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Bike Fit Confusion…

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Bike Fit Confusion…

Old 05-18-12, 11:54 AM
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bikecrate
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Bike Fit Confusion…

I’m looking to replace my destroyed 55cm Lemond Zurich. It was probably closer to a 56 - 57cm since Lemond measured their bikes a little differently. I liked the fit of the relaxed sloped top tube geometry, except I had to raise the seat pretty high. I also had to put on a shorter stem since I felt a little stretched out over the top tube.
My problem is I’m 5’11” and have relatively long legs (87.5cm) and long arms, but average trunk length. When I look at some online bike fit calculators they have me on 59 – 60cm bike. That just seems way too big.
I’ve test rode a few bikes at some lbs. One store put me on a 54cm which felt too small. At another store I tried a 56cm and it was much like my old bike, but I could see that I was going to once again need to raise the seat really high and shorten the stem. I plan on trying out some other sizes, but since funds are limited, I would also like to open up the possibility of shopping for used online, which means I can’t always test ride first.
So I guess I’m wondering should I try to stay with a smaller frame (56cm) to keep the length of the top tube low and not worry about the how high the seat is or should I go with my leg length and feel a bit stretched out on the top tube or am I not looking at this issue the right way?
Is there anyone here with a similar body type who can offer some guidance?
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Old 05-18-12, 12:02 PM
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I've got exactly the opposite problem. I am 5"7", with shorter legs and more height in my upper body. In order to have a comfortable reach to the bars, I ride a frame that is a couple of centimeters taller than what the rule of thumb on standover height would dictate.

Based on my own experience, I would say the reach to the bars and overall position is the important thing. Get a longer seatpost if you need it.
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Old 05-18-12, 12:27 PM
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So I guess Im wondering should I try to stay with a smaller frame (56cm) to keep the length of the top tube low and not worry about the how high the seat is or should I go with my leg length and feel a bit stretched out on the top tube or am I not looking at this issue the right way?
Neither.

Based on your various leg and foot dimensions there will be some combination of height and set-back that gets you in a balanced position over the pedals where you don't have too much weigh on your hands and can make good power. There's a latitude in how you get the height - classic frame with a fistful of seat post showing or short compact seat tube and long seat post. Setback can come from how slack or steep the seat tube is, how much setback you have in the post, and the saddle rail combination.

From there there's some combination of reach and drop which gets you comfortable handle bar positions. Reach comes from the interaction of top-tube length and frame angles, saddle/seatpost combination, stem length and angle, and handle-bar configuration. Drop comes from stem height, stem length and angle, and handle-bar configuration.

Brands/models vary in how their frame dimensions relate and some combinations won't work for you. At 5'10" with a 30.5" cycling inseam there are some frames I couldn't buy a long enough stem to use and I ride a 55 center to top Litespeed with a 55.5cm top-tube and 120mm -17 degree stem. I'd need a 135mm stem to make a 55 Gios Compact Pro work with a 54cm top tube and could easily have problems getting a long enough stem if I needed any extra rise from it. I couldn't use my C-Record aeropost due to too little exposed on the 58cm seat tube version of that model that I'd need to get 55.5cm of top tube (to say nothing of nad clearance). You'll have the opposite problem and might like a bike with a 58cm seat tube, correspondingly tall head tube, and 55.5cm top tube that might go with another brand's bike 2-3 sizes smaller.

Find a position which works (fitters can get you there) and brands/models which combine a tall head tube and short reach at your seat setback and handlebar drop combination (implying a shorter top tube) and look at the on-line geometry charts to see what might fit.

A compact "comfort" or "endurance" road bike might work well for you where the effective top tube length may be short to fit more people and the head tube long to provide less drop for average proportioned people or a conventional amount of drop to the handle bars from your high seat. For instance, a 54cm Specialized Roubaix with a 54.8mm effective top tube length has a 165mm head tube versus 120mm on my Litespeed and 157mm on the 59 two sizes bigger than I ride.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 05-18-12 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 05-18-12, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bikecrate View Post
I liked the fit of the relaxed sloped top tube geometry, except I had to raise the seat pretty high. I also had to put on a shorter stem since I felt a little stretched out over the top tube.
Whether the top tube is sloped or not has nothing to do with fit. Two bikes with the same touch points, but one with a more level top tube and one with a sloped top tube, will fit the same. The sloped one will just have more seat tube showing.
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Old 05-18-12, 01:32 PM
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Given that you liked your 55cm Zurich, go find the effective top tube length for that frame, and add the length of the stem to that.

That's the number you want to replicate with your new bike. Find a frame with a top tube that duplicates that number with a reasonable length stem and that will be a very good start.

Test ride bikes that meet that criteria, and pick the one you like.
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Old 05-19-12, 03:50 PM
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What you need to compare from a vertical standpoint, is the total head tube length, with the headset, on your Lemond to the total length, with the headset, on a proposed new frame. There can still be some error due to difference in fork length, but it's about the best that can be done, until all brands adopt and report the stack height (vertical) defintion. From a horizontal standpoint, you compare the TT length, but corrections will be needed if the seat tube angles are different. A new frame that has a steeper STA will have more reach - about 1cm per degree.

Frame size numbers are meaningless, particularly with some of the same "size" and same brand having a 20mm difference in the head tube length, depending on whether the frame is a racing model or more comfort oriented model.
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Old 05-19-12, 04:35 PM
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who cares how high your seat is... is it a saddle to bar drop concern you have? 73* seat angle is the same if it is made up with seat tube or seat post. If the bike with the right reach fits, get that.

I have bikes with anywhere from 57.5 to 64cm seat tube lengths, but the saddle height is always the same. Different sizes were purchased because the bikes were built and fit differently
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Old 05-19-12, 05:32 PM
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I use a Piñarello Dogma 56 I am also same as you and found the best fit with the Piñarello tried Fiji, Ridley, Giant but Piña was the best. By the way I am selling my prize Piña loaded with Super Record for a steal of $5,800 freight paid today is my 60th and am rewarding myself with a new Dogma2
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Old 05-19-12, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
What you need to compare from a vertical standpoint, is the total head tube length, with the headset, on your Lemond to the total length, with the headset, on a proposed new frame. There can still be some error due to difference in fork length, but it's about the best that can be done, until all brands adopt and report the stack height (vertical) defintion. From a horizontal standpoint, you compare the TT length, but corrections will be needed if the seat tube angles are different. A new frame that has a steeper STA will have more reach - about 1cm per degree.

Frame size numbers are meaningless, particularly with some of the same "size" and same brand having a 20mm difference in the head tube length, depending on whether the frame is a racing model or more comfort oriented model.
What Dave said and a bit more.
Lemonds are measured center to center which often throws many off thinking they have long top tubes. They don't really...but not short either.
Plus Lemond is a proponent of slack sta's.
OP...it isn't that difficult really.
You need to measure:
head tube length
top tube length.
don't even consider sta...most are around 73 deg.
Once you have above defined from your current bike, review the geometry chart of the bike you are interested in.

I am built like you OP only taller. The 41 aka this place is frought with disinformation about long legged guys...saying size down. This is BS. Size down and now you have a lot of drop which is pretty uncomfortable for the average cyclist. Typically long legged riders have long arms which compensate for a shortish torso. I found Drew's comments confusing overall but he did mention one key correct element for guys like us with a long inseam for our height. Comfort or Endurance geometries like the Roubaix work best. I just built one up in fact and rode it today for 60 miles which is becoming routine. Best bike I have ever owned btw and I have owned some nice ones. The tall head tube gets the handlebar up higher for long legs and the average reach works with an average torso length.
It all depends on your flexibility if you can sustain a lot of drop and ride a conventional square geometry with long legs.. I can't at all. Used to be able to but a 60 mile ride will kill my neck with even 2 inches of drop. I am still a pretty strong cyclist FWIW.
Hope that helps.
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Old 05-21-12, 08:35 AM
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Thanks for the responses. One thing I'm reading that makes sense is to really pay attention to all the bike's measurements and not just the size, which I will do in my search. I wish the lbs salespeople were a little more helpful with this. I feel like they were more interested in S.W.A.T. (Sell What's Available Today). I remember when I bought my Lemond the owner spent a lot of time helping me figure the correct size and position on the bike. Sadly, that shop is no longer in business.
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