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Thoughs on "Smaller" versus "Larger" Frame Sizes(7 posts)

Thoughs on "Smaller" versus "Larger" Frame SizesPsyDoc
Jun 22, 2001 11:31 AM
I began thinking about the issue of going for a "smaller" versus a "larger" frame size after reading Mothhunter's post below, "Please put my obsessive compulsive mind at ease". Perhaps my thought process is somewhat impaired, due to advising transfer students all morning, but I desperately needed something else to think about, hence this post.

One poster, Jack S, hit on an interesting topic, I thought. At the end of his post, Jack S wrote, "BTW, who gives a dam whether the trend is to smaller bikes (who's trend is it anyway?)- it's the fit that counts." Has anyone given any "real" in depth thought to why the trend "may be" toward smaller bikes? I think we all know that smaller bikes are stiffer, more agile, etc., but how much smaller does the bike need to be to notice this? For example, I doubt one would notice a 1cm difference in frame size, say between a 57cm and a 56cm. But, one would probably notice a 3-4cm difference in frame size, say between a 57cm and a 54cm or a 53cm.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I think the pros ride bikes more for performance than for comfort. The key phrase here is "...more for performance..."; not that a pro cares nothing about comfort. In other words, I think that they would be more likely to go with a bike that was lighter or provided less wind resistance to give them an edge than with a bike that "really" fit them. Right? If they saved 1/4-1/2 pound by going to a smaller frame with a shorter toptube, then don't you think they would do that in an effort to give them somewhat of an edge and simply throw on a 130mm or 140mm stem? I have seen racing photos where it looks like some pros are on a bike that is two sizes too small for them. Perhaps because of what we see in the pro-ranks, some cyclists try to mimic the pros riding style and position, even though they do not race nor have any aspirations to do so. I actually had one bike shop a year ago tell me that my bike was too big, because I did not have enough seat post showing! He was trying to sell me a smaller bike so I would have a more correct and "pro" fit. By the way, I have just under 5" of post showing now.

Is the so-called trend toward smaller frames a function of what and how the pros ride? Were the frame fitting methods derived from the pro ranks? Should there be multiple methods of frame fit depending on one's goals and riding style? Perhaps one for aspiring racers, one for recreational riders, etc.?

What are your insightful thoughts on this issue?
Jun 22, 2001 11:57 AM
since I started riding mtbs more a few years back, I noticed that my road bike started feeling a bit "big"--don't know if this is a center of gravity type deal or what. I find the sloping top tube idea to be pretty good - maybe my next road bike will have one.

The main thing I've noticed is that, in general, top tubes are getting longer in a given size. Look at the geometry for the new De Rosas - they seem to have ditched their old geometry in favor of slightly longer top tubes - so yes, you'd end up with a "smaller" frame - suddenly I'd be looking at a 56 instead of a 57. The first thing I look at, though, is seat tube angle. If it's steeper than 73, I'm gonna have a hard time getting my seat where I want it. Then I look at top tube - if it's in the 56 - 57 range, I'm probably gonna be happy.

Finally, I seem to be about the same height at Lance Armstrong - we're both 5' 11". He used to ride a 57cm (c-c) Merckx, which is what I ride. Now he rides the 56 (c-t) Trek. Well, I've tried the 56 cm Trek and it felt way to small to me (also the seat tube angle was 73.5, and the whole bike just felt plain wrong to me). Frankly, it looks too small for Lance, too, in the photos. But he seems pretty happy - hasn't even asked for a custom frame.
Lance rides a 58 trek--check the webpageSimpleGreen
Jun 22, 2001 1:37 PM
Lance rides a 58 trek--check the webpageHank
Jun 22, 2001 1:56 PM
huh, I'd been told it was a 56. Checked the Lance site and you're right. Well, I rode a 58 OCLV and it felt too big for me...
Too bad no 57CMSimpleGreen
Jun 22, 2001 9:16 PM
Too bad it's either too big or too small for you...well there's lots of cool bikes out there, so there's always something out there for us:)

Happy riding!

Jun 22, 2001 12:47 PM
Is it possible that the pro's ride a smallish frame to make up for the tremendous difference between seat and handlebar? Seems to make sense to me that the lower the bars, the closer you'd need to bring them to maintain the same distance. Just a thought.
re: Thoughs on "Smaller" versus "Larger" Frame Sizesmackgoo
Jun 22, 2001 2:14 PM
Just wanted to reply on fit and pros. I would imagine fit is very important. No one will ride a 100 miles a day day in day out on a bike that doesn't fit correctly.