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Better a larger frame or smaller?

Old 08-27-18, 07:30 AM
  #1  
Rootman
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Better a larger frame or smaller?

I am 6' tall even. I've got a 32" trouser inseam and probably a 35" standing inseam. I'm thinking about getting a new bike. The first bike I bought was a Giant Sedona, in a LARGE frame and it felt too small. The seat post was close to the limit of it's extension. I then bought a Giant Roam 2 in an XL and the seat post was at a far shorter height, but still up about 4" from the seat post end. The reach seems OK on the Roam XL but since it's flat bars on the Roam and comfort bars on the Sedona, totally different.

The bike shop is hem hawing about L vs XL but leaning towards the L frame. I am more inclined to get the XL. The bike I'm looking at is the Trek XM700+, and is a big investment, so I want to get the right size. From the charts it looks like just a few more centimeters stand over height and a few more in reach.

Any opinions or rules of thumb anyone can offer?
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Old 08-27-18, 07:45 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by Rootman View Post
I am 6' tall even. I've got a 32" trouser inseam and probably a 35" standing inseam. I'm thinking about getting a new bike. The first bike I bought was a Giant Sedona, in a LARGE frame and it felt too small. The seat post was close to the limit of it's extension. I then bought a Giant Roam 2 in an XL and the seat post was at a far shorter height, but still up about 4" from the seat post end. The reach seems OK on the Roam XL but since it's flat bars on the Roam and comfort bars on the Sedona, totally different.

The bike shop is hem hawing about L vs XL but leaning towards the L frame. I am more inclined to get the XL. The bike I'm looking at is the Trek XM700+, and is a big investment, so I want to get the right size. From the charts it looks like just a few more centimeters stand over height and a few more in reach.

Any opinions or rules of thumb anyone can offer?
Sizes vary between bike models and brands. You may be a large for one bike and an XL for another.

If you want to know how much seat post is going to be showing, look at the seat tube lengths.

However, I think seat tube length and exposed seat post is a bad way to size a bike. I donít worry much about how much seat post is showing (within reason) IMO, the reach is the more important factor.

Last edited by Kapusta; 08-27-18 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 08-27-18, 07:57 AM
  #3  
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Ride both.

Buy the one that feels better.

Don't overthink it with mathematics and frame geometry.

If the XL is better for you and makes you more efficient and faster and makes your bed in the morning for you.....but it's uncomfortable to ride....it's less efficient in the wrong run because you wont' ride it much. If the L is supposedly too small by the geometry but feels comfortable like broken in slippers to you, you'll ride it more and love it more and get more for your money.

I can ride my daughter's 20 inch wheel bike. (Heck I can ride my son's 16" wheel bike). It's not like the wrong size is unusable. It's just not comfortable.
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Old 08-27-18, 11:33 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Rootman View Post
I am 6' tall even. I've got a 32" trouser inseam and probably a 35" standing inseam. I'm thinking about getting a new bike. The first bike I bought was a Giant Sedona, in a LARGE frame and it felt too small. The seat post was close to the limit of it's extension. I then bought a Giant Roam 2 in an XL and the seat post was at a far shorter height, but still up about 4" from the seat post end. The reach seems OK on the Roam XL but since it's flat bars on the Roam and comfort bars on the Sedona, totally different.

The bike shop is hem hawing about L vs XL but leaning towards the L frame. I am more inclined to get the XL. The bike I'm looking at is the Trek XM700+, and is a big investment, so I want to get the right size. From the charts it looks like just a few more centimeters stand over height and a few more in reach.

Any opinions or rules of thumb anyone can offer?
For me, I generally go for the larger frame, but that being said, it depends on the bike. By and large though, (pun intended) I go for the larger bike in cases like yours. For the XM700+ I am pretty sure I would go with the larger bike if the seat way adjusted all the way up with the smaller of the two. Then again, be sure the seat was properly set, I often see bike shops setting seats too high for the average person. It may have been too high. Your height fall is on the upper end of their recommendation for the large, and their recommendation starts at not quite an inch over your height. You could make either work. There is a rather big jump in standover, though. As long as that isn't an issue you should be okay. For me, as long as I can straddle it flat footed, I don't care if I am touching the top tube slightly. On my Surly, I touch, but can pull the bike up a bit, so I'm okay. The large standover height is 32.95" and the XL is 35.57."

With commuters and touring bikes, I prefer larger frames. I can more easily get the bars higher if wanted, and I can be more stretched out. YMMV

Last edited by phughes; 08-27-18 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 08-27-18, 12:22 PM
  #5  
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The sizing formulas aren't set in stone, they're essentially just recommendations to get you in the ballpark. It still comes down to personal preference (barring exceptions like some idiot that's 5'-6" and insists he likes riding a 62cm road frame ).
One thing to factor in is the type of riding you plan to do with it. I used to build high-end mountain bikes, but they were basically used as urban commuters, so I'd run them with various road-oriented semi-slicks, and a shorter ,higher stem, and I preferred frames an inch (if not two) larger than my ideal size on a mountain bike. So they were basically flat bar road bikes.
But for a bike i intended specifically as on off-road bike, I preferred a smaller frame, that was more in line with what the sizing formulas would put me on. (I just noticed phughes just made basically the same point.)
But honestly, if you're only 6' and wear 32" pant lengths, I'm thinking almost any XL is gonna be excessively large for you, and this would manifest itself most noticeably on some gnarly off-road riding (but again, only you know how cramped you might actually be on a large.)

Last edited by Brocephus; 08-27-18 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 08-27-18, 02:30 PM
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If I was 6' and we are talking about an off road bike... I'd go for 'large'...
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Old 08-27-18, 04:08 PM
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Test ride both bikes and see which one feels the best. Make sure you are getting the right one. Certainly listen to your local shop as that is what they do for a living but feel free to also reach out to your local fitter (or the fitter at the shop which some have) and grab an opinion.

Trek vs. Giant or any company for that matter might have different geometries and different definitions of L and XL which are poor size indicators.
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Old 08-27-18, 04:14 PM
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I don't buy frames in s-m-l-xl format. I do some measuring and usually look for something that would equate to 54-56 cm C to C. That's always been the sweet spot for me and my 32.25" inseam.
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Old 08-27-18, 04:23 PM
  #9  
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The thing is, something as simple as whether or not you pedal with your toes pointed, can add two frame sizes or an inch of seatpost. I would just ride every size and get the one that "feels right". Maybe none of them feel right, in that case, hang onto your money.

These sizing formulas should really be seen more as "suggestions", what feels right to you is what matters. After all, it's your money get what you like.
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Old 08-27-18, 06:00 PM
  #10  
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Back in the day, the rule of thumb was to buy the largest frame you could easily straddle and have an inch or two left over in case you came off the saddle you wouldn't smash the family jewels. Case in point--I am 6'6" with a 36" inseam. My ride (an '84 Pug) has a 25" (63.5cm) frame. But that's from when top tubes were parallel to the ground and not sloped. Just sayin'........
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Last edited by Jon T; 08-27-18 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 08-28-18, 06:38 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I don't buy frames in s-m-l-xl format. I do some measuring and usually look for something that would equate to 54-56 cm C to C. That's always been the sweet spot for me and my 32.25" inseam.
Me too - I think both of my road bikes are 22". However, as Jon T pointed out, that was back when top tubes were level - and when there were no such things as mountain bikes, which have different geometry. I'd have thought that XL was too big but there are many factors at play and the OP has to go with what feels right for him.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jgwilliams View Post
Me too - I think both of my road bikes are 22". However, as Jon T pointed out, that was back when top tubes were level - and when there were no such things as mountain bikes, which have different geometry. I'd have thought that XL was too big but there are many factors at play and the OP has to go with what feels right for him.
My Guru Sidero (steel) is a slightly sloping TT so I use a virtual TT to find the right mark on the seat tube from which to measure to BB. I absolutely agree with you. We all have to find what works for us individually. My method gets me in the ballpark. I have to admit though, I think those who try to base frame size on their height are starting off badly. Just one man's opinion.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:06 PM
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I can't recall if I mentioned this before but, back in the day, racers would ride the smallest frame that fit because they were lighter. Bikes were primarily steel back then.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
Test ride both bikes and see which one feels the best. Make sure you are getting the right one. Certainly listen to your local shop as that is what they do for a living but feel free to also reach out to your local fitter (or the fitter at the shop which some have) and grab an opinion.

Trek vs. Giant or any company for that matter might have different geometries and different definitions of L and XL which are poor size indicators.
They have complete geometry information for their bikes on their website. I looked at them before I posted on this thread.
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Old 08-28-18, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
If I was 6' and we are talking about an off road bike... I'd go for 'large'...
This ^^^ Its a control thing. That's why BMX are so small and don't have many sizes.
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Old 08-28-18, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I don't buy frames in s-m-l-xl format. I do some measuring and usually look for something that would equate to 54-56 cm C to C. That's always been the sweet spot for me and my 32.25" inseam.
What is C to C.???
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Old 08-28-18, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BirdsBikeBinocs View Post
What is C to C.???
C-to-C is the measuring perpendicularly to the ground (usually in centimeters) the distance from the Center of the bottom bracket to the Center of the virtual top bar (virtual in that if the actual top bar is sloped downward from the headset to the top of the seat tube, you measure to where it would be if it was horizontal to the ground)--e.g., a 59C road bike is on the high side of 'Large' whereas a 61 is on the low side of 'X-large.' As usually-encountered sizing goes, if you're ~6'3" or more... you get the largest size and make do as best you can, which on modern bikes usually entails a huge amount of exposed seatpost and possible stem extenders unless it is a 'comfort/endurance/hybrid/gravel/grassy-knoll' bike which hopefully will come with a bit longer head tube.

Last edited by McBTC; 08-28-18 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 08-30-18, 03:51 PM
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Depends a lot on upper lower body lengths as well. Longer upper body size up. I've been between sizes and always sized up because I dred that cramped in feeling on longer rides. Smaller bikes seem to feel better in the store or on small area test rides but when your going distances I like a roomy fit as long as your not over reaching and can control the bike over the terrain intended to ride on.
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