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How is this gonna look?(24 posts)

How is this gonna look?Len J
Nov 17, 2002 6:32 AM
Sometimes, you have to know what you are not good at.....and I am terrible at picturing how things are going to look when finished. So I need some help.

I'm a 48 YO recreational rider that loves doing 100+ mile rides on the weekend. Had an accident that totaled my bike in September (I'm recovevering nicely, thank you). Prior to the accident, I had almost 8,000 miles this year riding approx 4 times/week.

I am going to replace my destroyed bike with a Custom Frame & have spec'd everything out but am "Negotiating" with my LBS on the final geometry.......which leads me to my problem.

I'm 6'0" 160lbs with an 88 cm bike inseam. I'm pretty flexible but find that over about 85 miles the 8 1/2 cm drop to the bars (On the old bike) really starts bothering my neck & shoulders. As a result, I told my LBS that I wanted the bars no more than 3.5 cm below the saddle. Additionally, purely for aestetics, I told him I wanted minimal spacers & I didn't want a riser stem. The solution he has proposed is a 56 cm seat tube, a TT with a 2 percent rise (With a virtual 57 CM length), a 2 CM HT extension, an 84 degree stem (or -6 from perpindicular to the headtube angle of 73 degrees) and 2 CM of spacers. My problem is that I can't picture how bad (or good) this will look. I'm not worried about either the 2 degree TT rise or the 2 CM HT extension, but I'm not sure I'm going to like the 2 cm of spacers. BTW, none of this affects "fit", it is all about how it looks (I figure if I'm spending all this money, I should like both the fit & the looks).

Anyone have any pictures of a similar setup or any other alternatives to meet my needs? Help.

Thanks in advance.

P.S. I thought the hard part was going to be selecting the bike, between the paint, the decals, the color of the headset.......a million decisions. But I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
A suggestion.Dave Hickey
Nov 17, 2002 6:47 AM
If your going with a 2cm HT extension, go with a 2cm seat tube extension also. Calfee offers this a his carbon frames an it looks symetrical.
Nice Bike53T
Nov 17, 2002 7:29 AM
but buy some tires!
it's not mine nmDave Hickey
Nov 17, 2002 8:36 AM
Calfees are so light they float. ;) nmBonked
Nov 17, 2002 10:00 AM
That looks like a friend's new CalfeeTig
Nov 17, 2002 1:40 PM
He just received his custom Tetra with the blue fade. This is by far the most beautiful bike anyone in our club has! He's a tall masters/cat 1 rider who has a few Zinn frames and needed custom beefing up in the Calfee's head tube and bottom bracket due to the large frame size. It doesn't even have the head tube gussets thanks to the extra CF wrap. His Zinns have extended head tubes, and so does the new Calfee, like in the picture. The Calfee weighs a full 4 pounds less than the lightest Zinn steel bike! After 1 week of riding, he says he really loves it.

I say go for the extended head tube for added stiffness as well as looks.
re: How is this gonna look?DINOSAUR
Nov 17, 2002 8:07 AM
You have about the same body demensions as I do, although I weigh a couple of pounds more. I ride a 59 c-t 56.9 tt Colnago with a 10 cm saddle to bar drop.

First- love that photo of the Calfee, that might be a good way to go for you.

Second- I don't like to give unsolicited advice, but I have had my share of lower back and ab problems. Recently it's been my abs and after long rides when I get off my bike I feel like I being pulled forward and had problems standing for long periods. I started using one of those little ab rollers once a day, combined with good old fashioned push-ups. The ab roller makes you extend to a range beyond your cycling position and it cured my lower back and ab problem almost overnight. It's a cheap cure, think mine cost about $7.00.

Glad you recovered O.K. 8K is a lot of miles for a guy that only rides 4 days a week.

I'm kind of partial to black, even thinking about going to those new Mavic brakes, which are black. My second bike (Klein) has so many different colors that I can put anything on it and it would match.
re: How is this gonna look?StewK
Nov 17, 2002 11:18 AM
I have a road bike with a 3cm head extension and about 2.5cm of spacers with a Ritchey 80 degree stem. If you want me to e-mail you a couple of pictures, e-mail me at and I'll e-mail them over.

Also you might take a look at Seven's website and maybe Serotta's. I know Seven is big on head tube extensions. They have some pictures in their catalog.
e-mail on the way. Thanks. nmLen J
Nov 17, 2002 11:22 AM
Nov 17, 2002 2:59 PM
You are proposing a pretty radical change to bar height. Are you sure that you need to increase it by 5cm? That's a lot. If you've never ridden with the bars that high, you should try it before committing to a custom frame.

You don't mention the size of your previous bike. From your inseam measurement is should have been a 58-60cm.

A typical 59cm frame would have a head tube length of about 160mm, for a conventional (not integrated) threadless headset. Apparently you dealer is proposing to gain about 1cm from the stem change (Ritchey WCS?), 2cm by extending the head tube to 180mm? and then using another 2cm of spacers, for a total of 5cm.

I can see the logic in using 2cm of spacers only if it's likely that you won't want them later. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense. It will certainly will detract from the looks. It also strays from one of primary reasons to buy a custom - to get the correct fit without a lot of spacers.

Also keep in mind that raising the bars with spacers or an extended headtube moves the bars closer to saddle. 3cm of steering spacer or headtube will require a 1cm longer stem or a top tube that is 1cm longer.

Is the head tube going to extend 2 more centimeters above the top tube, or will it merely be lengthened by 2cm with the front of the top tube 2cm higher than you current bike? This makes a difference in how the "virtual" top tube length is measured and the total reach to the bars.
A few (strange) answers.....Len J
Nov 17, 2002 3:30 PM
I have ridden a bike with the Bars this high & found it to be much more comfortable for long riding (I guess I am moving towards the Rivendell model slowly).

Previous bike was a 58 Trek Carbon. 57.1 effective top tube, 73.8 head tube angle, 73 seat tube angle, 54 center to center seat tube length. Again extended riding (over 80 miles)created discomfort in neck & shoulders due to bar drop.

I have long legs and a shorter torso.

It is a ritchey WCS he is recommending.

What he is proposing is starting with a 56 seat tube, gaining 2 cm with a 2 degree rise in the TT, 2 cm from the head tube extension, 2 cm from the spacers and 1 cm from the 84 degree stem. He seems stuck on the 56 seat tube in order to leave enough seatpost showing. (I guess)

Head tube is a 2 cm extension above the TT.

Standover on their stock frames is 82 on a 57, 83.2 on a 58, 84.2 on a 59. With my inseam at 88 (in stocking feet), I can't understand why he won't go higher. BTW we'vew spec'd 8 cm of BB drop on this frame.

Thanks for your attention c-40, I am very interested in your view.

A few (strange) answers.....castrello
Nov 18, 2002 1:12 AM
Well, have you taken the time to test ride other bikes? That way youll get an idea of what you like. Im pretty much the same size as you (6´1, 90 cm inseam) and I have actually test ridden a 58 cm trek and it felt really small. Even though it had 2 cm of spacers. As you said, its about 54 cm c-c. The bike Im riding at the moment is a 58 cm c-c and I still get a drop of 5-7 cm (havent really measured), but fits me kinda nicely.
old frame too small...C-40
Nov 18, 2002 6:34 AM
By your inseam measurement, your old frame was (vertically) too small. The 58cm Trek is really only about a 56cm (c-t) and probably has a head tube length of only about 140mm. You would have been more comfortable on a stock 59cm frame like a Colnago, which has a head tube length of 165mm and a relatively short TT.

If you're determined to raise the bars by 5cm, I would consider using the Ritchey stem, flipped to 96 degrees to gain about 2cm with a head tube length that is 3cm longer than your old Trek (about 170mm). Flipping the stem will require a 1cm longer stem or TT. The front end will have a normal look for a 59cm frame. The amount of TT slope shouldn't be critical. With your inseam, you should have adequate standover clearance on a non-sloping 59cm frame. With that in mind, perhaps you should compare the geometry of a stock 59cm (c-t) frame with the proposed custom geometry.

You haven't mentioned any proposed changes to the seat tube angle, which will also affect the TT length.
Thanks......Len J
Nov 18, 2002 6:43 AM
Yea, I know the old frame was too small. I never learn anything the easy way. It is probably why I am so sensitive to this build.

I agree with you about the 59 frame size, but the fitter is adament that that is not the right thing to do.

Seat tube is 73 degrees.

Thanks for the time

Extended Head TubesB2
Nov 17, 2002 6:33 PM
If you are sure about the bar height you want, why have the head tube extend above the top tube higher than "normal"? Couldn't you just slope the top tube a bit more to get a more traditional looking top tube to head tube relationship?

Couldn't you do away with the 2cm of spacers as well with a longer head tube?

re: How is this gonna look?tarwheel
Nov 18, 2002 6:02 AM

If you haven't done so already, take a look at the photos at the Steelman web site ( They have some nice shots of frames with extended head tubes and riser stems. Also look at the gallery at

Personally, I think extended head tubes look great (within the 1-4 cm range) and are a great alternative due to the problems raising handlebars with threadless forks/stems. If I order a custom frame, that would be one of my main reasons for doing so. I also think 2 cm of spacers is no big deal and can't believe anyone would find that excessive. If you find that you need more drop, you could remove the spacers and/or install a different stem.

Raising your handlebars might really help with the problems you have experienced. I had tremendous problems with numbness in my hands until raising my bars, and my brother was able to totally eliminate lower back pains he had experienced. One of the real benefits from raising your bars is that you'll find it much more comfortable to ride in the drops as well. I am able to ride in the drops for extended periods, particularly when riding solo or in headwinds, something I could never do when my bars were lower.

What brand/make of custom frame are you ordering?
Thanks for the links.Len J
Nov 18, 2002 6:48 AM
Looking at a serotta. It's purely emotional, I have always had a "thing" for their frames. Always loved the ride (Whenever I got a chance to ride a buddies, and the lines. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart.

It'll look fine. Are you over analyzing this?MB1
Nov 18, 2002 6:11 AM
Even with all my experience (and perhaps because of it) I would not presume to tell a builder (that I respect enough to buy a frame from) how to build a frame. I would tell the builder what I want and listen to what he had to say and how he would build to my requirements. I would only give a yes or no, not tell him about the details of how to get there.

Now to answer your question-my brother has a Waterford with a 2cm head tube extension. It looked a little odd as a bare frame but is not noticeable as a built up bike.

Here is the best picture I have of him on the bike.
Close-up of the head tube.MB1
Nov 18, 2002 6:17 AM
Probably, but.......Len J
Nov 18, 2002 6:52 AM
I figure that I would rather over-analyze this now as opposed to regret it later.

I am not worried about the headtube extension but rather the 2 cm of spacers.

I am not telling "a builder (that I respect enough to buy a frame from) how to build a frame", rather I am dealing with an LBS "fitter". The Fit isn't the issue but rather the look of the bike. I really don't want to spend all the time & money, get all excited and then be disappointed when I see the bike.

Thanks for the pictures, it looks like your Brother has about 2 cm of spacers & you are right, it doesn't look bad.

Nov 18, 2002 7:30 AM
I am curious as to why the shop is adamant about the 56 cm seat tube. It sounds like a 57 would be a better fit in your case, particularly since you are considering a head tube extension. With a 57 cm frame, you could get by with a 1 cm head tube extension or fewer spacers. Also, since the top tube will be 57 (virtual), that sounds like the classic "square" dimensions. I am 5'11" and can fit either a 56 or 57 frame, depending on the top tube length.
Don't know but.......Len J
Nov 18, 2002 7:34 AM
as I've thought about it, it is the next question I will ask. He is kind of a Quirky guy so conversation is not always easy.

He keeps talking about standover concerns, but this doesn't make sense to me. I talked him into going from 1.5 to 2 degrees on the TT slope & he kept raising concerns about my "nads".

Standover does matter.MB1
Nov 18, 2002 8:31 AM
In a shop you are checking standover on a nice level dry floor.

On the road you may have to bail on a wet slope with one wheel way higher than the other. I like to check standover with one wheel on a curb and the other wheel and my feet at least 4" lower. Could be a leftover from my ATB riding.

I did notice that your Trek seemed to me to be a bit small for you and your bars really low. You didn't ask so I didn't say anything. However you are now used to a bike with a lot of standover-better think about what a lot less standover will be like in the real world.
Maybe, but it seems to me that the usual concernsdjg
Nov 18, 2002 9:40 AM
about 1 or 2 cm of standover will get swamped pretty quick if there's much of a slope to the road (toss in a hard cleat sliding on slick pavement and . . . ).

I suppose the suggestion to try a dismount under different conditions makes sense enough, if someone is in doubt about standover, but most folks can manage a dismount, sans pain or injury, on a bike that offers very little standover. Little kids do it all the time--they just tilt the bike a bit when they come to a stop. That's not to say that there's no such thing as a bike so tall as to be a hazard, but I think the danger of falling off the seat onto the top tube is often exagerated.