Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

bike size

Old 02-06-06, 10:30 AM
  #1  
ken032101
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bike size

I am completely confused. I am buying a new bike. My first road bike and I amgetting conflicting info form bike shops. I am 5-9 with a 30" inseam. One store told me i need a 56" frame and the other says I need a 54. 54 seems small and 56 on cannondale seems big. Any advice. Keep in mind i do not know what a correct feel is.
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Old 02-06-06, 10:40 AM
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54 will be a decent starting point. I'm 5'8 riding with a 31.5 inseam and a 54.5/54.8 frame [CAAD 8/ Tarmac] - essentially I'm a 55...
56 "sounds" ok - but this is an anonymous opinion - don't take my word...

My suggestion is to ride both sizes and make sure you tell them to change up the stems to what you are comfortable with.. Just know that I went from a 80mm stem to an 110 mm stem - from riding enough, my muscles/body got used to being in that position...

Correct feel is what you can imagine yourself being in for hours and hours... road geometry is not really for relaxation - that's what hybrids/fitness bikes are made for...
As you continue riding - you'll develop your personal sense of comfort..
It's kinda a shot in the dark - and now that LBS's are confusing you, it's not helping..

Keep bugging the LBS's and ask them WHY they think a 54/56 frame will fit you better - a good one will explain to the very degree/mm of why. Keep in check what you are buying - because the LBS may be trying to flip an old 05' model..

Good Luck!
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Old 02-06-06, 10:43 AM
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Dave Moulton
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Go to this page on my website: http://www.prodigalchild.net/Bicycle6.htm There is info and a sizing chart that may help.
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Old 02-06-06, 10:49 AM
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I'm about your size...very close, and ride a 56. It's a little big, I plan to put a shorter stem on it to make it a better fit. My son rides a 54, which is big for him yet, but really is a pretty nice fit for me. So my plan is to trade him as he gets taller than I am, which I'm fairly sure he will. In other words, both shops are in the ballpark and most likely either could be adjusted to properly fit you, so you should ride whichever feels best to you and have the shop dial it in.
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Old 02-06-06, 10:49 AM
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Maybe this link will help:

http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html

For the first time rider, unless you are very fit and limber, don't try to get yourself stretched out on a bike like Lance Armstrong. Something like the Specialized Roubaix, the Cannondale OCR, the Trek Pilot, or Lemond bikes have a more relaxed fit; the rider is a bit more upright but the ride is still very fast.

Or you can get a more aggressive geometry(racing road bike) and have the stem flipped up, handlebars raised, stem shortened. As you get more used to the bike, lower the bars.

What sort of riding do you hope to do? How fit/limber are you?

Bike fit is extremely important. If it doesn't fit right, you won't ride it.

You should sit on a bike and with your foot on the pedal and the pedal is at the 6 o'clock position, there should still be some bend to your knee. You should not be rocking from side to side as you pedal. You don't want the seat to be too low as that's not efficient and it'll hurt your knees.

As you lean forward to hold the handlebars near the stem or just behind the brakes, you should be able to hold yourself up without using your hands. If not, the seat needs to be moved back and probably lowered a tad. Too much weight forward means a loss of power, less efficient pedalling and more weight/strain on the shoulders, arms, and hands.

Different bikes may have the same seat tube measurement(the 54cm or 56cm you mentioned) but fit very different. The length of the top tube is also important.

I'm 5'8" with a 31.7" inseam. That's a crotch to floor measurement done using a 2 x 4 shoved up tight with a small level on it to get the measurement correct.

I ride a 54cm Orbea Dauphine. But that doesn't tell you much. The angle of the seattube, the top tube length, angle of the headtube, head tube height, the length of the stem, the seatpost height, the setback of the saddle all come into play. I've recently been fitted to try to correct a numb feet issue and my stem has been shortened from 110mm to 80mm. As I get more limber, I'll lower the bars. LBS said I shouldn't need a longer stem in the future; that seems to go against the experiences of many riders here.

So, when you go to buy a bike, it is important to get properly fitted before buying the bike.
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Old 02-06-06, 08:38 PM
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I'm 5'9" with a 30" pants inseam... My bike inseam measurement, like what bbattle described with the 2x4 measurement is 33.25" or ~84.5cm. The advice you've gotten above is great. Take your time and get a bike that fits you. Do think about how you will use the bike as this is a key factor in the type of bike you get.

I recently bought a Giant OCR C2. It is the same type of performance road bike like the Trek Pilot and Specialized Roubaix that bbattle mentioned. It's a performance bike but with a more upright position. My 39 year old body would rather be comfy and ride longer than uncomfortable and ride shorter.

A very good LBS fitted me to a 54cm Pilot. It felt great. I didn't ride the Roubaix and ended up with the Giant because it felt just as good and was better value (slightly cheaper and better components). I ended up riding the Giant on 3 seperate days before finally buying. I wore bike shorts and my shoes for the last two rides and rode for about 20 minutes each time. Giant doesn't sell their bikes by the typical [standard] cm frame size. They sell them in sizes.... XS, S, M, L, XL. My OCR C2 is a medium.

Definately ride a few bikes. If you're not sure which style of bike to get, racing performance (Trek Madone, Giant TCR, etc) or more comfort performance (Trek Pilot, Giant OCR, etc), then try some of each as well. You'll definately feel the difference on the drops riding a Madone comapred to a Pilot.

You can do some sizing yourself as well to get a feel for what each of the LBS's are telling you. Wrench Science has a good sizing website. Check out http://www.wrenchscience.com/WS1/default.asp and look on the side and down a bit for a link to their WS Sizing System.

One thing I can suggest is that when you take the bikes out for a ride, be sure that they fill the tires up with a the right amount of air. I rode the same bike at two different stores and they felt different. I went back to the first shop the next day and had them pump the tires up to 120psi and then that bike felt the same as the other one.

Come back and ask more questions after you visit another store or try some bikes. If you're like me at all then you're probably itching to get the machine home for a ride. Resist it and take your time getting the right bike for you.

cheers,
- tom
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Old 02-07-06, 12:31 AM
  #7  
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get the frame that fits on the small side. you can always get a longer stem and seatpost but if a frame is too big, you're out of luck. I'm about your size, and ride a 54 c to t...I keep thinking I can go down to a 53, but less manufacturers build 53s. I also ride a 52 c to c with large tubes...it's about a 53 to the top and I have a 13 stem. the fit is pretty dialed in.
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Old 02-07-06, 08:57 AM
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Thanks a lot for the Wrenchscience website. It is very helpful.
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Old 02-07-06, 01:22 PM
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One model of bike can fit rather differently than another. And, what one company would call size "56", another company might call a size "54", even if the bikes are identical.

Getting a "precise" fit requires that you go to a first rate store, and tell the folks exactly how you will using the bike. If you will be touring, commuting in heavy traffic, or riding to get more fit, you should get a bike tall enough to enable you to set the bars as high as the top of the saddle. On the other hand, if you plan to enter some bike races, especially shorter races, you should get a smaller size that enables you to set the bars two or three inches lower than the saddle, and get your back low and flat.
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Old 02-07-06, 03:22 PM
  #10  
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Smaller generally better, unless you're 14 years old.

Easier to adjust up with saddle height/crank length/stem length and height/saddle fore-aft adjustment.

Even the formulae aren't fail-safe. Go with what feels best.
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Old 02-07-06, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Moulton
Go to this page on my website: http://www.prodigalchild.net/Bicycle6.htm There is info and a sizing chart that may help.
Dave, it is great to see you back on the Forums. Your thoughts on bike fit and frame design and construction were always of great value to us.
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