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Tall But Short Legs

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Tall But Short Legs

Old 08-06-21, 10:22 PM
  #1  
msalvetti
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Tall But Short Legs

Hi all. Just joined the forum tonight after hanging around and reading for the last few days. Looking forward to becoming a part of this great community. Looks like there are even forums specific to me (50+; I'm 60) and Clydesdale (I'm 250).

I have a Mongoose Crossway that is probably 25 years old. I've ridden it to various degrees over the years. Some years not at all, other years maybe 200-300 miles. But this year, with the addition of miles of paved rail trails less than a mile from us, I've been riding roughly 60 miles a week since May. I'll easily hit 1,000 miles by winter. I know that's not a lot for many of you, but for me it's a big deal.

I plan to keep this up, so I've decided to upgrade my bike. After a lot of reading, I think I'm going to buy a Trek FX3. I've spent a lot of time browsing the Hybrid forum, and the FX3 thread.

My body has a non-standard set of proportions, so before I go to my LBS for fitting advice and to order the bike (which I realize I may not see for 6 months), I'd love to get some sizing opinions here.

I am about 6'-2", but my inseam (measured per bike fitting instructions) is just 31.5 inches. Based on the Trek sizing chart, my height dictates an XL frame, but inseam is Medium frame. If I enter my dimensions in their sizing calculator, it comes back recommending Large.

Measuring my Mongoose, the seat tube length is in between Trek Medium and Large, and the effective top tube (seat post to head tube) is the same as the Trek Medium (which surprised me). The Trek Large effective top tube is over an inch longer than my Mongoose. The standover of the Mongoose is 29.5 inches, which is close to Trek Medium. The Trek Large standover is identical to my inseam (31.5 inches), but the Trek top tube slopes down more steeply than the Mongoose, so I think this will probably be OK without leaving me a soprano.

I feel like I'm in between Medium and Large, but since I doubt there will be anything in stock I can try, I kind of need to get this right based on the charts and advice. I'm leaning towards a Large.

Am I thinking this through properly?

Thanks in advance,

Mark

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Old 08-07-21, 03:23 AM
  #2  
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You don't need a lot of excess stand over height.

My guess is you'll feel comfortable on all of the above. Your advantage is that your legs won't be getting in the way on the smaller bike. Whereas if you had long legs and a short torso, your knees would be slamming into the bars.

I'd probably choose the Large. It seems to check most of the sizing boxes. You can get longer or shorter stems as is comfortable.
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Old 08-07-21, 08:05 AM
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Thank you, that makes sense. I’ll see what they say at the shop.

Mark
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Old 08-07-21, 11:15 AM
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My upper body is a little longer than average for my height, but I think your proportions are a little more extreme than mine. I'm just under 5' 7" with a cycling inseam of 30.5".

The risk of a bike that's long enough for you is the pain you'll experience in an emergency stop. It's not pleasant, I guarantee, having gone through it a few times in my life. The problem with a bike that is right for your legs is that your upper body is likely to feel very cramped, and that could keep you from riding. I've had that type of bike, too.

One potential approach is an old English frame with say a 21" seat tube and a 22" or longer top tube and a long stem. Some of the Puch Austro-Daimlers had those dimensions, too. But a classic bike brings other problems, like maintenance and adjustment, down tube shifting, 5 or 6 speed freewheels, etc.

Another approach is a big step-through bike, if such a bike is made.

Yet another is to keep riding what you have and pay attention to what you like and don't like about the fit.

If I were you, I would not buy anything I couldn't take a test ride on. I'd want to ride a few bikes in different sizes, and I'd really pay attention to my body. Maybe the M bike feels best; maybe XL; maybe something else. Good luck.
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Old 08-07-21, 11:46 AM
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Thanks for the insight. One reason I measured the Mongoose to compare to the Treks is that what I'm riding now does seem to work. But I don't have any experience riding anything else, so for all I know I've adapted to something that is far from ideal and I will be much happier with something different.

Sorry, I am not following this statement you made: "The risk of a bike that's long enough for you is the pain you'll experience in an emergency stop." You mean if I slide forward off the seat and land on the top tube?

I'm curious to see how the LBS handles test rides with so few bikes in stock. I would also prefer to test if I can.

I'll update later, thanks again.

Mark
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Old 08-07-21, 12:06 PM
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Assuming all the FX models are similar, hopefully the shop can steer you to test one that has the dimensions you desire, but different features.
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Old 08-07-21, 09:28 PM
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Quick update. Went to the nearest bike shop. It's small, but nostalgic for me. My parents bought me my first real bike (a Raleigh 5-speed) there around 1973. They had a couple of FX 1's, but in XL. There was a medium FX 3 that was in for service, so although I didn't get to ride it, I did sit on it. Felt too small, and the shop owner said I dwarfed it.

Main problem now is they don't expect to receive any FX 3's in Large until May. He showed me their order screen. There are some bikes they don't expect to have in stock until November 2022! I couldn't believe it.

As much as I like to give a small family-owned shop my business, I'm going to try a larger shop later this week.

Mark
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Old 08-07-21, 11:55 PM
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Did you get a chance to ride the XL FX1? It would be an important data point for you.

Hopefully the next shop will have some of the inventory you want to look at. Apparently the lack of bikes is a nationwide (or global) problem, so don't blame it on the small shop.

The used market is HOT now.
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Old 08-08-21, 03:53 PM
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Sorry, I am not following this statement you made: "The risk of a bike that's long enough for you is the pain you'll experience in an emergency stop." You mean if I slide forward off the seat and land on the top tube?
My own fault for wording it that way. You got my meaning, though. I've come down hard on the top tube a few times, and my first response was to switch from a 58 CM frame to a 50. The 50, alas, was too small for anything beyond 5 miles. After not riding for a couple of years, I got a 54, which was just right.

When my 54 was stolen (Labor Day, 1981), I rode everything I could get my hands on - Trek, Miyata, 3Rensho, Basso, Raleigh, Fuji, were the names I remember. I just felt I was hanging out over the front wheel too much, even with 110 mm stems. A guy in the shop pointed to a frame they had sold and taken back in trade and suggested I buy that. He also said he could find a lot of used parts that he could sell pretty cheaply to fit my budget. (For example, my seat post may look like a Campy, but the engraving says 'Arius.') I accepted his offer. A few years ago, I fed my measurements into Competitive Cyclist's tool, which is when I found out that at least one person (the one who coded the tool) thought I needed a longer TT than is available from most bike companies.
*****
You can reframe the issue to: you're between sizes, so you have more options than most people do. No size will fit you perfectly, but you do have multiple choices. The reason I recommend test rides is that a test ride at least gives you a chance to find out if you prefer one compromise to others. It's a real bummer that you want a bike now, when the supply chain is so messed up.
*****
Also, the FX3 looks like a nice bike, but my bet is that other companies provide competitive offerings if an LBS has a bike from another brand that fits you well, you may be better off getting that bike.
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Old 08-08-21, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I've come down hard on the top tube a few times, and my first response was to switch from a 58 CM frame to a 50.
On the other hand, my old bike is a 60cm (with me at 5'10 with shortish legs). I rode it for years without thinking it could be the wrong size "French Fit". It is tight, but that is the way it has been since I was in my teens.

Recent bike purchases are slightly smaller, but I'll ride anything from say a 54 to 60, or even a bit taller.

I can't ever remember falling on the top tube or injuring myself.

I do wonder if a sloping top tube would be different than a horizontal top tube. But, personally I just worry about being able to climb on, and stop as needed, not how much clearance there is.

Still, if buying new, find a bike that fits the best you can find.
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Old 08-08-21, 08:59 PM
  #11  
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Thanks for all the input! I did not think of asking to try the XL FX1, and they didn't offer. Went to the larger shop today, and TBH, they seemed much more interested in helping me. They expect a bunch of 2022 FX3's in April, but they are going to call me as soon as they get in a bike I can test ride, maybe an FX1. They hope that might be in a month or so.

Another option might be a stagger, but the standover height of the stagger version of the FX3 is only 1.1 cm less (albeit with a more steeply sloping tube). Also now considering FX Sport Carbon 4 which looks like it might have dimensions that would be better for me, as well as Specialist Sirrus.

Bottom line, I think I'm on the right track. Hopefully I'll get to do some test rides this fall and then I'll feel more confident when the time comes to buy something in the spring. Meanwhile I'll keep hammering away on the Mongoose. Replaced the worn out tires tonight.

Thanks again, really appreciate all the constructive advice.

Mark
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Old 08-18-21, 12:40 PM
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I am in a similar position but not as extreme as you.

You need to go custom or look for bikes with low standover & short seat-tubes. The short seat-tube is the killer.

Examples
https://konaworld.com/unit.cfm
https://www.somafab.com/archives/pro...hardtail-frame
https://www.cube.eu/uk/2022/bikes/ci...rsion/trapeze/

HTH
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Old 08-19-21, 02:07 AM
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More

https://www.marinbikes.com/bikes/2022-four-corners
https://www.marinbikes.com/bikes/2022-larkspur-2

Check other Marin non-road models too.
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Old 08-19-21, 03:38 PM
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Thank you! I will check out those links. Appreciate your response.

Mark
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Old 08-23-21, 09:52 AM
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One caveat is the advice on how to measure your inseam. I think that it is ludicrus to stand barefoot and measure your inseam. Rather, stand in your cycling shoes, when i do this my measurement to crotch is 31-inches and I set my mid-crank to top of seat at 27.5-inches on the seat-post axis.

Cleat for my SPD(M) pedal is between the apex of my ball of foot on inseam to the 1st big toe joint (1st being closest to the ball of your foot).

Now I have comfortable placement for pedaling, and can slide forward or backward on my seat (KNOP varies from over the pedal to 1.75 inches behind) and I use a fi'Z1:k Wing Flex RIONE "Donna" for its 180mm length and 146mm width with a Castille bib.

My reasoning is that I generally pedal two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon either on a trainer or outdoors. Lifting my heel or pointing my toe down allows for exercising the calves or the thigh muscles at will. With Type 2 Diabetes it is important to keep the blood flow at optimum levels.
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Old 08-23-21, 03:57 PM
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If you have a long torso I dont think you will like this bike. It is essentially a road bike proportioned frame with the lack of drop bars to make for a more upright riding position. This means that the top tube is quite short. Not ideal for a long torso. I am 6ft3 with a 34.4" inseam (somewhat longer than average inseam) and I find that this bike does not give me enough space to stretch out. I ride an XL size.

I would recommend looking around for other bikes in general, including the used market and try to maybe standover an XL bike and use a slightly shorter stem if needed
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Old 08-24-21, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by msalvetti View Post
Thank you! I will check out those links. Appreciate your response.

Mark
Probably the last models I know of. Hope you can find one bike that works for you.

https://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en-US/bikes/chameleon

https://salsacycles.com/bikes/journe...bar_claris_700
https://salsacycles.com/bikes/journe...bar_claris_650

Journeyman comes in drop bar and flatbar versions. Flatbar version has a longer top tube, about 60mm, and higher stack.
If you need a drop bar, buy the flat bar and convert.

Last edited by anga; 08-25-21 at 02:41 AM.
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Old 08-24-21, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
If you have a long torso I dont think you will like this bike. It is essentially a road bike proportioned frame with the lack of drop bars to make for a more upright riding position. This means that the top tube is quite short. Not ideal for a long torso. I am 6ft3 with a 34.4" inseam (somewhat longer than average inseam) and I find that this bike does not give me enough space to stretch out. I ride an XL size.

I would recommend looking around for other bikes in general, including the used market and try to maybe standover an XL bike and use a slightly shorter stem if needed
You mean the FX3 might be tight? The top tube of my current bike is actually a half-inch shorter than a L FX3, but as I mentioned, I'm prepared to accept that I've gotten used to riding a bike that's too small.

I've thought about spending more for the FX Sport. The top tube is longer than the FX3, and I would actually gain an inch of standover height. I was reluctant because I've read complaints that the Sport 4 11-speed cassette/crank combo wasn't tall enough. But now I see the 2022 FX3 is also going to just be 11-speeds. I guess I could look at the Sport 5, but that's more than double the cost of the FX 3.

I'll look closely at the links folks have posted for alternatives. Understanding some of these differences between bikes will also help me when I finally get an opportunity to test ride.

Thanks again everyone,

Mark
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Old 08-25-21, 09:04 AM
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I'm going to go against the flow and say that your short legs for body size will do even better on a smaller frame. I've long legs and have always fared well on way oversize frames for me. But getting back to the bike size that dealers and mfr's have recommended for me has resulted in a better fit all around with less fuss.

And it seems reasonable that you might do well on a bike that is smaller than the mfr recommended size. Especially if you go by the idea that saddle height is one of the most important things about a fit and that you can easily get a longer stem if needed to get the proper reach.

The biggest thing is you just need to try them in all sizes and note what feels best. The longer the time you can spend on them the better. In my last bike purchase I would have picked the larger frame based on just riding around the parking lot. However they let me ride each for over 10 miles on the nearby trail and I wound up picking the smaller frame size.
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Old 08-25-21, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by msalvetti View Post
You mean the FX3 might be tight? The top tube of my current bike is actually a half-inch shorter than a L FX3, but as I mentioned, I'm prepared to accept that I've gotten used to riding a bike that's too small.

I've thought about spending more for the FX Sport. The top tube is longer than the FX3, and I would actually gain an inch of standover height. I was reluctant because I've read complaints that the Sport 4 11-speed cassette/crank combo wasn't tall enough. But now I see the 2022 FX3 is also going to just be 11-speeds. I guess I could look at the Sport 5, but that's more than double the cost of the FX 3.

I'll look closely at the links folks have posted for alternatives. Understanding some of these differences between bikes will also help me when I finally get an opportunity to test ride.

Thanks again everyone,

Mark
Yes, but otherwise the FX is a great bike and I really love mine. After spending some time with my trek verve e bike which has a top tube about 30mm longer than the FX, I didn't feel comfortable switching back at all.

I'm just saying, keep your options open. I'm sure the FX would be a fine choice for you nonetheless, but I'm imagining with your proportions you might want a bike that is long and low, like a mountain bike.

[QUOTE=Iride01;22199723]I'm going to go against the flow and say that your short legs for body size will do even better on a smaller frame. I've long legs and have always fared well on way oversize frames for me. But getting back to the bike size that dealers and mfr's have recommended for me has resulted in a better fit all around with less fuss.

And it seems reasonable that you might do well on a bike that is smaller than the mfr recommended size. Especially if you go by the idea that saddle height is one of the most important things about a fit and that you can easily get a longer stem if needed to get the proper reach.

The biggest thing is you just need to try them in all sizes and note what feels best. The longer the time you can spend on them the better. In my last bike purchase I would have picked the larger frame based on just riding around the parking lot. However they let me ride each for over 10 miles on the nearby trail and I wound up picking the smaller frame]

Its also a preferential thing.
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