Re: [CR] Big frames ride better?

(Example: Framebuilders:Bernard Carré)

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 06:12:51 -0800 (PST)
From: "Thomas Adams" <>
In-Reply-To: <1EB09792FC494A77B7D54116387C7669@ownerd556865ac>
Subject: Re: [CR] Big frames ride better?

Dear List:

I am happy to see the insightful comments on this topic.  To clarify what I was asking, I'm not so much inquiring how to set up a bike, as I presume anyone on this list is already enough of a bike addict to have their own way of getting a good position.  What I'm curious about is whether a frame in the larger end of our acceptable frame size range has any intrinsic advantages as far as ride quality goes. These days, with Nitto stems and mountain posts you can acheive a tolerable set up on almost any frame, but my totally subjective opinion, based on no quatifiable data, is that my 64cm frames ride "nicer" than my 62cm frames.  Indeed, to the point that I sold a lovely 60 cm Ephgrave #1 to Paul Raley, because the ride was just a bit,"wrong".  Paul, did the frame ride good for you and was it on the high end of your range?  Does anyone else share this impression, or indeed, have the opposite reaction?

I think everyone has probably a 2 cm range on the ideal frame size.  Is there any perceived difference in ride between the low end of the range and the high end of the range, assuming identical bike position?

Aside from my own impressions, there are two tenuous roots for this question.  I once had a veteran LBS guy look at a 62 cm Raliegh International I just got, and say "Ah, a nice big frame, that will be comfortable".  When I asked why, he said the bigger frames with the longer frame tubes would flex more and absorb more road shock.  This probably is an old  wive's tale, but the other side of the coin is still prevelant:  we're told to get the smallest racing frame we can fit because the shorter frame will be stiffer (and please no one start talking about whether stiffer is faster).

The second reason is the change of frame size normally fitted to a rider.  Back in the 40's and 50's it looks like racers rode frames 2-3 centimeters bigger than current riders ride.  Look at picutures of Coppi and his contemporaries, and they all seem to have just a fist of seat post showing out of the frame.  Was there a reason for this or is it just fashion? 

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts.  Plenty of interesting theory out there.

Tom Adams
Manhattan, KS USA

--- On Tue, 1/25/11, paccoastcycles wrote:

From: paccoastcycles <> Subject: Re: [CR] Big frames ride better? To: "Dean Kernan" <>, Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 9:11 AM

Has this subject morphed from what I wrote about someone selling his favorite bike because it was "too big"?

To keep this subject on topic, I'll go on record by saying that Specialized was the first company I was aware of that made each frame with a clean slate design. In spite of my distaste for their recent business model, I give them credit for giving the industry that. It forced (or enabled?) other manufacturers to do the same or close to it.

Also, being 5'8", I can only speak from what I've deduced with regard to my tall customers over the years. There have been two developements I have seen for tall riders. First, oversize tubing seems appropriate for most very tall frames. That also enables the frame to be made with a more generous top tube which seems proportional. Second, the tendency to put riders on smaller frames seems to have resulted in fewer truly good fitting tall frames (by this, I mean over 60cm). I think that is down to the reluctance of dealers to stock frames in the 63cm range.

This is veering off topic so I'll invite off list discussioin with anybody who wishes to further discuss it. I think it is one of the true tragedies of the bicycle market place.

Chuck Hoefer Pacific Coast Cycles Oceanside, Ca. ---- Original Message ----- From: "Dean Kernan" <> To: <> Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:12 AM Subject: Re: [CR] Big frames ride better?

> List (and especially framebuilders),
> I have a related question, and forgive my ignorance but...
> Was there a shift in frame-building philosopy/technique so that more recent
> large frames tend to be built with longer (and proportional) top tubes than
> they were back in the day?
> My original race bike from 1972 is Falcon San Remo that fits me well at 6'.
> Like a number of frames from that period, although it is fairly large
> (24/24.5 c-t-c) it has a fairly short top tube (22.5 c-t-c) which works fine
> for me, since I am more legs than arms.
> These proportions seem to be true of others from the period as well (as I
> have recently been reminded in an off-list exchange), ie. the larger frames
> tended to have extended seat tubes once they hit the upper end of the size
> range without a proportionate increase in TT length.
> Coming back to the sport, I was surprised to find more large frames that
> were proportional (often "square") so that I now ride a nominally smaller
> frame to have the same reach that I had on my original bike. Fitting on my
> orginal bike gives me the "fistful of seatpost" that was deemed correct for
> the time; fitting on my newer (~off-topic) Simonetti gives me more seatpost
> visible.
> [FWIW, I am indifferent to the issue of standover height since I don't stand
> over my bicycle. :>)  ]
> The resulting loss is something that, if not a "better" ride, was certainly
> a different feeling on the bike.
> Cheers,
> Dean Kernan
> Pomona, New York