Is frame size really that critical?????

Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts

Is frame size really that critical?????

Postby inaminit » Thu Aug 23, 2007 11:51 pm

Hi all, I've been lurking around for a bit and am finally posting a question!

After years of perfecting the art of being professional procrastinator, I finally dusted off the trusty old Giant Kronos and actually started riding again! And as I was many years ago, I am again hooked and have steadily built up to about 150Km per week and am even doing some training rides with some graded bunches.

I considered buying a new bike, and was looking around the $1500 mark, but have now decided to hold off and put up with the old steely for 12 months and reward myself with a much better bike.

Anyway, a mate of mine owns the LBS and he told me today he is selling one of his personal bikes. I had a very quick look at it today and from memory, it's a 56cm Trek 2300 with full 9spd ultegra groupset and is about 4-5 years old and is insanely light! He's asking $900 for it and to me it seems like a hell of a lot of bike for the money!

The only downside is it's 56cm. I'm about 184cm and the old Giant has a 60cm frame. I'me going for a test ride tomorrow (weather permitting) and he's going to change the stem to ensure I get a decent height and reach.

So after all that waffle, my question is, is there any real negative in terms of handling etc to having a frame thats a bit too small for me, even if he can get the the rest of the fit right and it feels comfortable to ride?
inaminit
 
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:09 pm
Location: Gold Coast QLD

by BNA » Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:25 am

BNA
 

Postby europa » Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:25 am

Oh dear, the old 'is there nothing wrong with a bike that's too small' question.

You can make a bike that's too small 'fit' by fitting longer seat posts, neck extensions and stem extensions. If you're really lucky, you will be able to get the seat back far enough with a standard offset seat post (I struggle here). But hey, it can all be done ... at a cost ... and it might even work even if you aren't offended by the look.

Example one:

Image

Does that bike look 'right' to you? It fits ... now, and is loved no more now that it fits than before so. It's called the Sow's Ear and referred to as the 'horrible hybrid' for a reason - it's too small and doesn't really do the job despite the modifications. You can read her story here

Then there are those who will say 'that is extreme'. Well boyos, have a look at my much vaunted Black Beast ... in her current guise which almost works.

Image

The astute observer will note the adjustable neck. The astute observer will not that said neck is set at it's extreme highest angle ... and probably will not immediately realise that this is the longest neck available, from anyone. Nor would the astute observer realise that the handlebars seen here are an aftermarket item that have a reach 3cm longer than the stock handlebars. This bike, in its original form, was set up by an experienced and very good bike fitter, but he made the mistake of applying 'racing' fittings to an old git - me. Sadly, I fell in with this and consequently, I now have a very expensive bike that doesn't fit but which has been forced to, after much expense and mucking about.

Now, case three.
Image
Nothing remarkable her, just some old, overweight rider attempting to squash his ancient roadie. The point is, this old bike has always been comfortable under my bum. I foolishly thought it was oversized thanks to the height of the top bar, and allowed myself to buy the smaller framed Black Beast in the previous photo. In over twenty years, the ONLY modification to this bike has been in moving the stem upwards as my advancing years and loss of flexibility has dictated that bars nearer seat height are better than lower than the seat.

The Black Beast (piccy 2), professionally fitted and still loved for all her faults, has gone through three necks and a change of bars to make her work - she is about to face another set of modifications while in the background, I'm looking for a better frame, one that fits.

Bike fit is a chancy thing and, as a very experienced rider explained to me recently, a dynamic thing - it's changing all the time. This becomes more important as you get older (ie less flexible) and as you try to do more with your bike. The head down, bum up, aerodynamic pose is fine while you're physically capable of holding it and while you're willing to put up with the compromises. However, outside of that, it doesn't work. Then there is the upright stance. How hard can that be? Well, the Sow's Ear, the first piccy, fits me nicely now, but it's still a sod of a ride despite recently towing my daughter on her tag-along for nearly 15km recently.

Bike fit IS important. Get the right frame, and the rest falls into place ... eventually. Buying the wrong sized frame is just guaranteeing that you'll buy another frame down the track a bit. Modern sizing policies are based on racing thinking and nearly always result in a frame that's too small - this is fine if you like being in an extreme tuck. To go for a frame that is too small relative to modern thinking is begging for trouble and certainly will not provide you with a bike that you'll own for years.

Yes, you can fix almost any fit problem by bolting bits onto your bike, but the result will not be as good as getting the right sized frame in the first place.

Richard
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
User avatar
europa
 
Posts: 7327
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:51 am
Location: southern end of Adelaide - home of hills, fixies and drop bears

Re: Is frame size really that critical?????

Postby sogood » Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:48 am

inaminit wrote:The only downside is it's 56cm. I'm about 184cm and the old Giant has a 60cm frame. I'me going for a test ride tomorrow (weather permitting) and he's going to change the stem to ensure I get a decent height and reach.

It can certainly be done as many pro racers use smaller frames in order to get the drop they need to go aero. However, whether this style of fit works for you or not will depend on how your body adapts and application.

Given that your mate is a LBS owner, I'd think that he would know what he is doing. Fitting longer seatpost and stem would certainly move you in the right direction. But as said, you will need to test ride it and see.

I suggest that you try one of the online fit calculator to give yourself an idea and then keep an open mind about the frame on offer at this point.

http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CC ... ATOR_INTRO
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16796
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Postby toolonglegs » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:29 am

I can't say for sure,but :wink: I would say a 60cm was a touch too big for you anyway,I am 10 cm taller than you and I can squeeze happily onto a 60.I ride a 63 at the moment but it is the first time I have had bigger than a 60cm.When I have been bikeless I have also riden a borrowed 58 happily for 1000's of K's.I would say you are a closer fit to a 58cm anyway so stretching a 56 to fit you might not be that hard.In Belgium if you don't have bike with a 140cm stem on then you will never look like Boonen :wink:
User avatar
toolonglegs
 
Posts: 14032
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:49 pm
Location: Somewhere with padded walls and really big hills!

Postby sogood » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:34 am

toolonglegs wrote:I can't say for sure,but :wink: I would say a 60cm was a touch too big for you anyway...

+1. I'd also say that a frame that is too large is more detrimental to a frame that is a tad small.

Boonen rides a 13cm stem according to one recent CyclingNews article. So with 14cm stem, one must be better than him. :D
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16796
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Postby mikesbytes » Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:20 am

The 184cm riders I know ride 58cm bikes. I'm 182cm and my track bike is 56cm and I wouldn't want it to be any smaller.
A helmet saved my life
User avatar
mikesbytes
Super Mod
Super Mod
 
Posts: 14531
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:42 pm
Location: Tempe, Sydney

Postby inaminit » Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:36 am

Thanks guys I really appreciate the comments.

I was planning a test ride today, but it's still raining, so hopefully it'll clear up a bit later.

I agree that the 60 is probably a bit big for me. I bought it at least 12 years ago, and it never felt "right" which is probably one of the reasons I didn't ride it for so long. The bike before that was a 58, but the shop I bought the 60 from said I should go a larger frame so I did. (Wish I had this forum back then!!!)

I'll let you know how I go with the test ride (if this weather ever breaks!)
inaminit
 
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:09 pm
Location: Gold Coast QLD

Postby sogood » Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:53 am

Some sales people would push you to one or another frame size for the simple fact that that's what they have at the moment. Not very ethical in my mind.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16796
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Postby tallywhacker » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:31 am

The combintation of different frame geo and body geo makes it really hard to answer the "will this bike fit question". Really, just sit on it, take it out for a ride and if it feels good then grab it. However, I think the 60cm kronos is a bit big for you at 182cm. I am 187cm, I have 61cm, 57cm and 56cm bikes. The 57cm is definately the most comfortable to ride and I believe the best fit.
User avatar
tallywhacker
 
Posts: 1588
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:21 pm
Location: on the road

Postby timbo » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:44 am

From personal experience of trying to make a 55cm frame fit like a 58cm frame , the main issues I had were front brake cable routing, where after fitting a longer stem, the cable was covered by handlebar tape along the handle bar Ok but then had a big bend back to the front brake caliper. This resulted in a stiff brake amd release which no amount of lube would totally fix. The other problem with fitting the stem of the required length, was that there was so much body weight over the front wheel that bike handling became an issue and was at times unnerving on descents.
You could reasonably expect to go up or down one frame size no problems, but I would be hesitant to take it past that. The bike I tried to alter to suit me ended up being put back to how it was and sold and a new bike purchased which fitted properly. I have been happy ever since.
timbo
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 899
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 4:42 pm
Location: sydney

Postby sogood » Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:13 am

timbo wrote:The other problem with fitting the stem of the required length, was that there was so much body weight over the front wheel that bike handling became an issue and was at times unnerving on descents.

I think the solution there is to run long seatposts with greater setback that moves you further back than normal, thereby compensating the weight shift of the longer stem. But I agree, it's not something that amateur would be comfortable with and certain some pro advice are needed.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16796
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Postby inaminit » Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:36 pm

I dropped into the LBS for another look at the bike this morning.

The owner who's an old mate of mine wheeled the bike over and said, "well, we can put a longer stem on and raise the seat, then all we need to do is remove a couple of vertebrae and shorten your legs and we should have a pretty good fit." We then had a good chat about what it is I really want.

Basically, I'm only looking for something lighter and better than I have now to get me through for the next 12 months at the most. By then I will know what I'm after in a bike. (i.e. will I be club racing, just enjoying social rides and long distance charity events, or road racing).

What he has suggested is a new Lemond etape. He's offered it to me for $750 (RRP $999). He said that in 12 months, providing I haven't totally abused the bike, I should still be able to get about $600 - $650 for resale.

The downside to the Lemond is it has a sora/tiagra mixed groupset and is only 8 speed, but considering I would need to spend about $500ish to upgrade the dodgy bits on the old Giant, & I'm looking at upgrading to the dream bike next year anyway, it's sounding like a pretty good interim option.

So all thats left is to go for a test ride and to see if anyone here has anything negative to say about their experiences with the Lemond etape.

Thanks again to everyone, you really are a helpful and entertaining bunch!

Anthony.
inaminit
 
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:09 pm
Location: Gold Coast QLD

Postby Bnej » Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:42 pm

A LeMond is made by Trek, and even with old 8 speed Sora $750 is very reasonable for an entry level road bike.

I've only seen one LeMond bike in person, which is a very nice carbon fibre bike. Since they are essentially fancy Trek bikes, I don't think you can go far wrong.
User avatar
Bnej
 
Posts: 2880
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:43 pm
Location: Katoomba, NSW

Postby MountGower » Fri Aug 24, 2007 2:44 pm

Error. This post can no longer be displayed.
Last edited by MountGower on Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MountGower
 

Postby MichaelB » Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:50 pm

From a LeMond owner.

I bought my Tourmalet (last years model - 2006) for $1,350 instead of the $2,000 RRP. It has a full 105 Groupset and carbon fork & seatpost.

The quality is great, and since middle of March, have covered 2,740km on it with nary a problem.

The design is unique to LeMond (have a look at their website) but made by Trek.

What is really wrong with the Giant that you currently have ? Do you need to spend $500 on it, or will a bit of TLC and Lube do ? As Mount Gower said, save the money and buy something that you want. You'll lose more than a few hundred in 12 months.

BTW, I am 184cm and the LeMond is a 55cm Frame, and if any thing, it is on the smaller side, but I don't have an issue with it. But being the only decent bike I have owned, can't compare it with anything else.
User avatar
MichaelB
 
Posts: 6824
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:29 am
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Postby MountGower » Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:55 pm

Error. This post can no longer be displayed.
Last edited by MountGower on Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MountGower
 

Postby MichaelB » Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:03 pm

MountGower wrote:MichaelB

Just getting back to the original question, I am 177cm and bought my 56cm bike because I am sick of a 55cm bike. You are so much taller than I am. It's amazing how personal size is. My main problem is not with the 55cm top tube, although I much prefer the 56, it's with the 53cm seat tube. Unfortunately 1998 was the year Giant thought we'd all like to do hand stands as we rode along. Maybe your seat tube is 55cm aswell? This would make a 55 more acceptable to ride. It's a mine field out there.


Here is the LeMond Frame Geometry for my bike

LeMond Tourmalet Frame Geo
User avatar
MichaelB
 
Posts: 6824
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:29 am
Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Postby sogood » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:05 pm

For the same seat tube length (frame size), top tube length can vary in different models and brand.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple :)
RK wrote:And that is Wikipedia - I can write my own definition.
User avatar
sogood
 
Posts: 16796
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Postby Zujan » Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:50 pm

Just to add my experience…….I’m 196cm and riding 61 Soloist with 130 stem. Ive have been riding this set-up for about 2 months now and I can not complain at all. I feel comfortable on the bike. I had problems with lower back pain in the past but since I took riding again my back is fine. And to add; I’m not flexible at all (will need some Pilates done urgently)but ,again, I feel OK on the bike.
Zujan
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: Sydney south

Postby CB » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:03 pm

hows the soloist? carbon or alloy? ive been thinking i want one of them.
CB
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:48 pm

Postby Zujan » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:29 pm

I want SLC-SL but Im poor man so I have to put up with alloy Soloist!
And bike is;so far so good,no complaints at all!
Zujan
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: Sydney south

Postby CB » Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:33 pm

Zujan wrote:I want SLC-SL

my dream bike

cervélo/CSC seem to absolutely smashing it on the protour. must do absolute wonders for bike sales. when i see videos of o'grady, cancellara, voigt, and sastre saying "this is by far the best bike I have ever had" it really makes me want one haha.
CB
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:48 pm


Return to Buying a bike / parts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: acb, pez2014, rifraf



Support BNA
Click for online shops
Torpedo 7 Torpedo7 AU
Ground Effect Ground Effect NZ
Chain Reaction Cycles CRC UK
Wiggle Wiggle UK
Cycling Express Cycling Express
Ebay Ebay AU
ProBikeKit ProBikeKit UK
Evans Cycles Evans Cycles UK
JensonUSA Jenson USA
JensonUSA Competitive Cyclist