By the way, the real proof that Hilary's explanation is accurate, lies in the top tube length of those early "small" frames. Even if you allow for the shorter stem lengths that were prevalent in those years, the top tubes are quite long relative to the seat tube heights. Another consideration is the height of the saddle's surface above the rails. With a true leather saddle, this will be grater than with a modern saddle. Of course you can stll see this today if you use Brooks saddles.
In fact, I have had great difficulties trying to purchase one
of those old frames, despite looking for quite some time.
Although many of them meet my requirement for seat tube length,
the top tubes are extraordinarily long. I just realized that
the most pertinent question to ask about these frame sizes is,
where was the saet positioned - longitudinally - on those old
Fred Rednor - Arlington, Virginia (USA)
> Many thanks Hilary!
> This is invaluable information for ensuring that one has a
> more accurate
> period riding experience. I'll no longer steer clear of what
> seem like 'too
> small' 20's and 30's frames.
> So presumably longer seat pins were available during that
> period also?
> Wyndham Pulman-Jones
> Girton, Cambs., UK
> On 31/10/07 22:01, "Hilary Stone"
> <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Yes they rode frames smaller than we do now. From the early
> 1920s on
> > quite a number of writers in the cycling press advocated
> frames as small
> > as possible.
> > Prior to about 1920 the traditional English racing bike for
> road or
> > track use may have used 26in wheels but the bottom bracket
> was normally
> > near 12in, the top tubes sloped down to the head and
> cranked seatstays
> > were bolted to the seat lug and rear dropout with also
> cranked, often
> > two part chainstays. And the frame was much larger it was
> ridden with
> > the saddle almost as low as it would go.
> > Bastide frames built in Paris from c1910 with mainly top
> > English Reynolds tubing with lugs and fittings provided by
> BSA were
> > imported into the UK from 1913 by the Constrictor Tyre
> Company and these
> > set off a revolution in racing bike design in Britain. They
> > some quite radical ideas for the time: 26in wheels,
> calliper brakes
> > operated by cable on the side of the rim; this offered
> quick wheel
> > removal, 10.5in high bottom bracket, horizontal top tube
> and brazed up
> > tapered straight seat and chainstays.
> > Bastides were first displayed at the 1913 Olympia Cycle
> show where they
> > were the sensation of the show. Bastide¹s frame was smaller
> and ridden
> > with about 34in of seat pin showing. The net result was a
> machine with
> > far sleeker and simpler appearance. It was almost certainly
> Granby of
> > the British makers who first copied the Bastide design;
> they claimed in
> > later advertising that they were building this design of
> frame from
> > 1913, there is clear evidence that they were certainly
> using this design
> > by 1915.
> > The cycling press took up the idea of the new design and
> > smaller is better - by the middle 1920s frames had reached
> as small as
> > they were going to get. 21in was a medium size ridden by
> someone now who
> > would now ride a conventional 22.5in level top tube frame;
> 22in was
> > large and 23in extra large and really rather rare. This
> sort of sizing
> > continued until the last three years of the 1930s when
> frame sizes
> > increased again as a result of continental and road racing
> influence -
> > and after WWII frame sizes increased even more.
> > Taking myself as an example with a 30.5in (77cm) inside leg
> I would
> > have ridden a 19.5/20in (48/49cm) frame in the 1920s. It
> would probably
> > have had a 23in (58cm) top tube with a 2in (5cm) stem. In
> the late 30s
> > I would be riding a 21in (53cm) frame with a 22.5in (57cm)
> TT and 3in
> > (7.5cm) stem. By 1950 I would ride a 22in (56cm) frame with
> 22in TT and
> > 4in (10cm) stem. These days I would ride 20.5in (51/52cm)
> level TT frame
> > with a 55cm TT and an 12cm stem. These suggestions are all
> > because different riders adopted more or less of the
> current fashion
> > than others ... and as now raced different events in
> different styles.
> > The race riding position has changed a bit over time - it
> is now more
> > stretched out than it ever has been - in part due to the
> influence of
> > Hinault and Lemond and is lower than it was in the late
> 1930s to 60s.
> > Hilary Stone, Bristol, England
> > Simon PJ wrote:
> >> It seems that many of the frames one sees for sale now
> that date from th
> >> 1930's are on the small side - 21, 21.5 inch (c-t) being
> more common tha
> n 23
> >> or 24 inch.
> >> Did they ride their frames smaller then? Or were riders
> >> The reason that I ask is that at 6 foot tall (with a long
> torso), 23 or
> >> inch is more my size, but I have been tempted into buying
> and riding fra
> >> as small as 21.5 inch.... And I'm tempted again at the
> moment by a 22 in
> >> frame!
> >> So how 'wrong' would a 22 inch frame have been for a 6
> foot rider in the
> >> 1930's?
> >> Thanks,
> >> Wyndham Pulman-Jones
> >> Girton, Cambs., UK
> >> _______________________________________________
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