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How much standover clearance do I REALLY need?

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How much standover clearance do I REALLY need?

Old 06-17-23, 05:17 PM
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How much standover clearance do I REALLY need?

I'm one of those long torso / short leg people. So for best upper body fit I size up, but that sometimes means the seatpost goes way down and the old crotch sits pretty near the top tube. Right now I'm looking at gravel bikes and one in particular has a standover height of 849mm. My inseam (in cycling shoes) is 863mm - i.e. 14mm clearance, a bit more than half an inch. Alternatively I could go the next size down, have plenty of standover clearance but have to use a long riser stem and possibly a riser bar to get the cockpit reach and stack where I want them.

Just messing around in a parking lot test ride the larger bike fits OK, but am I asking for trouble with 1/2" standover clearance on a gravel bike that will sometimes see rough terrain?

Some extra data points: Other XL gravel bikes I've test-ridden have had standovers of 840 and 859mm. The 859 was rideable (and actually felt pretty good in the saddle) but my shorts just about touched the top tube when I straddled the bike - maybe 1/8" clearance at best and pretty clearly unacceptable. The 840 unsurprisingly felt a lot better, but even there I noticed the closeness of the top tube once when I jumped off the pedals and let my knees bend a bit. Maybe I'm overthinking it (typical for me in my geometry-obsessed pre-purchase mania) but some real world experience would be welcome.

Last edited by wayold; 06-17-23 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 06-18-23, 10:42 AM
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Depends on what you are comfortable with. Long ago I rode bikes that were way oversize for me. I learned to stop and put one foot down and just lean the bike to one side. Some will tell you that a centimeter is required, others will say you need 1 inch. But IMO, you don't have to have any clearance. Just like riding a bike has to be learned, so does leaning your bike when stopped. Eventually both things become natural. So that's probably why some people say you have to have clearance, they never learned how to lean the bike and that just seems to unnatural to them. Again, IMO!

There are other things about how you fit to a bike that are way more important than whether or not you can stop and put both feet on the ground.

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Old 06-18-23, 01:55 PM
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I’m same type torso, my FS mt. bike as well as my gravel and road bikes have zero clearance under my crotch. It has never been an issue.
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Old 06-18-23, 07:11 PM
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Never highly skilled rider, so I want an inch. If I were more skilled, maybe less - but I've had to make emergency stops, and I like the inch.
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Old 06-19-23, 11:45 AM
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I have zero on our tandem. In fact I really need to stop crossways to a slight incline so I can put more pressure on the higher foot. That works, anyway. Just happens that the right reach for me had too high a horizontal seat tube. Mostly, it's not an issue. It'd be even less of an issue on a single, where I could lean the bike when stopped.
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Old 06-19-23, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wayold
I'm one of those long torso / short leg people ...

Just messing around in a parking lot test ride the larger bike fits OK, but am I asking for trouble with 1/2" standover clearance on a gravel bike that will sometimes see rough terrain?
On the rougher terrain, very possibly.

It's all well and good to suggest "just tilt the bike over" when speaking of straight, flat and level ground. But, "rougher" terrain changes everything. If you've got to get a foot down, but that ground is another several inches lower at that moment ... well, you do the math.

Myself, I've always preferred something between 1-2". And I've occasionally needed it. These days, with problems getting onto and off a bike (injuries), a low-step or step-through frame design works better. Which effectively makes the "How much?" question moot.

The one time (on a late-'70s Schwinn LeTour) I had nearly no room, I got my noogies in a wringer on one ride. Wasn't fun. Though, to be fair, I suspect that even on a bike with 3-4" of room I still would have "dinged" them.

If you've got a good inch, I wouldn't worry much about it. If it seriously concerns you, consider the next bike frame you'd get, and plan for it to have a lower TT, or sloping TT, or a step-through type design.
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Old 06-19-23, 04:20 PM
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I don't think it is an issue of protecting the family jewels so much as having a comfortable fit that allows a dropper post or enough exposed seat post that you can put a bag or radar or something on it. (Your legs are a lot longer than mine BTW).
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Old 06-20-23, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I don't think it is an issue of protecting the family jewels so much as having a comfortable fit that allows a dropper post or enough exposed seat post that you can put a bag or radar or something on it. (Your legs are a lot longer than mine BTW).
I think this is probably the most correct answer or maybe consideration one should have when trying out bikes of unknown sizes. At least about it not being so much about the family jewels.

If one has an issue with stand-over height the bike probably is to large for them in the other things that make a bike fit one properly. Even in my response I mentioned the bikes I was riding with no stand over clearance were way oversize for me. Though the OP should be cautioned not to assume that if they have some amount of stand over that the bike is the correct size. Especially on bikes with sloping top tubes, which is most bikes today.

As well just because a bike is the correct size for a person, doesn't mean they are going to like the position it puts them in. Reach and Stack are two things that one needs to be aware of along with effective top tube length. That tells one if they are going to be in a very aero racing position or a more relaxed and more upright position.

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Old 06-21-23, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I don't think it is an issue of protecting the family jewels so much as having a comfortable fit that allows a dropper post or enough exposed seat post that you can put a bag or radar or something on it. (Your legs are a lot longer than mine BTW).
With my legs as short as they are, and with bike geometries tending to be built for larger folks, it is certainly about both.

Can't speak for others. But on the couple occasions where the noogies got knocked, for me it became a consideration of some note.

YMMV, of course.
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Old 06-21-23, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820
With my legs as short as they are, and with bike geometries tending to be built for larger folks, it is certainly about both.

Can't speak for others. But on the couple occasions where the noogies got knocked, for me it became a consideration of some note.

YMMV, of course.
I think you mis-understood what I wrote.
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