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Frame Size Confusion - Short Leg - Long Body

Old 04-17-21, 12:36 AM
  #1  
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Frame Size Confusion - Short Leg - Long Body

Hello All,

I'm planing to get Focus Izalco Race 9.7 road bike. It'll be my first road bike and I have confusion about frame size. I have 174cm tall, 74.5cm inseam (measurement was wrong, correct measure is 76cm) which is really lower than average.
When I checked Focus web site with only my height it gives S (52) frame size but I know that it is the upper range of S frame (when I tried to use 175 it gives M size).

In that short leg - long body height case which frame size should I buy? Actually it's a generic question for short leg / long body situation.

Thanks.

Last edited by xaero; 04-18-21 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 04-17-21, 01:40 AM
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Focus makes really nice frames...I would have gotten an Izalco Max if it was available last fall when I was looking for a new road bike with discs. Anyhow, can you go to a shop and try out the different sizes? It may be the best way to try the different frames.

With a short inseam, you'll likely be more comfortable on a smaller frame, particularly when out of the pedals and standing over the bike. The stem will be too short (I think Focus specs 80 or 90mm stems on that frame size). You should work with the shop to get the appropriate length stem to make the reach to the bars comfortable. For reference, I am 173cm tall with a 76.5cm inseam, and Focus also says I would ride a S (51cm), or M (54cm). Some of my bikes are S/52 and some are M/54. Comparing the bike you referenced to my Tarmac SL6 (52), you'd likely need a stem that is 110mm long to get the proper reach for your body.
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Old 04-17-21, 08:48 AM
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Dealer has only M and L frames on their stocks and that’s why I had only chance to try M frame on yesterday. I felt like it was OK about seat tube lenght and stack which I was not expecting due to short inseam of my body. I felt uncomfortable about effective top tube lenght but I am not sure it’s related about frame size or basic frame geometry. Because there is only 15mm difference on effective top tube lenght between S and M frames. Maybe it would be same feeling on S frame which is not problem actually. It’s my first road bike experience maybe it’s normal to feel like that. Stem lenght is 110mm, there is a chance to decrease it for fitting.

I also tried Scott Addict 20 S and M frames. Same story in here as well My height is at upper range of S and starting range of M. But I felt comfortable on both frames instead of Focus due to different basic frame geometries That means it’s ok to go both frames on Scott. But I am still close to buy Focus.
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Old 04-17-21, 09:18 AM
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I'd buy the smaller size to go with your inseam. Between bar reach and stem length, it's easy to add more reach. When comparing frame reach, the proper way to do is to correct the reach on the smaller frame to the stack height of the larger frame by subtracting 3mn for each 10mm of stack height difference. There's a problem with the geometry chart that I looked at. It lists 360mm as the seat tube length for all sizes. That's too short for any frame. I assume that the frame size is really the seat tube length. That's how my Cinelli superstar is sized.

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Old 04-17-21, 09:47 AM
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Saddle height is one of the most important things if you are going to be riding for long periods of time. In fact if you aren't going to be riding for more than an hour, then proper fit really doesn't matter much at all.

When looking for a bike, once you know where your saddle is going to be, then consider the stack height. You want to get something that will be able to give you the least aggressive position you currently might want to the most aggressive you currently might want.

With a long torso, you'll do fine on almost any size frame that you can get your proper saddle height. If you feel cramped after riding it a while you can go longer on the stem. Or if you bought a larger size you might can go shorter if the bike didn't come with a very short stem already.
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Old 04-17-21, 10:50 AM
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I have similar proportions, and can fit 56cm or 58cm. Standover clearance is a bit limited on the larger size,

but since my arms are also short-ish, reach is not an issue- 100mm stem on the 56, & 90mm stem on the 58.

I'd go for the smaller frame size- more seatpost exposed gives a bit of comfort.

If new to road bikes, you'd probably feel stretched out in any case, especially riding around the parking lot.
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Old 04-17-21, 10:57 AM
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I recommend feeding your measurements into something like Competitive Cyclist's calculator. You're an inch taller than me but your inseam is almost 2" shorter, and I feel pretty good on a diamond frame with a 54 CM ST, 56 CM TT, and 11 CM stem. Today's bikes tend to be square, so you might need a very long stem, and that my put your center of gravity pretty far forward.

On a square frame, I'd need a 13 CM stem to get to the same position, and you'd need a stem in as long as 18 CM (all other things being equal). IOW, your stem might need to be longer than your crank arms, if you can find a stem that long. Even 13 CM is a lot longer than most.

I've come down on my TT pretty hard a couple of times on a bike that was at the upper end of what I can ride, so I really want an inch between me and my TT. I've lso ridden a bike at the low end of recommended size; I felt too cramped, and didn't ride much. If my proportions were like yours, though, I think I'd go for the bigger bike, in the expectation that I'd be less cramped and the weight distribution would be more conventional.

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Old 04-17-21, 11:35 AM
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I have the same problem. (coincidentally almost the same measurements). I was a long time MTB rider looking for a gravel bike. I was in between sizes but I found that the smaller size had more weight over the front wheel and seem to make the handling quicker/less stable. I actually picked the larger size.
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Old 04-18-21, 10:03 AM
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Folks,

I have update about my inseam measurement was wrong, correct number is 76 cm. I tried competitive cyclist bike fitting and it gives below measures at competitive fitting case;

Top Tube Length 57.7 - 58.1 cm
Seat Tube Range CC 49.2 - 49.7 cm
Seat Tube Range CT 50.7 - 51.2 cm
Stem Length 11.2 - 11.8 cm
BB Saddle Position 79.3 - 81.3 cm
Saddle Handlebar 52.2 - 52.8 cm
Saddle Setback -0.5 - -0.1 cm
Seatpost Type No Setback

Moreover some of youtube videos say that body flexibility is another factor so I'm not flexible guy I can only stretch to my shins.

Last edited by xaero; 04-18-21 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 04-18-21, 06:45 PM
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Exactly - the best way to get a bike that fits is to go custom.

It's possible that you can find someone who knows of a modern bike with a short ST and looong TT or ETT; with luck a few are reading this thread. Maybe a mountain bike with road wheels?

Also, some classic manufacturers, especially Brits, saved money by standardizing TT at 22" and varying smaller STs. MKM apparently turned out a lot of 21" ST bikes with 22" TTs, though that's a bit short for you. Anyway, a classic frame may give you the best fit. (Maybe best ride, too - but I'm prejudiced.) Also, note that some manufacturers shortened STs from the bottom, so the standover of a 19" frame could be the same as the SO for a nominally bigger frame.

Again, I would go with the larger, because I've experienced being cramped, and I pretty much stopped riding for years until I got a new (used) bike that fit better. Before that, I owned a bike that was too big, which I dumped because I came down on the TT once too often. I lean toward recommending the larger bike, because hurting one's cotch was pretty rare, and being cramped hit me on every ride - but YMMV.

What do you think of ordering one, riding, and ordering the other and selling the first, if you don't feel good when you're riding? If you're dealing with a retailer, maybe the shop will take some of the risk. Or maybe Focus will make a reco and take some of the financial risk off your shoulders?
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Old 04-19-21, 07:04 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by xaero View Post
Folks,

I have update about my inseam measurement was wrong, correct number is 76 cm. I tried competitive cyclist bike fitting and it gives below measures at competitive fitting case;

Top Tube Length 57.7 - 58.1 cm
Seat Tube Range CC 49.2 - 49.7 cm
Seat Tube Range CT 50.7 - 51.2 cm
Stem Length 11.2 - 11.8 cm
BB Saddle Position 79.3 - 81.3 cm
Saddle Handlebar 52.2 - 52.8 cm
Saddle Setback -0.5 - -0.1 cm
Seatpost Type No Setback

Moreover some of youtube videos say that body flexibility is another factor so I'm not flexible guy I can only stretch to my shins.
If you interpret the numbers above, you see that you will have both a long top tube and a long stem for your frame seat tube size. Go to the M frame, after you've measured the (effective) top tube length. Note the zero setback seatpost. Check this on the geometry of the Focus frame. It may put you where you don't want to be relative to the crankset. Keep the crank arms as short as you can (i.e., don't go 172.5 or 175).

You can improve flexibility by simple stretching over time.
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Old 04-19-21, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
If you interpret the numbers above, you see that you will have both a long top tube and a long stem for your frame seat tube size. Go to the M frame, after you've measured the (effective) top tube length. Note the zero setback seatpost. Check this on the geometry of the Focus frame. It may put you where you don't want to be relative to the crankset. Keep the crank arms as short as you can (i.e., don't go 172.5 or 175).

You can improve flexibility by simple stretching over time.
Just I've checked the S and M measures of Focus, here is the b2b comparison at below. Interesting thing in here is; I'm out of range at top tube based on competitive bike fit calculation and which is no make sense for me. As I said before during test trial I felt uncomfortable about reach/top tube lenght but calculation says opposed. It may related about my inexperience on road bikes, maybe it's normal to feel like uncomfortable at the beginning.

Stack 531 - 547
Reach 380 - 390
Effective Seat Tube 510 - 540
Effective Top Tube 537 - 552
Head Tube Lenght 130 - 145
Wheelbase 977 - 987
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Old 04-19-21, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by xaero View Post
Folks,

I have update about my inseam measurement was wrong, correct number is 76 cm. I tried competitive cyclist bike fitting and it gives below measures at competitive fitting case;

Top Tube Length 57.7 - 58.1 cm
Seat Tube Range CC 49.2 - 49.7 cm
Seat Tube Range CT 50.7 - 51.2 cm
Stem Length 11.2 - 11.8 cm
BB Saddle Position 79.3 - 81.3 cm
Saddle Handlebar 52.2 - 52.8 cm
Saddle Setback -0.5 - -0.1 cm
Seatpost Type No Setback

Moreover some of youtube videos say that body flexibility is another factor so I'm not flexible guy I can only stretch to my shins.
Those numbers might be great, if you want to have a bike custom built.

Otherwise you still need to get a bike that lets you have the proper saddle height first and foremost. You don't want to get a frame with a longer top tube if the saddle is going to be slammed all the way down.

You are letting the numbers confuse you as they did me many many years ago. Just go out and get a bike that feels comfortable to you and consider any advice from those that can actually see how you look on that bike. Don't spend your families inheritance on one. Just get one that you can get a few thousand miles experience with and then for your next bike you'll know better what those numbers might be suggesting.

I don't know why flexibility has anything to do with your bike purchase. Probably making preconceived notions in you that you have to have a more upright position. I'm not too flexible either with respect to touching my toes. I can't. And even when young it took effort.

Right now I can't even get my hands midway down my shins with my legs straight. Yet I ride a bike that is considered by some as having a low stack and slightly aggressive fit. And it's every bit as comfortable, if not more than the bikes I have with a higher stack that won't let me get as low and aero.

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Old 04-19-21, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by xaero View Post
Just I've checked the S and M measures of Focus, here is the b2b comparison at below. Interesting thing in here is; I'm out of range at top tube based on competitive bike fit calculation and which is no make sense for me. As I said before during test trial I felt uncomfortable about reach/top tube lenght but calculation says opposed. It may related about my inexperience on road bikes, maybe it's normal to feel like uncomfortable at the beginning.

Stack 531 - 547
Reach 380 - 390
Effective Seat Tube 510 - 540
Effective Top Tube 537 - 552
Head Tube Lenght 130 - 145
Wheelbase 977 - 987
I'm not saying the Competitive Cyclist calculator gave you bad info, but I'm going to give you a real world data point to consider: me (as stated above 173cm tall, 76.5cm inseam). I've been riding bikes for a long time. I know exactly what works for me, and I can tell you that my dimensions work best on their S, with a 110m stem. I can ride the M, but its stand-over is higher than I like. Think about that. You and I are roughly equivalent in height and inseam. For all intents and purposes you and I ride the same size bike (macro adjustment), that is where the fitting comes in, to dial the micro adjustments at the contact points with the bike: bars and saddle position, along with cleat position on shoes.
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Old 04-19-21, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Those numbers might be great, if you want to have a bike custom built.

Otherwise you still need to get a bike that lets you have the proper saddle height first and foremost. You don't want to get a frame with a longer top tube if the saddle is going to be slammed all the way down.

You are letting the numbers confuse you as they did me many many years ago. Just go out and get a bike that feels comfortable to you and consider any advice from those that can actually see how you look on that bike. Don't spend your families inheritance on one. Just get one that you can get a few thousand miles experience with and then for your next bike you'll know better what those numbers might be suggesting.

I don't know why flexibility has anything to do with your bike purchase. Probably making preconceived notions in you that you have to have a more upright position. I'm not too flexible either with respect to touching my toes. I can't. And even when young it took effort.

Right now I can't even get my hands midway down my shins with my legs straight. Yet I ride a bike that is considered by some as having a low stack and slightly aggressive fit. And it's every bit as comfortable, if not more than the bikes I have with a higher stack that won't let me get as low and aero.
I'm totally agree with you about going outside and try the bikes directly and take real experience instead of getting lost in calculations. Yet I'm 28 years old guy and I have only experience on city bike. I had a chance to try only M and it was not OK but as I said it maybe related about my inexperience. I have thousands kilometers on comfortable city bike and I believe that if I have chance to try S frame, I feel same situation. This is the main problem that confuse me a lot.

I watched a lot video on youtube about importance of stack and reach but I have still confusion. I have chance to adjust saddle height. S and M frame has 30m difference on seat tube. Can I compensate it with changing saddle height? I know that it's a silly question but could't find reasonable answer about that.
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Old 04-19-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by xaero View Post
I watched a lot video on youtube about importance of stack and reach but I have still confusion. I have chance to adjust saddle height. S and M frame has 30m difference on seat tube. Can I compensate it with changing saddle height? I know that it's a silly question but could't find reasonable answer about that.
Not silly at all. If you don’t know the answer and cannot find a satisfactory explanation on your own it’d be silly not to ask.

Understand this: mass market frames fit a range of people. For instance, a Size S is specified to fit from 171-175cm. That’s not a huge range, but we all have slightly different length arms, torsos, and legs. Therefore, there are different length stems to adjust reach (to the bars) and seat posts can be adjusted up or down to get the correct leg extension. And, because of this adjustability in the seat post and different length stems, sometimes a person at the edge of the size range can opt for a bike the next size up or down.

At 174, though their baseline sizing is a S, but you could probably ride a M. There is enough adjustment in the seat post and seat tube interface to get the saddle height correct. Since you sound like you’ve got a longer torso (taller than me by 1cm with an inseam .5cm shorter), though you felt “stretched out,” coming from a city bike that’s a normal feeling. Race bikes will have your torso at a lower angle than you’re used to riding. But, a shop should be able to quickly make a determination if you need a shorter stem. We can’t answer that without seeing your position on the bike.

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Old 04-19-21, 02:29 PM
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If you are used to sitting upright, then trying to change that might be more an effort of getting used to another position than it is anything else.

As I said, I'm not too flexible but getting aggressive with my position isn't an issue. If you have no need to get aero, then maybe it won't be for you. Don't be looking at aggressive fit bikes. Nothing looks worse aesthetically than a low stack bike with umpteen dozen spacers under the stem and a ridiculously angled stem to give more height to the bars.

But if you give up the desire to get more aero, you'll also give up a way to save energy on long rides. For a weak legged cyclist that I am, being aero helps me to have energy to finish a century reasonably strong. At least strong for me, but maybe not compared to the person that passed me in the last 100 meters.
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Old 04-20-21, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If you are used to sitting upright, then trying to change that might be more an effort of getting used to another position than it is anything else.

As I said, I'm not too flexible but getting aggressive with my position isn't an issue. If you have no need to get aero, then maybe it won't be for you. Don't be looking at aggressive fit bikes. Nothing looks worse aesthetically than a low stack bike with umpteen dozen spacers under the stem and a ridiculously angled stem to give more height to the bars.

But if you give up the desire to get more aero, you'll also give up a way to save energy on long rides. For a weak legged cyclist that I am, being aero helps me to have energy to finish a century reasonably strong. At least strong for me, but maybe not compared to the person that passed me in the last 100 meters.
Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Not silly at all. If you don’t know the answer and cannot find a satisfactory explanation on your own it’d be silly not to ask.

Understand this: mass market frames fit a range of people. For instance, a Size S is specified to fit from 171-175cm. That’s not a huge range, but we all have slightly different length arms, torsos, and legs. Therefore, there are different length stems to adjust reach (to the bars) and seat posts can be adjusted up or down to get the correct leg extension. And, because of this adjustability in the seat post and different length stems, sometime a person at the edge of the size range can opt for a hike the next size up or down.

At 174, though their baseline sizing is a S, you could probably ride a M. There is enough adjustment in the seat post and seat tube interface to get the saddle height correct. Since you sound like you’ve got a longer torso (taller than me by 1cm with an inseam .5cm shorter), though you felt “stretched out,” coming from a city bike that’s a normal feeling. Race bikes will have your torso at a lower angle than you’re used to riding. But, a shop should be able to quickly make a determination if you need a shorter stem. We can’t answer that without seeing your position on the bike.
Thank you guys for detailed explanation on this. My first aim is not getting aero type bike for just showoff about aesthetics. That's why I gravitate to endurance type frames, Focus has a bit more aggressive than other brands on endurance frames. Based on calculations and experiences from you guys, I am convinced about baseline sizing should be S, yet M size can be adjusted for me as well. Next thursday I'll try S frame on aluminum frame for just only trial (dealer has not S on carbon frame).and do back to back comparison on both frame.
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Old 04-20-21, 04:53 AM
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Not sure where you are located exactly xaero (If I missed it, I'm sorry), but have you considered the Focus Paralane? It may actually be more to your liking. It is a very capable bike for the road, with stated clearance up to 35mm. In the last 3 years they've marketed it as endurance, all-road, and gravel. Regardless, the geometry is a bit more relaxed (slightly more upright). Unfortunately they only offer two trim levels now, with the least expensive being 2300-2400€ depending on the country you buy it in. But, if you can find an Izalco Race (no longer listed on their website), you may be able to find a Paralane.
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Old 04-20-21, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Not sure where you are located exactly xaero (If I missed it, I'm sorry), but have you considered the Focus Paralane? It may actually be more to your liking. It is a very capable bike for the road, with stated clearance up to 35mm. In the last 3 years they've marketed it as endurance, all-road, and gravel. Regardless, the geometry is a bit more relaxed (slightly more upright). Unfortunately they only offer two trim levels now, with the least expensive being 2300-2400€ depending on the country you buy it in. But, if you can find an Izalco Race (no longer listed on their website), you may be able to find a Paralane.
I'm located Istanbul/Turkey. Due to covid pandemic situation it's really hard to find bikes on the market. That's why I 'm stuck on Focus Izalco Race M frame size. Currently only bike on Focus dealers is Izalco Race or old Cayo. Maybe I've chance to find Scott Addict 20 but Focus offers more hardware and frame quality than Addict 20 at same price range.
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Old 04-20-21, 06:29 AM
  #21  
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Is there an option to do an online order, such as a Canyon? I totally understand the challenge with the inventories.
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Old 04-20-21, 07:17 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Is there an option to do an online order, such as a Canyon? I totally understand the challenge with the inventories.
It's not possible in my region, dealers directly handle the operations. It usually works like this on export bikes.

One more option I have is second hand built 2018 Colnago C60 with full ultegra set + rs alloy wheels + selle italia saddle. Subparts are in very good condition. Full setup has +350€ than brand new 105 set Focus Izalco Race 9.7
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Old 04-20-21, 08:51 AM
  #23  
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An endurance frame is the opposite of what a short legged rider needs. You'll never get much saddle to bar drop. I've got long legs and a short torso, but I still use few or no spacers and a -17 stem angle to produce a 10cm saddle to bar drop. With an 83cm cycling inseam at 168cm in height, I have a 73cm saddle height. A stack of 525mm and 370-380mm works for me, with a 100-110mm stem and 80mm reach bars. I've used seat tubes lengths down to 46cm. In some brands, that's the shortest seat tube offered.

A short saddle height also reduces saddle setback. If your lower leg is really short, you may need a 32mm setback post, since most smaller frames have steep seat tube angles. I use a 25mm setback, even with my 73cm saddle height.
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Old 04-20-21, 03:31 PM
  #24  
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Lots of miles on a city bike and not happy on the M ... hmmm. On one hand, if you're used to riding upright, you are very likely to feel uncomfortable on a road bike, at first. If you pick the right size, though, you'll probably get used to the new position pretty quickly.

I believe that you could ride either the Small or Medium comfortably. That could make the decision more difficult. OTOH, You have good arguments for the Small; you have good arguments for the Medium. Either way, you're likely to 'win'.

In the US at least, one way to make this type of decision is to flip a coin, having decided before flipping that one side would mean Small and the other would mean Medium.
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Old 04-23-21, 04:43 AM
  #25  
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Hello Folks,

Got the Izalco Race 9.7 M size frame yesterday with detailed checks on reach and stack with dealer. Once I was sure about saddle height & stack is ok for my short inseam I was pretty sure about frame size should be M for me because reach was more comfortable than S frame. Thanks for all of you guys for sharing your experience, knowledges on that topic.

I'll share my reviews and experience on bike.

Thanks.
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