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Decent bike with compact cockpit?(7 posts)

Decent bike with compact cockpit?MLCrisis
Oct 15, 2002 9:42 AM
I'm new to the site and recently back into road biking after many years away. I'm in my 40s now, so comfort and efficiency have become very important to me.

I've been riding my 20+ year old fillet-brazed Schwinn a lot this Summer...nice bike (for it's time) but incredibly heavy (built like a tank). My aches and pains and numerous experimental adjustments have made me realize that this good old bike from my youth is actually all wrong for me. The top tube is WAY too long for my freakishly short torso (<6'0" tall, >35" inseam). I now have my saddle positioned WAY forward on the old tank (like a tri-bike) but I'm not properly balanced with the crank almost below my seat.

I'm looking to buy a new bike for next Summer (for obvious reasons)...I'm planning on spending $1000-2000 total. Window shopping on the major manufacturer websites for frame geometry makes me realize that what I need may be hard to find. Anybody have any advice? Are there any common (or uncommon?) bike brands that are built compact front to rear in larger frame sizes? Should I put my money into a custom frame and lesser componentry? Any specific recommendations?
What's the top tube on your Schwinn?Dave Hickey
Oct 15, 2002 10:14 AM
Short of going custom, Many Italian frames have relatively short top tubes.

Welcome to the board. Very original screen name. This 45 year old can appreciate it!
What's the top tube on your Schwinn?MLCrisis
Oct 15, 2002 10:31 AM
The top tube on my old tank measures 62 cm mid to mid (the seat tube measures about the same mid to mid). I know modern bikes are a little more compact than mine, but I would like to have a reaonable stem length, too.
Euro geometryMcAndrus
Oct 15, 2002 10:43 AM
It's tough finding slacks, isn't it? I know because I'm 5'11" with a 35" inseam.

In general the European manufacturers trend to shorter top tubes and longer seat tubes. For instance, my recently sold Bianchi has a 61cm center-to-top seat tube and a 58.5 cm top tube. This creates a rather tall bike with a small cockpit and fits me like a glove.

From what I've seen, most of the Euro brand bikes tend to these proportions while the American bikes trend to shorter seat tubes and longer top tubes. For instance, a Trek that fits me has a 60cm seat tube and a close to 60cm top tube. I believe LeMonds are that way as well.

That's not to say you can't get an American frame to fit well but I think you'll find that the top tube length will be just as important as the seat tube length. My perfect top tube is 58.5 or 59cm.

I also have a large Giant TCR. It has a virtual 58.5 top tube and it fits me very well - although the seatpost sticks way the heck up there.

Anyhow - I've said too much. I think, though, you'll be able to get a good fit without going customized.
same problemtarwheel
Oct 15, 2002 11:35 AM
Forget most of the US bikes if you need a frame with shorter top tube. Some European bikes with shorter top tubes include Gios (steel), Merckx, Colnago, Viner, Cinelli, Basso, DeBernardi. Check, which has very good prices and a wide selection of frames. Keep in mind that a frame with slacker seat and head tube angles (72-73) will fit "shorter" than a frame with steep angles (74+). You can get some very nice bikes at GVH for less than $2,000 and equipped with Ultegra groups -- even a Landshark, which are top-quality custom frames that can be fit to order. GVH won't do the fitting for you, however, so you would need to have that done at a local bike shop. A fitting is probably the best money you will spend if you're shopping for a new bike and haven't ridden in a while.
My Bianchi has a compact cockpitUncleMoe
Oct 15, 2002 12:54 PM
It is a Bianchi Brava and is intended for light touring/commuting, which is exactly what I use it for. I did a 650 mile week long ride last year, and put 100 miles a week on it commuting.

I suppose the idea is to 1) make you more comfortable as I hardly ever get down int he drops and 2) since the bike has a good chance of having a rack with a pannier on it, which means weight distributed in the back, the shorter top tube keeps the riders weight distributed more up front.

At least this is what the LBS guy told me and it seems to hold true. It handles well with a commuting load and I stay mainly upright while even on recreational rides.

The Brava is more entry level at $750 approx, but I believe they have a similar design, just with better components. I was going to say it was the Strada, but I looked at their website ( and the Strada has flat bars.

With the Brava, the LBS said that if I just plan on commuting, it will be fine. But if I plan on doing 2-3000 miles a year or any extended tours, I should take a step up because I'll probably have to replace the components withing 3000 miles. Seriously, I've put 5000 miles on it and only had to do light maintenance and replace the chain twice. Still rides and looks like new.

Anyway, hope this helps. It won't hurt to look up a Bianchi dealer and check them out.
^^ Bianchi Eros has similar design but better components...^^ nmUncleMoe
Oct 15, 2002 12:58 PM