Author Topic: Bike Sizing  (Read 1754 times)

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Offline peterswim

Bike Sizing
« on: May 04, 2013, 07:13:31 pm »
I've done the research, I've talked to many people and I've done a test ride and I'm all set to purchase a Surly LHT.  I've looked at the measurements, I've measured myself and my current bikes and everything suggests I need a 59cm frame, but the LHT only comes in even sizes.  So, am I better going slightly smaller (58cm) or slightly bigger (60cm)?  I'm sure it won't make an iota of difference and I'll be happy with whatever I choose, but I know there are knowledgeable folks out there who may be be able to guide me in a way I have not considered.  Thanks for any input and happy riding.

Online John Nelson

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2013, 07:23:49 pm »
Is there any way you could test ride each? I realize that this is a tall order because finding a bike shop with one of each on the floor might be very difficult.

Another possibility is to talk with the bike shop you intend to order through. See if they'll agree to order one and let you test ride it. If it feels like the other size might be better, ask if they can then order the other one. The bike shop I deal with would do that.

Note that adjustments in seat height, saddle setback, stem length, etc. can fine tune the fit, and any good bike shop would be willing to make those adjustments for you.

Offline dkoloko

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 09:20:45 am »
Frankly, I think bicyclists get too hung up on touring bike sizes. Difference between 59cm and 58cm, 3/8 inch; you might alter the bike's height that much by difference in tire size. My Cannondale touring bike only came in four sizes, and they couldn't sell enough to keep selling touring bikes, even in just those few sizes. As far as test riding first, so often recommended, not where I live. Rarely a touring bike on the sales floor, and lots of luck being my size. A knowledgeable bike shop person will know the bike and size you up, with an eye to how your proportions mesh with the other bike parameters beside bike height. That said, I think you'll do fine, with either the 58cm or 60cm bike, after adjustments such as raising or lowering the saddle, tilting handlebars, etc. In fact, I think you'll get more out of fine tuning the various adjustments to size, then you'll get from choosing between the 58cm or 60cm bike.

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 10:01:27 am »
Assuming the standover height allows you to comfortably straddle the 60 cm frame (if not, don't consider it) then the deciding factor can be the top tube length.  If you have long arms and/or prefer a more stretched out riding position, get the 60.  If you want a more upright position, the shorter top tube of the 58 will make this easier.  In either case, stem length and angle can be chosen to get a comfortable riding position but the proper frame choice makes it a bit easier.

Offline e46rick

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 01:05:04 pm »
Be sure to compare top tube lengths as well as frame size.

For me, it's always been a bit easier to adjust my fit to a slightly smaller frame rather than to a slightly larger one.  Stem length, rise, stack height and seat post (up-down, fore-aft) are easier to adjust on a smaller versus larger frame IMO. 

Offline csykes

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 05:20:29 pm »
I usually take a 60 to 61cm frame.  When I climbed aboard a LHT I felt more comfortable on the 58 than the 60 as it has a top tube length similar to my 61 cm road bike. If I were to purchase one, I would rather take the 58 and go with a longer stem if needed, than to take a 60 and shorten it. Of course that's what works for me, it could be different for you.

Offline John Grossbohlin

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 08:52:06 pm »
In addition to the top tube length the complete LHT 60 CM bike parts set includes a wider handlebar and longer stem than does the 58 CM. In combination the 60 may thus feel much larger than the small difference in standover height might suggest.

I made the mistake years ago, when faced with the same dilemma, of going to the larger frame when I really should have gone down to the smaller size. That was in the late '70s. It was a Motobecane Le Champion (Reynolds 531, Campagnolo, tubulars...) which was a large chunk of change at the time. I was never happy with the bike... 

Assuming you are looking for a complete bike that doesn't require parts swapping, I'd suggest trying both sizes out and if that isn't possible go with the 58. BTW, I do follow my own advice!  My current touring bike happens to be a 58 CM LHT... I am happy with it.

Offline DaveB

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2013, 10:16:15 am »
I made the mistake years ago, when faced with the same dilemma, of going to the larger frame when I really should have gone down to the smaller size.
I did just the opposite when I bought my Litespeed in 1996.  The frame came in 55 and 57 cm sizes and, since my previous bike was a 56, I went with the 55.  The problem was that my legs are long for my overall height (5' 9") and that required a lot of seatpost extension to get my saddle positioned correctly.  So, to get the bars positioned comfortable (~3.5 cm below the saddle) required a long quill stem at first and, later, a lot of spacers when I converted it to a threadless fork and stem.  I rode that bike for over 70,000 miles and still have it but always felt it was a bit too small.

When I bought my newer bike in 2006, I went with the 57 cm frame and find it a much better fit as both the seatpost extension and spacer stack are much more "conventional".

Upshot: the size you will like better is also dependent on your proportions.   

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2013, 10:53:20 am »
Is there any way you could test ride each? I realize that this is a tall order because finding a bike shop with one of each on the floor might be very difficult.

Just a thought -- is there an REI near you?  They may have LHTs in stock, or order one of each and buy the one that fits best.

If you go that route, make sure to take off a day in the middle of the week when it's not raining and the store isn't busy.  You may have to swap stems, and my experience with REI is they don't want to do that, especially when it's busy.  It wouldn't be the end of the world if a house-brand Randonee or Safari fit you better.

Buying a touring bike is frustrating for just the reason John mentions -- it's hard to find them to test ride.

Offline peterswim

Re: Bike Sizing
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2013, 07:23:11 pm »
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and helpful comments.  I'm pretty set now on getting the 58 based on your comments and comparisons to my current road bikes, primarily effective top tube length.  This summer or fall, if you see a tall skinny old guy on a white Surly riding the California Coast or the Washington/Montana portion of the Northern Tier, say "hello". Happy riding to all.