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  1. #1
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    No money for custom? Sizing issue

    I'm only 5'10 and have a 34" inseam. Long legs for a man right? But pay that no mind since they aren't "long sexy legs", the extra length is in the thigh. Now the problem...

    I ride a bike that's way to "big" for me. OK, maybe it's slightly too big for me, but that goes with the legs. All of my bikes get short-length 40° stems, seat all the way forward, etc and they still don't fit.

    In fact, the closest thing I've found to fit are "Comfort Bikes" because they tend to be made for upright riding. Pop the seat up and the reach is shorter than on a "real" mountain bike. Problem is, they can't take much abuse.

    Short frames are WORSE! Can anyone tell me why the seat post angle is such that putting the seat way up on a short frame makes the reach LONGER than it would have been on a tall frame?

    If I can't afford a custom frame, what do I look for? I'm a big muscular guy and would probably look pretty funny on a woman's frame, but then again most people would dare not laugh. They haven't even mentioned my women's seat yet.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2
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    What is the effective top tube length that you like? Maybe you should start saving for custom? Or just ride a road bike!

  3. #3
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    At 5'10" you should be able to ride a "large" or 19" frame. With this size, you'll have a longer headtube, thus getting the bars up higher. Then, look at manufacturer's websites to see which ones have shorter effective top tube lengths in that size. Pick one out, add a short, high stem and high-rise handlebars (to get the bars up near the same height as your saddle) and you're good to go.

  4. #4
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    You need to go have a bike fit done. Your practice of pushing your seat forward (zero offset post?) to make your cockpit fit might be OK if you had short feamers. But you said yours are long, which means your saddle will need to be farther back. Ideally you fit bikes in two halves above and below the belt.

  5. #5
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    Beg Walt to sell you one of his personal hand-me-downs. He's proportioned the same way (as am I). However, I like relatively long-ish ETT for my proportions, so I don't run into the same problems....even though I do build custom bikes.

    -CJB
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    You need to go have a bike fit done. Your practice of pushing your seat forward (zero offset post?) to make your cockpit fit might be OK if you had short feamers. But you said yours are long, which means your saddle will need to be farther back. Ideally you fit bikes in two halves above and below the belt.
    Exactly! Putting the seat that far forward puts the pedals too far back, making it hard to dismount.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhickey79 View Post
    At 5'10" you should be able to ride a "large" or 19" frame. With this size, you'll have a longer headtube, thus getting the bars up higher. Then, look at manufacturer's websites to see which ones have shorter effective top tube lengths in that size. Pick one out, add a short, high stem and high-rise handlebars (to get the bars up near the same height as your saddle) and you're good to go.
    I ride a large most of the time, the biggest problem being dismounting over a hole. So I would prefer 18" frames but can never find one that's "right". Most of the mediums I get are 17", but when I put the seat up on those the reach is even longer than on my "Large" frames.

    My most frequently-used large also has a 22.75" center-to-center top tube, which is around an inch too long. I get most of my stuff used, and would hate to step up to custom prices. A custom bike would probably cost more than my car!

  8. #8
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    Your call...

    It sounds like you have custom tastes/preferences on a less-than-stock budget. So you probably have to decide what's more important to you - spending a bit less money, or having more fun on your bike. You might not *need* a custom bike, but you might have a lot more fun with one. At the very least, you could get a fitting, then shop around online and find a stock bike that's close to what you need.

    And you really, really need a bike fit. It sounds like you are just making things up as you go (and maybe not even measuring your position). That's not the smart way to figure out what you need. A good fit will make you faster, make you hurt less, and make riding more fun. It is well worth the money.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by Crashman1 View Post
    I ride a large most of the time, the biggest problem being dismounting over a hole. So I would prefer 18" frames but can never find one that's "right". Most of the mediums I get are 17", but when I put the seat up on those the reach is even longer than on my "Large" frames.

    My most frequently-used large also has a 22.75" center-to-center top tube, which is around an inch too long. I get most of my stuff used, and would hate to step up to custom prices. A custom bike would probably cost more than my car!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    It sounds like you have custom tastes/preferences on a less-than-stock budget. So you probably have to decide what's more important to you - spending a bit less money, or having more fun on your bike. You might not *need* a custom bike, but you might have a lot more fun with one. At the very least, you could get a fitting, then shop around online and find a stock bike that's close to what you need.

    And you really, really need a bike fit. It sounds like you are just making things up as you go (and maybe not even measuring your position). That's not the smart way to figure out what you need. A good fit will make you faster, make you hurt less, and make riding more fun. It is well worth the money.

    -Walt
    My only really WILD custom preference is for rigid forks. I can't seem to get the right "balance" on nose-heavy bikes, to the point that I have better control over tail-heavy tanks than over nose-heavy featherweights. I get killer deals on these at auction and sell off the excess to buy more.

    I have only ONE frameset that SORT OF fits me, it's a 1996 19" Schwinn High Plains which is half-way between a midrange comfort bike and entry level MTB. I ride that on "everything" (mid-speed downhills, tight switchbacks, climbing etc) plus street I'm surprised the frameset has survived, but like I said it's still an inch too long and, probably an inch too high when I'm forced to dismount over a shallow hole. The weight is also a problem.

    Let me take a second to whine that I have a medium c'dale that also doesn't fit, and now I'm faced with the horrible decision of either selling it or spending a bunch of money to make it fit. It's so light!!! Damn the front suspension, I should sell it.

    Anyone with some old stuff want to swap a rigid c'dale for my Headshok version?

    So back to frame sizing, I think it would be really handy if someone knew a few options I might be able to search for on ebay. Perfect would be an 18" CTC seat tube and 21" CTC top tube. If I can get something close to that it's easier to fudge the rest.
    Last edited by Crashman1; 06-24-2011 at 12:50 PM.

  10. #10
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    Saw this and it just about made me cry:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-CANNONDALE-1...item1c1ca29b92
    It's too long, too expensive, and too single-speed. But I would LOVE a lightweight full-rigid of similar design.

    Since I'm limited to used parts, I'll plea with the frame size experts for suggestions on existing stuff I can look for

  11. #11
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    I don't see this as a big problem.

    Where your put your hands, feet, and butt for power and balance is almost independent of the bike. A quality fit mitigates virtual top tube and torso on ANY bike. Same with height and seat fore/aft. The fit not only places your parts where they need to be for your body but vis-a-vis the BB and wheelbase. This is particularly important for out-of-the-saddle work where you seat position is nearly irrelevant unless it obstructs access to behind-the-seat positioning for special handling situations.

    Unlike most "fitters" I ride extensively with the people I fit and watch what they go through as they adapt and grow as I fit my teams. The greatest challenge is usually between the ears and unhooking from adaptive habits which may have kept you riding but weren't really good solutions. From that point any change will feel immediately uncomfortable and lack that "aha!" moment one hopes to have when the bike and body are in harmony. That expectation is a mistaken notion.

    A new harmony will take an adjustment and a gradual familiarity with something that doesn't feel right for the first few rides. Further you will have to unlearn some bad habits and relearn some techniques and that takes more time.

    Making suggestions about whether your bike fits or your size is right is hard without a picture or real time experience. Go and get fit. Absent that you are looking for guesses from few workable facts and your personal dissatisfaction.

    Good luck.
    I don't rattle.

  12. #12
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    Update: I actually found two frame that fit. First a couple explainations:

    1.) When I said 18" would be ideal for dismounting on uneven ground, I meant center-to-center. I would fit a far taller road frame. 18" center-to-center is about 21" center-to-top.

    2.) When I said I couldn't find an 18" (center-to-center) frame with the right geometry, it's because I was having a hard time finding anything between 17" and 19" center-to-center with later than 1980's geometry. Of course someone had to make a frame with proper geometry for steering etc, I just had to find it.

    I did a load of searching and found two bikes:

    1.) Orbea D'ella Large. Yeh it's a woman's frame but it had the right horizontal top tube distance. Yeh it's a bit short in the back, but it's tall enough in the front, so I could just use a super-long seat post. And you can find them in blue and not tell anyone they're women's frames.

    But the frame was designed for 100mm suspension. I prefer rigids and was having a hard time finding a lightweight steel 445mm or higher fork. Can't afford titanium, hear bad things about aluminum.

    2.) I found a 1995 Cannondale M500 cheap on eBay with roughly the same CTC horizontal TT distance. Best of all, its 18" seat tube CTC, or you might say a 21" frame if you measure CTT. M's are designed for traditional rigid forks, and I found a decent one at the LBS.

    All together the old C'dale and fork were less than $100. The only problem remaining was that this is a short head tube frame so I couldn't get the bars up to seat level in any normal way. The solution was to pick a THREADED fork.

    I'm converting from threadless to threaded, using a threadless spacer between the cone and the lock nut on a threaded fork, and inserting a lightweight threaded stem down to the cone. Viola, handlebars up on a short head tube, with a frame that has the right distances and angles.

    Other than the fact that I just added like 4 ounces to the bike, am I missing anything?

  13. #13
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    Show pics of your Frankenstein bike please........

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yogii View Post
    Show pics of your Frankenstein bike please........
    Got the Rhyno Lite rims on XT hubs, LX derailleurs, Answer bars etc...super-rare platform pedals just to annoy the upper crust...and a few nagging issues.

    1.) I really need to replace that seatpost, the nose is 1/2" too high in the photo and 1/4" too low on the next notch...
    2.) I couldn't get my LX levers and XT shifters to sit in a comfortable position together and stuck on some Alivio combo parts for now. I never realized how much shifting feel would suck with those.
    3.) Silver wheels when everything else is black...
    4.) I have a super-sturdy 60 degree steel stem (taller less offset) from an old Raleigh that I'll switch to, so that I can get the quill further into the fork at the same bar height. The steerer should be sturdier with a quill inside than it would be using threadless at that height.

    Obviously, the "other" (correct?) way would have been to use threadless forks and a clamp-on BMX bar/stem: I would have gone with taller MTB bars except that I have a bad habit of collapsing tall bars.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails No money for custom? Sizing issue-m500.jpg  

    Last edited by Crashman1; 07-26-2011 at 01:22 PM.

  15. #15
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    I think you're making this much more difficult and complicated than it needs to be. But, that being said, if you got a set-up that works for you and gets you out on the trails - then you're winning.

  16. #16
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    I have copied the picture of your bike and corrected for lens distortion and level because something did not look right. I then matched it to size with other bikes and fits for which I have records.

    No matter how I look at it or measure the seat looks to be too far forward, especially if you have a long femur. This is a guess without actually seeing you on the bike but I'll bet you a dollar that you are too far forward on the bottom bracket. This bike is a fairly short wheelbase and my sense is that you are weight–forward.

    I know you are trying to accommodate a number of things and this is not easy. Juggling seat fore & aft and height, foot size, bar height and reach his a lot to manage. The most important thing to do is to get your seat in the right position 1st. Your long femur will require that you move the seat back. The steeper stem that you suggest is a move in the right direction as it will bring your hands further back into the cockpit.

    I still suggest that you get a fit. Even one of the guys at the bike shop would be helpful.

    Nice bike.
    I don't rattle.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhickey79 View Post
    I think you're making this much more difficult and complicated than it needs to be. But, that being said, if you got a set-up that works for you and gets you out on the trails - then you're winning.
    Believe me, I really looked into this hard and the only options I found were this and the Orbea D'ella. Frames designed for suspension forks (such as the D'ella) have a higher head tube that would have helped, but I didn't want suspension.

    I came in this forum to see if anyone knew of a high-quality frame that was notorious for being "too cramped" since that's what I was long for. Cannondale designed its frames specifically with super-long stems in mind.

    This thing is SUPER SQUIRRELY, I just hit a sand patch at high speed and couldn't keep it straight. I think the problem might be the short wheel base. So now that I have a bike that fits, any idea how to make it go in a straight line? Wider tire in front and narrower one in back maybe?

  18. #18
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    I just read your comment that the bike was squirrely. This is a function of the steep head angle, the short wheelbase, and having your weight too far forward.
    I don't rattle.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    I just read your comment that the bike was squirrely. This is a function of the steep head angle, the short wheelbase, and having your weight too far forward.
    Usually steep head angle is the first place I look, so I measure this one at 71° which should be close to perfect?

    Is a perfect head tube angle made imperfect by a short wheelbase? I have some longer forks, should I use one to reduce head tube angle to around 70°?

    I'm also switching to a steeper stem with less offset so I can move the seat back around an inch. The steeper stem will also fit into the fork further to reduce steerer stress at the top of the bearing race.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crashman1 View Post
    Frames designed for suspension forks (such as the D'ella) have a higher head tube that would have helped, but I didn't want suspension.
    - OK, but if you find a bike that fits, just remove the squishy fork and replace it with a rigid "suspension-corrected" fork in the 440mm range.

    [/QUOTE] I came in this forum to see if anyone knew of a high-quality frame that was notorious for being "too cramped" since that's what I was long for. Cannondale designed its frames specifically with super-long stems in mind. [/QUOTE]
    - That may have been true once, but I don't really think it is anymore. The trend toward longer top tubes and shorter stems has been going on for quite awhile now. FWIW, In my experience, Marin bikes have cramped cockpits, relative to their sizing.

    [/QUOTE]This thing is SUPER SQUIRRELY, I just hit a sand patch at high speed and couldn't keep it straight. I think the problem might be the short wheel base. So now that I have a bike that fits, any idea how to make it go in a straight line? Wider tire in front and narrower one in back maybe?[/QUOTE]
    - Shift your weight back before hitting sand.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    I just read your comment that the bike was squirrely. This is a function of the steep head angle, the short wheelbase, and having your weight too far forward.
    Hey, I just switched to that shorter stem and moved my seat back an inch, now the stability issue appears to be half-solved. I guess switching from a 390mm to a 405mm crown-height fork might take me the rest of the way?

  22. #22
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    My Bontrager head tube angle is listed as 71º and is considered by many to be “twitchy.”. From the comparisons I made after leveling your bike yours was about a half a degree steeper. I am not saying that this is a problem. As a matter of fact the quick steering on a rigid makes for some fantastic handling once you learn how to do it.

    My main concern is where you have your weight on your bike. You have changed stems and moved your seat back and I think that's a good way to go. Now what you need to do is go out and ride this about half a dozen times. People run into problems with this when they change too many things too frequently. Feel it out thoroughly.
    I don't rattle.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    My Bontrager head tube angle is listed as 71º and is considered by many to be “twitchy.”. From the comparisons I made after leveling your bike yours was about a half a degree steeper. I am not saying that this is a problem. As a matter of fact the quick steering on a rigid makes for some fantastic handling once you learn how to do it.

    My main concern is where you have your weight on your bike. You have changed stems and moved your seat back and I think that's a good way to go. Now what you need to do is go out and ride this about half a dozen times. People run into problems with this when they change too many things too frequently. Feel it out thoroughly.
    It carves corners like a champ! My ride to and from the trail suffers because I can't relax.

    I compared it to my most stable bike, a too-long Schwinn, and it has roughly the same head tube angle (actually the C'Dale is slightly less). The differences then are that the Schwinn is much longer and has around 10mm less rake (10mm more trail). And of course that the Schwinn is a tank.

  24. #24
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    Be patient. Keep your mind open.
    I don't rattle.

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