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Will a 52cm frame be too small?

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Will a 52cm frame be too small?

Old 01-28-21, 01:21 PM
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rahum
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Will a 52cm frame be too small?

Hey folks,

I stand about 5'-7.5" (but I say 5'8" when I'm dating).

My first road bike was a 54cm Lemond that felt too long. I had to stretch too far to get to the brake hoods. I shortened the stem but it still felt too long, and my neck and back hurt throughout any ride.

I next went to a 53cm frame with a 100mm stem and that also felt too long. I shortened the stem to 90mm with a 6-degree rise and that feels much, much better. I could probably go to a slightly shorter or higher stem and it'll be even better.

Now I'm considering purchasing a bike with a 52cm frame. Is this likely to still be within the right size range for me? If this ends up being too small for me, what kind of problems will I have that I'm going to regret?

Thanks!
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Old 01-28-21, 01:25 PM
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Iride01
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I've not had any trouble fixing things on bikes of any size. Mechanically a 54 cm bike has the same components as most any other size bike. <grin>

Perhaps you'd rather this be in the Fitting Your Bike subforum.
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Old 01-28-21, 02:13 PM
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There is a lot more to frame sizing than just the published size, i.e. not all "54cm" frames are the same. Top tube length, bottom bracket drop, seat tube angle, etc. all play a part. So, compare all of the dimensions before deciding.
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Old 01-28-21, 02:44 PM
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Modern bikes go by stack and reach measurement, and not so much frame size. But if you are looking at a classic horizontal top tube bike, 52cm is totally fine. I am 5'8" and I've had bikes from 50cm to 54cm. They all ride fine to me.
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Old 01-28-21, 03:16 PM
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when I buy footwear, I don't trust that the same size label will fit me every time. in US shoes sizes, I might wear a 9.5, 10, or 10.5. that's something like a 42–44 in Euro sizing. I find that the same is true of bicycles, but it's even more vague. a road bike that fits me could be labeled 52–55cm, depending on how they designed the bike.
Stack and reach calculator is a pretty handy tool for quickly comparing two bike geometries.
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Old 01-28-21, 03:56 PM
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A big part is leg vs torso length and arm length. If you have a short torso you will probably be more comfortable on a bike with a shorter top tube. It is not just frame size.

I have shorter legs and a long torso and arms. Used to be close to 5’9” probably getting closer to 5’8” and ride 56cm road bikes and 17.5”/18” mountain bikes. They fit really good.

John
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Old 01-28-21, 05:03 PM
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52cm sounds right to be in the ball park to make some adjustments from there. That's why we have different length stems and adjustable seat posts.
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Old 01-28-21, 05:17 PM
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Will a 52cm frame be too small?


For me? Yes, definitely.

For you? I've got no idea.
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Old 01-28-21, 07:32 PM
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A road 52cm fits me well at 5'7.5"

But looking at gravel bikes a 49-50cm fits the same geo
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Old 01-29-21, 01:26 AM
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I would get the 54 and a 70 mm stem or whatever works. The smaller frame servers only to make you reach 2 cm DOWN, or have a gangly high steerer. An angled up stem is far stronger way to get height. Or find bars which fit closer back.
I am 5'8" and have ridden level 58 cm bikes my whole life. Tight fit, but I have swept bars with long grips.
I never had drops or a CF bike tho.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 01-29-21 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 01-29-21, 01:34 AM
  #11  
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biggest worry would be exceeding the limit lines on the stem and seat post. they make long neck stems and such, but then you have extra weight. smaller frame = better climbing and sprinting if you are into that.
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Old 01-29-21, 02:48 AM
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If you cannot reach the brakes it is too large, while if your feet hit the tires it is too small

Seriously, have you tried visiting bike shops and trying out a range of shapes and sizes? Changing things like handlebar position up/down or forward/backward can also alter how stable the bike feels on the straights or in the corners, so it is worth exploring these before putting any money down.
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Old 01-30-21, 08:17 AM
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You should get a professional bike fit first, considering you'e already had bikes that didn't fit you based off conventional sizing.

It'll be worth it and it will save you a ton of money and grief in the future. It will also sort out other issues like crank length, handlebar width/reach, saddle width, stem length etc. Most people neglect stem length as being simply a fit issue but it affects handling massively especially on a small frame with 700c wheels. Most small bikes look squirrelly while riding.

As a rule of thumb, toe overlap is not something you can run away from as a shorter rider, you will have to get used to it. It's simply an issue because the wheels are not scaled down with frame size. Most medium sized bikes deal with it also.
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Old 01-30-21, 10:46 AM
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It's nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't have all the information about you and the bikes you're trying to know what will fit you. Bike fit is almost as individual as what shoes will fit. If it hasn't been mentioned before, this website might help you compare frames:

https://geometrygeeks.bike/

It doesn't have every frame but you may find one that is close to your lemond frame. I remember breading that Lemond frames tended to be slightly longer for a given size, something about his racing philosophy.
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Old 01-30-21, 10:47 AM
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It's nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't have all the information about you and the bikes you're trying to know what will fit you. Bike fit is almost as individual as what shoes will fit. If it hasn't been mentioned before, this website might help you compare frames:

https://geometrygeeks.bike/

It doesn't have every frame but you may find one that is close to your lemond frame. I remember breading that Lemond frames tended to be slightly longer for a given size, something about his racing philosophy.
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Old 01-30-21, 01:42 PM
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Start looking at stack and reach measurements as well.
You are around 170-175 tall. That is typically a 50-52cm frame, depending on how they measure the bike.
A slightly smaller frame is much more workable than one that is too large.


Originally Posted by rahum View Post
Hey folks,

I stand about 5'-7.5" (but I say 5'8" when I'm dating).

My first road bike was a 54cm Lemond that felt too long. I had to stretch too far to get to the brake hoods. I shortened the stem but it still felt too long, and my neck and back hurt throughout any ride.

I next went to a 53cm frame with a 100mm stem and that also felt too long. I shortened the stem to 90mm with a 6-degree rise and that feels much, much better. I could probably go to a slightly shorter or higher stem and it'll be even better.

Now I'm considering purchasing a bike with a 52cm frame. Is this likely to still be within the right size range for me? If this ends up being too small for me, what kind of problems will I have that I'm going to regret?

Thanks!
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Old 01-30-21, 03:08 PM
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ShannonM
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Fit's complicated.

For a person about whom I knew nothing but their 5'8" height, a 54 cm normal road frame is the medium-sized bike. But not everybody prefers a medium-sized bike. Some people like a bigger frame, some like a smaller one. It seems that you are a smaller-frame kinda person.

The fact that a LeMond didn't work for you is strong evidence that this is the case. They've always fit "big", because of longer top tubes and slacker seat tube angles. What used to be called "stage race" geometry. Greg's riding position and style was butt back, back flat, long power stroke, big gear, crankin'. And his bikes were always designed for that. If that's not how you ride, bikes like that aren't likely to make you happy.

So, for you, maybe a 52 is the right choice, and, I'd bet, short-reach bars set closer to saddle height. If you can't ride comfortably in the drops for a good while, your bars are too low, and maybe too big as well.

Remember, too, that bike fit affects handling. A lot. I can make a 52 cm frame fit my 5'11", 58-cm-bike-preferring self. By tape measure. On a trainer. But that bike is gonna handle like crap, and riding it is gonna suck.

It's all tradeoffs, and nobody else rides your ride, your way, with your body.

--Shannon
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Old 01-31-21, 09:14 AM
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Start out with a measurement of you leg length. From your crotch to the floor in your bare feet. 68% of that number should give you a good start for your frame size measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube along the seat tube.
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Old 01-31-21, 03:06 PM
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No frame is to small is the current motto of weekend warrior crowd. If you need more than 1 cm of spacers and you use a positive angled stem chances are frame is to small.
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Old 02-01-21, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
Start out with a measurement of you leg length. From your crotch to the floor in your bare feet. 68% of that number should give you a good start for your frame size measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube along the seat tube.
Absolutely NO. That's not how it's done. Top tube length is the question. Seat tube length or its third cousin, standover, are not even part of the question.

Stack and reach are how it's done.
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Old 02-01-21, 08:38 AM
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No way to tell just by posting the height. As others have said, "it depends". All I can say that it is within the ballpark....as is the 54cm. Post a picture of you on the 53cm and 90 deg stem. I am the same height, and for me a 53 (assuming 53 is also the same virtual tube length) with 90 would be too short in the reach department. Do you like a more upright position?
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Old 02-01-21, 10:07 AM
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I've read/heard that the top tube on LeMond bikes runs a bit long. I know mine has me reaching, and when I tell others the bike size, they seem surprised that the bike isn't too small for me. So you can't really go by the size of your LeMond when shopping for a new bike. So many variables. If possible, test ride the bike (or one similar in the same brand) to see how it feels to you.
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Old 02-01-21, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Absolutely NO. That's not how it's done. Top tube length is the question. Seat tube length or its third cousin, standover, are not even part of the question.

Stack and reach are how it's done.
Absolutely? Buy Lemond's book and see how he absolutely sizes a frame. Adjustments need to be made because of the new and improved sloped top tube frames.
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Old 02-01-21, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by davidad View Post
Absolutely? Buy Lemond's book and see how he absolutely sizes a frame. Adjustments need to be made because of the new and improved sloped top tube frames.
Lemond bikes were mass-produced and not an expression of his personal style. Taking a look at Geometry Charts and using a 58 for example both a current C-64 Colnago and a Specialized Roubaix have longer top tubes than a Lemond Maillot Jaune. I am sure Lemond like other pros both today and in the past like them long and low but to say that his bike brand was the same is not actually true from what I can see.
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Old 02-01-21, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged View Post
Lemond bikes were mass-produced and not an expression of his personal style. Taking a look at Geometry Charts and using a 58 for example both a current C-64 Colnago and a Specialized Roubaix have longer top tubes than a Lemond Maillot Jaune. I am sure Lemond like other pros both today and in the past like them long and low but to say that his bike brand was the same is not actually true from what I can see.
I didn't say anything about his Trek bikes I said the info was in his Book. Absolutely.
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