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Frame size that "should" be too small for my height....but feels "mostly" right

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Frame size that "should" be too small for my height....but feels "mostly" right

Old 06-26-17, 08:40 PM
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Frame size that "should" be too small for my height....but feels "mostly" right

Hi all, first post here....

Have been shopping for my first road bike, and am nearing a purchase, but am still a little confused as to frame size.

I've mostly narrowed my bike choice down to a Specialized Roubaix. I'm a hair under 6'0 with shorter legs, and not particularly long arms either. Going by the book and from what I've read, I should be on a 56cm frame (at least).

The problem is, I test rode a used 56 cm Roubaix and it felt....kinda big. That said, the seat was quite high, and I wasn't able to adjust it down for my test ride, so this may be the main reason for this, and could be easily adjusted to make a 56 cm feel much better. But I left that test ride feeling like it was on the big side for me.

Yesterday I test rode a 54 cm Roubaix, which by all accounts, should be too small for someone my height. The thing is, my initial sense was that it felt much better and a more natural size for me.

The thing is, as mentioned, this is my first road bike and I haven't really gotten accustomed to proper cycling posture or position yet. In both test rides, I was mostly riding with my hands on the horizontal portion of the handlebar, and not moved farther up or on the drops. I did try adjusting my hands when trying out the 54 cm Roubaix, and will admit that with them on the drops, I felt a little "hunch-backy" and ever so slightly cramped. But when riding more upright it felt great and natural.

The 54 cm Roubaix (Elite) I rode yesterday is also an amazing deal - it's a 2012, but the guy said he's only ridden it a couple times and it shows as such. It looks and feels like a brand new bike essentially.

Is it worth it to buy the 54 cm Roubaix Elite and ride it more to see if it is indeed the right size for me, despite it appearing too small on paper? I have little doubt that I could sell it quite easily for what I would pay for it. Or is there something I'm missing and I'm wasting my time with a 54? I like a great deal as much as the next person, but am not going to buy the wrong size bike just because it's a deal either. The problem is, the 54 actually does feel really good. Would a longer stem help matters? Or does that screw with the handling?

Thanks for any and all help on this - my head is going around in circles, and am hoping some experts may be able to shed some additional or different light.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:09 PM
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Not all that much difference between 54 and 56cm so I'd expect that you could fairly easily compensate with seat and stem adjustments to make either size fit ok. OTOH, I'm a bit shorter than you and have a couple 60cm bikes that were both also 'good deals'. While nominally too large they both feel fine when riding and I've put about 130,000 miles on one of them.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Gmas

I'm a hair under 6'0 with shorter legs, and not particularly long arms either...


So... 5'10"...?

A comfort/endurance geo is 54 on the low end. Rather than "at least" 56 you're probably looking at 56 on the upper end of the spectrum but not in your specific case.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann
Not all that much difference between 54 and 56cm so I'd expect that you could fairly easily compensate with seat and stem adjustments to make either size fit ok. OTOH, I'm a bit shorter than you and have a couple 60cm bikes that were both also 'good deals'. While nominally too large they both feel fine when riding and I've put about 130,000 miles on one of them.
Appreciate your insight as well as first-hand experience. Some people online talk like things being a cm off will cripple/harm you, so I guess am just a bit nervous/hesitant.

Originally Posted by McBTC
So... 5'10"...?

A comfort/endurance geo is 54 on the low end. Rather than "at least" 56 you're probably looking at 56 on the upper end of the spectrum but not in your specific case.
I'm 5' 11 & 3/4....so truly just under 6'. I'm assuming the above suggestions are for 5'10?
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Old 06-26-17, 10:02 PM
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Keep in mind that since the move away from horizontal top tubes all bets are off regarding classic rules of thumb.

These days, sloping top tubes and long seat posts greatly expand the range of frame sizes that may fit. Instead of worrying about easily adjustable saddle height, where the workable range is about 10", and think instead about head and handlebar height, which have a far narrower working band, and seat to head length, which is fixed.

So, as they say of shoes --- if the frame fits, ride it.
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Old 06-26-17, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Gmas

....so truly just under 6'. I'm assuming the above suggestions are for 5'10?

Pretty much... I'd think at least a 56 for ~6' rider. Lance Armstrong may have been a gold medal a****** but he knew bikes and at 5'10" he rode a 58. Frame angles have a lot to do with how bikes fit but, if not for the Roubaix's relatively generous head tube length and shortish top bar, a 54 would require a relatively aggressive riding position with a long, setback seatpost.

Last edited by McBTC; 06-26-17 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 06-27-17, 07:38 AM
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Learn to position your saddle correctly before a test ride, and do so.
Then test ride the bikes targeted.
Then you'd have the chance of possibly forming somewhat valuable impressions from your test rides.

Otherwise, it's a fool's game...
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Old 06-27-17, 07:55 AM
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I am 6ft even and just bought a brand new Synapse in 58. Feels great to me and I have done a few century rides on it. I also have a 30 year old Trek 720 that measure similar to a 56cm. It also feels great to me.

If the 54cm feels better go with it. The only thing that matters is how it feels to you.
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Old 06-27-17, 08:34 AM
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+1 to [MENTION=158672]FBinNY[/MENTION]'s post.

Frame size is not the same thing as fit. My three most-ridden bikes are all different sizes, but they are all adjusted to do their job with comfort and speed.
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Old 06-27-17, 09:00 AM
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seat tube length is typically = frame size, top tube length is.... & is it level or sloped?? set of angles are?



Stand over the bike, 1 hand on the bars one hand on the saddle, lift it up , how high did you lift it..?






....
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Old 06-27-17, 04:29 PM
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Feel of a bike without having much experience riding can be deceptive. A bike that's too small can feel nicely 'responsive' on a short test ride and excruciating on a long ride.

Why not go to, say, Competitive Cyclist, take your measurements as they specify, and feed the numbers into their tool at https://www.competitivecyclist.com/S...latorBike.jsp?

With short legs and arms, a 54 may work well, but maybe it will work only for a short while. I ride a horizontal-tubed 54 cm bike, and I'm 5' 7".
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Old 06-28-17, 04:55 PM
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Whoever tried to sell a 54cm bike to a person 6' tall was trying to get the shop trophy for: 'Who can best sell old inventory'. I bet that same salesperson will sell you a 55 in a few months, and a 56 after that and finally the 57 or 58 that you should possibly be riding.

Maybe a bike fit is in order to save you time, money and headaches.
What type of bicycles have you been riding? How long?

Stem length can help with shorter torso or arms issues.
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Last edited by Wildwood; 06-28-17 at 06:28 PM.
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