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bike size larger=more relaxed position?

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bike size larger=more relaxed position?

Old 05-10-15, 07:34 PM
  #1  
12strings
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bike size larger=more relaxed position?

So i went to look for my first road bike the other day, and the bike shop person (stocked mostly cannondale) pointed me toward the synapse, due it being more relaxed than the Caad...They originally suggested a 54cm frame (I'm 5'9")...but I was talking about wanting handlebars closer to level with, rather than way below the saddle, so they suggested a 56cm frame, saying that would have higher bars, then they could switch out a shorter stem.

Does that sound right? Is that a good way to approach frame sizing?
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Old 05-10-15, 07:36 PM
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The larger the bike, the taller the head tube. As long you can fix the fit by shorting the stem, then it might work for you.
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Old 05-10-15, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
Does that sound right? Is that a good way to approach frame sizing?
No! Not every bicycle is the right bicycle for your desires/uses/body. Buying the wrong size WILL NOT compensate for the wrong bike. If you want a less aggressive bicycle position.... buy a bicycle that is less racy by design... like a endurance road bike.
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Old 05-10-15, 07:44 PM
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12strings
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A synapse IS an endurance bike...
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Old 05-10-15, 08:07 PM
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I recently asked basically the same question over in the fitter's forum. They few answers I got were that a smaller frame size was better for a more upright (endurance) position. It seems counter intuitive but makes sense when you think about it. The larger frame size has a longer top tube causing you to stretch out more horizontally.

To wrap my head around the concept I visual a compass - the old geometry drawing tool for drawing circles with a point on one end and pencil lead on the other end, hinging in the center. Picture your torso as one side of the compass and your arms as the other and your head as the hinge. As the circle becomes wider, your back and arms stretch out more horizontally and your head lowers. ergo less upright.

Just my own thoughts. I could be way off base. Hopefully those more knowledgeable will correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, I believe that some, if not most, of the endurance bikes have shorter top tubes for this very reason.
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Old 05-10-15, 08:27 PM
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If there's another dealer near you, I would talk with them. Assuming you understood what they said correctly, that doesnt make sense. Bars are raised by leaving spacers in and using a steeper stem. A larger frame in the same model has a longer top tube as already said.
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Old 05-10-15, 08:27 PM
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Bike fit progression from a 56cm to a 54cm

Shortened the stem to 60mm, became quite twitchy, couldn't stand how it looked...

Ended up buying a 54cm, 100mm stem (-6 degree stem instead of -17 degree quill)


I've got long legs but a short torso which made finding the right bike tough. Lessons learned after 2yrs... size the bike based on your torso. Seat height is much easier and much more forgiving to sort out; bike inseam is not a bad starting point though. Lower back flexibility (partly genetic, partly based on how much stretching/yoga) determines the size of your head tube i.e. race bike vs. endurance bike. Your bike inseam determines your ideal seat tube height but this is #3 on the bike fit totem.

The 54cm is the more relaxed of the two because it has a similar head tube height (or saddle to bar drop) to the 56cm (10 yrs older) but a shorter reach (forward) resulting in a steeper more comfortable back angle.

Last edited by Kamau; 05-10-15 at 08:38 PM. Reason: incomplete
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Old 05-10-15, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbon Unit View Post
The larger the bike, the taller the head tube. As long you can fix the fit by shorting the stem, then it might work for you.
+1

It's definitely one way of tackling the issue, but perhaps not the ideal solution. If the stem can be raised on the steerer, and/or replaced with a stem of higher rise, is another way to do it.

Of course, finding a frame that fits you better-- e.g. delivering better weight distribution, more stand over clearance, etc.-- is the ideal. However, if the larger frame fits and feels good, then it fits and feels good.
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Old 05-10-15, 08:42 PM
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That sounds like the so-called "french fit" for a more relaxed setup. Larger frame, higher bars, a little more stretched out but also more upright.
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Old 05-10-15, 10:36 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Kamau View Post
Bike fit progression from a 56cm to a 54cm

Shortened the stem to 60mm, became quite twitchy, couldn't stand how it looked...

Ended up buying a 54cm, 100mm stem (-6 degree stem instead of -17 degree quill)


I've got long legs but a short torso which made finding the right bike tough. Lessons learned after 2yrs... size the bike based on your torso. Seat height is much easier and much more forgiving to sort out; bike inseam is not a bad starting point though. Lower back flexibility (partly genetic, partly based on how much stretching/yoga) determines the size of your head tube i.e. race bike vs. endurance bike. Your bike inseam determines your ideal seat tube height but this is #3 on the bike fit totem.

The 54cm is the more relaxed of the two because it has a similar head tube height (or saddle to bar drop) to the 56cm (10 yrs older) but a shorter reach (forward) resulting in a steeper more comfortable back angle.
Sizing the bike based on your torso is easy for you long-legged guys. Us short-legged guys will be singing soprano if an inopportune stop comes around.

If you can do that, that is probably the best.

GH
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Old 05-11-15, 02:01 AM
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I enjoy a shorter stem on my bike and a slightly larger frame. I fit perfectly on a 57 but am on a 58. It really boils down to preference, age, and most of all...flexibility. I would say mid thirties and up you should go with a more endurance set up...something with a taller head tube. Fuji gran fondo is a good example. Obviously that suggestion goes out the window if you are racing I suppose...but no one says you can't race on a endurance frame. Bigger the frame, the greater the wheel base as well which effects steering quality. If you don't like having a lot of seat post, go with a bigger frame, and a shorter stem. I don't like a lot of seat post, and I feel it is much easier to get in the drops, and stay in the drops longer with not as much seat post, and a shorter stem to boot. Some people may feel crunched up, but I find myself staying on the hoods and the drops more...which means I am able to be more aero for the majority of the ride. Stems aren't that pricey either so you can experiment, and just sell it on fleabay if it doesn't work out.
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Old 05-11-15, 07:31 AM
  #12  
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On my relaxed bike I just cut the steerer higher with more spacers... My race bike is a 56 and my relaxed bike is 57, so it's technically bigger, but in practice I have the same reach with different drop. Bar height is independent of frame size, to an extent.
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Old 05-11-15, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Cafe View Post
I enjoy a shorter stem on my bike and a slightly larger frame. I fit perfectly on a 57 but am on a 58. It really boils down to preference, age, and most of all...flexibility. I would say mid thirties and up you should go with a more endurance set up...something with a taller head tube. Fuji gran fondo is a good example. Obviously that suggestion goes out the window if you are racing I suppose...but no one says you can't race on a endurance frame. Bigger the frame, the greater the wheel base as well which effects steering quality. If you don't like having a lot of seat post, go with a bigger frame, and a shorter stem. I don't like a lot of seat post, and I feel it is much easier to get in the drops, and stay in the drops longer with not as much seat post, and a shorter stem to boot. Some people may feel crunched up, but I find myself staying on the hoods and the drops more...which means I am able to be more aero for the majority of the ride. Stems aren't that pricey either so you can experiment, and just sell it on fleabay if it doesn't work out.
Aesthetics side, the benefits of running a smaller frame and longer seatpost include reducing frame flex, increasing handling accuracy, reducing weight, and allowing for increased vibration damping from seatpost.

I can't think of any advantages specific to running a larger frame; bar position can be adjusted via steerer, stem, and bar shape (e.g. reach/drop).
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Old 05-11-15, 08:57 AM
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i thought the handlebar position can give you a more relaxed riding position vs aggressive. i personally think the road bike is already "aggressive" so if it can be closer to the rider and/or angled up or installed straight instead of down, this seems more applicable to me. the size of the bike is specific to you though, not specific to a relaxed position. setting up of handlebars/stems is secondary and can provide differences in a relaxed position.

changing the handlebars/stem settings to offer a more relaxed riding position, i'm all for it.

i'm not an expert so please chime in if i'm wrong.
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Old 05-11-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Aesthetics side, the benefits of running a smaller frame and longer seatpost include reducing frame flex, increasing handling accuracy, reducing weight, and allowing for increased vibration damping from seatpost.

I can't think of any advantages specific to running a larger frame; bar position can be adjusted via steerer, stem, and bar shape (e.g. reach/drop).
You could argue a longer wheelbase of a larger frame improves stability if you cruise more. Increased vibration damping from a longer seatpost? I doubt that. Reducing your tire pressure by 5 psi would be a more noticeable increase of vibration damping than a longer seatpost. Weight reduction, fair enough I suppose. But that is a negligible advantage that should be left with the weight weenies. I don't think a smaller frame necessarily handles better than a larger frame either. We could probably look at professional riders that race on larger frames for that argument. I really think handling has more to do with frame design, not frame height...and most importantly, the rider's skillset & ability to adapt to the handling characteristics of a specific frame. I don't see a big advantage when going to a larger or smaller frame and I'm not going to argue a larger frame, or smaller frame is better. Because anyone that says going to a smaller or bigger frame is some how better, is flat out wrong.

The best frame is the frame that you are most comfortable on IMO. If going to a slightly larger frame makes you more comfortable, you need to go that route. If you are more comfortable on a smaller frame, you need to go that route. It's been my experience that the more comfortable you are, the longer you can ride, and the faster you will go.
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Old 05-12-15, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Cafe View Post
You could argue a longer wheelbase of a larger frame improves stability if you cruise more. Increased vibration damping from a longer seatpost? I doubt that. Reducing your tire pressure by 5 psi would be a more noticeable increase of vibration damping than a longer seatpost. Weight reduction, fair enough I suppose. But that is a negligible advantage that should be left with the weight weenies. I don't think a smaller frame necessarily handles better than a larger frame either. We could probably look at professional riders that race on larger frames for that argument. I really think handling has more to do with frame design, not frame height...and most importantly, the rider's skillset & ability to adapt to the handling characteristics of a specific frame. I don't see a big advantage when going to a larger or smaller frame and I'm not going to argue a larger frame, or smaller frame is better. Because anyone that says going to a smaller or bigger frame is some how better, is flat out wrong.

The best frame is the frame that you are most comfortable on IMO. If going to a slightly larger frame makes you more comfortable, you need to go that route. If you are more comfortable on a smaller frame, you need to go that route. It's been my experience that the more comfortable you are, the longer you can ride, and the faster you will go.
i guess you're entitled to your ideas, but I fon't find any of your counterpoints persuasive, either because they don't jive with my experience, are purely speculative, or because they're counter-factual.
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Old 05-12-15, 04:51 AM
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I have a custom designed magnesium frame for randonneuring that is 60cm CT and has about a 42 inch wheel base. It only has about a 3 inch drop from saddle to bars. I ride silky 32mm tires, a specialized cobble getter post, a Brooks B17 and 3.2mm Lizard skins wrapped over gel padded carbon handlebar. It is a big bike like a truck. That suits long distance riding. Balanced and stable.

I have a Carbon (Felt AR 1) racing bike that is a 58 cm that has closer to a 5 inch drop. I can't understand why my (short) rides are faster on this one.

Questions about relaxed fit sound more like, "Hi, I am not fit....what bike do I get?"

I used to ride a lot and stopped for a long time. It took me over a year and over 10,000 miles before I could buy and enjoy a racing bike (AR1) and feel relaxed on it.

New riders probably are best with a more upright position and wider, comfortable tires until they get fit
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Old 05-12-15, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RR3 View Post
I have a custom designed magnesium frame for randonneuring that is 60cm CT and has about a 42 inch wheel base. It only has about a 3 inch drop from saddle to bars. I ride silky 32mm tires, a specialized cobble getter post, a Brooks B17 and 3.2mm Lizard skins wrapped over gel padded carbon handlebar. It is a big bike like a truck. That suits long distance riding. Balanced and stable.

I have a Carbon (Felt AR 1) racing bike that is a 58 cm that has closer to a 5 inch drop. I can't understand why my (short) rides are faster on this one.

Questions about relaxed fit sound more like, "Hi, I am not fit....what bike do I get?"

I used to ride a lot and stopped for a long time. It took me over a year and over 10,000 miles before I could buy and enjoy a racing bike (AR1) and feel relaxed on it.

New riders probably are best with a more upright position and wider, comfortable tires until they get fit
That's great, but the discussion is about whether moving up a frame size is a necessary approach to getting the bars higher. And just to recap, the answer was No.

Furthermore, I was pointing out that sizing up the frame just to get the bars higher may present disadvantages compared to the smaller frame, such as increased weight, reduced responsiveness, increased flex, and inability to take advantage of seatpost vibration damping. It all depends, naturally, on rider/frame relationship, rider weight and riding style, component selection and rider sensitivity. Some just like bigger frames, too, apparently.

So while it may be that sizing up a particular frame is the right step, it's not necessarily so, and besides looking at component spec, perhaps looking at other bike brands for more appropriate geometry is a smart thing to do to.
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Old 05-12-15, 06:18 AM
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Chad...I was not talking to you. The discussion was not about getting the bars higher. It was about a more "relaxed" position. Nonetheless, if you look at the numbers in my post....the bigger frame has a higher bar. Noticibly higher.

I would argue that higher bars and shorter reach can be more uncomfortable. I would also argue that plus or minus 1 cm in frame size is meaningless for 90% of riders who just need to harden up a bit.
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Old 05-12-15, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
So i went to look for my first road bike the other day, and the bike shop person (stocked mostly cannondale) pointed me toward the synapse, due it being more relaxed than the Caad...They originally suggested a 54cm frame (I'm 5'9")...but I was talking about wanting handlebars closer to level with, rather than way below the saddle, so they suggested a 56cm frame, saying that would have higher bars, then they could switch out a shorter stem.

Does that sound right? Is that a good way to approach frame sizing?
From personal experience; i'd say, yes and no. I'm also 5'9" btw. It seems new riders tend to feel more comfortable on larger frames the way the are setup at the store.

For example: my first bicycle from a bike shop was a fixed gear, i rode the medium and thought right away it was too small. Rode the large and it felt great. What I didn't know or understand at the time was that the Giant Bowery came with track style drops and the factory stem was too short, but the large felt fine so thats what i went with.

For my first road bike. I knew i didn't want a medium based on passed experiences but settled on a medium-large because it felt ok with road drops. I've ridden the medium-large (57cm top tube but close to most 56cm bikes based on stack and reach) for over 15k miles.

Over the passed few months, i found myself always bending my elbows at 90 degree's, so i decided to experiment with a medium. I like it as it allows me to get real aggressive but can't say i feel any other improvements other than that to be honest.

So yes, I would say a larger bike with appropriate stem will probably feel better at first and then its up to you, your needs and desires to figure out what you want from there. I'm happy I started with larger bikes and went down as I know exactly what I can ride and how it feels.

Tried to keep it as short as possible so let me know if I need to clarify anything.

Pic on M/L:
TCR. Rain Jacket stuffed under jersey.


Propel. M/L same geo as TCR.


Medium Propel, 1 size down with longer stem.
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Old 05-12-15, 07:37 AM
  #21  
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^^
I think the top and bottom bikes are too small for you, and the middle (Giant) is better (except for the neon booties ;-).
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Old 05-12-15, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by AndyK View Post
^^
I think the top and bottom bikes are too small for you, and the middle (Giant) is better (except for the neon booties ;-).
Haha, thanks.

The funny thing is that the top and middle bikes are the exact same size, geometry and use same bar and stem combo, its just that it has a sloping top tube which makes it appear smaller. Same fit.

The bottom is a size down with same bars but 1cm longer stem.

Definitely more upright on the larger bikes and have pretty much the same reach (same bar, different length stem), I think that might've been what the op wanted to know. Basically less drop.
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Old 05-12-15, 07:47 AM
  #23  
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I kind of did the same. I'm probably perfect on a 59cm bike but few folks make one. As I was stuck between 58 and 60, a couple of things I noticed.

First.......on the larger spectrum of bikes, the stack and reach get more favorable to comfort, the larger you go.

Second....Out of the saddle, I noticed I was almost too far over the front axle on the 58 (bike was very twitchy) when compared to the 60 which gave me much more control over the bike. I wouldn't really want to go *shorter* on the stem of the 58 to help that and perhaps I could adapter over time, but for me the no-brainer was to go 60.

Third.....As I see in the bottom pic of ColtJ, knees & elbows are a little too close for my liking. I *could* adjust that with a longer stem (though perhaps at even worse out-of-the-saddle ergonomics) but I didn't have the problem on the 60.

Fourth and last......I tended to knock the tip of my size 13 (48) shoes on front tire on sharp turns when riding the 58 as the wheelbase was a little shorter.

Now, if I were *racing*, I'd probably try to make the 58 work and perhaps in other brands (Specialized, for example who go from 58 to 61cm) I'd choose the 58 & make it work & possibly with less trouble. But in Cannondale.....on an EVO.....the 60 works for me. (FWIW, I'm 6'2" and 35" inseam)
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Old 05-12-15, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ColtJ View Post
Haha, thanks.

The funny thing is that the top and middle bikes are the exact same size, geometry and use same bar and stem combo, its just that it has a sloping top tube which makes it appear smaller. Same fit.

The bottom is a size down with same bars but 1cm longer stem.

Definitely more upright on the larger bikes and have pretty much the same reach (same bar, different length stem), I think that might've been what the op wanted to know. Basically less drop.
All depends on how "fit" you are. You get an extreme aero position - my back doesn't bend like that anymore! So, I would opt for the larger frame with less drop.

Nice bikes though!
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Old 05-12-15, 08:47 AM
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Switching to a larger frame CAN result in a more relaxed position, depending on the frame geometry and your handlebar height. Many larger frames also have more relaxed seat-tube angles, allowing you to move the saddle forward -- and thus shorten the reach -- while maintaining the same knee-over-crank position. Raising the handlebars also shortens the reach because the fork steerer tube angles backward. However, if you don't raise the handlebars or lessen the drop from saddle to bar height, then you will not achieve that result. I have gone to larger frames over the years while shortening or maintaining the reach, without resorting to using shorter stems, simply by being able to raise the handlebars higher and/or move saddle forward. The switch allowed me to ride in a much more comfortable position and cleared up a problem that I had with hand-numbness. I am also able to ride in the drops for extended periods, something I couldn't do when my handlebars were lower.
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