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What to do when you're in the middle of Synapse frame sizes?

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What to do when you're in the middle of Synapse frame sizes?

Old 07-16-18, 11:23 AM
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What to do when you're in the middle of Synapse frame sizes?

Sorry for the long post. But if my problem were simple, I could easily make a decision without outside input.

I seem to be in the middle between frame size 48 and 51 on a Cannondale Synapse alloy (2018 Cannondale Synapse AL Disc 105 SE). I plan to order the bike today or tomorrow (neither size of that model is in stock at the LBS), I only need to decide the size.

I've already test ridden a 48 and a 51 Synapse. Only to find later out that both bikes were womenss frames! More later on that.

I am 5'5" (165 cm) with 29" inseam, probably slightly shorter than average arms and legs (even for my modest height). A self measurement (may not be accurate) of my arms, from top of shoulder to wrist, is 21.5". My weight is 160. I have the kind of body and metabolism that gains both muscle and fat easily, not the skinny type that that canít get fat or gain much muscle.

My normal rides (not the test ride) are fairly long at a minimum of 50 miles, four or five times per week. 55 and 62 mile rides are common, and I plan to work up to occasional centuries (Iíve only ever done one century, and it was on my trusty Roam hybrid).

The 48 Synapse I test rode had a shorter arm reach that felt welcome compared to the 51. But my legs felt a bit cramped on the 48. I even rode the 48 twice, the second time to see if my elbows would hit my knees when on the drops. They didnít, but it was close, and I would describe the feeling in the drops as cramped (not a literal muscle cramp).

The 51 I rode felt fine on my legs, but I felt a little stretched out on my arms. But, my other bike is a flat bar hybrid that I have put 7,000 miles on in 13 months. Before this test ride, Iíve never rode a road bike. So maybe it is normal to feel stretched when the first time Iím in a road position?

The 51 was an alloy Synapse frame that, after the ride, I noticed the tag said "ladies". The 48 was a carbon frame Synapse 105 with rim brakes (that carbon rode beautifully!), that I almost bought. It was bright yellow, and when I asked, he told me it was a 2017 model.

When I got home I googled the model and year, and was surprised to find no matches for the color. Then I did an image only search and saw that the bright yellow 2017 Synapse 105 rim brake was the womenís model. The only tag on it when I rode it was the bar code and the price.

Now Iím thinking that the test ride results are not really fully representative as they were apparently both womenís frames.

I've Googled for Cannondale size charts, and apparently they don't publish them. Unofficial charts for Cannondale road bikes put me on a 50 cm frame, going by height. I'm not sure why the Synapse line frame sizes don't match the rest of the road bikes, with there being no 50 cm Synapse.

Maybe both sizes would be okay for me, but I dread the thought of making a $1,500 mistake.

Anyone that came up with advice from the above mess is a lot smarter than me. It would be very welcome to hear from anyone that owns a recent year Synapse, especially a 48 or 51 frame, and your experience with the fit to your height. But any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 07-16-18, 11:38 AM
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My wife rides a Cdale Supersix in a 48. She is 5'-3" tall. We both agree that it is a perfect fit. If you truly are a "tween-er" like I am, I'd go with the smaller size recognizing that you may need a set-back seatpost and a longer stem than what comes stock to get a good fit.
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Old 07-16-18, 11:38 AM
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What I'm about to say might be bad advice. Maybe somebody with bike fitting experience can weigh in on it.

If the bike comes stock with a significant amount of setback on the seatpost (like the kind of seatpost you see on a stock Surly LHT), get the larger frame. If you find that it's slightly too large, remove the stock seatpost and install a straight seatpost. The double bolt style seatposts Thompson makes are a good example of this. You can also swap the stem out for a shorter one to bring the handlebars in a little closer.

If it comes stock with a straight seatpost, get the smaller frame. If it's slightly too small, then swap the seatpost out for one which has a lot of setback, and possibly also swap the stem out for a longer one to move the handlebars a little farther forward.

Again, this might be bad advice and perhaps someone with bike fitting experience should weigh in on it.

You could also just go to a bike fitter. It may be worth the money, and then you'll be able to better determine exactly which size frame would be the best fit for you.
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Old 07-16-18, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
What I'm about to say might be bad advice. Maybe somebody with bike fitting experience can weigh in on it.

If the bike comes stock with a significant amount of setback on the seatpost (like the kind of seatpost you see on a stock Surly LHT), get the larger frame. If you find that it's slightly too large, remove the stock seatpost and install a straight seatpost. The double bolt style seatposts Thompson makes are a good example of this. You can also swap the stem out for a shorter one to bring the handlebars in a little closer.

If it comes stock with a straight seatpost, get the smaller frame. If it's slightly too small, then swap the seatpost out for one which has a lot of setback, and possibly also swap the stem out for a longer one to move the handlebars a little farther forward.

Again, this might be bad advice and perhaps someone with bike fitting experience should weigh in on it.

You could also just go to a bike fitter. It may be worth the money, and then you'll be able to better determine exactly which size frame would be the best fit for you.

I suggest going with the smaller frame if you are in between sizes. However, I don't think that a set back seat post should be used to get the right "reach." The seat setback (and saddle fore/aft) should be used to get you the right KOP position. The stem length can be adjusted, within reason, to adjust reach... just don't go with such a long stem that handling is affected.

I can generally tell that I bike fits well if when I look down to the front wheel cycling, I cannot see the hub because its view is blocked by the bars.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:41 PM
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it really depends on how you want to ride.

sizing down with a longer stem makes for a more aggressive fit.

sizing up with a shorter stem gives you a more relaxed fit.

my commute bike is a Trek in which they lengthened the top tube putting me between sizes. I sized down with a longer stem and I hate it! fwiw

for 50-60 and looking at century rides I'd size up.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:53 PM
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Look at a different bike?
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Old 07-16-18, 02:08 PM
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Either one can be tweeked to fit you just fine if you are truly in between. At 5'5" I'd think the 51 would be closer to a good fit for you. If you Google bike size for 5'5" your hits will likely steer you to larger than 51. I realize everyone is different. The shops should be steering you in the right direction. Ordering without fitting on the specific model seems like a bad idea to me.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:15 PM
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Smaller frame plus longer stem -- if you're in between sizes I can't imagine that you'd need much more than 1 or 2 centimeters to get there.

Bigger question -- your profile says you're in Louisville, and I'd think there are a decent amount of LBS there. Is the LBS not interested in making sure you get the correct size? That's kind of a bad sign.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:25 PM
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With an inseam as long as yours, at your height, I'd definitely go for the 48 bike.

I'm 5'9" with a 34 inseam, and I ride a 52 with a 1cm longer stem and it's perfect. I suspect for you you might end up needing a slightly longer stem, but that's an easy adjustment. With the length of your legs, you might need a longer seatpost, too, depending on what comes on the bike. (I suspect that's why your legs felt cramped on the smaller bike: seat not set high enough either because it simply wasn't, or there wasn't enough seatpost to get it high enough.)

If the women's models fit you there no reason not to get one unless the color turns you off. Usually not much of a difference except sometimes saddle and--most importantly for your proportions--top tube length.

I wouldn't worry about the fit of the smaller bike being too "aggressive" because you can always leave in spacers or flip the stem up. And if the price is right on that yellow "women's" model, I'd say go for that.

Go for the 48. It'll be lighter, too!
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Old 07-16-18, 03:58 PM
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If I recall from when I bought a synapse for my wife, the women's models have about a 1-1.5cm shorter top tube, which would be beneficial for somebody with proportionately short arms.

The saddle is usually a women's saddle but since most people ditch the stock saddle anyway, that shouldn't be a problem.

You say you felt cramped on the 48... my guess is you had the saddle too low anyway, which will contribute to the cramped feeling.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by toast3d View Post
What I'm about to say might be bad advice. Maybe somebody with bike fitting experience can weigh in on it.

If the bike comes stock with a significant amount of setback on the seatpost (like the kind of seatpost you see on a stock Surly LHT), get the larger frame. If you find that it's slightly too large, remove the stock seatpost and install a straight seatpost. The double bolt style seatposts Thompson makes are a good example of this. You can also swap the stem out for a shorter one to bring the handlebars in a little closer.

If it comes stock with a straight seatpost, get the smaller frame. If it's slightly too small, then swap the seatpost out for one which has a lot of setback, and possibly also swap the stem out for a longer one to move the handlebars a little farther forward.

Again, this might be bad advice and perhaps someone with bike fitting experience should weigh in on it.

You could also just go to a bike fitter. It may be worth the money, and then you'll be able to better determine exactly which size frame would be the best fit for you.
As a matter of fact, I did check the seat positions on both bikes. Both seats had adjustable rails, and both seats were about 2/3 to the front most position. My thought was that with either frame, I'd have some adjustment toward or away from the bars. I guess it is possible that neither frame size is a perfect fit for me, but either might be close enough.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by chicagogal View Post
I suggest going with the smaller frame if you are in between sizes. However, I don't think that a set back seat post should be used to get the right "reach." The seat setback (and saddle fore/aft) should be used to get you the right KOP position. The stem length can be adjusted, within reason, to adjust reach... just don't go with such a long stem that handling is affected.

I can generally tell that I bike fits well if when I look down to the front wheel cycling, I cannot see the hub because its view is blocked by the bars.
That front hub think is new to me. Also, I had to google KOP. Interesting concept.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
it really depends on how you want to ride.

sizing down with a longer stem makes for a more aggressive fit.

sizing up with a shorter stem gives you a more relaxed fit.

my commute bike is a Trek in which they lengthened the top tube putting me between sizes. I sized down with a longer stem and I hate it! fwiw

for 50-60 and looking at century rides I'd size up.
Thanks for that. I am leaning toward the larger frame, but as I mentioned in the OP, I don't want an expensive mistake.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by REDMASTA View Post
Look at a different bike?
Already done. I didn't pick the Synapse casually. I considered Trek, Giant, Scott, and Fuji. Also Cervelo (way too high priced for me). Those brands are pretty much what is available in Louisville for an endurance road bike. After considering price and features, the Synapse is what I want.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Smaller frame plus longer stem -- if you're in between sizes I can't imagine that you'd need much more than 1 or 2 centimeters to get there.

Bigger question -- your profile says you're in Louisville, and I'd think there are a decent amount of LBS there. Is the LBS not interested in making sure you get the correct size? That's kind of a bad sign.
I can't expect them to give me a free formal fitting. They did let me ride a 48 and 51 Synapse, except for the women's frame snafu, I think they did as much as could be expected.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Wheever View Post
With an inseam as long as yours, at your height, I'd definitely go for the 48 bike.

I'm 5'9" with a 34 inseam, and I ride a 52 with a 1cm longer stem and it's perfect. I suspect for you you might end up needing a slightly longer stem, but that's an easy adjustment. With the length of your legs, you might need a longer seatpost, too, depending on what comes on the bike. (I suspect that's why your legs felt cramped on the smaller bike: seat not set high enough either because it simply wasn't, or there wasn't enough seatpost to get it high enough.)

If the women's models fit you there no reason not to get one unless the color turns you off. Usually not much of a difference except sometimes saddle and--most importantly for your proportions--top tube length.

I wouldn't worry about the fit of the smaller bike being too "aggressive" because you can always leave in spacers or flip the stem up. And if the price is right on that yellow "women's" model, I'd say go for that.

Go for the 48. It'll be lighter, too!
It is a very light bike, 18.5 pounds, with pedals. I liked the yellow color. It is basically that bright safety yellow, and it matches the cheap safety yellow t-shirts that I ride in. But the carbon frame is $500 more than the aluminum frame, too far out of my budget. Plus, I don't really want to buy and ride a woman's bike. It might drain my testosterone.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:46 PM
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Being that close, either should work , just take some tweaking to dial them in.
I have 30' inseam, went with 49 on my Kona.
Small for some measurements but the LBS dialed in in comfortable.
Stand over clearance important , + over 60 ,
I went flatbar & for comfort fitting.
Get off after 60 miles & feel ok.

Don't understand the cramped pedals, Pedals length can be sized for you. ( Important for your knees )

My Mt bike is 17" women,
some trails .... standover is most important , learned that one the hard way .
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Old 07-16-18, 06:01 PM
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as for geo, scroll down and click "view geometry"

apparently I am seeing no difference between women and men, on geo. not on the 2018's.

https://www.cannondale.com/en/USA/Bi...ntid=undefined
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Old 07-16-18, 06:04 PM
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as for fit.....

the 48 will be very aggressive.

as seen here on blue/white bike. the person he quoted moved saddle forward on a 51, I'd advise a shorter stem before moving saddle all the way to front.

from my experience I've had 110/100 stock stems from cannondale. so an 80/90 swap is reasonable.

Is a 48cm good size for some one that's 5'6 (168cm) tall?
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Old 07-16-18, 06:34 PM
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I am like you, short limbs (same inseam) with a relatively long torso, similar metabolism/body type and right around the same frame size. IMO, it is easier to tweak the slightly smaller bike to fit more comfortably than it would be to tweak the larger one.

One thing to check is if the crank length is the same on both bikes and whether you can switch it out with something shorter. IMO, manufacturers do not scale the cranklength appropriately on the smaller bikes. 170mm induces leg cramping for me fairly quickly and my knee kicks out at the top of the stroke. 165 is more tolerable but 155 is right around the sweet spot for me.

A possible reason I've found that the larger frame feels more comfortable for your legs is that the larger frame stack is usually higher than the smaller one. This helps keep you in a slightly more upright position which slightly opens up the hip angle at the top of the stroke. But as you noticed reach also gets longer so you feel more stretched out.

IMO, go for the smaller bike and switch the crank out for something shorter. Also, if you can, keep the steerer tube longer so you can play with stack height, that may help as well. I wouldn't be too bothered about the bikes being WSD if it fits well. I've found the WSD geometry is more appropriate for our non-typical body type.

edit: one last point, if you ask about the shorter cranks, the LBS may look at you funny. It's so overlooked and ingrained (on available sizes) that they just don't consider it. I've had one look at me real funny and two say the difference would be marginal to make no difference. Yes, of course 170 to 165 is marginal but marginally better is better than sucking completely. Shorter cranks are most readily available from Origin8 I've found.

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Old 07-16-18, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
as for geo, scroll down and click "view geometry"

apparently I am seeing no difference between women and men, on geo. not on the 2018's.

https://www.cannondale.com/en/USA/Bi...ntid=undefined
I am seeing differences in men's vs women's alloy Synapse (same model, Disc 105):

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Intern...1-09c4c1039ccb

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Intern...e-1498725942a9
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Old 07-16-18, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
I am like you, short limbs (same inseam) with a relatively long torso, similar metabolism/body type and right around the same frame size. IMO, it is easier to tweak the slightly smaller bike to fit more comfortably than it would be to tweak the larger one.

One thing to check is if the crank length is the same on both bikes and whether you can switch it out with something shorter. IMO, manufacturers do not scale the cranklength appropriately on the smaller bikes. 170mm induces leg cramping for me fairly quickly and my knee kicks out at the top of the stroke. 165 is more tolerable but 155 is right around the sweet spot for me.

A possible reason I've found that the larger frame feels more comfortable for your legs is that the larger frame stack is usually higher than the smaller one. This helps keep you in a slightly more upright position which slightly opens up the hip angle at the top of the stroke. But as you noticed reach also gets longer so you feel more stretched out.

IMO, go for the smaller bike and switch the crank out for something shorter. Also, if you can, keep the steerer tube longer so you can play with stack height, that may help as well. I wouldn't be too bothered about the bikes being WSD if it fits well. I've found the WSD geometry is more appropriate for our non-typical body type.
Oddly enough, I am actually worried about the 48 having shorter cranks. I have 170's on my Roam and they are fine for me. I ride up a lot of hills, and I am concerned about shorter cranks providing less leverage on the steep hills. I'll already be dropping the third chain ring that I am accustomed to. I don't know why, but Cannondale does not list crank length in their specs.
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Old 07-16-18, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tony_G View Post
I am seeing differences in men's vs women's alloy Synapse (same model, Disc 105):

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Intern...1-09c4c1039ccb

https://www.cannondale.com/en/Intern...e-1498725942a9
that is the English ( international) site. Not the English (USA) site.
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Old 07-16-18, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
that is the English ( international) site. Not the English (USA) site.
You're right. Thanks for the correction. They are the same for USA.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:09 PM
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yeah that is super confusing...
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