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pmaz77 04-06-13 08:58 PM

Finding LBS With "Tall Bikes" To Test Ride
 
At 6-3 with a 38" inseam, I need tall bikes. I have a very hard time test riding bikes from different manufacturers b/c LBS simply do not carry tall bikes (60-62). If I ask them if they can get a specific model for my to try, I usually get, "sure, we need a deposit, and when it gets here, you can test ride it, b/c it's yours!"

Living in CT, I would love to hear from locals, but in general, can LBS get bikes to demo/test ride without me having to buy the bike BEFORE I GET TO TEST RIDE IT?

E.S. 04-06-13 09:00 PM

Do any of those shops do Retul/Guru fitting? If so, they can fit you to a geometry before ordering a compatible bike.

pmaz77 04-06-13 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by E.S. (Post 15478957)
Do any of those shops do Retul/Guru fitting? If so, they can fit you to a geometry before ordering a compatible bike.

They may or may not, but even if I have the fit data, I still can't say, "I want to test ride the Cannondale Synapse 61, as well as the Specialized Roubaix in the same size" without them having to "order it."

Velo Dog 04-06-13 10:34 PM

I'm about your size, and I can tell you finding tall bikes has been a pain in the ass for at least 40 years. I've lucked into a couple and special-ordered two, and it's DEFINITELY worth waiting and looking around.
Be careful about 62 and especially 60cm bikes. Shops will try to put you on those because they have them in stock, but it's not easy to make them work. They'll give you a long seat post, and you don't realize until you're 10 miles down the road that reaching down six inches to the handlebars is a really bad idea. I rode 62s for decades and thought I was OK, but when I bought my midlife crisis Atlantis, Rivendell recommended a 65, and it made a huge difference.

Tycho Brahe 04-07-13 12:34 AM

When I was shopping for a bike, most stores didn't even stock 58s! All of them were more than willing to order one for me though.

bigfred 04-07-13 01:01 AM

The best chance is to ask if the distributors are coming through your neck of the woods with a trailer of demo bikes. They will occassionally have the top and bottom of the size range available for this very purpose.

At 6'5" and also a 38" inseam I understand the challenge.

What are you on now? What do you like or dislike about your current ride? And, how it fits?

From those answers there is a great deal that can be suggested about may or may not fit your requirements. With regard to test rides: In the absense of a demo fleet, they're usually restricted to a spin around the parking lot. From which you can't tell much anyway.

elcruxio 04-07-13 03:57 AM


Originally Posted by Velo Dog (Post 15479221)
I'm about your size, and I can tell you finding tall bikes has been a pain in the ass for at least 40 years. I've lucked into a couple and special-ordered two, and it's DEFINITELY worth waiting and looking around.
Be careful about 62 and especially 60cm bikes. Shops will try to put you on those because they have them in stock, but it's not easy to make them work. They'll give you a long seat post, and you don't realize until you're 10 miles down the road that reaching down six inches to the handlebars is a really bad idea. I rode 62s for decades and thought I was OK, but when I bought my midlife crisis Atlantis, Rivendell recommended a 65, and it made a huge difference.

I can use a 61 frame just fine. In fact I could get away with a 58 (if I raced, that is)
I'm 6'4"
5 inches of drop at my height is a great idea. I'm so tall that any less would have me sitting up like mary poppins. Also the increased drop and reach forces me to open up my hip angle, which in turn helped a ton with back pains.

MikeWMass 04-07-13 10:01 AM


Originally Posted by elcruxio (Post 15479513)
Also the increased drop and reach forces me to open up my hip angle, which in turn helped a ton with back pains.

How does increased drop open up your hip angle? It would seem to me that you need to either raise the bars or move the seat forward. (Serious question, not trying to snipe.)

elcruxio 04-07-13 04:54 PM

I might have stated that a bit wrong since hip angle is a correlation between the hip, legs and torso as i've understood it. What I meant was that the adequate reach and increased drop forces one to lean forward, rotate the pelvis forward and get a flatter back in the process. I believe the drop plays a signifigant role since i have trouble rotating the pelvis forward if I don't have enough drop (this problem occurs with my mtb where road drop would be sillystupid) and I can't "pull" myself forward or fall forward.

Of course the pelvis rotation takes a lot of flexibility but you have to do it of else your lumbar vertebrae are going to be in trouble.

As a main example of how one should never make bikes for tall people i present leonard zinn. Not only are the big models the ugliest things I have ever seen, they often have the handlebar level with the saddle, which easily enables a normal sitting position on the saddle which of course is wrong.

Also one thing that interests me is the weight distribution between a high and a low frame. A low frame should have a healthier weight distribution since you are sitting lower, more forward and not necessarily putting more weight on the handlebar but still being more pronouncedly over the forward section of the bike.

Bit of an off topic perhaps...

bigfred 04-07-13 06:03 PM


Originally Posted by elcruxio (Post 15481508)
I might have stated that a bit wrong since hip angle is a correlation between the hip, legs and torso as i've understood it. What I meant was that the adequate reach and increased drop forces one to lean forward, rotate the pelvis forward and get a flatter back in the process. I believe the drop plays a signifigant role since i have trouble rotating the pelvis forward if I don't have enough drop (this problem occurs with my mtb where road drop would be sillystupid) and I can't "pull" myself forward or fall forward.

Of course the pelvis rotation takes a lot of flexibility but you have to do it of else your lumbar vertebrae are going to be in trouble.

As a main example of how one should never make bikes for tall people i present leonard zinn. Not only are the big models the ugliest things I have ever seen, they often have the handlebar level with the saddle, which easily enables a normal sitting position on the saddle which of course is wrong.

Also one thing that interests me is the weight distribution between a high and a low frame. A low frame should have a healthier weight distribution since you are sitting lower, more forward and not necessarily putting more weight on the handlebar but still being more pronouncedly over the forward section of the bike.

Bit of an off topic perhaps...

With all due respect. I usually attempt to refrain from offering what will or won't work for outlying tall riders over the net unless they provide detailed measurements, indication of their flexibility and riding style. There is simply too much variation amongst us tall folks to start talking about will or won't work. As an example, a few years ago I had a riding buddy who was within an inch (2.54cm) of my height 6'6 1/2" vs 6' 5 1/2". We could not possibly ride each others bikes. Not even for a distance long enough to call it a test ride. He was all legs and arms with a proportionally short torso. I am more normally proportioned but, without the arm ape factor he had and slightly shorter thighs in relationship to my overall inseam.

The consqence was that while both our bikes were 63cm c-c seat tubes, his had a considerably longer tt (in order to accommodate his long reach despite his short torso), extra set back block on top of a 20mm setback seat post and 140mm stem with long reach bars. I simply could not reach the bars while seated on his saddle. Tops, maybe. But, no hoods or drops, at all. My Belgian style, shorter tt, standard post and 120mm stem resulted in so much elbow/knee overlap for him that he resembled a monkey on top of a football and while he could ride the bike. He could do so in a normal fashion.

I find it curious that you would point to Lennard of all people as an example of how not to fit large people. When that is exactly what he is, and that has been his specialty for many years. His palmares are also reasonably note worthy and I would say he generally knows what he's talking about. Others would agree to the extent that he's the technical editor for velonews. Your credentials are what? for comparisons sake?

pmaz77 04-07-13 07:20 PM

With tremendously long legs, ape arms and a short torso, fitting me to any bike has been difficult. I currently have a 62 cm Madone and a 58 cm Bailey CX. I feel comfortable on both, but I have to set the cockpit up high to reduce the drop from the seat (I am NOT a road racer by any "stretch." If I don't consider custom, I have a good idea of what I need for frame size. I just want to be able to ride bikes (my size) from different manufacturers to compare them. I've never been able to do that. Waiting for the "demo vans" to pull into town is one thought, but I don't believe that happens too often. Maybe custom is the way to go (start saving.....now.)

bigfred 04-08-13 05:09 AM

If you haven't ridden enough stock bikes to be able to figure out what you might like, or, not with realative conficence, how are you going to provide the design brief for a custom build?

elcruxio 04-08-13 05:59 AM

Zinn represents a philosophy of fit, that's all. In my personal opinion it's the wrong one for many riders. And because it's my personal opinion I don't really need credentials :D

Now if I just open up some of the differences between my and zinns philosophies maybe all this will be a bit clearer. The first thing I find wrong with bikes that are bigger in every way is the speed aspect. Zinn's bikes may be perfect for people prefer just riding and looking at the scenery. Actually I'm completely ready to admit that they might be perfect for touring, since they enable enough reach with a relaxed drop. But those bikes are not for going fast. And I'm using the "going fast" as an ideal, not as an actual point of reference because in the end it's all about the rider.

First problem: Massively long cranks for achieveing kops. Just read some of his writings and found out that the longer cranks are especially for achieving kops without massive setback. It's a nice idea, but the problem arises when the crank is in the 12 o'clock position. That is when your knee is in it's highest position. Now in normal drops position that might not be a problem but when you're going hard in the drops and your back angle is almost in the negative the longer crank length is going to (heheheh...) kick you in the stomach. Also raising the leg too high might be detrimental to power output in general, even allowing for increased torque in the crank's maximum power position. If you have long femurs you might have to accept that you have to pedal a bit in front of kops (which is not really a problem since this seems to be fairly common in pro cycling) or sit over the rear wheel (which is also not so bad but I'll get there shortly)

Second problem is the weight distribution of a tall frame. Imagine a triangle consisting of the saddle, handlebar and rider shoulder. On a bike which has a zinnish fit with the handlebar level with the saddle the highest angle of the triangle sits more rearward on the bike and also, fairly high up. On the bike which has lots of drop the top of the triangle moves forward and down. On bikes with similiar components it's clear which bike has better rear forward weight distribution. Also the center of gravity is lower on the low drop bike. And lower center of gravity usually leads to faster and more secure handling. Now if the high zinnish bike has all the zinnish innovations (longer cranks etc) then the weight distribution might be ok since the rider is sitting more forward compared to the rear triangle. But then you have the crank problem described earlier. If you are sitting over the rear wheel one way is to bring some of your weight forward by more reach and especially drop. One should always keep in mind that the arm torso angle should be 90 degrees. A lot fo reach migh allow for a low position, but if the angle becomes aver 90 degrees by a big extent you are going to tire your arms and shoulders really fast. Try doing pushups with your hands in front of your head for an example. This is where drop comes in. You can move your torso lower and forward without worrying about your arm torso angle going awry. You can imagine it by thinking the drop creating a forward rotation of the upper body without moving the arm torso relation at all.

Secondly the rider sitting upright is less aerodynamic. Rider aerodynamics is by far the biggest factor in overall speed, if power output has been correctly achieved. I read a test where different rider positions had a difference of 100 watts (tops vs aerobar). All modern gadgets (deep dish wheel, aero frame, aerohelmet, skinsuit) combined do not even come close (although combined they too are a big help). The lower the rider the faster you go. One might say that it's possible to be low, even if your handlebar is higher. Yes, you can, but I find that actually having the bars lower helps, since you have less strain on the arms, you can't cheat (slowly unconciously straightening the arms and in the end sitting up again). Also you could say that the drops are for going low. Well yes, that too is true, but again I find that being on the hoods is more comfortable and the drops are reserved for situations where you need to go seriously low like descents.

Now like I said, I'm describing the idea of speed here, so if you are not for speed, ignore everything written in this post. Also different body types have different requirements and there are people who just need to go custom. Nothing to it. Now realize that even though this post might look like it's against Zinn it actually is not. I'm merely trying to point out the things his fitting philosophy got wrong in this one fairly narrow setting. Again, touring, randonneuring, leisure riding etc are things that do not concern me at the moment so those are not really things I can have a take on. But looking at pro cycling, no many of his ideas are flying. Some of it has to do with UCI rules, but for example some tall riders use custom frames. They have shorter head tubes, not longer. Tom Boonen used a specialized roubaix with a shortened head tube (I want one of those).



And to think this all started from "nah man, massive frames are not the only way! try smaller!"
I could have been a bit less eager and all of this could have been avoided...

bigfred 04-08-13 01:38 PM

No need to 'avoid' this.

As I'm about to purchase some proportional cranks, the concern you express about legs impacting on torso as a consequence of proportional cranks is one I share. My degree of drop is already limited by exactly this with 180mm cranks. I suspect the 200's I intend to purchase will necessitate an increase in my stack dimension. The question whether they will provide more power than the position compromise absorbs will remain open until I have them.

I suspect that the vast majority of Zinn's clients are not elite racers and are more concerned with achieving a 'reasonably comfortable' fit allows them to cycle for fun and fitness. In that context I think he's got it reasonably well sorted. If one is concerned with pursuing pro peleton speeds, you are probably closer to the mark with your approach.

jimblairo 04-08-13 09:34 PM

Zinn wrote an article for Velonews on the handling differences of large frames. He was dead on as I have a 64 Madone 6.2 and a 64 Roubaix and The Madone is nimble while the Roubaix is like driving a bus.

bigfred 04-08-13 11:03 PM


Originally Posted by jimblairo (Post 15487332)
Zinn wrote an article for Velonews on the handling differences of large frames. He was dead on as I have a 64 Madone 6.2 and a 64 Roubaix and The Madone is nimble while the Roubaix is like driving a bus.

That same comparison might be made between those two frames in any size:-) Different horses for different courses.

nlgrav182 04-09-13 07:18 AM

Interesting point to note, I am currently riding a wonderful 98 Litespeed Classic (bought used, don't even know the exact size but it feels almost perfect) and I am 6'3", 230 lbs, 49 shoe. I notice the heel of my foot coming really close to the dropouts and the rear derailleur. Point is just another piece of frame geometry that impacts a taller rider.


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