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How do I know if a bike will fit or not?

Old 02-24-24, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p
if you are a 54 yr old ‘heavy rider’ and have concerns about riding a bike ‘loaded’ -

recommend a bike that will permit wider tires than the bike (bikes ?) you listed above
I don't have worries about riding a bike loaded because of my weight. I have a very strong build and I'm pretty coordinated. It's more that with it loaded, you have to angle the bike more to straddle the bike while maintaining balance of the load of the bike while you swing your leg over.

But I do agree, wider tires feel better because you don't have to worry as much about the tire getting caught in a crack and toppling me over.
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Old 02-24-24, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I have to buy secondhand. I've gotten lucky in the past with being able to try things out, but I'm kind of between sizes - small in some, medium in others.

I had a bike fit, but it didn't really help me. So, there are two bikes I'm currently looking at for Ragbrai (next year, not this year) and some other long distance rides. I have a Bike Friday, but I'm a heavy rider. I am within the weight limit for the Bike Friday NWT, but I worry about riding it loaded. Having a nice road bike I can put on the train/plane is something I'm looking for. These two came up. I asked about it on the bike fitter section of this forum, but it's not really about bike fitting. I just wonder if both these bikes are too big? or actually perfect?

Here's what I wrote in the other post:

So, my bike fit gave me this info. This fitter is HIGHLY recommended, but I think most people he fits are people riding for speed/racing. Like I SPECIFICALLY had too request a fit that did not include clip in shoes/pedals. I will never use those either.

Anyway, I don't understand all these things and I can't try either of these bikes in person - I would have to buy them, have them delivered and then "hope" they are a good fit.

The first bike is from a shop/maker and they say it should fit me. I'm waiting for more info from the other, but I have the included info for now (they are on vacation).

So, first - bike fit numbers:

1. Saddle Height (BB to Center Saddle) 702
2. Saddle Setback 72
Saddle Type Diva
Saddle Angle -3.1
3. Handlebar Drop 9 above
4. Cockpit Length (Back of Saddle) 735
Handlebar Model and Width 38
5. Pad/Hood Reach 585
6. Hood Drop
Handlebar Angle/Depth
Stem Length & Angle
Saddle Depth
Clamp/Rail position
Seat Post Setback
7. Handlebar or Pad XY Coordinate 390 661
8. Saddle XY Coordinate 220 610
Crank Arm Length 165


The bike one bike I'm looking at deets: Waterford 1900 bicycle. It is custom and has short reach Shimano Ultegra caliper brakes, not cantilevers. Clearance for 28 mm tires. 175mm head tube, 54 cm c-t seat tube, 52.5 cm effective top tube. Shimano 105 triple brifters, 105 triple front derailleur, Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra triple crank. (this is the one I'm waiting for more geometry numbers)

The one from a manufacturer (custom): Rodriguez competitive. Top Tube Length - 53, Seat Tube - 53, Standover Height - 30.5, Wheel Size - 700c.

I'm thinking both of these are slightly too big? they both have straight top tube (or mostly).

Be kind... I'm trying to learn.

I am going to try to pull what see as key points out

1) of the two bike you have listed I would focus on the Waterford as it will likely have a better geometry for your needs the Rodriguez is likely to be too race oriented,

2) the bike fitting numbers are hard to decipher, if there is a graphic it would help, because you need to know what the measuring points are....if not clear ask the fitter.
I can see in general what the fitters is saying, but the only one I am pretty sure about is : Saddle Height (BB to Center Saddle) 702 (center of BB to top of saddle at cent 702 mm or 70.2 cm)

step over height is in general not super good for sizing, when stopped you should need to slide off the seat to put a foot down


Not sure what your budget is but have you considered a new bike that is totally competent and meets your needs better, if not having the fun of being a "I got a great deal on a custom bike used"

something like a surly midnight special at $2200, it might be a case of pay more now, get it right and amortize over time

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/midnight_special




or a straggler at $1700

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler

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Old 02-24-24, 04:18 PM
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What I do is look at three things on the new frame and compare to a bike I have that fits: "horizontal" or "effective" top tube length, and seat tube angle. Top tube needs to be looked at in combination with STA . I also look at head tube length because I don't like a lot of saddle-bar drop and there's only so much height you can get from a threadless headset system. People who like a lot of bar drop would look at it in the opposite way. But again, I know what the geometry of the bikes I have that fit is and I can look at a new frame and consider if I can make it work with what's available for seat post set back, stem angle and length, etc. Head tube angle, fork rake, etc. can impact handling, but not fit very much.
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Old 02-24-24, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
... have you considered a new bike that is totally competent and meets your needs better, if not having the fun of being a "I got a great deal on a custom bike used"

something like a surly midnight special at $2200, it might be a case of pay more now, get it right and amortize over time

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/midnight_special

or a straggler at $1700

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler
These are great suggestions for a touring bike. OP has a Surly Ogre, which seems to be a flat bar bike (at least originally); can the size of the Ogre (assuming it fits well) be the basis for sizing a Midnight Special or a Straggler?
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Old 03-12-24, 01:51 PM
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I'm just coming back to this post because the seller of one of these bikes is back in the country (they were doing a big tour in Morocco).

Now, I think I've decided this isn't the bike for me nor the size for me, but I want other opinions before I decide that for sure.

Here is the listing and here are the measurements/geometry. I'm 5'6 female - long legs, short torso. When I did a bike fit, I was told a 53cm was ideal (but we all know that different manufactures fit differently.

So, photo and info from the seller:

This is a Waterford 1900 bicycle. It is custom and has short reach Shimano Ultegra caliper brakes, not cantilevers. Clearance for 28 mm tires. 175mm head tube, 54 cm c-t seat tube, 52.5 cm effective top tube. Shimano 105 triple brifters, 105 triple front derailleur, Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra triple crank. I had the couplers installed and it was powdercoated a beautiful metallic orange. Shimano Deore XT hubs, Open pro front rim, Velo orange rear rim, Sella San Marco Rolls Ti saddle, American Classic seatpost. I can include a somewhat beat up S&S hard case for an additional $100, and can ship in the case at buyer's expense. This is a really smooth riding and comfortable bike. My wife rode Paris-Brest-Paris on it in 1999, but it hasn't been ridden much since it was coupled in the early 2000's.



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Old 03-12-24, 02:13 PM
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A centimeter difference in seat tube length isn't going to make much difference. If it does, then 53cm is probably on the almost to big for you size.

If the price is right for the Waterford, then it'll be a good bike to get some experience on. But I wouldn't pay so much for it that I couldn't go out and buy another bike if I found out I didn't make a good choice. There is no guarantee that you'll find a buyer looking for that bike willing to pay your price.

Getting on a bike and riding for the amount of time and in the conditions your normal riding will be is the only real way to find out it's the right size and geometry for you. Anything else is still too close to a guess.
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Old 03-13-24, 01:10 AM
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You won't know if it fits till you sit on it and go for the bars. I find reach and stack/drop to the handlebars to be way more important then seat tube length... as long as you can clamp the seatpost. The tall headtube does help with fitting long legged people since you can run a normal stem higher. Flip side is if you want the bars lower it's not really possible after the stem is slammed.
Personally I wouldn't buy a bike unless you 99% know it will fit, or you get it so freaking cheap that it's closer to pocket change. Maybe standd over a 53/54 vintage bike nearby to understand how the fit is, then extrapolate that to this waterford.
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Old 03-13-24, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
A centimeter difference in seat tube length isn't going to make much difference. If it does, then 53cm is probably on the almost to big for you size.

If the price is right for the Waterford, then it'll be a good bike to get some experience on. But I wouldn't pay so much for it that I couldn't go out and buy another bike if I found out I didn't make a good choice. There is no guarantee that you'll find a buyer looking for that bike willing to pay your price.

Getting on a bike and riding for the amount of time and in the conditions your normal riding will be is the only real way to find out it's the right size and geometry for you. Anything else is still too close to a guess.

It's listed for $800 (and has the suitcase) But, it would need to be shipped - so that cost would need to be added.
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Old 03-13-24, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by slow rollin
You won't know if it fits till you sit on it and go for the bars. I find reach and stack/drop to the handlebars to be way more important then seat tube length... as long as you can clamp the seatpost. The tall headtube does help with fitting long legged people since you can run a normal stem higher. Flip side is if you want the bars lower it's not really possible after the stem is slammed.
Personally I wouldn't buy a bike unless you 99% know it will fit, or you get it so freaking cheap that it's closer to pocket change. Maybe standd over a 53/54 vintage bike nearby to understand how the fit is, then extrapolate that to this waterford.
Well, that's the rub, isn't it? Nearly NOWHERE has bikes for testing for real and they all would need to be adjusted anyway. Like the bike I have (now on the trainer) is slightly too low for me. I like to ride more upright. But the reach/step over height feels so perfect if I could just sit a bit more upright (and the bike fit I had that compared what I had set up and what they recommended were pretty darn close. That bike is a 46cm bike! But we maxed out the spacers and got a handlebar that rose higher to work. But the reach with that adjustment of raising the steerer bar made it feel SO comfortable. The first time I road it for more than a spin around the neighborhood was fully loaded for 3.5 days and I had ZERO soreness or issues. BUT... I I had maxed it all out sizewise.

The Surly Ogre I have has not been adjusted at the fitter (which I need to do because they will adjust things as part of my bike fit within 1 year). It rides really nice/smooth, but I'm still trying to decide if I like the reach. I feel like I would like the handle bar to be a bit closer to me so I didn't feel so stretched out. I guess I like the "jaunty casual ride" feel over the "I'm going for a serious ride" feel. I ride mostly for comfort - never for speed. almost always for running errands, etc. When I do Ragbrai, I want to be COMFORTABLE for a long day on the saddle and I want its easy enough to get on and off the bike when I'm just exhausted without worrying about feeling like I'll topple over while I swing my leg over the bike to get off.

How is it that in Europe you can find more mixties than here? I'm pretty sure I would love a mixte that had all the gears and was made for long days in the saddle. That is perfection in my mind!
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Old 03-13-24, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I'm just coming back to this post because the seller of one of these bikes is back in the country (they were doing a big tour in Morocco).

Now, I think I've decided this isn't the bike for me nor the size for me, but I want other opinions before I decide that for sure.

Here is the listing and here are the measurements/geometry. I'm 5'6 female - long legs, short torso. When I did a bike fit, I was told a 53cm was ideal (but we all know that different manufactures fit differently.

So, photo and info from the seller:

This is a Waterford 1900 bicycle. It is custom and has short reach Shimano Ultegra caliper brakes, not cantilevers. Clearance for 28 mm tires. 175mm head tube, 54 cm c-t seat tube, 52.5 cm effective top tube. Shimano 105 triple brifters, 105 triple front derailleur, Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra triple crank. I had the couplers installed and it was powdercoated a beautiful metallic orange. Shimano Deore XT hubs, Open pro front rim, Velo orange rear rim, Sella San Marco Rolls Ti saddle, American Classic seatpost. I can include a somewhat beat up S&S hard case for an additional $100, and can ship in the case at buyer's expense. This is a really smooth riding and comfortable bike. My wife rode Paris-Brest-Paris on it in 1999, but it hasn't been ridden much since it was coupled in the early 2000's.


have your fitter look at the numbers and see?
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Old 03-13-24, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
Well, that's the rub, isn't it? Nearly NOWHERE has bikes for testing for real and they all would need to be adjusted anyway. Like the bike I have (now on the trainer) is slightly too low for me. I like to ride more upright. But the reach/step over height feels so perfect if I could just sit a bit more upright (and the bike fit I had that compared what I had set up and what they recommended were pretty darn close. That bike is a 46cm bike! But we maxed out the spacers and got a handlebar that rose higher to work. But the reach with that adjustment of raising the steerer bar made it feel SO comfortable. The first time I road it for more than a spin around the neighborhood was fully loaded for 3.5 days and I had ZERO soreness or issues. BUT... I I had maxed it all out sizewise.

The Surly Ogre I have has not been adjusted at the fitter (which I need to do because they will adjust things as part of my bike fit within 1 year). It rides really nice/smooth, but I'm still trying to decide if I like the reach. I feel like I would like the handle bar to be a bit closer to me so I didn't feel so stretched out. I guess I like the "jaunty casual ride" feel over the "I'm going for a serious ride" feel. I ride mostly for comfort - never for speed. almost always for running errands, etc. When I do Ragbrai, I want to be COMFORTABLE for a long day on the saddle and I want its easy enough to get on and off the bike when I'm just exhausted without worrying about feeling like I'll topple over while I swing my leg over the bike to get off.

How is it that in Europe you can find more mixties than here? I'm pretty sure I would love a mixte that had all the gears and was made for long days in the saddle. That is perfection in my mind!
Most mixtes and upright sitting bikes are not really meant for long days in the saddle, more for short trips

Also to be considered for long days in the saddle are aerodynamics, it might seem to be a concern for racers only, but but a very upright position even without wind or fast speeds will add a lot of effort over a long day of biking and if there is wind against you.....it is a killer

that does not mean you have to have a position with handle bar slammed below the seat. also reach can be adjusted with stem length

the soma mixte as noted in other threads looks like it would be an option functionally

I really think your fitter should be able to look at couple of these options and give you some input.

beyond that for used vs new is what components/gearing etch you need and how you get that.

as for getting off most bikes that have a flat or close to flat top tube, when properly sized will not give you a lot of stand over

following various threads I think your vision is at odds with reality a little bit. my gut is the soma mixte with drop bars may be the ticket for you for long comfortable rides, with minimal worry about top tube height....again suggest taking the soma specs to the fitter and get what size frame and build specs like stem length

have fun
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Old 03-13-24, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
Most mixtes and upright sitting bikes are not really meant for long days in the saddle, more for short trips

Also to be considered for long days in the saddle are aerodynamics, it might seem to be a concern for racers only, but but a very upright position even without wind or fast speeds will add a lot of effort over a long day of biking and if there is wind against you.....it is a killer

that does not mean you have to have a position with handle bar slammed below the seat. also reach can be adjusted with stem length

the soma mixte as noted in other threads looks like it would be an option functionally

I really think your fitter should be able to look at couple of these options and give you some input.

beyond that for used vs new is what components/gearing etch you need and how you get that.

as for getting off most bikes that have a flat or close to flat top tube, when properly sized will not give you a lot, when properly sized

following various threads I think your vision is at odds with reality a little bit. my gut is the soma mixte with drop bars may be the ticket for you for long comfortable rides, with minimal worry about top tube height....again suggest taking the soma specs to the fitter and get what size frame and build specs like stem length

have fun
But is it really at odds? The longest I've ever ridden was 70 miles in a day - and it was on that hybrid Bianchi I was comfortable. I could get on and off the loaded bike for breaks and pictures. I had zero soreness after 3.5 days of riding when I was barely riding at all before that (I just did a lot of fast walking every day for fitness.)

Now, it is true when I ride my electric cargo bike (like I did the other day) I will lean down into the the handle bars to more aero while going downhill and I try to avoid windy day riding around here because there's so many trees and I'm a bit afraid of widow(er) maker moments while passing under trees. I guess I just don't go anywhere (yet) where I need to worry about open road wind (like I would on Ragbrai... I'm a native Iowan. I'm 100 percent aware of what summers are like out there... and that is why that ride will be a ONCE in a lifetime event. I just want to say I've done it as a tribute to my Iowa roots). 99% of my riding is mid-Atlantic/East coast in the burbs along designated bike paths (we live in one of the first planned communities in the US that is full of bike/walking paths).
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Old 03-13-24, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
Well, that's the rub, isn't it? Nearly NOWHERE has bikes for testing for real and they all would need to be adjusted anyway.
That's why I almost always recommend that one purchase a bike at a price they can afford to lose if the wrong choice is made.

The more experience you get with different bikes the better you'll know what you do and don't like. So even a badly fitting bike provides you with useful experience and knowledge. As long as you figure out why it gave you that bad fit or what ever was the bad experience.
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Old 03-13-24, 09:49 PM
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Just experimented with fitting over the past 5 years, so I know what I want/need. I've honestly concluded majority of bike fitting advice out there is wrong and it's for sweaty competitive or pro cyclists, and concluded they ride in discomfort and pain because comfort is not a priority. Also I'm not a 20 year old 60kg super flexible pro who rides 350 watts for 10 hours.

Last edited by zymphad; 03-13-24 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 03-13-24, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by zymphad
Just experimented with fitting over the past 5 years, so I know what I want/need. I've honestly concluded majority of bike fitting advice out there is wrong and it's for sweaty competitive or pro cyclists, and concluded they ride in discomfort and pain because comfort is not a priority. Also I'm not a 20 year old 60kg super flexible pro who rides 350 watts for 10 hours.
I had that feeling from the second I was done with the fitting. I just wanted to figure out what size bike I would need. They only considered road bikes and the bikes he was showing me as good "matches" for my build/needs were SUPER pricey Italian bike. I didn't even remember now as 1. I was saying I wanted to ride mostly touring type of riding and, 2. I was looking at mostly riding along rail trails and then MAYBE Ragbrai. I was not going to spend $3-4K on a bike for that.
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Old 03-13-24, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I had that feeling from the second I was done with the fitting. I just wanted to figure out what size bike I would need. They only considered road bikes and the bikes he was showing me as good "matches" for my build/needs were SUPER pricey Italian bike. I didn't even remember now as 1. I was saying I wanted to ride mostly touring type of riding and, 2. I was looking at mostly riding along rail trails and then MAYBE Ragbrai. I was not going to spend $3-4K on a bike for that.
Yeah people I know are like me, casual riders and we all been saying the same thing. Cycling in the last 20 years has been extremely focused on pro cycling, and it's amazing to me that cycle shops can't keep stock of the $5-15K racing bikes, they are always sold out or with waiting list.
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Old 03-13-24, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by zymphad
Yeah people I know are like me, casual riders and we all been saying the same thing. Cycling in the last 20 years has been extremely focused on pro cycling, and it's amazing to me that cycle shops can't keep stock of the $5-15K racing bikes, they are always sold out or with waiting list.
When bicycles cost the same as cars, that's a problem. I was balking at 3k! And the brand I think was Pinarello gravel bike.
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