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Advice Needed - I Was Told My Bike Is Too Small

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Advice Needed - I Was Told My Bike Is Too Small

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Old 01-02-19, 11:20 PM
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fusero
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Advice Needed - I Was Told My Bike Is Too Small


Good evening cyclists! I really need your help.

A little background. I'm 220lbs and 5' 10".

Last year I invested in a nice surly pacer purchased at a very nice bike shop where the owner spent a very long time dialing it in by having me pedaling on a trainer, changing stems, adjusting the saddle, etc. He recommended a 52cm pacer with the shortest stem possible. The bike is small, but I feel great riding it. (I have a belly and short arms.)

Two weeks ago I bought a used Surly Disc Trucker on craigslist. Beautiful bike. The bike is a 52cm frame with 26" wheels. The top tube length is similar in length to my pacer, but the standover is 3 inches shorter.

I was very happy with my purchase until someone mentioned the bike looks small on me.

It's stupid, but this changed the way I feel about the bike.

My questions are as follow: How much is too much standover height? Is it possible that 3" is too much? Since I was told my bike is too small for me I feel cramped, but I think it's just psychological. The obvious thing is for me to ride it a bit more to get a better feel, but I still need to know your take.

I'm including a couple pictures. Let me know what you think.














Last edited by fusero; 01-02-19 at 11:36 PM. Reason: Photos
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Old 01-02-19, 11:37 PM
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Mitkraft
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Subscribed because I want to see others replies. I’m of the understanding that if the seat height, fore aft position, reach and bar height can be adjusted to suit you then it should be fine. My road bike has a compact frame so I have a decent bit of standover height but it fits me pretty well as far as I can tell. I don’t think standover height means all that much.
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Old 01-03-19, 03:04 PM
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phughes
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Originally Posted by fusero View Post

Good evening cyclists! I really need your help.

A little background. I'm 220lbs and 5' 10".

Last year I invested in a nice surly pacer purchased at a very nice bike shop where the owner spent a very long time dialing it in by having me pedaling on a trainer, changing stems, adjusting the saddle, etc. He recommended a 52cm pacer with the shortest stem possible. The bike is small, but I feel great riding it. (I have a belly and short arms.)

Two weeks ago I bought a used Surly Disc Trucker on craigslist. Beautiful bike. The bike is a 52cm frame with 26" wheels. The top tube length is similar in length to my pacer, but the standover is 3 inches shorter.

I was very happy with my purchase until someone mentioned the bike looks small on me.

It's stupid, but this changed the way I feel about the bike.

My questions are as follow: How much is too much standover height? Is it possible that 3" is too much? Since I was told my bike is too small for me I feel cramped, but I think it's just psychological. The obvious thing is for me to ride it a bit more to get a better feel, but I still need to know your take.

I'm including a couple pictures. Let me know what you think.













First and foremost is how you feel on the bike, and if you have any pain. For me, I will say that I am 5' 10 1/2" and ride a 56cm LHT with 26 inch wheels. At the moment I have a 100mm stem. I could easily ride a 54cm, but I would not go to a 52cm. The 56cm frame rides nice for me, and is extremely stable with a load, any load I have had on it, including a large flight case, the largest allowed by airlines without being charges an oversized fee, on top of the rear rack that put the total bike/load weight to over 85 pounds, much of it up high in the back. I rode that in the Ozarks in the hills, with speeds that hit 40mph downhill and it was stable. There is no way I would do that with a 52cm, at my size.

In the one picture, your foot is midfoot on the pedal, I'm not sure if that is a product of the fit, or just something you do naturally. I would say it is probably slightly undersized for you, but, once again, fit is a personal thing. The stem does look rather short, and you can easily change that if necessary. If you are comfortable, don't worry about it. If not, you could make small changes to the fit of the bike and be fine. It doesn't rally matter what anyone else thinks about how it looks. What matters is that it is comfortable for you, and rides the way you like. A 54cm would probably fit better as it comes from Surly, but you found one used, probably got a decent deal on it, and there is no reason why you can't make it it if it doesn't feel right. Standover doesn't matter as long as you have some. Having plenty isn't a bad thing.

Oh, and really nice looking bike. Looks like you got a nice one. Enjoy it.
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Old 01-03-19, 06:39 PM
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Brian25
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A surly is a touring bike. I do not know if you have any intention of touring on it? 99% of bicycle tourists are riding on too big a bike. They simply neglect to consider that when they put things on the rear rack, they have to get use to putting their foot over the top tube. (to mount). So a bike with a lower top tube (even a ladies type of frame) has advantages, while a high top tube actually has no advantages. Another basic rule of thumb is that you should have more seat post showing than the size of the head tube.
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Old 01-03-19, 08:57 PM
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phughes
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Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
A surly is a touring bike. I do not know if you have any intention of touring on it? 99% of bicycle tourists are riding on too big a bike. They simply neglect to consider that when they put things on the rear rack, they have to get use to putting their foot over the top tube. (to mount). So a bike with a lower top tube (even a ladies type of frame) has advantages, while a high top tube actually has no advantages. Another basic rule of thumb is that you should have more seat post showing than the size of the head tube.
I actually believe the opposite. I see too many on bikes smaller than they probably should be on for touring, since it is nice to have a larger frame to allow you the option to get the bars up higher when you use a larger frame vs a smaller one. As for mounting, I have no issues mounting mine when fully loaded and I don't have three inches of standover. However, that too is simply opinion based on my likes. I do understand your point on that matter though. Bikes with a sloping top tube can be nice for that reason. I still like the traditional top tube design of the LHT.

I have on occasion thought about switching to a 54cm frame, but it would be pointless since in the end, I would end up with the same fit, since I would end up with the same seat height, and would set the reach with a different stem. I would simply end up with a more compact frame, more seat post showing, and more spacers under the stem.

I forgot to post this earlier, here is a spreadsheet from the Long Haul Trucker group that shows various setups by LHT owners, including their measurements. You will find others who are also 5' 10" who are on 52cm LHTs as well, so it is not unusual. And once again, if the bike is comfortable for you, that is the most important consideration.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...BGQ/edit#gid=0

Last edited by phughes; 01-03-19 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 01-04-19, 12:01 PM
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Think of it as giving you a pro look, as pros often ride way small frames.

I find the limiting factor to be knees hitting the bars, & especially bar end shifters, when standing climbing.

Stand-over doesn't matter much, unless it's too little, & you can easily use a longer stem if you start to feel cramped.
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Old 01-04-19, 12:37 PM
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I recommend ignoring nominal bike sizes as quoted by manufacturers. You have to obtain the frame dimensions, and then ride it.

There is one critical measurement on a bike, and that is the length of the top tube - measured horizontally - center to center. Also referred to as effective top tube (ETT). Other bike dimensions can be changed by swapping parts, but not the inherent frame size, as measured by the ETT.

For someone around 5'10", my first rough estimate is that you need a ETT of somewhere between 55 and 57cm.

The stem length and rise comes next. For an averaged size road frame, stem lengths in the 90-110mm range make sense. If you have to install something outside of that range, then you've picked the wrong bike.

you do look cramped on the Surley. But you are running a super-short stem and a zero-setback post. You can stretch the bike out somewhat by swapping these parts out.
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Old 01-04-19, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by fusero View Post



I'm including a couple pictures. Let me know what you think.

Yep, you could easily ride a 54cm frame, or 56cm if you gain some flexibility. But...it doesn't really matter as long as you are comfortable for distance. I ride a 60cm frames (5'11.5"), but have ridden a 54cm fixie & cross bike, and a 18" MTB - no problems.

Ride your ride, not someone's else's opinions.
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Old 01-04-19, 06:02 PM
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Sorry to say, way too small in my opinion. Good fit is very important, that is not a good fit.
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Old 01-06-19, 01:24 AM
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If your riding style is going to remain upright like that, then I'd say its fine.

I'm 5'9.5" and ride a 52cm. My arms are a little on the shorter side and I have a 34" inseam.
A shorter-reach with taller-stack is what I look for in a frame.
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Old 01-09-19, 01:08 PM
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Firstly, congrats on having two bikes. It's nice to have a change now and then. Second, 26" wheels often look small now days. A low stand-over, yeah. It has benefits. Your leg angle looks OK. Your arm stretch looks OK. You feel good.

So some jerk made a comment who is not you and does not ride like you, so what !!

I have three bikes and they all have different top tubes and different stand-overs, but they all have the same saddle to crank center and the same reach. They have the numbers I find most comfortable. That's what matters.

If the stem and the seatpost would not get you where you need to be, yeah it might make a difference. But having a lower CG and load height are good things. You are doing fine

A lot of folks go for the biggest frame that will work with short seatpost extension (showing). And that is what was cool, back in the 1970's. I think those look awkward ...

Then came MTBs with low stand-over and dropper seatposts and BMX bikes with similar geometry. Now, some gravel bikes are leaning the same way. There are plenty of times where a low stand-over is a really cool thing.

Just make it your adventure bike with some cool Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires for the odd adventure off pavement and add a little front mud fender to the bottom of the down tube and you'll be there

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Old 01-09-19, 01:54 PM
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I agree that it does look small. Your position riding it looks OK to me. I'd say that if it doesn't bother you, don't worry about it but if you do change the bike, or can without too much hassle, size up a little.
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Old 01-12-19, 03:27 PM
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Yep, way, way too small. Looks like a toy under you.
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Old 01-28-19, 02:02 PM
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Cool N-1, n+1

Straddle test flat footed standing over the bike ahead of the saddle, put 1 hand on the stem, and the other on the saddle


lift the bike as far as you can ... how much air space is under the tires? more than 3" ?


Im 5'10, OI have a 56, a 57, and a 58 cm frame size bike ..

good thing is the LHTD will be easy to resell ..






if you want the racks remove them before you sell the bike , and refit them on a larger size of the same.. they did not come stock, someone added them..







....

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Old 02-20-19, 02:31 AM
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Put some ape hanger handlebars on it. That way you'll be able to straighten out your back for leisure riding and the bike will look bigger.
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Old 02-20-19, 08:48 AM
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One thing that makes the bike so small is the short, high rise stem. A longer stem with less angle to it will make it fit larger. Anyone who has a belly to deal with isn't going to want a the bars real low. Just about any bike can be made to fit the same as the next size larger, just using a different stem. Moving the saddle back can also help. A lot of bike shops use KOP to set the saddle position. IME, that's usually too far forward.
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Old 02-20-19, 09:07 AM
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Bike shops seem to love putting people on frames that are (IMO) too small. I'm 5-10" and prefer a 56-58 cm frame. I can't explain, it just "feels right". This, after years of riding 54's and 55's. YMMV.

Some people just prefer smaller frames, but I'm not one of them. I get that a small frame is much more "flickable", but I just loathe the feeling of riding a frame that's a size too small, or feels like it is. And I'm not convinced that longer stems and seatposts can ever correct this.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:26 AM
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Clem von Jones
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Surly bikes are long and low relative to other bikes, especially to vintage bikes. It's easy to become temporarily fixated with the idea your bike is too large or too small, I've done that with every bike I've owned. Eventually you'll get over it.
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Old 03-01-19, 12:26 PM
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Shoot. My ex-GF is 5' even and rides a 44cm LHT with 26" wheels. I am 6'2" and ride a 60cm with 700c wheels. I could do a 58cm LHT, but I like a little more bike under me when I tour.
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Old 03-03-19, 07:44 PM
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Could you ride a larger frame? Definitely yet I don't see this bike as being excessively small.

For a horizontal top tube bike you do have a bit of seatpost exposed yet I don't think its that excessive.
The main difference between your current frame or a larger frame would be the balance between handlebar height and handlebar reach. Your current small frame has a shorter handlebar reach yet a lower handlebar height. A larger frame would nominally give you a longer reach to the handlebars yet a corresponding higher handlebar height.

I'm talking average differences here. Different brands and models have different relationships between heigh and reach built into their frames.
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