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Do I simply "not fit" any Trek frames with seat masts?

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Do I simply "not fit" any Trek frames with seat masts?

Old 01-26-14, 03:32 PM
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Do I simply "not fit" any Trek frames with seat masts?

I'm looking to buy a frameset and build up a new bike for the summer. I'm interested in the Trek Madone and perhaps the Domane, both of which have good geometries for me.

I have VERY short legs and a VERY long torso: inseam about 31" and height at just over 5' 10". I've spent a lot of time over the last year dialing in my fit, and I need a bike with an effective Top tube of 565mm to 575mm. But given my short legs, I also have to make sure that the ST is not too tall so as to make the standover height more than 31.5." I currently ride a Soma Smoothie (ST=55 and eTT=57) and a Pedalforce RS2 (ST=55 and eTT=57) and both fit me extremely well.

There are a number of Madones and Domanes that also will fit me in terms of reach, stack, and standover.

The problem is that for all those bikes the minimum seat height for the seat mast system is usually 71–72cm or greater. But my seat height is currently, and needs to be, around 69cm. At this height I have a knee angle of 25 degrees, I feel very comfortable on the bike, and after putting almost 2,000 miles on 3 different bikes over the past 6 months, I feel very confident in this seat height. Obviously that heigh might vary by 1 or 2 cm depending on pedals, cleats, offset, and all the rest. But no matter what, I can't ride a bike with the seat set at 72cm.

I've done a number of searches on this topic, and the responses seem to be: 1) don't cut the seat mast, and 2) if the seat mast won't fit you then that frame won't fit you. I don't think #2 is true, as I'm sure that I could ride a size 58 Madone just perfectly, and that it would be a good fit for me (very similar ST, eTT lengths and very similar HT and ST angles as my current bikes). I can dial in the stack and reach perfectly. But I can't ride the bike if I can't set the seat low enough.

Any thoughts? I'm assuming I should just give up on Trek frames, but thought I'd ask here first, before moving on.
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Old 01-26-14, 10:47 PM
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Try the H1-geometry Madone or the Classics Edition Domane. They are the longest and lowest of their lines. Also, look at reach as opposed to effective top tube. That is the length of the portion of the effective top tube that is forward of the bottom bracket.
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Old 01-27-14, 07:19 AM
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I don't know why you think #2 wouldn't be true; is it that hard to imagine the materials or physical design might be a limit? Are you really willing to spend $3.6k minimum on a new carbon fiber bike just to chop it up on a hunch? Sounds like a very bad idea to me, man.

For the sake of argument, even if it did work, are you that convinced that essentially sitting on the top tube is the best way for you to ride a bike? Looking at the numbers you cite for yourself and existing bikes, you can't have much more than an inch of seat post or so at best, and probably no saddle/bar drop.

I'm not criticizing your fit, of course, but would just ask the question if there are not benefits worth considering in finding a more compact frame (e.g. with lower stand over) since you seem to be looking for a pretty sporty ride? Or maybe not, since those Domanes are pretty laid back and short; very different from the Smoothie, for example. The Madone is a very different handler...

I guess I don't get what you're going after here, really.

Last edited by chaadster; 01-27-14 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 01-27-14, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by soma5
Try the H1-geometry Madone or the Classics Edition Domane. They are the longest and lowest of their lines. Also, look at reach as opposed to effective top tube. That is the length of the portion of the effective top tube that is forward of the bottom bracket.
Thanks for the reply. I understand reach and stack quite well. So when I report eTT lengths above, I give the range of 565 to 575 because reach will vary. When I'm calculating proper fit I'm actually plugging full geometries into a reach and stack calculator to determine my fit.

All of that said, even with the H1 geometry there is not a Madone that gives me the proper reach and also has a minimum seat height lower than 71. So I still can't find a Madone that fits.

Originally Posted by chaadster
I don't know why you think #2 wouldn't be true; is it that hard to imagine the materials or physical design might be a limit? Are you really willing to spend $3.6k minimum on a new carbon fiber bike just to chop it up on a hunch? Sounds like a very bad idea to me, man.

For the sake of argument, even if it did work, are you that convinced that essentially sitting on the top tube is the best way for you to ride a bike? Looking at the numbers you cite for yourself and existing bikes, you can't have much more than an inch of seat post or so at best, and probably no saddle/bar drop.

I'm not criticizing your fit, of course, but would just ask the question if there are not benefits worth considering in finding a more compact frame (e.g. with lower stand over) since you seem to be looking for a pretty sporty ride?
I think we've miscommunicated. I am NOT saying that I think it would be a good idea to cut the seat mast. I'm saying that I think if Trek made a bike with the EXACT same geometry but without the seat mast system, so that I could just lower the seat post, then that frame would still FIT me well. I now own two bikes with VERY similar overall geometry numbers to the Madone H1, and they fit me very well. The only difference is that they allow the seat post to go 2cm lower than the Madone will allow. I think the Madone would fit, if the seat could go down. I do NOT think I want to cut the seat mast and mess with the physical properties of the frame.

Yes, you're right: given my very short legs and very long torso, many frames that have the proper stack and reach for me mean that I can barely stand over them. But I don't think that's a problem. Given today's different shapes for frames, standover height is NOT a good way to fit a bike; it only really matters THAT you can stand over it, not by how much. And it's also true that I don't have a lot of seat post showing, but I don't think that matters all that much, given the shape of my body. For most people who are normally proportioned, having very little seat post showing might be a sign that they are on too small a bike. But with my short legs and long torso, I'm always going to have less seat post showing. I have friends who are 6' 3" with who have inseams 5" longer than mine. This means my torso height is as tall as my friend who is 6' 3", but I'm only 5' 10". I need to be on a bike with similar reach, but with a roughly 5" shorter seat height.

I could also try adding more saddle to bar drop. Right now I'm pretty comfortable on my current bikes without much saddle to bar drop. Again, given how long my torso is, it's easy for me to get too much weight forward if the bars are too low, and I've been riding a lot with my current stack height without any pain or other problems (with a number of very long rides). So I don't think I want to change my fit just because the saddle to bar drop doesn't "look right" to some people.

And my other option is definitely to look at bikes like the Giant TCR and the Felt Z series, which have very steep sloping top tubes and thus TONS more standover. I probably WILL end up buying one of those bikes because I don't think it's a good idea to cut the seat mast on a Madone. I should have been clear that I've already ruled out tons of bikes that have longish seat tubes (anything above 55cm on a bike with a 56-58cm eTT). What's odd about the Madone geometry is that it actually has a relatively SHORT ST, but the seat mast system makes it impossible to lower the seat to a level that would be quite normal on most bikes with that geometry.

p.s. You are also exactly right: the Domane is probably not at all the right fit for me. Both my Smoothie and my Pedalforce are are long but also low. The Domane is too laid back and short. I really only mentioned it because it has the same issue as the Madone in terms of seat mast.

The sort of frame I need WILL be very sporty for most people, but not as much for me because I'm not looking for a ton of saddle to bar drop – and won't get that much because of my short legs. But I do need a frame that is long enough to stretch me out; my proper reach numbers are pretty long.

I may just end up buying another pedalforce frame. It's a good fit and a great frame.

Last edited by fronesis; 01-27-14 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 01-27-14, 08:17 AM
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I see. The reason I mentioned a more compact frame was not for looks, but for performance benefits; smaller triangles lead to crisper handling; longer seat posts lead to better vibration damping; less frame material leads to lighter weight; shorter head tubes lead to more aero positioning. Speaking generally here, for same material types; there are always exceptions.

The first bike that popped into my mind to meet to your needs was the Breezer Venturi. For the same ETT (570, size M/L), it's lower (HT, ST, and stand over), shorter stays and wheelbase, and steeper HT angle, but only gives up 2.1mm in front-center measurement (but those shorter stays mean you're further back over the wheel, so balance remains).

Not knowing your priorities, I'm not saying it's the perfect option, just one that should be in considered given the numbers. Owning one myself, I can say that it's sick frame; stiff, responsive, amazing handling.

Interestingly, I'm your "fit opposite"; I come in at 6' tall, a 33.5" inseam, so a short torso. I ride the same frame size you'd ride (i.e. 570ett M/L), but have massive seat post extension and tons of saddle/bar drop. It's a bit wacky (or pro, depending on what you know, although I am not pro!), but it works great for me.
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Old 01-27-14, 09:07 AM
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Ah, yes, the Breezer Venturi is a gorgeous bike, and it's *really* long and low. Similar numbers to my Smoothie but with more aggressive ST and HT angles and a really short HT (because he expects a stem flipped up for most people's fit, but maybe not yours). Other than a slightly short HT, it's a great fit for me, and I actually was considering it last summer before I found my Smoothie on Craigslist.

This time round I want a bike for climbing, so I think I want to go carbon (I still have the smoothie, of course). I'm only a 142 pounds, without any weight to spare. I'm also going to build this bike myself, which is why I'm looking at framesets. The Felt Z series has a compact geometry that I think will fit me well, but it's a matter of finding a full bike that's worth tearing down, or locating a frameset. The reason I was looking at Madones in the first places is that a lot frames show up on eBay. Not so many Felts show or even Giant TCR's show up there.

Thanks for your thoughts on this.
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Old 01-27-14, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by fronesis
Ah, yes, the Breezer Venturi is a gorgeous bike, and it's *really* long and low. Similar numbers to my Smoothie but with more aggressive ST and HT angles and a really short HT (because he expects a stem flipped up for most people's fit, but maybe not yours). Other than a slightly short HT, it's a great fit for me, and I actually was considering it last summer before I found my Smoothie on Craigslist.

This time round I want a bike for climbing, so I think I want to go carbon (I still have the smoothie, of course). I'm only a 142 pounds, without any weight to spare. I'm also going to build this bike myself, which is why I'm looking at framesets. The Felt Z series has a compact geometry that I think will fit me well, but it's a matter of finding a full bike that's worth tearing down, or locating a frameset. The reason I was looking at Madones in the first places is that a lot frames show up on eBay. Not so many Felts show or even Giant TCR's show up there.

Thanks for your thoughts on this.
Gotchya, and you're welcome.

I bought my Venturi as a frame set, and built it up with Athena Carbon 11, FSA SLK carbon post, alu Wing Pro bar, SMP Dynamic saddle and Ksyrium Equipe/Yksion Comp set, the lot of which was good for 19.8lbs or thereabouts. Even with high end component build and light climbing wheels, hitting 18lb would be about it, whereas a carbon bike could see 17lb easily.

Of course, at 220lbs, a 20lb bike is not a big deal for me!

Oh, and thank you for prompting me to look at the Pedal Force bikes. I'd heard of them a couple of times, but never looked. I'm looking for a crit bike (Venturi is too pretty to put at risk, though it would be great for crits!) and was thinking alu, but the RS2 put carbon in contention. Good numbers for me, too, and good price for the frame set.

Good luck in your search!
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Old 01-27-14, 10:24 AM
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I built my Pedalforce RS2 (size "55") up in September, with Athena 11 carbon (we seem to have similar tastes) except for a chorus crank. The bike has Campy Scirroco 35 wheels and deda and fsa alu stem and bars, and weighed in at 16 lbs 12 ounces, with pedals but before bottle cages. I've not been riding long, so I don't have a lot to compare to, but the RS2 has been brilliant: fast, stiff, but very comfortable. A good climber and really stable on descents. The pedalforce guys were good to work with, and my total build was about $2300 – not bad for a sub-17lb bike with Campy 11s components.

I am tempted just to get another RS2 (building a bike to ride on the other coast this summer), but I'd like to try something different. I may also splurge ridiculously and buy myself a Record groupset for my birthday!
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Old 01-27-14, 02:36 PM
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Hot damn! Very low weight, and a great price on the complete build. Very appealing...
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Old 01-27-14, 05:12 PM
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How long a stem are you willing to use? I am proportioned similarly to you but I'm three inches shorter. I can fit a Madone H1 if I use a 12- or 13cm stem. That stem length is typical for at least domestic pro teams, I don't know about the World Tour folks. 13cm feels like a small sailboat tiller to me, but after a decent (40 miles, give or take) test ride I was feeling pretty comfortable with it. For contrast, my current bike (a full custom Ti bike) allows me to use a 10cm stem. The Madone was an excellent handler that cornered like a dream. I am considering plunking down some change on one. By the way, the effective top tube on my Ti bike is 56cm so you know all of my height is in my torso.
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Old 01-28-14, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by fronesis
I'm looking to buy a frameset and build up a new bike for the summer. I'm interested in the Trek Madone and perhaps the Domane, both of which have good geometries for me.

I have VERY short legs and a VERY long torso: inseam about 31" and height at just over 5' 10". I've spent a lot of time over the last year dialing in my fit, and I need a bike with an effective Top tube of 565mm to 575mm. But given my short legs, I also have to make sure that the ST is not too tall so as to make the standover height more than 31.5." I currently ride a Soma Smoothie (ST=55 and eTT=57) and a Pedalforce RS2 (ST=55 and eTT=57) and both fit me extremely well.

There are a number of Madones and Domanes that also will fit me in terms of reach, stack, and standover.

The problem is that for all those bikes the minimum seat height for the seat mast system is usually 71–72cm or greater. But my seat height is currently, and needs to be, around 69cm. At this height I have a knee angle of 25 degrees, I feel very comfortable on the bike, and after putting almost 2,000 miles on 3 different bikes over the past 6 months, I feel very confident in this seat height. Obviously that heigh might vary by 1 or 2 cm depending on pedals, cleats, offset, and all the rest. But no matter what, I can't ride a bike with the seat set at 72cm.

I've done a number of searches on this topic, and the responses seem to be: 1) don't cut the seat mast, and 2) if the seat mast won't fit you then that frame won't fit you. I don't think #2 is true, as I'm sure that I could ride a size 58 Madone just perfectly, and that it would be a good fit for me (very similar ST, eTT lengths and very similar HT and ST angles as my current bikes). I can dial in the stack and reach perfectly. But I can't ride the bike if I can't set the seat low enough.

Any thoughts? I'm assuming I should just give up on Trek frames, but thought I'd ask here first, before moving on.
Do you have a good local dealer? What do they say?

Seems odd, really. I'm 5'6", PBH 81.8 cm, and use saddle height 69.9 on frames ranging from 52 cm c-c to 56 cm c-c. I'm a little stand over challenged on the bigger ones (French Fit), but it works. In my experience, which does not include seat masts, you can place a saddle even lower on a compact frame, though I don't ride one. But why can't you get a smaller frame that accommodates you as a rider?

And if Trek really doesn't accommodate, go elsewhere.
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Old 01-28-14, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Do you have a good local dealer? What do they say?
I'm buying a frameset to build up myself, and if I went with a Madone it would be a used one – so the local trek dealer probably isn't an option.


Seems odd, really. I'm 5'6", PBH 81.8 cm, and use saddle height 69.9 on frames ranging from 52 cm c-c to 56 cm c-c. I'm a little stand over challenged on the bigger ones (French Fit), but it works. In my experience, which does not include seat masts, you can place a saddle even lower on a compact frame, though I don't ride one. But why can't you get a smaller frame that accommodates you as a rider?
The answer is because I have a saddle height VERY similar to yours, but I'm a full 4 inches taller than you. So there is no way I can ride a 52 or a 54 effective top tube bike; they don't have nearly enough reach for my insanely long torso.

The seat mast system IS the issue here, as there are tons of frames out there that will fit me fine, and even the madone would fit fine if I could lower the seat just a couple of cm.

And if Trek really doesn't accommodate, go elsewhere.
That's what I'll be doing. I was posting here in the hopes that maybe I had missed something with the Treks (like a special shorter seat mast, etc.), but it seems that's not the case.
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Old 01-28-14, 03:30 PM
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Good luck, Fronesis!
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Old 01-29-14, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by soma5
How long a stem are you willing to use? I am proportioned similarly to you but I'm three inches shorter. I can fit a Madone H1 if I use a 12- or 13cm stem. That stem length is typical for at least domestic pro teams, I don't know about the World Tour folks. 13cm feels like a small sailboat tiller to me, but after a decent (40 miles, give or take) test ride I was feeling pretty comfortable with it. For contrast, my current bike (a full custom Ti bike) allows me to use a 10cm stem. The Madone was an excellent handler that cornered like a dream. I am considering plunking down some change on one. By the way, the effective top tube on my Ti bike is 56cm so you know all of my height is in my torso.
soma5 – missed your post yesterday, so wanted to reply. You make a good point about a longer stem. Both of my current bikes have 110mm stems, and when I'm trying to fit myself for a new bike I've been targeting 100-120mm stems. I've not ridden a bike with a longer stem than 120, so I'd have to try it to really know ,but my worry is that with such a long torso (and short arms) I'd just have too much of my weight forward on the bike. The first bike I bought had less reach in the frame (it was a 56cm eTT) and the big difference for me in switching to a frame with a longer TT and more reach was that I could both stretch out like I needed to but not have too much weight out over the front wheel.

On the Madone I'd need to go with a size 54 to get a short enough seat height, so I worry that my weight balance would be off. Still, would at least be worth a test ride....
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Old 01-29-14, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by fronesis
soma5 – missed your post yesterday, so wanted to reply. You make a good point about a longer stem. Both of my current bikes have 110mm stems, and when I'm trying to fit myself for a new bike I've been targeting 100-120mm stems. I've not ridden a bike with a longer stem than 120, so I'd have to try it to really know ,but my worry is that with such a long torso (and short arms) I'd just have too much of my weight forward on the bike. The first bike I bought had less reach in the frame (it was a 56cm eTT) and the big difference for me in switching to a frame with a longer TT and more reach was that I could both stretch out like I needed to but not have too much weight out over the front wheel.

On the Madone I'd need to go with a size 54 to get a short enough seat height, so I worry that my weight balance would be off. Still, would at least be worth a test ride....
I don't know if you have access to an H1 Madone, because they are sort of scarce on the ground. If an H2 Madone comes very close, then the H1 would be good for you. Also, the Classics Edition Domane has very long and low geometry, so that would be an option if you are looking for that level of bike. Lead times on that one are long. Best of luck to you. I am sure you will find a bike that fits you, though.
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