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New Frame Quest(23 posts)

New Frame QuestC-squared
Nov 26, 2001 11:23 PM
I've been riding an aluminum Specialized Allez Comp with Ultegra/triple for about a year. Did a 400 mile ride in 5 days with back to back centuries in September (over lots of hills) my teeth have finally stopped rattling, my knees can move again and my hands are no longer numb.

Thinking of doing another long distance ride 600 miles in May over 7 days and need to get a better fitting frame for a 5'6" female 130 lbs. Since I'm spending the coin, thinking of going custom. Thinking of Seven Cycles for frame / stem / seat post and keeping my current ultegra group until I can afford to upgrade that too.

I'm not sure I know enough about my riding style yet to invest more than about $2500 for a frame.

Carbon sounds like a nightmare to keep unbroken. Have tried steel for brief ride and liked the lively feel. Think I was getting beat up by the aluminum (in addition to the poor fit). Not sure I like the stark brushed metal look of ti. I hate to climb - yet I love to climb because what goes up must F L Y down. I also want a comfortable ride due to the distances. Thinking that a Steel or Titanium frame and Carbon fork and seat stays might be the way to go.

Can I get all this in one bike? Does a Seven sound like a good choice?
Looking for some insight.

my .02dzrider
Nov 27, 2001 5:18 AM
I'm not sure of the Ultegra swap because it wouldn't work for me. I doubt I could sit for long with both an empty frame and a bike I viewed as under-dressed. For the price of a Seven frame you could get some very fine steel bikes from GVHbikes and save the bike you have for rainy days.

If comfort is the only issue, steel is a very good way to go. Much of the value of titanium and carbon forks and stays is that the bikes are light, stiff and comfortable. Light and stiff are worth far more in races than they are on long rides, so if money's a little tight try not to spend it on qualities you don't really need.

my .02C-squared
Nov 27, 2001 8:43 AM
Yes - Montreal-Portland 2001 (my 1st event). Sounds like you did it too...Probably doing San Fran - L A in 2002.

How does steel climb? I was being a little fasceitous about climbing - all good rides have hills. I usually sit through my climbs. And I do like to go as fast as possible on descents.
A little off-topic but...Me Dot Org
Nov 27, 2001 9:39 AM
Sounds like you did the Palotta Teamworks AidsRide. I did SF-LA in June.

As you are probably aware, Palotta has split from the SF Aids Foundation and LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and profits from next year's ride will go to Aids Project Los Angeles.

SF Aids Foundation/LA Gay & Lesbian Center are now producing their own event, called AIDS/LifeCycle, to be held in late spring 2002.

I would be very interested to know the politics as to exactly what happened. Anyone out there know?
A little off-topic but...C-squared
Nov 27, 2001 10:05 AM
You can view the official press releases at:

What I heard is that the GLC thinks they can produce the events for less money than Palotta does and also cut out his fee, thus the organizations will actually get more money. I also heard last year Palotta spent more money based on return ratio. Maybe the cross promotional costs for all of the Palotta events are taking their toll?

I haven't yet decided which ride I'll do, though I'm leaning towards the new LifeCycle event. I've always heard very good things about the GLC and the way it is run. Too bad but it really does appear to be quite political.
A little off-topic but...Me Dot Org
Nov 27, 2001 9:22 PM
Another factor might be that Tangueray is pulling it's sponsorship. They underwrote a lot of costs for Palotta.

I must admit I have mixed emotions about all this. Palotta's organization was first-rate. Just about everything worked perfectly, and the support people were great. However, I've heard that they take a significant percentage off the top. Would I trade a little of that professionalism for the knowledge that more money was going to the organizations that are supposed to benefit? I suppose so.

One thing is certain: Both of next year's events will take riders from each other. Hopefully, there will be enough riders so that both events survive.

I'm still not sure what I will do...
Nov 27, 2001 9:50 AM
I worked on the Bike Tech Crew and my wife did the ride. We both did Boston-New York last year. I was a little jealous on the 2nd and 3rd days as the riding looked spectacular and working on dirty bikes from dawn to midnight got pretty tiresome.

I climb as well on my steel bike as I do on my aluminum one. The motor's the same and the load is pretty much the same. I have too little experience with titanium or carbon fiber to compare climbing. They have never fit comfortably enough in my budget to own one. My lbs has Seven frames and there is no doubt they are done beautifully. The question is whether or not the frame alone is worth more than a high quality Reynolds 853 bike with a new DuraAce or Campy Chorus build kit.
In terms of comfortNessism
Nov 27, 2001 5:51 AM
Frame compliance is only a small factor in ride comfort. The double diamond frame does not flex very much in the vertical direction so don't expect dramatic improvements between one frame to another. The tires and fork are much more important than the frame for ride comfort. Of course, the frame must fit you. Nothing will cause more discomfort than an ill fitting frame.
As far as a Seven goes, they are fine frames that cost major coin. My advice is look for something cheaper. For Ti check out . These guys know how to make a Ti frame. Don't let the low cost worry you, they have built for many many OEM customers with good results.
With the money you save get yourself a nice new grouppo and carbon fork.
In terms of comfortTig
Nov 27, 2001 1:07 PM
I won't argue with how tires and wheels affect comfort, but I think you are wrong about the difference a frame makes. I don't mean the sales hype that shops and manufacturers try to make us believe. A diamond frame has more vertical compliance than you say. This is not a flame, but an informed observation.

I've transferred wheels and components (except bottom brackets, front derailleur, and headsets) between frames, and the difference can be quite dramatic. Since 95% of the components are the same, it helps eliminate them and easier to focus on the frame's ride.

Moving them from a classic Italian steel to a Cannondale was like going from night to day (didn't want to but a broken frame made me do it). Sure, different frame geometries contribute, but the frame materials and design are major factors. The ride went from a heavy yet glass-smooth, stable, with a flexy bottom bracket, to a light, vibrating rocket that was great to race but a true pain for rides over 40 miles. I doubted that a frame could make very much difference until that day.

Last month an old friend who is a LBS manager moved everything from a Waterford steel to Bianchi aluminum and even though he won't admit it to his customers, he says the new frame beats the hell out of him. He doesn't miss the extra weight of the old steel, but sure does the ride. He has raced 15-plus years, so I trust his opinions and observations fairly well. Sometimes it IS about the bike.

Do you own TST frame? If so, how do you like it?
TST frameNessism
Nov 27, 2001 1:43 PM
I don't have one but I've ridden TST built Dean, Diamond Back, and GT frames. TST is affiliated with Sandvik Titanium which is a large titanium fabricator. It's too bad that so many people are hung up on brand names these days. There are many talented frame builders and smaller shops out there that are starving for work while some of the boutique brands rake in the money.

As far as your personel experience with riding different frames goes, I can't refute what you say. My point is that tires and the fork are more significant to ride than the frame itself - by a fair margion.

It's not the best read but the following article details some emperical data regarding frame/fork/tire deflections under load.

yes, but ... my own .02djg
Nov 27, 2001 7:36 AM
I've never owned or ridden a Seven but they look nice, have a fine reputation, and can offer a custom fit. They're also some of the more expensive frames around. Not to complicate your search, and not to criticize steel--which may be your best choice anyway--but in response to your suppositions about frame materials, I'd point out that many titanium frames can be ordered painted (Seven, Merlin, and Lightspeed to name a few) and some Titanium frames come painted off the rack (Colnago CT-1, Ovalmaster). All of these builders have Ti frames within your budget. And it really shouldn't be a nightmare to keep a Carbon bike from falling apart.

Consider too:

1) Fit is likely the most important part of being comfortable on a bike. Ask around locally to see who is good about fitting bikes and pay for a thorough fit session that addresses both: (a) problems you might have with fit on your current bike; and (b) what you "should" want ideally on a new bike. See if you can test ride some things that have close to the suggested setup to see how they feel. The consultation shouldn't cost all that much, might be credited against a future bike order (if you make one), and could provide you with some really useful information (like, how bad is your current fit and how seriously should you think about a custom).

2) Wheel choice, tires, and tire pressure also play a big role in how comfortable a ride you get.

3) There are lots of good builders who will provide you a custom steel bike that is well within your price range. Some will offer a nice steel bike for about half your price range. You named Seven, you might also consider Serotta, IF, Strong, Land Shark, etc. You can also get custom Italian steel well within your price range--DeRosa, for instance, or Pegoretti, although a friend's Pegoretti took quite a few months to arrive and a british shop that recently sent me a Colnago (much cheaper than US prices) told me that I should also expect about a 6 month wait for a DeRosa.

3) There are builders who will provide you with custom Ti (even painted) within your price range. Merlin and Lightspeed come to mind.

4) Saw a custom Calfee with a short top tube the other day--it looked pretty nice.

5) People have idiosyncratic tastes (to each his/her own)--to the extent you can track down things to try, you might learn a lot about what you do and don't like before plunking down your money. I realize that this can be hard to do.

6) Seems to me that your idea of getting the frame you want first, and worrying about upgrading components later, is a good one. Your ultegra components will work just fine. IMHO: Get your dream frame/fit first, nice wheels second, and worry about parts last, especially if you have decent quality, well functioning parts on hand.

7) Good luck.
yes, but ... my own .02David Feldman
Nov 27, 2001 8:21 AM
STeel will last the longest and be the best value. Three bargains: Ritchey, Jeff Lyon, and Della Santa. Another thing re comfort--if you're not racing (or even if you are?!) don't think that you need currently fashionable pure racing geometry. A frame with 43cm chainstays and 50mm of fork rake will STILL GO AS FAST AS YOU WANT IT TO!!! Suffering because you want to be cool is really stupid.
Carl StrongMe Dot Org
Nov 27, 2001 9:27 AM
All of Carl's frames are custom, so you would have to get measured. (I used the Serotta fit system). He made me a custom Columbus foco (lightweight steel tubing) frame with Carve Carbon rear seat stays for $1350. It is, quite simply, the most comfortable non-suspension bike I have ever ridden. (I've done back-to-back Centuries on it and woke up smiling the next day.)The marriage of steel and carbon produces a bike that is nearly as light as aluminum with a lively yet supple ride.

I'm certainly not going to knock Seven, it's a wonderful bike. But you could get somewhere around 90-95% of a Seven for 50% of the price.
2nd the foco steelkoala
Nov 27, 2001 11:38 AM
I got a foco custom from tom teesdale for 799 and put a reynolds 1and1/8 all carbon fork on it. The improvement over my old colnago steel is amazing. T he frame weighs 3lbs. and 5 ounces for 55 center to center. With the coin left over you could get nice components and wheels.
re: New Frame Questbrider
Nov 27, 2001 9:35 AM
Have you considered Softride? Not the stock Softride bikes, but a custom built? I've got 3 custom Softrides, 2 steel and one Ti. The steel or aluminum would work great for climbing (the lower frame can be made ULTRA stiff while still having a cush ride due to the beam), and should still fall under your $2500. Might be worth checking into. I know TiCycles in Seattle has done several in both steel and Ti (I don't know if they do aluminum).
re: New Frame QuestRon L.
Nov 27, 2001 1:49 PM
Why do you feel you need to have a custome frame? I'm currently riding a Merlin, Moots, and a Pinarello Prince. they are all within 5mm top tube and 1 deg. Nothing that can't be dailed in with stem and/or seat adjustment.

That word custom, I feel is over-used. You still don't know how it will ride. And will play with your position as with any other frame custom or not. If you decided to go the custom route; find out what the numbers will be and compare them to standard geometry.
That is, if the custom builder will give you the info.
You won't find much difference, not $300 worth.
But if you feel the NEED TO GIVE AWAY AND EXTRA $300 TO $400 BUCKS above and beyond the standard price of a frameset.
Please just send it to Ron at Rose Canyon Cycles in San Diego.
custom is risky for beginners....C-40
Nov 27, 2001 3:15 PM
You mention the poor fit of your current frame. This would suggest that extreme measures were used to get the desired knee over pedal (KOP) position, reach and bar height (saddle pushed all the way forward, short stem, lots of steering tube spacers). If these measures produced a comfortable position, it's not too difficult to calculate the geometry changes needed to produce the same position with the saddle centered on the seatpost, a mid-length stem, and few steering tube spacers (a proper fit).

If you don't have a comfortable position now, you need to figure out what it should be, before you order a custom. No frame builder can tell you what a comfortable or efficient position is for you. Only a lot of riding experience and experimentation will determine that for sure. An experienced fitter could evaluate your current ride and identify what dimensions differ substantially from the normal range.

For example, the top of my bars are 10cm below the top of the saddle. Some folks would find this to be uncomfortable, but it works for me. A custom builder can't get the right head tube length unless he knows your preferred bar height. It looks pretty dumb to have a "custom" frame with 2 or 3cm of steering tube spacers.

Taking body measurements or even a custom "fit bike" session can still produce a frame that's 1 or 2cm off on some critical dimension. Most fit bike sessions don't use the same saddle, seatpost, and bars that will be used on the finished bike. This can be a major source of error. If you don't know your preferred KOP position, a fit session will likely place the knee directly over the pedal spindle. That's a fine starting point, but if you later determine that your most efficient KOP position is 2cm behind the pedal spindle, your custom seat tube angle, top tube length and stem size just went down the drain! There's just no substitute for riding experience.

If you do need a custom due to your body proportions, a steel frame with a nice paint job would be cheaper than Ti. A steel frame will have a good ride if built with standard diameter tubes and coupled with a good carbon fork. Ti should produce a fine ride also, as long as the tubes aren't greatly oversized or bladed. Seven would select tubes appropriate for your weight and frame size.

If you don't need custom, stay away from aluminum frames if you want a decent ride. Also avoid oversized and bladed frame tubes, regradless of the material. These increase stiffness, but often produce a harsh ride. I'm about your size, and I've ridden a lot of harsh frames in the last 17 years. My favorite frames have been standard diameter steel (Tommasini Sintesi) and carbon fiber (Colnago C-40). The only Ti frame I've ridden is a Litespeed Ultimate. The bladed downtube and short stays(not the material)made for a brutal ride. I rode it for one uncomfortable season before selling it.
custom is risky for beginners....C-squared
Nov 27, 2001 4:59 PM
After my painful experience in Sept., I took my bike to a very good LBS to help fit me on my current bike. I've only ridden it on rides under 50 mile since then. It feels that I have lost power with the new positioning and KOP although my knees don't hurt as much, they still get sore. My saddle is on the rails and can't adjust any more. I've tried a longer stem and adjusted my bar and lever positions. That helped with my shoulder pain (but didn't eliminate it). I like a fairly aero - low position and I'm all scrunched up, eating my elbows and hitting my knees when I'm in the drops.

I've looked at women's design frames, but they don't seem to make a variety of materials or higher-end bikes with women's specific specs.

I'm probably closest to a mens 51cm or womens 53 cm. Since I'm looking for a nicer ride, the LBS said that if i wanted a better fit, for about the same price range I'm looking in for an OTC bike, I could get a custom frame. That's what put the bee in my bonnett.

I appreciate your concern about forking out major doe when this probablly won't be my last bike. On the other hand, I'm not happy with my current ride and need to do something so I can keep riding. Wouldn't a good frame maker be able to help me figure out what would work based on what isn't working now, my build, skill level and desired uses for the bike OR should i go OTC and play some more with positioning?

Thanks again for the serious thought you all are giving this question...
what size do you have now?C-40
Nov 27, 2001 7:40 PM
Unless you were sold the wrong size frame (less than a 52?) you're not likely to gain anything with another stock frame. I've reviewed the geometry of a great many models. It's rare to find differences in effective top tube length that exceed 1cm from one brand to another.

If you do have a frame that's too small, moving up 2cm will generally give you 1cm more top tube length.

Your problems sound kind of unusual. From the limited information that you have given, it sounds like the LBS moved your saddle all the way forward (?) to make the KOP position directly over or perhaps in front of the pedal spindle. This will increase cadence and reduce stress on the knees, but will also reduce the amount of torque that can be applied to the pedals. Unless you pedal at a higher average cadence, power output will drop, since power = torque times cadence.

The current geometry of Specialized frames shows a seat tube angle (STA) of 74 or 74.5 degrees, depending on the exact frame size. It would be unusual to move the saddle all the way forward with this steep STA, although it would explain the crowded feeling.

If the saddle is all the way back and you're crowded, check the type of seat post that you using. A traditional "setback" seatpost has the front of the seat rail clamp positioned near the centerline of the post. Some of the new mountain-style posts position the clamp much further forward. If you have this type of post, try a setback model. This will allow you to experiment with a KOP that is behind the pedal spindle.

Whenever the saddle is moved forward, the stem should be lengthened by an equal amount. Your knees and elbows shouldn't be overlapping when pedaling in the drops. Unless you are already using a 130mm stem, there's no reason to be crowded.

If you are using a 130mm stem, then it's quite likely that the top tube is too short because the frame is too small or the saddle has been placed unnecessarily far forward.

A good builder can tell you what geometry is required to produce a particular KOP position and determine the TT length needed to eliminate any knee to elbow overlap (with a 100 or 110 stem), but can't guarantee that the KOP will produce the results that you are after. The same goes for saddle to bar height. It's easy to get the right head tube length, if you have a specific figure that you want to achieve. No one can guarantee that you will find a particular dimension comfortable.
Its a 50C-squared
Nov 27, 2001 11:03 PM
We put a 130 stem on it. (I used to have a 110). It looks like the seattube is setback. The seat is pushed almost as far back as possible without tipping the nose forward. New saddle is sella italia trans am. (used to have mens specialized body geometry with a longer nose.) That is probably why I had such bad and numerous saddle soars from crouching far back on the saddle (rather than sitting on my sit bones) to try and compensate for the crowding.

I think my Knee position used to be on or slightly behind the centerline and is now forward of center. On the long ride, I started to peddle toe down and haven't totally shaken that habit yet and still have a black toe from the pressure.

At this point in my riding, I tend to do 70-80 cadence in bigger gears - more of a masher than a spinner I guess.

Sounds like I might be better suited with an otc in a larger size that might require minor adjustments?

Again, I thank you for your suggestions and input.
it's too small...C-40
Nov 28, 2001 10:14 AM
If you have the saddle pushed all the way back with a traditional setback seatpost and a 130 stem, then the frame is obviously too small.

It also sounds like you may need a seat tube angle around 73 degrees rather than 74, IF your saddle is all the way back and your KOP is ahead of the pedal spindle. I've never had any luck with the knee ahead of the pedal spindle myself (too much cadence). It also sounds like you need to work on your spin. Mashing big gears at a low cadence is hard on the knees. Part of the solution is proper gear selection. Keep shifting until you get a ratio that's easy enough to spin at 90 to 100 rpm. One of the first signs of a beginner on the road is that slow, plodding cadence. I see it all the time (as I speed by).

You probably need a 53-54cm frame which would have a TT length of at least 54cm, but you may not have enough inseam length to straddle this size, unless you stay with a sloping top tube design. Only 2 or 3cm of standover clearance is needed.
it's too small...C-squared
Nov 28, 2001 11:50 AM
You're right. Perceived close standover clearance on a 52 is how I originally landed on the 50. It was a bike I got before I had any actual experience riding.

Do you know what affect a sloping top tube has on the bikes overall geometry or ride quality?

I want to get a smooth but lively ride that will allow me to do back to back centuries and still walk, that will help me climb ( i need all the help i can get going up) and let me peddle and corner through descents as fast as I dare, that looks decent, will allow me to occasionally sprint in front of my buddies and will help me work at improving my abilities.

In short - I want it all - and then I'll have to peddle a long way to get there!!

Thanks again....
Ask someone to take a side view pic of you pedalling...kenyee
Nov 27, 2001 8:11 PM
w/ bike on trainer and post it so some of the more knowledgeable folks like C-40 and TJeanLoz can have a look...