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Smaller frame size or adapt with shorter stem/handlebars?

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Smaller frame size or adapt with shorter stem/handlebars?

Old 05-20-22, 10:18 AM
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QXB
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Smaller frame size or adapt with shorter stem/handlebars?

Hi everyone,


recently I've decided to get into biking more seriously, I plan to do Ragbrai for a few days this year (one of these day will include a century ride). I am in pretty good physical shape, I run and do CrossFit classes at least five times a week or more. I'm pretty flexible as well, I can touch the ground with my finger tips. The only issue I would say I have is a tight/inflexible lower back, given this I prefer a more upright riding style to make sure I maintain a neutral spine. My only real experience prior to trying out several different road models recently was a 2012 Fuji Roubaix 3.0 61 cm which was far too big. I am 6'2 and have a 35 inch inseam and pretty much every bike shop recommends a 58cm or 60, the problem is I often feel too stretched out on these bikes with my elbows completely locked out which will cause a whole host of issues. For reference bike models that I've had the chance to ride in the last couple months include trek domane and emonda, specialized roubiax, cervelo caledonia, BMC team and roadmachine all in 58cm size. given that I want to ride longer distances I thinks it's wise to stick to endurance geometry. When I started to question if 58cm is my size is when I took my mothers bike which is far too big for her for a spin, it's a 2015-16 trek lexa 56cm all I did was raise the seat height up a bit and I felt much less stretched out and more upright. I guess my overall question is should I go out and try to ride some 56cm bikes or get a 58cm bike that's most comfortable and tweak stem length and or handlebar reach?


Sorry for the hodgepodge of info, I just wanted to fit as much info as possible to hopefully take some guess work out.
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Old 05-20-22, 10:48 AM
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Nothing wrong with tweaking handlebar and stem sizes. If you feel like you need some 'non-standard' parts like super-high stem riser or swept back bars or an extra long seatpost then that is often a clue that the bike is outside of the reasonable range for what you need for a proper fit. If you feel like your mom's bike is just a small adjustment away from being comfortable for you then that is what you need - everybody has different dimensions and flexibility and comfort expectations, and you have to decide what works.

If you have a bike (your mom's) handy that is close to a good fit, take a tape measure and get the 'effective' top tube length (level horizontal distance from the centre of the top of the head tube to the centre of the seat post or seat tube), and the head tube length, and find the geometry chart for whatever bike you are considering buying and see who makes a bike that is close to what you want, and what size you should be considering. You might be able to skip the measuring step if your mom's bike is fairly modern and from an existing manufacturer as you can probably find the geometry charts for her bike online to compare to whatever bike you want to buy.
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