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"French Fit" versus "Competition Fit"

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"French Fit" versus "Competition Fit"

Old 07-24-12, 03:15 PM
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"French Fit" versus "Competition Fit"

I have seen references here to "French fit".

After some searching, I found this description of French fit, as well as two other kinds of fit.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/ht...ad_riding.html
3.The French Fit.
This fit is so named because of its legacy in the traditions of endurance road riding such as brevet rides and randonneuring. However, the French Fit isn't merely about touring, riding long, or even sitting more upright. It is about getting the most out of a bike that fits larger and provides much more comfort to the neck, back, and saddle position.
While the Competitive Fit generally puts you on the smallest appropriate frame and the Eddy Fit sizes up a bit or raises the bars, the French Fit puts you on the largest appropriate frame. While this bucks some current conventional wisdom - and is, in fact, the least commonly used position of the three we espouse - it is still the position advocated by some of cycling's wisest and most experienced designers, who also happened to be riders who like to go fast and far with an ideal amount of comfort.

This fit features a taller front end (with a larger frame and/or head tube extension and stem), handlebar to saddle drops that are much closer to level, and favors riders who are looking to ease stress on the neck and back, ride as long and as far as they like, and are not concerned with the looking like an aggressive professional. In comparison to the Eddy Fit, the rider has even more weight rearward and a slightly more upright position such that "hands in the drops position" is close to the Competitive Fit's "hands on the hoods position." Some may say that this was not how modern race bikes were "meant" to fit but we have learned that the French Fit's size up tradition works great on the most modern bikes.

By increasing the frame size we raise the bars without radical riser stems and still create balance and proportion with respect to the important knee-to-pedal dynamic. It is important to remember that as frames get larger the top tube effectively shortens. This means that the longer top tube on a larger frame is appropriate because as the bars come "up" and the ratio of saddle to bar drop lessens, the rider achieves a "reach" from the saddle to the handlebars that is just right!


We recommend this fit for riders who really want to be comfortable and fast over longer distances. Please note that the French Fit disregards all emphasis on stand over height (standing with the bike between your legs and your shoes flat on the ground) because the French Fit school believes that this measurement has little actual value regarding fit. An ideal compromise for those who can't shed their concern regarding stand over height is the choice of a "sized up" compact design to achieve a higher relative handlebar position.

Nevertheless, a French Fit can work with traditional, non-sloping frames as well. As an example, a person who might ride a 55cm or 56cm frame to achieve the Competitive Fit, might ride as much as a 59cm or 60cm in the French Fit. While bikes in the French Fit are not the racer's fashion they tend to look elegant, well proportioned, and ride like a dream.


I think, or speculate, that the bike I ride daily is "French fit":



and that this other bike I have is a "competition fit" as the Competitive Cyclist page calls it.



If that is correct, I am puzzled and/or curious by a few things.

First, what is the difference in how these two fits will "feel"? I mean, the two bikes above do feel very different, but they are also very different material, geometry, weight, etc. If they were otherwise the same, what difference would the "fit" make?

Second, why does fit change the bike's feel? I appreciate that the seat-to-bar drop is different - is that the main difference?

Third, what "fit" do you prefer? If you ride a variety of fits, do you use "French fit" for older bikes and "competition fit" for newer bikes, or do you even buck history and do the reverse?
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Old 07-24-12, 03:25 PM
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Who cares about fit, when I see a Porsche 911 in the picture! By far my favorite Porsche body style!

Definitely a classic!
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Old 07-24-12, 03:32 PM
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I've read the same articles and come to the same conclusions. I find that on longer or slower rides I prefer the French fit: less weight on my arms. On faster and shorter rides I'm fine with the larger saddle to bar drop. French fit is only an option with a large enough frame, though. I have this Union Sapporo, with a 64 cm seat tube and 56 cm head tube that is begging to become my long distance tourer.

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Old 07-24-12, 03:37 PM
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I have bikes that are sized and set up both ways....... lately, I seem
to ride the larger ones more, which makes sense as I'm past 60 and even
with yoga and attention to stretching I'm starting to notice some loss
in flexibility.

There's not just position involved here........think about it. The more you shift
your position forward, the more likely it is you'll shift some of your weight in
that direction (onto the bar), as well. All of this affects how the bike feels
under you.

Larger frames seat tube wise also tend to have longer top tubes. How you adjust
to that (stem length, seat fore and aft, etc.) also has a direct affect on the way
in which the bike relates to you (position over the pedals, for instance).

Having said all this, I still enjoy riding anything from about a 23" to a 24 1/2"
seat tube (maybe 58 -62 roughly). I do try to limit to about that range, but
even then a slacker angle or smaller wheel diameter can give you reduced
standover height that you might be able to use to your advantage...or not.
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Old 07-24-12, 03:45 PM
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Hm, obviously written by someone not too
versed in older bikes, vide the part that french
fit can be achieved on bikes with a level top
tube!
My bikes are all competition, or Italian, fit, simply because the frame geo dictates it and it suits my riding style well: short, fast jaunts, solo, in between work/studies/etc.

I do wish I had a more relaxed bike on the slow century this last may; my
modern alu road bike beat me up over the long day.
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Old 07-24-12, 03:50 PM
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OP , if you take the time to complete CC's fit calculator, you will find there is little difference in the actual results between the 3 fit categories.

The seat tube length (often the frame size), top tube length, and saddle to handlebar distance results will have a total range of not more than 3cm from lowest to highest, regardless of the "fit" algorithm chosen. Within a given category, the range is reduced to ~1cm.

The CC fit calculator produces no results regarding relative saddle to handlebar height. I suppose you think the Cdale is "competitive fit" due to the low hbar height and CC's category descriptions, but the actual fit calculator results won't tell you how high to set the hbar.

The CC fit calculator is useful for determining correct frame size, TT+stem length, and saddle setback. You'll have to decide other fit factors on your own.

Wrenchscience.com also has a fit calculator. Once you've made the required biometric measurements for CC, you can plug them into WS for another take on frame fitting, since they share most of these measurements as inputs.
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Old 07-24-12, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl
I have seen references here to "French fit".

After some searching, I found this description of French fit, as well as two other kinds of fit.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/ht...ad_riding.html
3.The French Fit.
This fit is so named because of its legacy in the traditions of endurance road riding such as brevet rides and randonneuring. However, the French Fit isn't merely about touring, riding long, or even sitting more upright. It is about getting the most out of a bike that fits larger and provides much more comfort to the neck, back, and saddle position.
While the Competitive Fit generally puts you on the smallest appropriate frame and the Eddy Fit sizes up a bit or raises the bars, the French Fit puts you on the largest appropriate frame. While this bucks some current conventional wisdom - and is, in fact, the least commonly used position of the three we espouse - it is still the position advocated by some of cycling's wisest and most experienced designers, who also happened to be riders who like to go fast and far with an ideal amount of comfort.

This fit features a taller front end (with a larger frame and/or head tube extension and stem), handlebar to saddle drops that are much closer to level, and favors riders who are looking to ease stress on the neck and back, ride as long and as far as they like, and are not concerned with the looking like an aggressive professional. In comparison to the Eddy Fit, the rider has even more weight rearward and a slightly more upright position such that "hands in the drops position" is close to the Competitive Fit's "hands on the hoods position." Some may say that this was not how modern race bikes were "meant" to fit but we have learned that the French Fit's size up tradition works great on the most modern bikes.

By increasing the frame size we raise the bars without radical riser stems and still create balance and proportion with respect to the important knee-to-pedal dynamic. It is important to remember that as frames get larger the top tube effectively shortens. This means that the longer top tube on a larger frame is appropriate because as the bars come "up" and the ratio of saddle to bar drop lessens, the rider achieves a "reach" from the saddle to the handlebars that is just right!


We recommend this fit for riders who really want to be comfortable and fast over longer distances. Please note that the French Fit disregards all emphasis on stand over height (standing with the bike between your legs and your shoes flat on the ground) because the French Fit school believes that this measurement has little actual value regarding fit. An ideal compromise for those who can't shed their concern regarding stand over height is the choice of a "sized up" compact design to achieve a higher relative handlebar position.

Nevertheless, a French Fit can work with traditional, non-sloping frames as well. As an example, a person who might ride a 55cm or 56cm frame to achieve the Competitive Fit, might ride as much as a 59cm or 60cm in the French Fit. While bikes in the French Fit are not the racer's fashion they tend to look elegant, well proportioned, and ride like a dream.


I think, or speculate, that the bike I ride daily is "French fit":



and that this other bike I have is a "competition fit" as the Competitive Cyclist page calls it.



If that is correct, I am puzzled and/or curious by a few things.

First, what is the difference in how these two fits will "feel"? I mean, the two bikes above do feel very different, but they are also very different material, geometry, weight, etc. If they were otherwise the same, what difference would the "fit" make?

Second, why does fit change the bike's feel? I appreciate that the seat-to-bar drop is different - is that the main difference?

Third, what "fit" do you prefer? If you ride a variety of fits, do you use "French fit" for older bikes and "competition fit" for newer bikes, or do you even buck history and do the reverse?
Great questions! This should create some interesting reading, for sure.

Here's my take on your queries:

1) First, what is the difference in how these two fits will "feel"? I mean, the two bikes above do feel very different, but they are also very different material, geometry,
weight, etc. If they were otherwise the same, what difference would the "fit" make?

I would say that with the 'competition fit' (C-Dale) the smaller frame size and seat/ handlebar height makes the bike more responsive; also with the smaller frame size the
wheelbase shortens slightly due to proportions, making the handling quicker, but twitchier. The 'French Fit' (lé Peugeot) has a slightly longer wheelbase (again due to
proportions); that and the more neutral seat/handlebar height takes the weight off the front wheel giving more neutral handling.

2) Second, why does fit change the bike's feel? I appreciate that the seat-to-bar drop is different - is that the main difference?


With the seat/ handlebar height more neutral, your body is set further back, relieving pressure on the upper body and placing you in a more upright position.
With the weight off the front wheel that neutral handling gives a more 'stable' feel.

3) Third, what "fit" do you prefer? If you ride a variety of fits, do you use "French fit" for older bikes and "competition fit" for newer bikes, or do you even buck history and do the reverse?

With all of the bikes I've ever owned, frame size has always been a compromise between fit and feel. Early on, I leaned towards the 'competition' fit for the quick handling. But as I get older,
comfort and smoothness are more important to me, especially seat/ handlebar height. Now I'm trying to get the bars as close to level with the seat as I can.

Like I said, just my 2˘ worth. I came from the old days of sizing bikes and I know thoughts and ideas nowadays are much different.


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Old 07-24-12, 04:36 PM
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What about the Eddy fit? haha j/k.

I agree with 3alarmer. You get more power from the competition fit because you close the hip angle and thus get more power. It also means less weight on the sitbones which can be nice and it certainly affect how I set my saddle angle. I find reach will affect my neck and shoulder comfort more than drop will. so I try to get that dialed and then adjust height. On my road bike that means the bars are as low as they can go for more speed and power. On something for light touring and day rides that means a drop of about half of what I have on the road bike. I don't do french fit, if I am touring I'll use MTB bars and bar ends.
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Old 07-24-12, 04:42 PM
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Funny, I was up last night looking at that same website! Turns out my bike is set up as an "Eddy" fit.(with lower bar height) Glad to know I have so much in common with the man. After all, I've toured France before. (granted, by train and thumb, but hey, it was a tour of France)
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Old 07-24-12, 04:50 PM
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I'd think a French fit would be one with very little seatpost showing.
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Old 07-24-12, 05:03 PM
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When I first got into long-distance cycling and was reading all sorts of "expert" advice in books, the consensus for non-touring cycling was to choose the smaller bike if between sizes. A slightly longer stem was better than going a size up. I can't help but think this might have had something to do with weight, rather than fit.

A smaller, road-oriented bike will feel more "twitchy" and takes 1) more exertion, 2) more strength than a larger one. A touring bike of the same size, with different geometry but with a TT roughly the same feels very different.

CC online fit guide is not especially useful, though it's a good benchmark. It doesn't consider geometry, and the recommendations at the "comfort" end for me spit out a ridiculous amount of reach, and would put me on a bike that is less comfortable.

As a 5'6 woman (albeit with a slightly long torso), a classic geometry bike that I *can* ride will often require a shorter stem. So it was always easier to just have a stem with more height, back when the two asphalt flavors were road or touring.

Modern bike geometry has changed a lot of things, as does the use of threadless stems. For example, Jamis raised the head tube of the Quest a full 2cm a few years ago, and most other "recreational" bikes have a similar raised front/sloping top geometry ... the progeny of competitive road and "hybrid" geometry: offensive to purists, but enjoyed by casual cyclists everywhere.
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Old 07-24-12, 07:38 PM
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I find modern controls work best on the hoods most of the time and older controls work when ridden on the drops or in the hooks. I run 110mm drop on my modern bike and about 30 or 40mm on older bikes.


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Old 07-24-12, 08:09 PM
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I wonder if the whole "Competitive Fit", "Eddy Fit" and "French Fit" terminology isn't exclusive to the Competitive Cyclist.

My Ciocc was originally set-up in April 1986 using the instructions provided in The Custom Bicycle (Kolin and de la Rosa 1979). Sizing/positioning was supposedly based on the Italian "cycling bible", the famous C.O.N.I. book Cycling (F.I.A.C. 1972). The resulting fit was probably what Competitive Cyclist considers more of an "Eddy Fit", since contemporary positioning places the rider in a more aggressive and aerodynamic (but less comfortable IMHO) position.

My philosophy: if the bike fits you comfortably, then ride it. Formulas are just starting points, after all.
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Old 07-24-12, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ftwelder
I find modern controls work best on the hoods most of the time and older controls work when ridden on the drops or in the hooks. I run 110mm drop on my modern bike and about 30 or 40mm on older bikes.
This is probably one of the most basic bit truest differences in modern vs. classic fit. Classic hoods are terrible to ride on. I admit I don't have tons of miles on a classic brake lever and some people here may have been well adapted to riding on them at the time, but I think this is what fundamental different. the brake levers were set up so they worked well from the drops and if you were in the drops you were close to your shifters. My speculation is that in the old days riders did spend most of their time in the drops where as today they are on the good and only get down in the drops for extremely hard efforts of short duration of for sprinting. The intended hand position on the handlebar has completely changed.
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Old 07-24-12, 08:29 PM
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since were talking about theory here, anyone know how a high saddle (relative to bars) effects the riding characteristics of a touring frame? and how would that compare to say, a more racing oriented frame with a level saddle to bar ratio.

i know there are a lot of variables here, just interested in some general insight.
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Old 07-24-12, 08:44 PM
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I love that cannondale. The Porsche isn't so bad either.

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Old 07-24-12, 09:38 PM
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I like the phrase, "Wannna look like a pro?" I see scores of overweight, red-faced, middle age riders doing that on the local bike path with top speeds of 14mph. A laudable goal, indeed. They look just like pros!
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Old 07-24-12, 10:11 PM
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I also find C&V hoods uncomfortable to ride on. The typical C&V bar, sloping steeply down to short, narrow upturned hoods, makes my wrists sore in no time.

When I swapped in the modern brake levers that you see on the Peugeot in my first post, and adjusted the bars and hood to create a long, broad, flat surface, I found the resulting position very comfortable. Nicely stretched-out and the shifters are at my fingertips. I started riding like a "modern" rider, on the hoods all the time.

Recently I rode a 200 mile weekend. The second day was into a nagging headwind almost all day. So I rode in the drops for hours on end, to cut wind resistance. That was a new one for me, and - whaddya know - I liked it. There were times, during those long hours of pulling into the wind, that I wished my bars were lower, and that got me thinking about French fit vs racy fit. (Hey, there was nothing to think about for miles besides "I wonder if my hamstrings are cramping up", "that's a cute rear, gotta catch up", and "what about the French fit stuff anyway".)

So now I'm thinking about lowering my bars by a couple inches (or as much as the stem permits) and adding inline brake levers to the tops to retain a more upright position for riding in traffic avec brakes. Which got me looking at the C'dale and wondering about the different fits, since the touch points on the two bikes will then be pretty similar to each other, save for the shorter seat-to-bar distance of the C'dale.
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Old 07-25-12, 01:25 AM
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true thing, about the difference in control styles and corresponding hbar positions. Lately, I rode my modern bike a lot, until I switched back to my classic roadie this week for a long, relaxed ride. I was so used to be able to brake well from the hoods that I almost crashed into an icecream stand! Vintage Super Record levers, ever so pretty, just don't work from that position. By the way, I measured my bikes again, and the dimensions on my vintage and modern steed come really close, within half a cm.
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Old 07-25-12, 01:42 AM
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If you look at a lot of old rando and touring bike from france. The seat position is pretty low and most people would say their on a frame too large. Nearly every bike in the Jan Heine's "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles" looks like this. If I ride a bike that gives me the correct top tube length I'm stuck having to run my seatpost pretty low and end up with what CC describes as the French fit. I was fitted when I built my custom frame for 49 seat tube and 54 toptube. So try finding a frame with those specs unless it's custom and TIG welded and even if it's custom but using 700c wheels you can't get it with a normal lug built frame. Now with a frame designed specifically for 650c I was able to make it work. With a standard sized lug built frame I'm stuck either using a very long stem on a smaller 49cm frame or getting a frame that's about 4cm's too tall but the reach is correct but saddle is sitting an inch or two above the top tube.
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Old 07-25-12, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Ex Pres
The French haven't been competitive in 25+ years.
Some guys with the names of Pinot, Voelker and Rolland might take issue with that.

I'm pretty sure I fall under the "Eddy fit" category, but I don't see a reason to have road bikes set up differently, with the possible exceptions of crit and touring bikes. I've got four bikes: a 60cm '87 Centurion Ironman, a 63cm '97 Bianchi Trofeo, a 61cm 2010 Look 585 Optimum and a 61cm 2011 Specialized Allez. They're all set up to the same cockpit measurements, with slight differences due to different hood shapes and handlebar dimensions. I want to be able to ride them interchangeably, with no part of my body complaining.
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Old 07-25-12, 05:46 AM
  #22  
What??? Only 2 wheels?
 
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It seems to me that one of the reasons for having drop bars in the first place is to have options. Ride each section when appropriate!

My first derailleur bike (the UO8) was fairly large for me and I've always ridden it with a French-ish fit. Lately I've been riding slightly smaller frames set up with more saddle to bar drop - if you set the bar closer with a stem with shorter throw you can afford to lower it a bit. Lately the UO8 has begun to feel too stretched out. But then, my doctor says I've gotten smaller so maybe the perception is real.

I'd never heard all this fuss about the various French, Eddy, competition, froomsich, Baloney, and xyzzy fits until I read about it in BF. Adjust the bike until you are comfortable and can stay on it for a long time. Whatever you end up with, name it after yourself.
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Old 07-25-12, 05:58 AM
  #23  
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I'm calling that Muller Fit . Toe clips need to be fit as well .
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Old 07-25-12, 06:04 AM
  #24  
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"Please note that the French Fit disregards all emphasis on stand over height (standing with the bike between your legs and your shoes flat on the ground) because the French Fit school believes that this measurement has little actual value regarding fit. "

I agree with this.
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Old 07-25-12, 06:27 AM
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Who cares about fit, when I see a Porsche 911 in the picture! By far my favorite Porsche body style!

Definitely a classic!
Excuse me ... but what has this got to do the the OP's thread-topic!? IMO, the question raised is one of the most poignant factors in C&V. Only a few of us are actually racing. And many of us are no longer quite as young as we were when these older machines were minted off the in production.
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