Thursday, December 8, 2011

Long Top Tubes and Drop Bars

Successful Setup w. Triple Crankset and Campy Ergos
I was reading the Rivendell blog today, where Grant Petersen revealed a "mystery bike" that has been in the works for some time. It looks like this. And aside from the obvious oddities, it is endowed with an unusually long top tube for its size: a 62.5cm top tube on a 54.3cm frame. Apropos this geometry, Rivendell notes that the bicycle is "basically a flat-to-rolling land bike that, by virtue of it’s superlong top tube ...locks you into a sweeepyback bar." In other words, it would be difficult to set this bike up with drop bars due to the excessively long reach that would create. 

This got me thinking again about my own Rivendell bicycle: a Sam Hillborne that is a 52cm frame with a 57.5cm top tube. That is also an unusually long top tube, given the frame size. Aside from the standover, the 52cm frame fits like a much larger one - possibly too large for someone of my stature to set up as a roadbike. 

When I first got the bike, I could not ride with drop bars and so we did everything possible to ease me into it. The bike was built up with an extremely short stem (5cm) and the bars were set up considerably above saddle level. I rode it that way at first, gradually lowering the bars until finally they were level with the saddle. That felt fine for a while, and then came a time when I was ready for a longer stem (the 5cm was always meant to be temporary). The typical stem length for a roadbike is 9-11cm, but I soon understood that this range was out of the question given the long top tube - I would have to be lying down over the bike in order to reach the bars. So we replaced the 5cm stem with what we thought was an 8cm, but was actually a 7cm - and even that feels like a stretch. Now I find myself in bike fit purgatory: From the standpoint of how the bicycle handles, I feel as if I am not forward enough and would like a longer stem. But from the standpoint of reach, even the current stem is too long (and I have already shoved the saddle forward and replaced the seatpost with one that has as little setback as possible).  

According to Rivendell's sizing guidelines I belong on a 52cm frame, if not larger. However, it seems to me now that these guidelines are optimised for setting the bicycle up with upright handlebars (even though they do not explicitly say that). Otherwise I do not know how to interpret the sizing.  

Long top tubes are good for eliminating toe overlap. They are also ideal for fitting a bike with swept back handlebars, so that the bars don't hit your knees. But if you plan to set up a bicycle with drop bars at or below saddle level and use a standard length stem, a long top tube could be problematic - unless you have a long torso. If you own a Rivendell and have it set up as a roadbike, I would be interested in your take on this. 

131 comments:

  1. Long top tubes are the bane of female riders with drops or even straight bars. Not all women, but every woman rider I know has needed a shorter top-tubed bike. I've read that women have shorter torsos, and I've also read they have same sized torsos but shorter arms. Either way, men's bikes don't fit. The women end up being too stretched out, with neck/back pain and general lack of comfort.

    They then go through all kinds of permutations and contortions to get the bike to fit. Compact bars, super short stems, compact levers, straight seatposts with the saddles jammed forward. In the end, they're just trying to make the wrong bike fit them :-( And sizing down to a smaller frame with a proportionately shorter TT typically drops the headtube and therefore the bars too low.

    As much as I like Rivendell and other steel bikes, I now end up recommending women-specific aluminum bikes from the majors that offer shorter top tubes (although not all do, they're often just small men's bikes painted pretty and with flower decals). That or a custom, but a person trying out bikes for the first time isn't going to jump into that.

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  2. Well, I don't own a Rivendell but I will say that GP strongly endorses the bars above saddle height and this could account for the difference in top tube length. All the Rivs seem to have relatively long top tubes. I think I have opposite body geometry to yours, I have short legs and long torso (when considering a Sam I had some emails re PB height and had apperently the lowest PBH for my height they had heard, and it was measured correctly, though with Green Eggs and Ham instead of Cat in the Hat...). When you have relatively long legs and a normal torso, you may be more suited to a more even bike where as I always try to find a longer TT than seat tube. Or something like that. The main point is the handlebars lower than your seat is contrary to Sam's design (at least as I understand it). Still should work though...

    Matt K

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  3. Somewhat OT, but how long have you had this bike?

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  4. Anon - I got the frame almost 2 years ago; it was a XMas gift. The bike was built up in Spring 2010 and I've ridden it for about 2,000 miles since then.

    Matt - I do understand that they advocate handlebars level with the saddle. But I am talking about making them 2cm lower, not 10cm. I have seen plenty of Rivs in pictures set up that way. Also, even with the saddle level I cannot put a stem longer than 7cm on the bike.

    cyclotourist - The problem with *shorter top tubes on WSD bikes is TCO. I am okay with standard sized top tubes. But 57.5cm is way longer than standard for that frame size. It could be that women were not expected to buy the Sam Hillborne model. Compact bars, now there is an idea. I wonder how much extra reach that would afford me. The shorter stem worked for me up to a point, but felt very, very wrong once I picked up bike handling skills and changed my style of riding. I've tried to go back and get used to it, but couldn't. The 7cm is tolerable - but I am not sure whether tolerable is good enough...

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  5. Rivendell is maddening - they've pulled the geo chart that was up two weeks ago again. 57.5cm is my tt on my laid out fast bike; it's patently ridiculous to put someone your size with your torso length on this size. Someone did not allow a range of adjustment when they sold you this and did you a disservice.

    The sweep back/super long tt coupled with "proprietary sizeologists" and no geo charts means you're at the mercy of mumbo jumbo spinners.

    Just got compact bars; I'd estimate I lost about 1cm in reach over what I'd consider long reach/ramps.

    Anyway, it appears time to sell this.

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  6. Pardon my French, but WTF?? That top tube on your Rivendell must be a very bad measurement, or the frame was made totally wrong. I don't have the Sam model geometry handy, but the Rambouillet 52cm had a 53cm top tube, while my Roadeo is a size 59cm and has a 58.2cm top tube. (The 53cm Roadeo comes with a 53.5cm top tube.)

    There is NO way that a 52cm seat tube should be paired up with a 57.5cm top tube on that bike of yours (or any bike, short of some odd custom job, or the type of you are describing in this post which is made for a bike with swept back bars).

    There's something fishy here. Time to get rid of the stink!

    BTW, above comments about frames for women / small riders are the usual mumbo-jumbo. The biggest issue is seat angle, which stupidly gets super steep on smaller models made by the big companies. I NEVER recommend the bikes by the big companies for shorter riders, for this very reason, and I'm a professional bike fitter. I know many women, including short ones, who fit great on a Rivendell, or any other bike with a slacker seat angle and so-called "long" top tubes.

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  7. PS NEVER move a saddle forward because the bars are "too far away"! That is practically Bike Fit Rule Number One. Saddles should ONLY be moved fore and aft to obtain the proper relationship between the pelvis/butt and the bottom bracket. Doing what you describe wreaks havoc on the overall fit and can/will lead to a whole host of issues from head to toe.

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  8. I have a 48 Sam Hillborne set up as a road bike and I want to write something but I'm not sure what I can contribute. Sometimes it feels great and sometimes I feel like I can't get in the right position, I keep scooting back. I just raised the bars a bit and that seems to help. My mom always told me that I have a long torso, how would one find out if this is true? :)

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  9. Right, the TCO is always a problem. The smaller bikes should have a proportionately smaller wheel size (650B, 650C, 26", whatever) but they all insist on 700C. That leads to TCO problems, plus it just looks kind of silly. Hmmm, I bet a 650B conversion on a WSD bike would be pretty kick-ass!

    Terry used to make some really cool bars that were narrower and shorter, but just checked and they're not listed anymore. There are some other makers of compacts that women tend to like, can't remember them right now. Italian maybe, not sure...

    But still, that's not going to fix the basic problem of the long TT with drops. :-(

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  10. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't consider the bike Grant introduced today to be a "size" 54.3 just because that's how long the seat tube is, considering not only is the top tube extremely long, but it also has a sloping top tube, which makes sizing by seat tube kind of irrelevant. I think grant just keeps sizing this way because he doesn't want to use small medium large etc, I would not size any bike with a sloping top tube by the length of the seat tube alone, because once the top tube tube is sloped one must consider other factors such as the slope of the top tube and thus stand over height as well as the length of the head tube as they all have an effect on the final fit of the bike. Also he says that the long top tube locks you into a swept back bar, this seems an odd way to state this, I would say that bike is designed for a swept back bar.

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  11. Regarding the fit of your sam hilborne, more recent Rivs seems to be designed for the bars to be an inch or so above the saddle, which has a fairly large impact on the effective reach to the bars typically reducing it by around 1cm per inch above the saddle. Grant tends to be very specific in the way he designs bikes and if you don't want to run your bars that high, you might want want to think about getting something different, that or switch to swept back bars which would solve your reach issue. I would also say that it is typically not the best idea to either slide saddles forward or switch zero setback seatposts in order to reduce effective reach to the bars. This is because it is best to find proper saddle set back (horizontal distance between saddle tip and center of bottom bracket) and then adjust effective reach to bars with stem or bar or worst case, frame changes. Proper saddle setback is probably the most important aspect of fitting a bike next to saddle height because it has a large effect on pedaling efficiency and comfort, though it can be difficult to nail down.

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  12. XO-1 - That is not a typo or a bad measurement; SH frames were made with long TTS.

    Moving the saddle forward was more to make the ST angle less slack (the angle is 71.5deg, plus the seatpost has setback). For me, that is a bit too slack, but preferences vary.

    GR Jim - The 52cm frame is what almost everyone I know who is the same height as me got, or else the 56cm. So it was a fairly standard recommendation. In retrospect, most of those people are riding with mustache or Albatross bars...

    In retrospect, I think that those who intended to set their Sams up as roadish roadbikes form the get-go probably ignored the sizing guidelines and went down a size. But at the time I was getting the frame, that would not have meant anything to me.

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  13. Miles - The sizing & sloping TT issue is another can of worms. The way I understand it, what Rivendell calls "expanded geometry" is basically the opposite way of stating "compact geometry" sizing. For example, Seven cycles would have called my Rivendell a 56cm frame with compact geometry, whereas Rivendell calls it a 52cm frame with expanded geometry. I could be wrong in my understanding of this of course and corrections are welcome.

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  14. This is actually a big part of why I plan to get a professional fitting, and why if I could afford it, I'd just get a custom frame.

    I am 5'2" and have longish legs for my height (I don't buy petite pants, for instance). In addition to that, I have an old motion injury in my shoulders--it's improving over time, but it's still there, and it means that if I have to reach too far to my handlebars, longer rides put me near-excruciating pain.

    Which means I can't stand bicycles with long top tubes, and it feels like I can never really get my handlebars close enough without North Road bars. Every bicycle I ride (other than my Raleigh Sports), my saddle is as far forward as I can get it, and my stem is really high with as little reach as I can manage (I'd really prefer one with ZERO reach) and I keep trying to find drop bars with, you guessed it, shorter reach. (I currently have Salsa Woodchippers, and they're fine in the drops and on the tops, but I can't ride on the brake hoods very long at all, they feel too far away. The top of them is several inches higher than my saddle.)

    My mid-80's Miyata was a 53cm and too big, so I bought my current touring bike, a mid-90's Novara Randonee with a frame size of 48cm. Imagine how cranky I was when someone pointed out that the top tube on my Novara was rather long for its size. And here I thought I was imagining things.

    I need a frame that's "square" (the "effective" top tube as long as the seat tube is tall) or even shorter. Which I have yet to find in a touring-style bicycle. Or any bicycle, really.

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  15. A few people have recommended Salsa Woodchippers to me now, I should check them out. Any other suggestions for compact bars would be appreciated.

    Re WSD frames again - I do not feel that I need them. A 53cm-54cm top tube is fairly standard for a 52cm roadbike, and that suits me fine. I do not have unusually short arms or torso. And TCO is a dealbreaker - which was one reason I chose the Riv frame actually!

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  16. I wouldn't say that's it's "another" can of worms, It's quite the same can of worms..

    As far as I am concerned expanded means exactly the same thing as compact, it's just that grant is using it to get the bars above saddle height, whereas most bike designers use it to be able to design a frame which will fit a wider range of people and thus be able to produce fewer sizes.

    I would take a look at the salsa cowbell before the wood chipper as the wood chipper is really meant as an offroad drop bar and also it's meant to be set above saddle height, as april mentioned she has positioned.

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  17. Deda & 3t make nice shallow drop/compact bars but Specialized are super cheap and light. They make a WSD design I was tempted to get because reaching the levers from the drops would've been super easy.

    They're all basically the same shape. See what the reach spec is on your bars; shallow drops run 72-75mm reach. Might not be worth it to try.

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  18. I like the Salsa Woodchipper, but I can't see how a compact bar is any different from a shorter stem in terms of steering geometry and reach. The relationship of your hands and weight to the steering axis would be the same as a shorter stem and a longer reach bar, wouldn't it?
    It sounds like the bike just doesn't fit, but you might do things to bring the bars closer to you while changing the leverage on the wheel. A longer stem with higher bars? Wider bars with a shorter stem?
    How would you like the handling to change?
    That's my theorizing on bar geometry; my bike experience won't be helpful, with a 60cm Quickbeam, long torso and TCO indifference.

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  19. Miles, I know it's semi-unusual to ride a touring bike with "dirt drops," but I find that I'm far from the only one who uses them. I love the splayed-out drop ends for climbing, but even more than that--I *love* how great they are on long descents. I'm a cautious descender (nice way of saying that long/steep descents are terrifying) and dirt drops offer a really confident place to brake from--it is easy to get a nice death grip on my brake levers. I have yet to find any other drop bars that help me feel as comfortable and confident on long descents, even with "short reach" brake levers. The wrist position there is fairly comfortable for me as well.

    They are, however, near useless for riding on top of the brake hoods, and from what I understand, they're designed with the idea that the drops will be your default position. YMMV.

    I sometimes wonder if I'd like the Soma Junebugs even better, but they don't make them for threaded stems, so they weren't an option for me.

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  20. My linking to this article on my facebook just caused a long discussion that resulted in my looking up frame geometry of a bunch of different bicycles.

    Turns out that Salsa's Vaya and Casseroll models are both "square," in that their seat post and effective top tube length are the same, at least in my frame size.

    And now I know which shops in town have Salsa bicycles, so I'll probably try one out in the next few days and see what I think.

    Look what you started! :^)

    Augh, it's almost one am here. I really should go to bed. Except I have a feeling I'll be lying there obsessing about frame geometry.

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  21. Hmm. What I like in my bicycles is that Me and my wife can ride them comfortably even though there is at least 10cm difference in our height. The pinnacle of versatility when it comes to bike are the Workcycles FR8 bicycles which can fit anyone from 170cm to over 200cm tall with just one frame size. Nice isn't it?

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  22. Toe overlap is like a lot of other things where you give up something to get something. The Rivendell is a case in point.

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  23. ndru - We are talking about very different types of bicycles here. Both me (5'7") and my husband (6') can ride some of the same upright city bikes with relative ease by merely adjusting the saddle height. Roadbikes however are very sensitive to frame size.

    Steve - definitely.

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  24. I've never quite understood (or bought into) the Rivendell theory of tall top tubes. I've owned bikes of varying sizes, and I am generally more comfortable on the bikes that are "undersized", with generous clearance above the top tube. It's not too hard to find long stems and long seatposts. I don't think there's a very good strength-of-bike argument, either -- I've broken stuff before, but not a seatpost, not a frame, not a stem.

    There's also not too much point in being all stretched out and bent over. If you want to be very aero, get a recumbent, or a fairing, or both.

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  25. dr2chase - It took me some time to understand that roadbike sizing is not as much about standover, as it is about where you want to have the bars. A small frame does not allow you to get the handlebars high enough, because the stem will max out. What is special about many Rivendell models is that they allow you to get the bars higher than traditional road frames. This was a genuinely useful feature for me 2 years ago. What I did not realise, is that the frame will not allow the reverse - to set the bars as is typical for a traditional road frame.

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  26. The idea that Rivendell would ask people to lay down several thousand dollars in advance for a mystery bike sounds crazy - I guess it speaks to how devoted a following the company has. Now that we have seen the concept, GP says he will pick the colors of your mystery bike for you, and they may not be the same as what you buddy gets. Bruce Gordon has (rightly or wrongly) acquired a reputation of being hard to work with - I can't imagine he would allow so little input from the customer.

    The Rivendell/Soma San Marcos is another example. GP says he is not inclined to put the geometry of the bike, but asserts that "no one in the world could dislike how this bike feels." Wow. Isn't advertising/marketing supposed to provide information?

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  27. I suffer from the long leg/short torso & arm female build and added to that are back and neck injuries that don't allow me to be as stretched out as I used to be before the trauma. I lucked out in finding a road bike that fit, but still have to play around with all the other bikes, swapping bars and stems. Yes it is certainly time for a custom frame, or hunt up a women's specific frame that is not a small men's bike with flower decals. Nasty! Maybe you need to give up on your Riv and sell it to build yourself another perfect bike, now that you really know exactly what you want and your riding style has advanced.

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  28. More compact drop bar suggestions:
    - Bontrager Race Lite Anatomic-C, which I have on my Surly CC and like very much. If I recall correctly, reach is 75-80mm and drop 120mm. This model is for oversized bars. There is a more "basic" version (omit "Race") that is heavier but fits 26.0 clamps.
    - Easton EA50 Ergo - same reach & drop as the Race Lites. This is one model in a range of very similar bars e.g. EA30 Ergo, EA70 Ergo, the primary differences between them appearing to be weight.
    - Cinelli Ladies Little Wing, a little larger than the other 2.

    Rebecca

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  29. MHL - Some people have been lucky or hard-working enough to have lots of money, and spending $4K on a mystery bike to support a small bicycle manufacturer is not a big deal for them. Sounds good to me.

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  30. I do hope you can figure out your predicament, even if it means switching Riv frames.

    FWIW, my ride is a 56cm (57cm TT), 26" wheeled Toyo-built Atlantis. My PBH is 85 and according to the Riv fit scales I am between a 56cm-58cm Atlantis. My body is 'normally' proportioned. Top of my 9cm stem (with Nitto drop bars) is just about even with saddle. I can drop my stem 7cm but cannot raise it a mm.

    At the beginning of every ride I get the dreaded feeling my bike is too large especially while riding in the hoods. Once my body limbers up, fit feels perfect, hoods, drops, whatever.

    To paraphrase what you said, you can raise your bars all you like but you cannot drop them to where you truly desire. The reverse is true with smaller Riv frames and unfortunately I feel a frame swap is in your future. I might be facing your problem if I had purchased a 58-cm Atlantis, a size I understand Grant pushes on individuals "between sizes."

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  31. CJ - I was told I was in between the 52cm and 56cm sizes, and got the smaller of the two. The next size down is a 48cm. I have seen one, and it's not right for me either.

    My bike is fairly comfortable the way it is set up now, once I get over the stretchy feeling at the very start of a ride (same as you describe). But it is not as maneuverable and responsive on the road as I would like, which I especially notice when I ride with other people. Off road (and at slower speeds) it is fine and that's mostly where I have been riding it lately.

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  32. Just a note on sta: when you have a slack st it comparatively "lengthens" the tt, rendering the tt number while not meaningless, less than accurate.

    This is why custom builders start with set back, then deal with the front end. The tt just connects the two.

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  33. Ah, someone above was looking for short-reach stems -- for threaded stems, consider an old Raleigh stem. Or these: http://www.dutchbikebits.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=37_55

    Not necessarily "right" or attractive on a road bike, but it all depends on your priorities. Looks great on an old 3-speed.

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  34. For comparison, I'm a 6'-1" male and prefer a 58 cm top tube, only .5 cm longer than your Hillborne! Seat tube length is basically unimportant as the seat post offers far more adjustment than the stem extension does.
    This man has performance road bike sizing figured out: http://davesbikeblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/different-thought-on-frame-sizing.html
    Grant is more focused on leisure cycles. His mystery frame is a solution searching for a problem.

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  35. Actually, the SH in this size can lose about 2 cm of top tube and still not have TCO with Grand Bois + fenders.

    So that would make it a 55 from 57, those 2cm would make all the difference allowing for a 9 or 10cm stem.

    I don't want to speculate, but perhaps lug angles may not allow this to happen? I really don't know why it's a 57 on a 52 frame, but before this post I never really gave it much critical thought.

    Very interesting.

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  36. FWIW, my Rivendell mixte has a 54.5 cm seat tube and 57 cm effective top tube. I am running swept-back albatross bars, naturally :)

    Given what Grant said in his recent blug post, along with the fact that my torso is unusually long for women (height minus PBH), I am surprised that my TT is not significantly longer than my seat tube.

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  37. I have three Rivendell bikes.I use short stems (6 usually). I have three way back seat posts and I still want to push back further than my brooks seat will let me. I recently switched to a Selle An-atomica saddle and finally I am comfortable on my 53 Saluki with a short stem and drop bars -Nitto B115-450(short reach I think). My saddle is about even with the handlebars. Maybe I would like a custom bike at some point but it would be close to my 650B Saluki.

    -Lisa

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  38. I had my LBS order these FSA Omega compact bars for my Seven Alaris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EWM0KTdCOY .
    I'm 5'7" and my Alaris has a top tube length of 54.7. Hoping to get easier access to the brake levers on the drops. We'll see. See the youtube video to see if at least this might be of interest to you at least re your damaged nerves in your hands. Thanks as always for your great blog.

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  39. V., I think it's time for you to sell this bike and look for a new touring bike that fits you. About Rivendell-- you can market a philosophy but you can't ride one.

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  40. I also have a 52cm Sam and I love it -- but yes, it's set up with albatross bars. I actually went to Riv to buy the bike and noticed that most of the staff bikes were set up with albatross (or mustache) bars so I took my cue from that. And the bike does seem ideally suited for it. I can't imagine putting drops on it. It would just feel too long for me.

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  41. Ritchy Pro Logic 40cm bars are 125mm drop and 72mm reach. Combined with a 60mm adjustable stem is what I use. It's not a pretty drop bar with it's matte black finish, but it's better than back pain!

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  42. The lugs have to be specific to Grant's weird designs, but losing 2cm in the tt would make the geo more normative now, wouldn't it?

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  43. Grant Petersen revealed a "mystery bike" that has been in the works for some time. It looks like this. And aside from the obvious oddities, it is endowed with an unusually long top tube for its size: a 62.5cm top tube on a 54.3cm frame.

    A mystery? Sounds like reinvention of the original mtb frame. Mrs. S's 1992 Specialized Rockhopper was 43x56, so her top tube was even longer in proportion to the seat tube (hers was a VERY small frame).

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  44. Oh, and FWIW, French road bikes often had porportionally long TTs, even when used with drop bars... all part of the French "stretched out" fit philosophy.

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  45. This is very interesting. You are trying to do exactly the opposite thing from what this bike is intended to allow you to do. Use all the advantages of a drop bar road bike but with the comfort of an upright. I think you had it positioned right before you got interested in racing.keep the short stem pull the bars up push the saddle back. Its called the wayback. I know you want to get forward on your go fast bike. If you don't like having bikes with different positions then sell it to someone who would love to have it.

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  46. V, I suggest you offer up your Riv Sam frame for a trade for a comparable quality / condition frame from one of your blog readers. It seems the Sam may be the only model with the crazy long top tube (goofy new model on the blOg not withstanding), so you could get one of the other models and still have a Riv, but get a better fit for you. Many, if not most, of the other Riv models will likely have a 72 or 72.5 degree seat tube angle, too, which would also serve you better than the 71 you are currently stuck with.

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  47. Anon 12:08 - Wanting to have the handlebars 1-2cm lower than the saddle, a stem longer than 7cm, and a seat tube angle no slacker than the 71.5deg it already is, is not the same as trying to set up a bike as a racing bike.

    Using a wayback seat post and a short stem on a bike that already has a 71deg seat tube angle will start to emulate Dutch bike geometry.

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  48. Thanks for starting a great discussion. Especially helpful is the part about compact vs expanded and the differing aims of the designers.

    So maybe this just isn't 'that bike' - now that your tastes have expanded it's not the bike you want drops on, if what you like is drops at or below saddle level. Why not try albatross bars on this bike? Mine have been great for my wrist pain, and you can stretch and ride on the 'tops' too - seems like you might even invert them to get 'tops' and 'drops' positions.

    I don't understand how those with Sams and moustache bars do it unless they are raised high too - those bars seem even more stretched out than drops to me, because the 'tops' position gets moved out. Though if high enough, those are good bars for multiple hand positions too, even if all the brake levers and stubs make it look a little... orthopedic.

    I also quite agree that the more upright the riding posture the less the frame size matters. a 21" Sports can be made to fit a lot of people, especially if it's a step-through!

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  49. XO - I've considered that. A 52cm (measured c-t so actually 50cm) Homer Hillsen might suit me nicely, but I'd have to make sure there is no TCO. 54.5cm top tube on that one. And it is a bit more roadish than the Sam, which would generally suit me better. Don't know whether it would fit the Grand Bois Hetres though, which I love.

    But I don't think a trade is realistic. The Homer frame is twice as expensive as the Sam frame was at the time mine was purchased, and I'd have no way of verifying the condition. I could also sell my bike and buy a new Homer. Not sure what I'll do yet.

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  50. Yep... I was waiting to see Grant's new "mystery frame" and then was quite underwhelmed when it showed up on the blug.

    @Velouria: One option for a classy looking (and relatively cheap) compact bar is the Soma Hwy One. Tis terrific looking in silver, has a more classic curvy bend and, best of all, fits a 26.0 stem.

    Cheers,
    E. (in Ireland)

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  51. Thank you everyone for the compact handlebar suggestions; I will look them up. Would like to install a pair on the Moser in the spring as well.

    E - Re the mystery frame, the way it was described in previous posts I was expecting something like maybe an IGH city bike with unisex construction. Was surprised to see more diagotube instead. Not a fan of this feature, including on the Hunquapillar and the new generation Bombadil.

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  52. Been thinking about Riv - GP is a smart guy; 8-10 yrs. ago his bikes were visually distinctive. In the flood of city and transpo bikes, Rivs are a dime a dozen.

    How to up the iconic visual ante? Add stuff that doesn't need to be added: double top tubes and diagonals with asymmetrical organic spurs.

    Got to carve out that niche.

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  53. Gotta love the anti racing bike comments here. People, she wants to set it up as a regular road bike and discovering that she can't. Not everything that doesn't have the bars a foot above the saddle is a racing bike.

    V, if the bike feels good off road as is, then keep it for that purpose and ride the Moser on the road.

    Matt

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  54. I didn't say use a wayback seat post. I was referring to the style of set up witch is sometimes called the way back. It is positioning your but a bit further back behind the bottom bracket than is usually used For aggressive riding. This you have already been encouraged to do with the 71.5 deg. seat angle. When combined with higher than saddle drop bar it is very comfortable. this is how you had it. You said it was just temporary but I gotta tell you many people have been struggling with road bikes to do just that. I'm not saying what your trying to do is out of the ordinary. That's the point. The bike you started with is a designers solution to the normal racing positioning.

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  55. Yeah. Even reading the two blugs right through you are still left somewhat befuddled about it all:

    "It’s just a tester, to see if what I think should happen what I’d hope would happen would happen, and actually, it did, so I am relieved, not too surprised, and really happy."

    Somervillain described it as reinventing the mtb... but Riv did that two seasons back. I think this season Grant has just reinvented an old West Coast cruiser bike.

    (Don't want to sound too down on the guy... love Riv bikes and, after all, I'd have loved if his mad plan for a third road wheel size had actually taken off!)

    E.

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  56. Sheldon Brown and his links seems to cover bike fit very well. He considers the riding style variable (probably the most important aspect of fit) as well as basic geometry.

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  57. Anon 12:53 - Got it. *But... As far as I know, Rivendell does not recommend short stems. If you look at their builds, they all have "normal" length stems that look to be about 10cm.

    Re the racing/fit issue: If you browse the Rivendell owner photos on flickr, there are plenty of Riv bikes set up with bars at or below saddle level for regular (non-racy) riding.

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  58. Ooooo....that Soma Hwy One Road bar is very nice for a 75mm reach! Thanks for posting it!

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  59. the hillborne was designed with a slack seat tube so that the rider could throw a leather saddle on it. it's somewhat difficult to imagine but that slack seat tube shortens the effective top tube. i have 8cms of set back on my sam and my road bike, which has a 73d seat tube. the seat post clamp is in the middle of the rails with both my brooks and my arione. i have one of the early sams with an effective top tube of 58 my road bike has a 56 top tube. i'm able to to the same setback and reach on both. the setback on the two bikes is equal, with the rails both on center. if you measure from the saddle nose to the cent of the bar, both measurements are the same. the difference in top tube length is taken up by the odd rail placement of the brooks. this is my sam, set up with a little bit of drop.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AdSwi1Onp1s/TmejbXAOKnI/AAAAAAAABno/jEwCkXXUORA/s640/2011-09-07%25252011.56.49.jpg
    one thing i have noticed is that it handles a little better with the center of gravity rotated back some, not like it is now. i can really steer from the hips if i bring the bars up and push the saddle back a little.

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  60. There's a way to make the long toptube work. Stephen Roche used to ride bikes with this sort of mismatch. What you do is work on getting your back lower and flatter. Until you are riding with your back essentially horizontal. You bend at the hip, not reach at the shoulder.

    It can be done. Lemond and a lot of riders of the eighties approximated this position and their fans copied them.

    Next step would be an aero helmet and some disc wheels. Paint it electric yellow or that cool fluorescent lime. It would be a most unique Sam Hillborne.

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  61. Somervillain described it as reinventing the mtb... but Riv did that two seasons back. I think this season Grant has just reinvented an old West Coast cruiser bike.

    Well, since the old West Coast cruiser bike is the forerunner to the original mtb, Grant is basically re-re-inventing the mtb. ;-)

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  62. I think it is clear at this point that Rivendell has a postmodern approach to bicycle design : ) Using mine as a MTB of sorts might be just the thing.

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  63. People are attracted to Rivendell for different reasons, and I don't think Grant mandates a saddle to bar rule, and Rivendells vary across the range and over the years. look at the original road standard and the rodeo. I think though he is consistent and maybe getting more so these days with designing the bikes to encourage high bars. Any way the point is your bike. You have learned allot about what you want. While riding a bicycle on the open road each of us are definitely faced with contrasting issues off efficiency and comfort. By stem length do you mean appropriate visually? Stem length usually varies from small to large frames i don't think 7cm on your size frame is inappropriate at all. Especially if it gives you your reach. If you were designing from scratch its not a bad thing to go with longer top tube and shorter stem on the same given bike if only to allow a closer to head tube positioning of your front bag for steering stability, and visually with that bag out there it looks good.

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  64. "Well, since the old West Coast cruiser bike is the forerunner to the original mtb, Grant is basically re-re-inventing the mtb. ;-)"

    You know what? He's re-jiggering his Bstone mb-whatevers in something GRAND. And I mean conceptually and weight-wise.

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  65. :tarck: is right about seat tube angle and top tube length. I am much more stretched out on my 25.5" Trek 400 with a 73.5 seat tube angle than I am on my 64cm Quickbeam with a 72 degree seat tube. Same top tube length and same stem length on both bikes.

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  66. I realize why TCO is a concern for you and think it's perfectly rational to try to eliminate or minimize it, but I'm curious how your ideal frame would spec out if you could eliminate it from the equation. What direction would your thinking on TT and stem length take if that weren't an issue?

    I'm thinking about some of these things as I'm trying to finalize the geometry on a new Mercian. Toe overlap isn't really an issue for me even on bikes that have a little but this is making me think about the advantages of other approaches.

    Guys like Grant Peterson have done us all a service by doing some unusual things even if they aren't universally useful. I can't imaging this discussion covering so much ground 20 years ago...

    Spindizzy

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  67. I got a Riv designed Soma Sanmarcos a few months ago. It's basically a Sam designed for wheels with a 130mm rear hub Aside from the odd double top tube, I also noticed the overly long length of the top tube and went with the 54 instead of the 59. I'm 5" 10" so getting a 54 seemed odd but it fits well. Seems to be a weird design quirk of GP. It's a shame you didn't realize when you got it. As for the short reach bar, try a Dimension flat top short reach bar. Very comfortable but it only comes in black. Good luck!

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  68. Spindizzy - So exciting that you're really getting a Mercian. I don't think TCO is an issue for you, since you're like what, 7' if I recall correctly? Just don't let them build it with a freakishly short top tube.

    Speaking for myself, it depends on the bike. I think my Moser is as "perfect" as it can get for a racing type bike in that sense. Super responsive, fast, comfy, compact and no TCO. I am pretty sure that they eliminated TCO by making the seat tube angle super steep and the head tube angle slack. The low trail randonneur I collaborated on with Royal H Cycles eliminated TCO via low trail, and that would probably be the ideal method for me for a versatile on/off road bike. My fixed Mercian has no TCO either by virtue of an ever so slightly longer TT and more rake than normal, which works for me as well. There are many ways to approach it apparently.

    Anon 3:14 - I did realise it had a long TT from the start, but was given to understand that this was somehow okay in the context of the overall geometry. I remember talk of how the slack ST makes the reach manageable, as has been mentioned here - although I don't see how, since the reach from saddle to bars is what counts.

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  69. Velouria, I like that you keep learning. Someday you will figure out that TCO is not a dealbreaker, and in fact it is the only way to get proper fit and handling (or go to smaller wheels).

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  70. Unknown - I rode with TCO bikes and began to dislike it more, not less, as I gained experience. TCO can definitely be avoided on a frame my size. Then why not avoid it? It is a matter of personal preference in any case.

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  71. :tarck: and Bryan - I am trying to imagine how a slack ST shortens the effective TT, but can't. Doesn't it depend on the angle of the HT and the resultant angle of the stem?.. No. Wait. I am spatial rotation challenged and need a diagram!

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  72. Think about it this way: whatever ST angle your bike has, you want your saddle to be in the same position relative to the bottom bracket.

    So if two bikes both have a 55 top tube -- usually measured from seat collar to headtube -- the bike with the STEEPER seat tube will in fact fit longer, because you need to move your saddle back a little bit further.

    Also one of the obvious answers here is to stop worrying about "TCO". I'm a 5'6" guy so I've certainly dealt with it in the past, but with a little bit of experience it completely stops being an issue.

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  73. Kevin - So you're assuming the rider will... push the saddle forward in order for it to be over the BB, as opposed to the natural extension of the actual ST angle? I did in fact push my saddle forward, and the comments here are saying how that's bad and how Rivendells are supposed to be ridden with set back seatposts... Oy.

    As for TCO, I don't really see any sense arguing about it. Some think it is a problem, others don't. If it doesn't bother you guys, you are welcome to all the wonderful TCO bikes out there : )

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  74. I don't think women need shorter top tubes. I think the problem is that the saddle hurts and you can't bend forward properly. The saddle has to be set level enough so you can balance on it without putting much weight on the hands. That goes for any bike including a racer. You need a hole in the saddle so the sore bit doesn't get jammed. The saddle is the most important component for performance. If you can't nestle into it and leverage off of it you can't be fast.
    The Rivendell top tubes really aren't that long when you adjust for the seat angle. If you subtract about one cm for every degree it's set back, then they're on the short side of average.

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  75. "The Rivendell top tubes really aren't that long when you adjust for the seat angle. If you subtract about one cm for every degree it's set back, then they're on the short side of average."

    Okay, let's go with that.

    So the Sam's ST angle is 71.5 deg. On a more typical roadbike it's let's say 73 deg. That's a 1.5 deg difference. That would make Riv's 57.5cm top tube equivalent to a 56cm top tube. Still way too long for a 52cm frame. Am I calculating it wrong?

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  76. "So the Sam's ST angle is 71.5 deg. On a more typical roadbike it's let's say 73 deg. That's a 1.5 deg difference. That would make Riv's 57.5cm top tube equivalent to a 56cm top tube. Still way too long for a 52cm frame. Am I calculating it wrong?"

    The 52 isn't really a 52. It's sized more like a 54 which would have maybe a 73.5 seat angle on a more normal bike. Two degrees is between 2cm and 2.5cm. That would make it about 55cm. On the 54cm Hilsen, the angle is 72 and top tube is 56. Subtracting 1cm or 1.5cm from the top tube makes it 55 or 54.5 which is pretty normal on a racing bike of that size.

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  77. This is completely confusing. Is a 'square' set-up based on a non-sloping top tube? Which means if the seat tube on a 'non-sloping' bike were 54 cm then the top tube would also be 54. And if that is the case then with a bike which has a sloping tube....one would have to disregard the actual seat tube height and instead think of the measurement which creates a level top tube??

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  78. Anon 5:49: Bullshit. My saddle is fine. I have a short torso and arms. Leaning over makes my shoulders hurt. It's not a saddle issue. When I tried to ride a Brooks I definitely didn't want to lean over because it mashed my labia, so I know what you're talking about, but that is not my current issue. I want a shorter top tube.

    (For the record: I have a Terry Butterfly.)

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  79. My current saddle on this bike is a Berthoud and doesn't mash anything; I love it.

    Re measurements - I've totally confused myself and need to walk away and return with a fresh mind. To make it more fun still, the ST is actually 50cm if measured c-c...

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  80. i am 6'2" and have a 64cm rivendell ramboulliet with a noodle drop bar and 10cm stem. It is very comfortable for me in all postions with the bar at saddle height. Handlebar height could probably go up or down about two inches for those who would want to be more uprite or lower and more stretched out. But no way could it be a bar four inches below the saddle racing machine ( unless the rider was over 6'5' ).
    Much as i like rivendell, "expanded geometry" is as much marketing deception as "compact geometry. Sloping top tubes allow a wider range of riders to have enough standover, but they really don't fit a wider range of riders. If you are on the shorter end of the supposed range, the reach will be too long and/or the handlebars too high. On the tall end of the range, the reach will tend to be short and it will be hard to get the handlebars up.
    BTW Velouria, the relationship of seat tube angle and reach is confusing, because it also depends on head tube height and bottom bracket drop.

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  81. It just occurred to me that Velouria's favorite bikes are basically pretty normal bikes. Each a fine example of its' particular genre but nothing unusual. What you would get if you went to the store and bought a "bike" if the bike shop was not crammed with things for niches and ideologies and programs.

    If you hope to extract some utility from the SH as a MTB substitute, remember that offroad frames should be small, not large. Possibly it's still some sort of dirt road cruiser/touring bike. The strong suit of Rivs is that they are sturdy. Carry heavy loads and don't break. Work from that.

    I vote for Soma's recreation of the Lauterwasser bar, teamed with a Raleigh stem and the big chunky Shockstop repro grips. Maybe keirin sleeves on the rest of the bar. Lauterwasser is what moustache bars always wished they could grow up to be.

    I just looked through the SH set at the Rivendell owner's flickr file. Looks like mostly older upright and sedate riders. Whatever purpose the bike may have served when new the rider no longer fits the mold. Rivs still fetch extravagant prices used.

    To answer the question at 5:56 a typical 52cm frame is 74 degrees and a lot are 75. Which does make the toptube seem less extreme. And assumes the saddle has a huge range of adjustment and the rider can swing with whatever. In any event you've been there done that and it stopped being fun.

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  82. "It just occurred to me that Velouria's favorite bikes are basically pretty normal bikes."

    I guess that's true. My basic bike collection would consist of a road racing bike, a fixed gear, a trail bike with wide tires, and a step-through commuter. That's pretty normal. But within those categories I'd say that I am weird/picky as far as preferences go.

    "If you hope to extract some utility from the SH as a MTB substitute..."

    Oh no, I was joking. I hate MTBs. But as a trail bike with drop bars it does well. It also does well carrying lots of stuff. The question is, do I ride trails and go on vacation by bike enough to justify keeping this bicycle around...

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  83. "Just a note on sta: when you have a slack st it comparatively "lengthens" the tt, rendering the tt number while not meaningless, less than accurate."

    I said this wrong: reach is the same, but set back is still very different. Think set back first, then reach.

    Reach is tt, saddle, post, stem length, ramps, hoods and bar height.

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  84. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss with regard to bikes..There's so much info/opinions out there and so many options, it's downright overwhelming!! I'm in the process of getting a custom build and decided to believe the expert fitting guy to set me up after our interview and flexibility tests. Funny how his version was different than what I had imagined based on my preconceived/aesthetic preferences but it was confirmed by another fitter. Each of my choices in the past has worked, but I was young, athletic, and stubborn. Now that I'm an old man I'm throwing my hands up and trusting the science and experience of those who only want me to be happy, efficient, and comfortable on this new machine. TCO?, I had to check my other bikes to see if this existed...Yes on my main ride with fenders, yes on my road bike, no on my old beat up loaner bike. Never noticed before so I won't care about the new one. It's nice that you've got so many options for different uses....Hope you get the Rivendell figured out :)

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  85. "Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss with regard to bikes..There's so much info/opinions out there and so many options, it's downright overwhelming!!"

    Ha yes, there is definitely something to that!

    But for the record, I noticed TCO before I knew what it was. Almost falling over from my foot hitting the fender is what made me notice it. Befuddled, I started asking why my bike does that and only then learned that it was a "thing."

    Now several bike shops have written me that customers have walked in asking for bikes with no TCO, because they read about it on Lovely Bicycle. Oops. On the other hand, I have a hard time imagining someone *wanting* TCO... "I'd like a bike with TCO please. Yes, I know it's difficult to achieve with a 65cm frame, but couldn't you try? It just makes me feel more comfortable to know that my foot can hit the wheel on a slow turn..."

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  86. Has anyone here tried the Lauterwasser bar? I've been eyeing it for a while, but would be interested in hearing the experiences of someone who has used it. It looks to me like it might provide a comfortable position while also provide plenty of leverage. But, I have no idea.

    This whole conversation is fascinating. Stand back, we're doing bike science.

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  87. This bike needs a setup like you had. Id say this is a great allrounder bike which is by definition great at nothing but damn good at everything. That's the trouble. No place in a stable of bikes.

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  88. V @ 8:00....No, I wouldn't ask for it, but I also won't go out of my way to avoid it, especially if it makes for an ultimately more comfortable experience for the 99.9% of my riding experience. But I agree with you completely about it's totally a matter of choice and happiness.

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  89. Listen, you'v got to figure it out your self. don't we all take high school geometry. Draw it to scale on paper, or full size on a sheet of plywood or your living room wall. tco is not evident from the drawing but you know your current bike, measure front center and add what you need in all the different ways you've talked about. A good thing is actual reach and stack height. See salsa casseroll site.

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  90. My Surly Pace has a 52cm frame but the top tube is longer. After working with stems and handlebars, I went with albatross handlebars, bar end shifters and a raised, shorter stem. I'm more comfortable but it is not ideal. I could play around with stems some more but am keeping it as is for now. Bikes like this are meant for someone with a long reach.

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  91. Ah wise one, but if high school geometry was all that was needed to figure these things out, we would all be riding around on perfect bikes with nothing to philosophise about!

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  92. I made this drawing. It doesn't tell the entire story for every configuration, but it is useful when talking about the interaction between TT length, ST angle, and frame "size" -when the saddle is placed in the same spot relative to the BB.

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  93. Yikes! I have a super short torso with really long legs, so that bike sounds like an absolute nightmare! It took me a while to realize that long top tubes were why I was never that comfortable with drop handlebars, especially since my legs can accommodate a relatively tall bike for my height.

    With upright bars I'm fine with a standard top tube length, but with drops I like the short top tubes of track bikes. Toe overlap has never been an issue for me, maybe because I also have small feet. The current bike I ride is a 49cm track frame with a small 70mm stem and long bullhorn bars that fall 2 inches below my saddle, and I like it that way. It's the total opposite of the Rivendell you're writing about! One day I'll get a custom frame!!

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  94. Haha I also want to add that I 100% agree with April. Down to the part about not being able to ride Brooks because they smash my labia and the part about currently riding a Terry Butterfly (I love it). There is a such thing as being too stretched out over a bike, and it has nothing to do with saddles or flexibility.

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  95. I am 5'11" with a 30" saddle height and quite happy on my 56cm Sam with Noodle drop bars. I currently have a 10 cm stem with the bars a couple inches above the saddle, but plan to change to 8 cm for a bit less reach and possibly lower the bars a bit.

    Given your situation I'd try Albas.

    The Sam is my 1st new bike in 12 years, and a vast improvement over what I had been riding. Reading all this makes me wonder what else is out there. Hmm

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  96. Oh my, my brain hurts. I know just enough about this subject to realize I'm in over my head...

    I've never been too concerned about top tube length as an isolated number and have always seen it as more of an indication of how a builder has gone about coming to the final compromise. Things like head angle and total trail have always mattered more to me and this discussion has helped me remember that those are the important parts(for me) and the other stuff is going to be determined by how the builder goes about making it happen. If I ever do actually build some road frames I'm going to either get someone else to design them or slavishly copy Cino Cinelli just like Colnago, Moser, Geurciotti and all the Etceterini used to do.

    When I was younger and tearing up roadracing bikes we all were obsessed by TT length and weight so we all rode the smallest frame that we could find with our "Ideal" TT length. I now think that we got away with that approach because at that time so many of the bikes were so similar. When everyone was trying to build a better Cinelli and treading the same path, than there really weren't as many differences between bikes and some of the rules of thumb( especially TT length) were useful. If you bought a 58cm frame with toptube length "A" ,you naturally got X and Y, or something dang close to it. If you got toptube "B" than you got a little something different in the X and Y department. You liked one version a little better for one reason or other(non-mashed, fluffy labia say, or feet that didn't get tangled in the spokes )and you decided that toptubes greater or less than "whatever" are total rubbish for me. I believed it for years and memorized my perfect frame dimensions like my drug allergies. Oh for the old days...

    And by the way V, I am actually that optimum height that all men would be if they could choose, 6'2". All of my other dimensions are equally perfect, feet like a Chinese courtesan,legs like fire hydrants and a head like a hydro-cephalic jack-o-lantern. I really am quite striking. You'd totally dig me.

    Spindizzy

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  97. I think a couple of people have mentioned this, but if a bike is too long for you, the answer is not to move the saddle forward or to get a shorter stem. The fore and aft position of the saddle should only be adjusted so that you have the proper relationship between your butt/hips and the bottom bracket. This, coupled with seat height, ensures efficient pedal strokes, and avoids pain from either over-extension or too much pressure on the front of your knees. Moving the saddle to accomodate a more comfortable upper-body position throws this off.

    As for the stem, its length is adjusted depending on how twitchy you want your steering to be. A couple of centimeters can make a big difference.

    The best way to address upper-body comfort is to get a bike with a proper length top tube to begin with.

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  98. Perhaps pertinent to this conversation: Right now on ebay is a a XXS Gunnar Sport. It's a bit expensive for what looks to be a well-used bike, but not terribly so. Built around 650C wheels, which limit you to skinny tires, but if you're ok with that, there's nothing wrong with them. Ebay.com I mentioned above how I think smaller frames should have smaller wheels, so here's an example of one. 48cm effective top tube with a 48cm (effective) seat tube. Perfect square (effectively)! No connection to seller on my part, just might interest someone looking for a small frame.

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  99. I just found this discussion and the interesting comments. I own several bikes, including two that were custom-built following a professional measurement session. During that measurement (i.e, before the firsts build), my measurements were entered into a national database, and I found out why many off-the-peg bikes don't fit well: I have longer-than-average arms. That's why I often shift back and forth and fuss back and forth and around to find the right spot on the bars for my hands. As stated in these comments, a long top tube is something that should be coupled with a total bike fit design, and that bothers me with the new Rivendell bike. That said, those two custom bikes are way more comfortable to ride than anything else that I own, and while each has many specialized measurements, the one measurement that is most different from stock bikes is the long top tube, and that is the biggest help. I think it is best to get measured then work with somebody who knows what they are doing.

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  100. Spindizy 11:09 said:
    And by the way V, I am actually that optimum height that all men would be if they could choose, 6'2". All of my other dimensions are equally perfect, feet like a Chinese courtesan,legs like fire hydrants and a head like a hydro-cephalic jack-o-lantern. I really am quite striking. You'd totally dig me.

    Wikipedia says:
    Spindizzy - The Dillon-Wagoner Graviton Polarity Generator, known colloquially as the spindizzy is a fictitious anti-gravity device imagined by James Blish for his series Cities in Flight. This device grows more efficient with the amount of mass being lifted.

    The mass being lifted here seems to be ego.

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  101. Anon 11:09, A Spindizzy is also a tethered model racingcar that makes a tremendous racket, stinks up the joint and goes around in circles never getting anywhere or deviating from a circle. They're fast and exciting but sorta' pointless...

    Spindizzy

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  102. Dear Velouria,

    As a long-armed and long-legged man, who preferred a traditional sporting position (i.e. bars 2" or so lower than the saddle), I just downsized my (late 1990's) Heron (at the time, Grant's budget line) a size relative to Grant's recommendation. I ended up giving it away for performance reasons unrelated to its fit as my fitness and goals changed.

    His machines always (dating back to the late 1980's anyway, when he was designing for Bridgestone USA) had heavier tubing, longer top tubes and slacker seat angles for a given size, and were known to be a difficult fit for many people, particularly shorter ones.

    He's a great advocate for real-world riding. However, his design, sizing, and marketing has become quirkier as he's followed his demographic into middle age and beyond.

    I liked the "versatile" road-racing bikes he designed in the late 1980's and through the 1990's, but he's left me behind in the last decade.

    Even so, a glance at his geometry charts indicates the Sam Hillborne has to be designed for upright bars--compare to the AHH or the Roadeo in the same "size"--the slacker seat angle and longer top tube point to a more upright position and north-road style bars....

    Geo here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjehUKAztnO8dEFRVEYxUWpxeXNPMHZMeDZINmNUMWc#gid=0

    Cheers,

    Will
    William M. deRosset
    Fort Collins, CO

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  103. I have a 48cm Sam Hillborne set up with a noodle bar and a brooks saddle with the stock seatpost, 7cm stem with the saddle and bars at equal heights. The bike fits me so well, totally comfortable, something I can ride all day long. It is easily the best riding bike that I have ever owned. I am only 5'6" tall with a PBH of 79cm measured the riv way and I bought the frame without having ever ridden another Hillborne and I am glad I did. The long sloping top tube that the Hillborne has works for me, I love getting into the drops and stretching way out or using the tops to sit more upright; the bike just has so many comfortable positions. I cannot say much bad about the bike or about Rivendell as a company and the bikes they make are wonderful.

    It certainly isn't a race bike and it isn't pretending to be. It is designed to be a more comfortable do-it-all bike and I think it can work with albatross bars or noodles. I do not think the Sam Hillborne can work with a drop handlebar two or three centimeters lower than the saddle very well. It doesn't seem like it is needed anyway.

    The new bike that Grant has been riding reminds me of an old scorcher-type bike, at least in geometry. Much more upright of a ride than the Hillborne. I think it definitely fits with their current line up of bikes and look forward to the final outcome.

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  104. This blog is always obsessed with toe overlap. My winter training bike, with 28mm tires and fenders has an inch of overlap. It makes no difference, except when doing extremely slow parking lot turnarounds. Even then...it's not too hard to compensate for.

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  105. "He's a great advocate for real-world riding."

    I think that used to be true. However, Grant's newest bikes seem to increasingly exist in an a crazy world of high prices, superfluous features, and design elements that decrease rather than improve function. Like bizarre extra tubes that add weight and complexity to a frame, but are not needed for any structural reason. Or webbing straps brazed onto the frame that block the installation of front derailleurs. And one of the amazing highlights of his recent post: Grant's recommendation that the buyers of his new bike can just shift the chain of their new $4500 bikes with their hands or a stick, instead of a front derailleur!

    Always fun to watch the Rivendell parade to by. To each their own, but I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw Grant's latest offering.

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  106. As Grant says in his comment on the Rivendell Owners Board, bikes like the Atlantis, AHH, Roadeo, Bombadil and the Mixte pair are so good that there is no improvement necessary.

    The long wheelbase bike is a bit of whimsey from someone who has otherwise reached the pinnacle of his career.

    It boggles that mind that this should bother anyone. Shouldn't fun be ever present in cycling?

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  107. Matthew - Increasingly, I think the Betty Foy is perfect as a commuter for those who live in hilly areas and as a light (upright) touring bike. As for the other bikes, it really depends on what one intends to use them for. I'd like to try a Homer in my size.

    Agreed about the fun. But the bikes are not cheap. A person spending the money probably wants to have a thorough understanding of what the bikes are for and what their limitations are before buying, and of how the sizing works.

    WMdeR - At least when I was first looking at Rivendell (2009), the Sam Hillborne was not described as having been designed for upright bars. It was described as a versatile bike that could be used, among other things, as a comfortable roadbike. It was described as suitable for club rides. I guess it depends on the club. I have trouble riding mine in groups and keeping up once the hills start. Some have suggested it is overbuilt for someone of my weight (i.e. tubing choice), others have suggested it is the positioning. Probably a bit of both.

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  108. cyclotourist said...
    "Right now on ebay is a a XXS Gunnar Sport ...Built around 650C wheels, which limit you to skinny tires, but if you're ok with that, there's nothing wrong with them."


    Don't care much for Gunnar. Also pretty sure that bike is too small for me - I normally ride 52cm frames with standard length top tubes.

    But moreover, I am not looking for another bike with skinny tires. I love the 650Bx42mm tires on my Rivendell and ideally want to keep that feature. Something like a Rawland could work for me, but I wish it were lugged!

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  109. Nothing to add here, but wanted to say I am impressed and grateful that with over 100 comments this discussion has remained so civil. A pleasure to read and lots of food for thought here. This kind of honest dialog without "bashing" either point of view is crucial but rarely happens.

    As a happy owner of 3 Rivendell bikes, I still have my complaints about the individual bikes and about the general direction Grant is taking these days. It is not as black and white as some forums would have us imagine.

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  110. jimmythefly said...
    "I made this drawing..."


    Thank you : )) I need to look over this carefully and think about it...

    Regarding the question of whether the top tube is in fact too long or not given the slack seat tube: I think it's worthwhile remembering that this is not an academic discussion but a concrete situation. I have the bike. And it feels too long with bars at saddle level and a 7cm stem.

    I have another bike that is 52cmx54cm, 73 deg ST, 9cm stem, same drop bars just below the saddle, and it does not feel too long. I have another bike that is 52cmx53cm, 74 deg ST, 11cm stem, same drop bars 2cm below the saddle, and it does not feel too long. But the Rivendell does.

    You can see in the picture at the top of this post how the bike is currently set up - nothing crazy or racy, bars at saddle height. Stem still on the short side. And yet too long. So... reality wins over charts here IMO. As much as it brings me comfort to know that my 57.5cm top tube should feel more like a 55cm top tube, my body still doesn't quite feel right...

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  111. Anon 8:56 - I would say that most owners of most nice bikes I've spoken to have at least some minor complaints. Sometimes major complaints. These issues are often not discussed publicly, because of notions about loyalty to the framebuilder/brand.

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  112. Regarding your comments to Anon 8:56; yes, you sort of think twice about comments on the RBW Owner's Bunch when you know that Grant reads it. Not that he's mean or anything, he's not. I've made no secret that I don't care for the graphics on my Bleriot, but there are other views that I keep to myself. My Bleriot is a 51, the size I ride in other frames. It's a great-riding bike which I consider to be just about perfect for me. It has a bare minimum of TCO when fitted with 38 Pari-Motos and no fenders. So with fenders, it would have some. Steve

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  113. islaysteve - I'm sure the Rivendell guys have read this post as well, though perhaps not all 100 comments : ) plus Rivendell is a sponsor. I am a fan of the brand, am proud to be sponsored by them, and have spent many many happy miles on my Sam Hillborne. None of this changes the fact that I am now wondering what is up with the sizing. Thanks for the info on the 51cm Bleriot.

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  114. So to end all speculation, imagining that SH is a "normal" bike, the virtual top tube is 57cm C-C and virtual seat tube is 54cm C-C.

    54 by 57 is a bit long, even with the slack angle of 71.5 (not measured). I suppose 72 is typical for a touring geometry.

    The top tube is long, no question about it. Perhaps too long for this size.

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  115. The sam is more like a 58 if you want to call it normal(level tt) and 58 x 57.5 is very normal. one degree of angle on a 57.5cm line rises very close to 1cm try it.

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  116. MDI and Anon - Right. Either way, it is not really a 52cm bike and this is not apparent to a roadbike novice when reading descriptions and going by sizing guidelines or even speaking to Riv staff.

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  117. It's not a 58. It's a 54 C-C with assumed level TT. A 54 by 57.

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  118. Going to wade into it here.

    Velouria, do you use the drops much or do you primarily ride on the hoods? I have a 56cm Hillborne with the Noodle Handlebars and I chose the DirtDrop stem because I knew I wanted the bars high and close compared to the floor model I test rode. It looks a bit goofy, but the revelation for me has been that the drops are suddenly useable for extended periods of time, a first for me with a road bike. Every time I lower the bars, I end up using the drops less, which seems like a waste. With the stem at maximum extension, the seat level pretty much splits the difference between the hoods/flats and the drops, so that the former are slightly above and the latter slightly below seat level. The appearance may not be lovely, but the riding experience certainly is.

    Since you already have more speed-oriented roadbikes, might you consider raising your bars back to at least seat height? Because of the angle of the head tube, they will get closer at the same time. This would seem to me to be an appropriate fitting difference for a bike with a different intended use from those other bikes, i.e. longer rides and/or cargo. So much of the design of the bike is about getting the bars at or above seat level, that to put them below seems like you're going against the intended purpose of the design, especially if it is causing you other problems.

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  119. Daniel - My bars *are at saddle height; the picture is tilted I guess. I use both the hoods and the drops, no problems. Once again I disagree that I have the bike set up other as intended. Rivendell does not say that you cannot set the bars up at saddle level, and plenty of owner photos show bikes set up much, much more aggressively than mine. I am not trying to do anything weird here, really.

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  120. Your "oversquare" measurements got me to measure our bikes. I'm 5'11" & ride a 58 cm Atlantis (700c wheels) that has a 56 cm TT. My wife's 47 cm Atlantis (26" wheels) has a 50 cm TT. She's 5'2", has a 7 cm stem and is comfortable. For your bike to have a TT similar in length to a 58 seems odd. Perhaps some change in design philosophy over the years? Both our h'bars are roughly saddle height.

    dougP

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  121. Do you think this overly stretched out position contributed to the back end 'kicking out' when you were riding/braking with panniers?

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  122. Learn your size, which takes time and sometimes trial and error. For road, I'm 58x58. For touring, I like bigger. For most else, it really doesn't matter. All bikes can be fun, like the old Raleigh Sports that would confound contemporary "fit" experts. I'd never get a fitting unless I had some kind of persistent injury. Experimentation and miles will tell you your size. I like different fit for different purposes.

    This said, your SH is too big for how you'd like to ride it. With the compact/expanded geometry, the old PBH doesn't work the same, which anyone can kind of tell by looking at the upslope tt and the 4 sizes. Go down a size. Trade someone down. Or throw some upright bars on yours and enjoy.

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  123. Get a longer stem and put some Albatross bars on it. Make it a rambler.

    I have a PBH of 91cm in bare feet, a SH of 80cm and ride a 63cm Hilsen (60.5TT) with a 10cm stem and the bars level with my saddle. I'm actually only 5'11.5". This combo has worked well for me for tours, rambling and multiple brevet series. When I had a custom rando bike built I went with a 60cm TT and a 64cm ST (CtoT). Years ago I was fitted for a bike and was told I ride a 59x59. That was fine for a pseudo racer kinda fit but not very comfortable. I'm much happier with my current fit.

    I'm tellin ya, get the A-bars on there and ramble away.

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  124. Some have mentioned Albatross bars... Yes it's a lovely idea and I realise that I can turn the Sam into an upright bike and make the issue go away. But that would completely change the character of the bicycle. It would give me a very cool bike ...that I absolutely don't need. And I would still want a bike with drop bars and wide tires.

    For now I've ordered a different seat post and will see what that does...

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  125. Hmm...I see a Thomson in your future :)

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  126. Spendy. Origin 8 knock-off is $30 with delivery.

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  127. ^^ cool. hope it works!

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  128. Changing the seatpost and saddle position isn't gonna be the solution. I mean, if your saddle position relative to the pedals is proper and the bike is too big, it just means the bike is too big. If you want a bike with drop bars you're gonna need something with a shorter TT. Why not look for a Surly Pacer or a Salsa Casseroll. Or, if you can afford it, since you like a rando-esque bike,why not get a frame through Boulder Bicycles?

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  129. Our thinking is that the saddle is too far back currently due to a slacker tube.

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  130. Sloping top tubes folks... Don't apply your "square" st/tt standards to any bike with compact or expanded geometry. A 52 frame with 6 degree upslope fits like a 56 or 57 standover and bar height wise, so a 57cm tt is totally in the normal, traditional, has-worked-for-a-century ballpark. Actually just about square. New riders always think reach to the drops is too far.

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  131. For anyone still reading these comments, we've now gotten a zero-setback seatpost to experiment with and I have an update here.

    Re the topic of the slack ST angle shortening the effective TT length... After getting pretty confused over some of the descriptive terminology and diagrams posted here, I've finally come to realise that it is no different from how I already understand the topic. In saying that a slack ST angle will decrease the effective TT length, you are assuming that the saddle position will be the same in relation to the BB as on a bike with a standard (non-slack) ST angle, which means you have to be assuming that the cyclist will be using a zero-setback seatpost and shoving their saddle forward. However, Rivendell does not advocate this to be done with their frames and if anything promotes seatposts with setback - which completely contradicts the slack ST/ shorter effective TT logic. So... I feel as if I've come full circle here.

    Re the statement that the bike is really a compact 56cm frame, and therefore the TT is not too long: Again, I would agree if Rivendell presented the bike that way. They do not. Not only do they describe it as a 52cm frame, but they recommend this frame size to a person with my PBH, while at the same time suggesting that the frame can be set up as a roadbike (i.e. dropbars, reasonable length stem, bars at saddle height). Had the frame been described as a 56cm frame, I would of course not have gotten this size.

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