and maintain a road bicycle crouch while riding. With this in mind, I tried larger frames and found the comfort factor to improve considerably.

So, think about your comfort and how it will impact your enjoyment. For my money, I would go slightly bigger, but that is because I am old and liking relaxed riding positions more than I used to.

Also, two Italian bikes means little to me. I would need to know what makes, conditions, components fitted and lots more. Size is, indeed, an important consideration but so are the other things.
Learn how to find, restore and maintain vintage road bicycles at... MY "TEN SPEEDS"
randyjawa is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 05:54 AM
Gravity Aided
Senior Member
Gravity Aided's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Normal, Illinois
Posts: 2,669

Bikes: Trek 600 ,Trek 950, 1986 Schwinn Passage, Facet Biotour 2000, Falcon San Remo 531,Univega Supra Sport, Corso Special Valentino,

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I found going to a smaller frame helped me with balance and stability,
Pedal choice makes a difference, too, as does crankarm length .
All things being equal, slightly small frame .
Gravity Aided is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 06:06 AM
Senior Member
mazdaspeed's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: WA state
Posts: 4,823
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
This thread is pretty pointless without more info. You need to tell us top tube and seat tube measurements on all bikes + stem size on your "57 cm" if you want to get an answer that is any more than a guess. For example my colnago has a 58cm seat tube and 56cm top tube, my bianchi is 57x57. If you go too small it might work dimensionally but there may be too much saddle to bar drop, that's why I can't fit on a 56cm square bike. All else being equal for the best handling I would go with whatever allows a comfortable amount of drop as well as a 110-120mm stem.
mazdaspeed is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 08:32 AM
Half drunk? Finish!
RobbieTunes's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Very Southern Indiana
Posts: 25,745
Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 346 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 48 Posts
The one with the nicest rack.
Robbie ♪♫♪...☻
I have unfinished business.

RobbieTunes is offline  
Old 12-17-11, 08:40 AM
Thrifty Bill
wrk101's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Mountains of Western NC
Posts: 22,018

Bikes: 86 Katakura Silk, 87 Prologue X2, 88 Cimarron LE, 1975 Sekai 4000 Professional, 73 Paramount, plus more

Mentioned: 67 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 653 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 39 Times in 34 Posts
+487 top tube length. Then, the one with the best paint.

Also, if it is fleece-bay, seller reputation becomes important.

And unfortunately, don't be surprised if the seller has the size wrong. The last bike I bought on eBay was sold as a 58, it was actually a 55. Fortunately, that's what I needed (I ignored seller's sizing). The one before that, sold as a 56, was a 53 (not so good). It moved to another home anyway. I really can't remember a seller getting size right. Part of the reason is I am looking at the deals, which usually means sketchy info, seller who is less experienced, or whatever.

Last edited by wrk101; 12-17-11 at 08:58 AM.
wrk101 is online now  
Old 12-17-11, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 37
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In this hypothetical case i would buy the one that could get rid off easier than the other in the future...if you pay a lot for something you finally dont like ,after all its only photos until it arrives,then your only option is to sell it to someone else without loosing 50% of your money...
cromo is offline  
Related Topics
Thread Starter
Last Post
Classic & Vintage
06-25-18 10:29 AM
Classic and Vintage Sales
08-12-17 09:44 PM
General Cycling Discussion
04-27-16 01:04 PM
Classic & Vintage
01-13-15 06:19 PM
Bicycle Mechanics
10-15-05 11:44 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.