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Modern fit compared to vintage?

Old 03-12-15, 11:52 AM
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tronnyjenkins 
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Modern fit compared to vintage?

So I've bought a couple of vintage bikes already that don't really fit. Doesn't matter, I fixed 'em up for the fun of it.
If I'm typically around a 56-58cm on a modern bike, what size should I be looking for?
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Old 03-12-15, 12:07 PM
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in what way did the other bikes not fit?
if you list your height, inseam, etc there are a lot of sites that will give you a good idea of proper frame size.
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Old 03-12-15, 12:24 PM
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Same size.

However, if Sheldon Brown is to be believed -- and of course he is -- top tube length is far more important for comfort and fit than seat tube length. Your best bet may be to get your most perfectly fitted bike and measure the top tube (or better yet, saddle to bars) and look for something vintage that matches that measurement.

Edit: Note that if your modern bike has a sloping top tube you'll want to measure the "effective" top tube length, which would be the length of an imaginary horizontal tube.
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Old 03-12-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by J.Oxley View Post
However, if Sheldon Brown is to be believed -- and of course he is ...

...Note that if your modern bike has a sloping top tube you'll want to measure the "effective" top tube length, which would be the length of an imaginary horizontal tube.
Yes of course!
Also, that's what I will start doing! My favorite vintage bike to ride (not including fit obviously) that I've bought is 5cm shorter, lol.
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Old 03-12-15, 03:07 PM
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Go tall. Le French fit.
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Old 03-12-15, 03:20 PM
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Note really possible to help without more information. That being said, lets's look at it this way, many modern 56 cm sloping top tube bikes have a 56 or close effective top tube, and a head tube that gets you to a bike that in C&V land is 55 to 57 ctc, or 57.5 to 59.5 center to top, in the seat tube. Top tube length means a lot, so does seat tube angle, and even the type of saddle you use, a Brooks Pro can visually make a bike look big.
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Old 03-12-15, 03:58 PM
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I ride a 54cm modern bike but my vintage bikes range from 55 to 60cm and I'm comfortable on all of them. I use a slightly shorter stem on the bigger bikes and a couple of cm less visible seat post. Vintage bike fit seems much more forgiving than on modern ones.
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Old 03-12-15, 05:58 PM
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After a lot of trial, error, and hoping bikes that don't fit me eventually will, I know this.
1-Vintage fit compared to vintage fit is generally very consistent, if you are buying frames designed for the same purpose.
2-Modern fits are all over the place. On some, I can set up a smaller frame and be fine. On most, not.

One only has to look at the latest trend in stems: 100-120mm seems to be the new starting point.

If I had to create a rule of thumb, it would be to go one size down on a modern bike,
and if it comes in S/M/L/XL, good luck or get good, experienced advice.

I recently bought a modern frame, and threw myself at the fitting mercy of the frame builder.
I bought the stem, seat post, and bars he recommended. It fit very well, out of the box.

I realize the frame was built for a small range of sizes, not just me, but.....
....since it fits so well with his recommendations, I really don't care about that.

I give a lot of advice on bikes to local riders. I don't give any on fitting.
I can ride behind and next to a rider and see things that don't look right.
Other than that, I simply stay away from that zone of conversation.
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Old 03-12-15, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
...
I give a lot of advice on bikes to local riders. I don't give any on fitting.
I can ride behind and next to a rider and see things that don't look right.
Other than that, I simply stay away from that zone of conversation.
So true. I see guys with knees that swing wide or in, hips that rock, ( no wonder their saddle is uncomfortable and they are looking for better padded shorts), arms that are locked straight… I could go on.

And I think an 11 cm stem is the perfect length… if you use Cinelli bars and providing the top tube co-operates.
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Old 03-12-15, 06:28 PM
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I ride a 54 modern and a 57 vintage. Stem is a little longer on the modern, but not that much.
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Old 03-12-15, 06:41 PM
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I don't get as excited about fit as some people do around here.
If you can sit on the seat and the feet reach the pedals, then you're good to go

I think many of the vintage frames are a little taller than the modern frames, but it may depend on whether you wish for handlebars level with the seat, or handlebars that are below or above the seat.
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Old 03-12-15, 06:44 PM
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The red bike is from 2009. The blue bike is from 1959. Ignore the black bike.

You see in the second picture seat tube and head tube are nearly identical. Slightly longer top tube on the 1959 bike, made up by a slightly longer stem on the 2009 bike. Longer chain stays on the 1959. And perhaps a very slightly longer trail also on the 1959.

Point being when it was made doesn't matter. You can find a brand with the geometry you want.

Geo_1 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Geo_3 by iabisdb, on Flickr
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Old 03-12-15, 06:57 PM
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Seat tube angle is important. Think about it. On a 59 cm frame, the seat is about 77 cm above the BB. Going from a 72 to a 73 angle will move your seat about 1 1/4 cm forward and the TT about 1 cm. It is important to factor that in if you want to match fits between bikes.

My bike fit philosophy is: the BB rules. I want to know what seatpost do I have to use to get my seat where it belongs for me in relation to that BB. And what stem do I have to use to get the bars likewise in the right place relative to the BB. (I wrote a program that calculated the stem given frame angles and tube lengths plus top of headtube over TT - an easy estimation if there was any pictures. I no longer use that software and OS, but one day will rewrite it to Excel. I could throw that seatpost in there too. Also gives my weight balance over the wheels. I wrote it to see if there were any stock ti frames that were an acceptable fit. Never found one, so it saved me a lot of money.)

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Old 03-12-15, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Seat tube angle is important. Think about it. On a 59 cm frame, the seat is about 77 cm above the BB. Going from a 72 to a 73 angle will move your seat about 1 1/4 cm forward and the TT about 1 cm. It is important to factor that in if you want to match fits between bikes.

My bike fit philosophy is: the BB rules. I want to know what seatpost do I have to use to get my seat where it belongs for me in relation to that BB. And what stem do I have to use to get the bars likewise in the right place relative to the BB. (I wrote a program that calculated the stem given frame angles and tube lengths plus top of headtube over TT - an easy estimation if there was any pictures. I no longer use that software and OS, but one day will rewrite it to Excel. I could throw that seatpost in there too. Also gives my weight balance over the wheels. I wrote it to see if there were any stock ti frames that were an acceptable fit. Never found one, so it saved me a lot of money.)

Ben
This^^^


Chombi mentioned seat tube angle as a primary variable, and this has led to the new "stack" and "reach" dimensions being applied to bike frame size for those who don't want to have to apply geometry mathematics to their bike-buying decision, although I still use the old methods exclusively for estimating proper fit.

To answer the OP's question, one must first understand the effect of frame and bike dimensions. I recommend test-riding many bikes, and measuring angles and lengths as you go along, to arrive at a knowledge base useful for getting a good-fitting bike assembled.
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Old 03-13-15, 05:39 PM
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Racers, and therefore, the general roadie public, tend to ride smaller bikes in modern days than in the 80's. I remember when people had little seatpost protruding from seat tubes, and now it seems to be a competition on how much seatpost you can show. I know that is not necessarily a bike-fit question, but just an observation on the trend.
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Old 03-13-15, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by sappie66 View Post
Racers, and therefore, the general roadie public, tend to ride smaller bikes in modern days than in the 80's. I remember when people had little seatpost protruding from seat tubes, and now it seems to be a competition on how much seatpost you can show. I know that is not necessarily a bike-fit question, but just an observation on the trend.
Not really --- its just that so many bikes are built around "compact geometry" with sloping top tubes and compact rear triangles that it seems that way --- the drop from seat to bars should still be pretty close ----

There are a couple of guys out there that have outlandish seat to bartop ratios, but most are pretty normal ----- I toodle along on 15 mile rides and things like that, so i like my bars about level with my seat, but a "racing" setup would be 2-3 inches below the level of the seat --- and then use the drops to get lower when needed


Example -- modern bike - the bar height is just a tick under the seat height - maybe 1/2 an inch (but the stem has spacers under it if my fat butt ever gets back into shape ) ---- Lots of seatpost showing thanks to the sloping top tube -- the post is a Thomson mountain bike post in fact




Vs 3 older bikes --- Ciocc and Cdale are late 80's while the DeBernardi is mid 90's (not exactly antiques, but still , much more traditionally styled) - bar height is roughly 2.5 inches under the seat height , but on all 3 bikes, the rider compartment is almost exactly the same --- and if i flipped the stem over on the new carbon Cannondale, the rider compartment on that bike would also match the other 3 bikes

Also note that on all 4 of these bikes ---- i can go much lower by slamming the stems in the head tube ---- but i ultimately arrived at a position that worked --- its funny , i never compared measurements or broke out a tape measure to set up one bike to another -- they just followed the laws of my personal nature and gravitated back to the same rough position on everything i ride






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Old 03-13-15, 07:13 PM
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Mountain bikes are going the other way --- they are getting larger and larger with more suspension --- and the rider compartments are getting more and more relaxed on all but the most dedicated 21 pound pro level cross country bikes

I remember in the late 80's , early 90's, we were encouraged to ride sizes a little small to ensure plenty of standover clearance if you got bucked off

My personal Yeti from 20 years ago --- ITs not too extreme , in fact if you laid a level across the seat and drew an imaginary line over the top of the handlebars, -- i would bet the drop to the bars would be close to what the drop was on my road bikes of the time - maybe 2.5-3.5 inches




A later mountain bike has higher bars due to having 4" of suspension --- but the seat/bar height is still close to level --- and with the spacers removed and a flat bar installed , would have about the same drop as the old Yeti




Contrasted to a typical very early full suspension bike (this one's not mine , the size is wayyyy off) -- Geez look at his bar drop






Now rounding the bend towards a couple of modern setups ----

My new bike - You would think this would feel like pushing a shopping cart around , but with the slack angles, short chainstays, long top tube and stubby stem ------- It all strangely falls into line --- and top tube clearance? I guess thats a thing of the past -- with 5" of travel and 29" wheels , there aint any --- i guess needing all that top tube clearance 20-30 years ago was either a myth or we dont care anymore




A friends modern bike that is set up much more aggressively than mine --- but still the rider compartment is a lot more upright than that early 90's AMP bike



And this goofy thing -- the owner obviously has the seat set up low to hit a jump line --- but even so -- if the seat were level with the bars, it would take someone with a 36" inseam to pedal it ! And it might be tough to find a post that long ---


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Old 03-13-15, 07:36 PM
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L
Originally Posted by iab View Post
The red bike is from 2009. The blue bike is from 1959. Ignore the black bike.

You see in the second picture seat tube and head tube are nearly identical. Slightly longer top tube on the 1959 bike, made up by a slightly longer stem on the 2009 bike. Longer chain stays on the 1959. And perhaps a very slightly longer trail also on the 1959.

Point being when it was made doesn't matter. You can find a brand with the geometry you want.

Geo_1 by iabisdb, on Flickr

Geo_3 by iabisdb, on Flickr
Yes, but the red and blue bike will still fit you different. I will assume that the saddle is set to provide the same pedal stroke and relationship to the bottom bracket on both. If, so then while the tops of the bars are near equal, the throw of the modern bike's bars is more, say 10-20 mm and if you had provided the side view of the brake levers, the hand position while "on the hoods" will be considerably different, not to mention the differing hand position while in the drops.
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Old 03-13-15, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
L

Yes, but the red and blue bike will still fit you different. I will assume that the saddle is set to provide the same pedal stroke and relationship to the bottom bracket on both. If, so then while the tops of the bars are near equal, the throw of the modern bike's bars is more, say 10-20 mm and if you had provided the side view of the brake levers, the hand position while "on the hoods" will be considerably different, not to mention the differing hand position while in the drops.
Actually, the seat/pedal/hoods is pretty dead nuts on. Drops are different. Also, blue bars are 42s, red bars are 38s.

Black bike has a similar seat/hoods setup as the other two but as you can see the BB is way forward.
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Old 03-13-15, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Actually, the seat/pedal/hoods is pretty dead nuts on. Drops are different. Also, blue bars are 42s, red bars are 38s.

Black bike has a similar seat/hoods setup as the other two but as you can see the BB is way forward.
I have made a "position" jig to assist in getting my bikes position congruent, sometimes I can pickup the saddle too, other times I use the bottom bracket, my goal is to have my 75% riding position (on the hoods) the same, length, width and drop, almost everything has 40 cm bars. In the drops changes a small amount. Biggest difference is at the bar root, some bars just have a bigger forward throw, bringing a shorter stem to capture the points (a Berelli), the vast majority have Cinelli 63's. I tried a wider bar but it did not feel superior.
The track bike, falls into that category where to set it up as a clone to the others, you would be going against the mindset of the builder. ( which is very common today with the molded bikes) reminds me of a comment Richard Sachs made long ago about his Nagasawa frame how he stated he gave little guidance other than seat tube length and setback, where he actually was controlling the seat tube angle precisely, just not directly mentioned just by implication.

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Old 03-13-15, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Not really --- its just that so many bikes are built around "compact geometry" with sloping top tubes and compact rear triangles that it seems that way --- the drop from seat to bars should still be pretty close ----
I wasn't really talking about the drop between saddle and bars at all, I was talking about the trend of using smaller frame sizes in modern days, with corresponding longer seatposts, longer stems, etc.

I remember someone saying long ago that the amount of seatpost showing should be about the size of your fist -- as in you could cover the seatpost by wrapping your hand around it (I think this was somewhat of an exaggeration though). There are plenty of non-compact, horizontal (or close to horizontal) top-tube bikes around, with lots and lots of post showing nowadays, and far more than the classic steel bikes in your examples.
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Old 03-13-15, 10:18 PM
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Other examples of what I mean are all over the "Before and After" thread, notably post #15 of Scooper and that lovely Schwinn Paramount. That was a race bike of the past, but you would never see a horizontal top-tube modern bike set up like that, with such little seatpost exposed, underneath a modern bike racer.
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Old 03-13-15, 11:38 PM
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I find it interesting that an 80mm stem is so verboten now, but it was practically standard issue back then. Maybe the more slack head angles calmed it down.

Mind you, I have 80mm stems on three of my bikes (an '05 roadie, an '85 roadie and a '92 CX--no issues with steering)
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Old 03-14-15, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by sappie66 View Post
I wasn't really talking about the drop between saddle and bars at all, I was talking about the trend of using smaller frame sizes in modern days, with corresponding longer seatposts, longer stems, etc.

I remember someone saying long ago that the amount of seatpost showing should be about the size of your fist -- as in you could cover the seatpost by wrapping your hand around it (I think this was somewhat of an exaggeration though). There are plenty of non-compact, horizontal (or close to horizontal) top-tube bikes around, with lots and lots of post showing nowadays, and far more than the classic steel bikes in your examples.

OK --- i see what your sayin . For most people though , using a looong post and a 130 stem just means your using the wrong size bike. I remember the bike shop guys' all saying "If your going racing, use the smallest frame you can get away with" -- but these were just local yokels , no JP Weigle's or Richard Sachs' in the group ----
I just wonder how many people they got to buy into these theories and put on too small bikes

I got to thinking about this ---- and it seems like the guys using bikes that are sized the way you specify are mostly tall, rangy riders who have a lot of reach

I guess i have too much time on my hands this morning

But --


Check out PEter Sagans Cannondale --- he seems like a "regular height" guy - maybe 5'9, 5'10 or so , if that --- his position is not far off my own , --a little lower, sure , but the dude rides a bike 20k a year



Mr Bad News Himself's bike --- LAnce Armstrong -- also a "average height " guy - 5' 10 or so -- Also not an extreme looking riding cockpit



The MAnx Missiles bike -- This guy's setup is also not far off what i have on my current Cannondale --- (I'm 5'8 ) -- Cavendish and I are likely close to the same height ---- But look at his hood placement and those compact reach bars ---
And the guy still gets loooow on the bike when its time to lay the hammer down





Now some examples of some bikes used by guys' with long arms and long bodies

Chris Froome's


Tom Boonen's --- Geez look how high that seat is


And 2 of Bradley Wiggins' bikes --

Long stem, lot of post showing - again with the somewhat unusal hood placement


this bike -- good grief -- looks like pain - but it is a TT bike so pain is what its all about --- look at the size of that chainring - sheesh

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Old 03-14-15, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by sappie66 View Post
I wasn't really talking about the drop between saddle and bars at all, I was talking about the trend of using smaller frame sizes in modern days, with corresponding longer seatposts, longer stems, etc.
What's fashionable changes. I have read that using a small frame was the thing to do in the 1920s.

But then there is this comparison between Coppi and Contador. Markedly similar, except for Contador's slammed stem.



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