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compact versus standard frames...(23 posts)

compact versus standard frames...yesnomaybe
Feb 4, 2002 9:46 AM
understanding the inherent weight benefit of a compact frame- less what ever effect a long seat pin has on ride quality...
my question is:
do you loose anything in ride quality on a compact frame?
my 2 bits.....mixinbeatz
Feb 4, 2002 10:30 AM
This weekend I got my new team bike and had a chance to give the compact geometry a whirl. It is a TCR-0 medium and I am 5 foot 11 inches tall. Simply stated, the bike is a dream... It handles as well or better than any bike I have ever ridden before. It corners well, climbs like a rabbit, and was not sketchy on 40 mph+ downhill’s. Pedal transfer is excellent. It kind of feels like I am on a mountain bike because of all the frame clearance, but with a custom fitted stem it fits great. I rode for 2+ hours and it was comfy as hell. The only thing that I think the compact geometry does is make the frame super stiff, which is great.
I could not be happier, this bike is great.
Try a search of this board...Tig
Feb 4, 2002 11:05 AM
There have been several threads about compact vs standard frames in the past.
re: compact versus standard frames...RayBan
Feb 4, 2002 12:09 PM
well you may get a bit of flex from an overly extended seatpost, but aside from being a marketing thing, the biggest benefit I can see is a stiffer lighter frame.
Minimal differenceKerry Irons
Feb 4, 2002 5:30 PM
If the rider position on the bike is the same (seat setback from BB, reach to handlebars, seat height, drop from seat to bars) and the bike has the same wheel base, chainstay length, front center distance, and trail, then how can a sloping top tube possibly make a significant difference in the ride? The frame could be a tiny bit stiffer due to the smaller main "triangle" which would possibly be compensated for by having more seat tube exposed. Otherwise, what could make a difference? OTOH, if the geometry, frame tube shape/diameter/butting/weight, and/or rider position are different, then you can't possibly suggest that the sloping top tube is the cause of the different ride. Think about it!
Minimal differenceJenkins
Feb 4, 2002 9:29 PM
Compact frames look gay.
bull s....t logicCT1
Feb 4, 2002 9:45 PM
"Inherent weight benefit" .... you're so off base it isn't even worth discussing.

bull s....t logicyesnomaybe
Feb 4, 2002 10:37 PM
let's not jump to assumptions....(you are assuming that i know less than you.. when the fact is you know some things as do i)

and if you are reacting so strongly to my question i prefer you back up what your are saying with useful imformation..
my question regards this stuff..

I wonder if the benefit of a 'stronger' triangle is negated by the long seat post?

I live in a hilly part of the world and every ounce beyond my own fitness is worth a lot.. although we all know the rolling wieght of the wheel set is dollar for dollar and pound for pound worthy of more attention than similarly light frames ..

I know that often times in compact frames sizing is an issue.. and in my experience fit is everything...and the few standard sizes may leave some riders out in the cold...

compact frames often put the rider in a subtle but dtfferent relationship to the wheels.. this includes wheel base..and also regards the postion of the saddle over the rear wheel
the change in position of the top tube does affect how one rides a bike... i often use the top tube (between my legs)..for everything from trackstands to dealing with descending at particularly high speeds...

after years and years of racing.. i have seen many fads (remember drop-in bars) come and go.. so, yes.. i am asking a question and i do have a point of view.. what ever shit is troubling you is coming from you...

I would encourage a thoughful response instead of such an insecure one..
thanks for your help....
bull s....t logicCompact frames are by manuf's
Feb 5, 2002 5:24 AM
who want to fit all riders to 1 of 4 sizes. Much like ordering fries at McDonalds small, meduium, large or extra large. The weight savings is a complete myth as well. By the time you add back in all the weight you have added on as a result of using a much longer seatpost you are right back wehre you started. In particular, for oversized aluminum tube bikes with harsh rides you are now most likely looking at an even harsher ride versus a comparable conventional frame as the rear triangle is even smaller and thus stiffer.

Manufacturers have gotten away for a decade on selling mountainbikers on the joke that they can all be properly fit to one of 4 size bikes. That's why you see most MTB;s outfitted with all kinds of silly aftermarket stem extenders, seatpost extenders, etc... They are now attempting to push the same kind of "4 sizes fits all" crap on the road racing public. It's a joke, but an even bigger joke are the fools who buy into their marketing crap and support their S/M/L/XL philosophy by buying one of those pieces of garbage.
bull s....t logicyesnomaybe
Feb 5, 2002 7:51 AM
good point.. now let me twist the question.. I think you have to be a little crazy to spend three grand on a frame that isn't cusom sized... and the overall wieght of a fully kitted compact can be around 15 lbs ...
which sounds almost too light as well..(if there is such a thing)..
I really am just wondering about the cockpit experience.. ?
I sat in with some pros last weekend and they all had giant team bikes and love them..
I guess its a toss up.. i still feel like I am leaning towards a traditional framset... but i cant make the compact frame a manifestation of the evil empire...
I have seen too many people (good riders) riding them with smiles on their faces... any stock frame will not fit as well as a custom..
even top tube length related to seat tube length varies greatly between manufactureres ....
so I take your vote as a emphatic NO compact..

thanks for your input...
All I can say....mixinbeatz
Feb 5, 2002 8:32 AM that my giant is well under 17 pounds with pedals and is set up with exactly the same reach(toptube + stem) and saddle drop as my old steel bianchi. The bike rides much like the bianchi when spinning along but is noticeably more agile in climbing and cornering. If you know your exact fit through fitting and experience, most stock bikes can fit close to a custom. If the seatpost is stiff enough, it makes no difference how long it is. I agree, the compact frame may be kind of gimmicky, but I have ridden few bikes, that are as light and stiff as my TCR. Especially for the price. I agree that they look kind of funny, but the ride is great. As far as I am concerned, if you have never ridden one that fits right, your opinion is just hot air. Our team rides the TCR and I have not heard a negative comment about them.
All I can say....yesnomaybe
Feb 5, 2002 8:57 AM
thanks- i was looking for comments from people who have been riding them.. so your comments have been very helpful.. (and yes i agree... i don't know how anyone can swing a leg over a rig that has not been fit kitted )...
My experiences have been splendid.nigel
Feb 5, 2002 12:32 PM

I went from a steel ride to an aluminum (Giant TCR). Granted, these bikes are rather different in tubing, plus the Giant has the carbon seatpost and fork. I can't really see the slope of a top tube making a difference, BUT...the shortened chain- and seatstays on compact frames can absolutely have a big effect on ride characteristics.

When cruising in the saddle, I can't tell the difference (except that the TCR is a LOT more comfortable than my steel frame/fork combo). When standing to sprint or climb, though, I notice a huge acceleration beneath me.

Not all compact frames have seat- and chainstays as short as Giants do. Giants are some of the tightest (steepest angled and shortest wheelbase) bikes out there, making for super-quick acceleration and very lively handling characteristics. Some compact frames' seatstays go from the end of the chainstay up to the top tube (where the seatpost collar is located). On Giants, however, and on SOME other compacts, the rear triangle is rather smaller (tighter) than this--the seatstay lands itself farther down the seat tube, making for--I believe--quicker energy transfer and thus faster, more lively acceleration.

I personally love the look of compact frames (doesn't hurt that I'm about 5'4" without too many options out there for great fits), and have nothing but positive things to say about my experiences riding them. People bash them a lot; let 'em stroke their own egos. They can make a very nice difference in ride quality (and fit, particularly for shorter riders who often can't ride standard (stock) frames--like Marco Pantani and David Etxebarria in the pro peloton, for example). So what if they come in limited sizes. Specialized actually makes compact frames in MANY sizes: they believe in the benefits of compact geometry and produce them in about ten sizes. For most people, though, three or four can be made to fit either pretty well or perfectly with various stems and/or seatposts.

I hope this has further helped you.

COMPACT frames are LIGHTER. Heres why.BIKE DOC
Feb 5, 2002 11:06 AM
Yes, they have a shorter seat tube, but they need a longer post, so its awash. Where they gain is in the shorter seatstays. I think on the med. Giant they save something like 15cm of seat stay length (which is quite substantial)and gain stiffness in the rear end. And you do get more compliance with a longer seatpost. I think theyre a bit ugly but make sense.

I hate the S,M,L sizing. Its ridiculous. Im in between sizes. They lost a sale on me. Its a good concept though, I think.
re: compact versus standard frames...SSMike
Feb 5, 2002 3:42 PM
While I agree that, when fit the same, the differences are minimal, there are still differences. First, compact frames have a noticably lower CoG, which can be especially important when standing to climb or accelerate. Tom Kellogg pointed this out, and there's a great discussion of it on his new website at Second, some people claim compact frames actually have a worse ride quality in Ti because of the shorter, tighter seatstays. This was pointed out to me by someone at IF, and while great builders like IF and Spectrum may easily compensate with more compliant stays, apparently not everyone does.

The S-XL sizing is ridiculously stupid, but custom compact frames actually allow fit options that regular frames don't. Many of today's road frames are based on quill stem geometries, so when you put a threadless stem on their short heattubes, you run into bikes that fit a rider in every way (ST, TT, ST angle, etc) except the Saddle/Stem gap is excessive. Many of you may thrive with 8-12 cm stem drops, but most serious rec. riders and even many racers belong in the 2-6 cm range. With a compact frame, you can boost the headtube in a way that allows a carbon threadless steerer without running an unsafe number of spacers or a goofy 15 degree rise stem. With a conventional frame (level top tube) the ideal headtube length with threadless(carbon steerers especially)would result in an unsafe or even unrideable standover height.

It may be a fad or marketing to some extent, but when a traditionalist like Tom K. is riding compact and says he'll never go back, there's a heck of alot more to it than just hype. No it's not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it's not pure BS either. It amazes me how no one ever wants to take the middle ground in these debates.
re: compact versus standard frames...yesnomaybe
Feb 5, 2002 10:01 PM
this was very helpful.. and i agree with you and appreciate your thoughtfulness...and the link to spectrum (especially because i was considering a ti frame).
re: compact versus standard frames...SSMike
Feb 6, 2002 5:59 AM
It may all come down to your reasons for wanting compact geometry. If you're looking for a lighter or stiffer frame, I really doubt the differences will be noticeable. If you really just like the idea or looks of compact, go for it. Believe me, many customers who might benefit from the compact fit options I mentioned above reject it on looks alone, so for me the opposite would be a good enough reason!

Which style bike you go with is going to have alot less to do with how much you love your new bike than the fit. Get someone accomplished and experienced to do your fit. Make sure that person measures you very thoroughly (unless you happen to be working with one of those rare guru types like Tom who can tell alot of this just by looking), but don't settle for a shop that relies exclusively on the Fit Kit. Find a fitter who will interview you thoroughly about your riding style, special needs, and goals for your new bike's fit, as well as measure your current bike, find out your impressions of it, and look at you on it. Even if your current bike is not fitted or fitted terribly, it's a starting point because it's a position you have experience with and can comment thoughtfully on.
re: compact versus standard frames...yesnomaybe
Feb 6, 2002 7:21 AM
more great advice from you.. thanks..
my current bike was a beautiful lugged steel frame that was made to measure... back in 88 or so.. I have ridden it into the ground but its still a beautiful rig...(although rusting and dented)..

I am planning on doing some racing this summer (my work schedule opened up) and then after that want a bike with will give me another ten years of intense riding up and down the hills of back is fine.. (the only thing i feel i have lost to my thirties is a little bit of masochism and some fast twitch muscle...)

I raced when i was in my twenties and never got better than 4th place...but i was good and am only about 10lbs or less than that kind of fitness (but the 38 year old version..)
I am shopping seven's and litespeeds and serottas right now...I am getting a titanium frame.. I am tired of fighting the rust battle living so close to the beach and I think the characteristics of Ti will help my not twenty year old back. in the future...
the biggest anti compact factor I am wrestling with is that five years from now- I dont want to have found out this was a joke.. you know?
from most descriptions it sounds like compacts handle well when designed well, that they can be lighter, that they are quick handling (i prefer that) and that they really feel impressive under acceleration...
that seems to me to imply that they are slightly better than a standard frame.. of course this is splitting hairs-
when i am fit i am fast on anything and when I am not fit I am not fast...
such a neurotic process to drop 5k and years of commitment on a bike...for me it is an intimate relationship of sorts...
re: compact versus standard frames...SSMike
Feb 6, 2002 10:47 AM
I really doubt the compact thing is going to go away or look stupid in a few years. It sure won't be ubiquitous, but it has so many merits that there will always be a strong presence of it in my opinion.

If you're shopping Ti, I think you also should really consider the 2 brands I mentioned above--Independent Fabrication and Spectrum.

I don't personally look at Serotta and Litespeed as pure custom builders, because while I'm sure they do awesome custom work, it hasn't historically been their primary focus. Seven does emphasize custom much more, and IF is a big competitor/rival of theirs. While they don't do as much Ti as Seven yet, I really love their bikes. They use Haynes tubing (just like Seven), every bike they build is full custom, and they shot-peen and paint panels on their bike so it doesn't look like every other Ti bike on the planet.

I don't want to offend anyone, because Seven makes great bikes, but their whole numerical system turns me off. "Yeah, I'll take a Ti Road frame with a 7 stiffness, 6 weight, de-caf please, and could you Supersize that?" It just doesn't work that way with custom. They do make an awesome bike, I've heard though, but I've never ridden one.

IF's VP of Sales is a guy named Matt who was with Merlin for a really long time. He's a ridiculously knowledgable guy who is also very articulate and easy to talk to, and I'd encourage you to call him (617-666-3609) and ask why you should consider their bike along with the others you mentioned. When you're buying a bike like this, it's cool to have talked to the builders and to feel really good about the company you're giving all that money to. There's no company in the industry I'd feel better about giving my own cash to than IF, and I own one of their mtn bikes.

Call Tom Kellogg too, and see what he has to say. There's little point in even describing to you how amazing he is, because his knowledge and impact on the modern titanium bikes (especially Merlin for whom he designs geometries and developed butted tubing--at the request of Greg Lemond himself) can't be overstated. I have a Spectrum steel frame on order as well, in compact geoemtry no less.

Hope this helps, and good luck! You won't go wrong with any of the brands you mentioned, as long as your fit and geometry are carefully chosen.
re: compact versus standard frames...questions...
Feb 7, 2002 8:08 AM
I lost track of Mrlin over the years.. they somehow became old man's bikes to me or a company that was going under....(my own stange bias i suppose)...
i dont know why but i imagined them further away from the performance end of the spectrum and closer to the comfort (read: not stiff enough)..
is there any truth to this...?

yes i think the are beautiful but are they retirement bikes.. (speaking about the xlcompact and the extralight)..
why is the compact lises as heavier than the extralight?


what kind of riding do you do on that spectrum.. how old are it too soft...?
re: compact versus standard frames...SSMike
Feb 7, 2002 1:03 PM
I wrote a terribly wordy reply to this earlier and somehow deleted it trying to post.

I actually just purchased the Spectrum, so commenting on my personal bike will have to wait a little. It's steel anyways, so unrelated to your question.

I don't know much about the specific Merlin models you asked about, I'm afraid, but hopefully someone else can help. Merlin to me (no offense to anyone again) falls into that Serotta and Litespeed category I mentioned before: while they might do absolutely killer custom work, it hasn't been historically their primary focus and I don't quite classify them with other "boutique builders" in my mind. That said, I think your view of them as comfort/sport oriented bikes is probably just a misconception or the result of marketing. To my knowledge, Merlin, Seven and IF all rely primarily on Haynes for their tubing, so no major differences there. Any good custom builder (especially ti) will want to know your age, weight, riding style, and goals for your new bicycle. He or she will then tune said tubing and geometry according to your personal needs--be you Jan Ullrich or Irwin Fletcher.

I don't really think of a Spectrum as a prettied up Merlin, either. While the quality of the tubing and welds won't surpass a stock Merlin, what company's bike does? Tom K. designs the custom work (geometry, fit, stiffness, etc) of every bike he sells personally; you can't get more boutique or custom than that. I doubt many would argue with the statement that the fit and geometry will differentiate one top quality (i.e. IF, Seven, etc) Ti Bike more than what brand you choose. The latter is what makes a custom, well, custom!
fouled up logicCT1
Feb 5, 2002 9:28 PM
Anyone can build a bike to sub 15#. All it take is money and a good frame. Notice I didn't say a STT frame. There are plenty of standard frames available that have comparable weights to the TCR or similar STT frame.

fouled up logicCT45
Feb 6, 2002 5:06 PM
wow, that does look gay!