Hi all, There is one other alternative for getting the bars up: a Thorn compact frame. This is possible because on many of its models Thorn offers three lengths of top tube to go with different seat tube lengths. For one of their models they actually have 30 different frame sizes!
I ordered a frame from Thorn (XTC SWB) with a comparatively large seat tube (for me) and a short top tube. I have been able to get the bars level with the top tube with plenty of spacers to spare. The frame is very stable and corners about as well as my abilities let it. I would have liked the finish work to be better than it is: curiously, the brass brazing is where my eye sees almost every flaw.
I would rate the finish work on the Thorn as inferior to the finish work on any of the Mercians I have seen -- and I've seen quite a few, since a friend of mine actually imports them for customers in NYC. FWIW, I would rate the finish work on most of the Mercians I have seen as inferior to that the Atlantis frame from Rivendell.
Santa Barbara, CA
I totally agree with you, of course. You pointed out something very important - frame size matters. Self-centered individual I am, I forgot that part! The "fistful of post" rule works well on my bikes, but I am a pretty average guy - 6' exactly.
Of course, the Campy NR seatpost was designed for Italian racers. So for an average 1960s Italian racer (5'7"?), on a 1960s bike (isn't that when the alloy one came out), it'll be in the middle of the adjustment range. This looks different for you, being 6'4" - you'll have to extend the post to the max to replicate those proportions. I guess the "shorty" posts that we find so useless in this country were for rather short riders, where they make sense.
That said, I don't think you can do the "bars as high as the seat" position Rivendell advocates, elegantly with a frame sized like a racing bike. My opinion (and please treat it as such): If you want a randonneur position, size your bike as a randonneur. If you want a racing position, size your bike as a racer.
Finally, some custom steel stems break, too. I won't name names, but locally made product (Seattle) has been known to fail. Of course, many modern stems with removable face-plates have an abysmal record. But fortunately, those are outside our timeframe.
Jan Heine, Seattle