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Riding one size smaller? Have you ever done it?

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Riding one size smaller? Have you ever done it?

Old 08-23-19, 06:43 AM
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Riding one size smaller? Have you ever done it?

Hi all,

So long story short, I'm considering buying a TCR before the end of this season and I found a used Advanced Pro that I like very much. It is, however, a M/L (57cm) which, according to Giant's website, is suitable for 5'10'' to 6' person. I went to my local shop, and sat on a ML TCR. It felt a little small, but not that much. The employee said it would be too small for my height, that my seat would be high (that it would look odd) & that I'd probably need a longer stem. I'm not 100% convinced that I couldn't ride one, if properly adjusted/fitted, but I don't want to make a mistake here.

I know that riders sometimes go for a size smaller when buying a bicycle, especially when they're between 2 sizes, and I am thinking of doing it. If I would buy new, I'd most likely get a large but money here is a factor, hence why I'm considering the used ML. When comparing the specs of the TCR to my current bike, it's not that much smaller.

I'm 6'1 with a 34'' inseam & 26-27'' arm length & my current bike is a Large (57.5cm). What do you think?

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Old 08-23-19, 07:02 AM
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I'd say you're close enough. 55cm is my ideal frame size, but most of my bikes are 54cm. I can ride any of them comfortably. You can always resell the bike.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:24 AM
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If you have a bike now that fits you can compare the stack and reach of the two bikes. That will give you a good idea of the stem size required on the new bike to match your current position. If you can get the 3 contact points setup exactly the same then I don’t see any issues. If you have to change your position I’d skip the small bike and get the right size.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
If you have a bike now that fits you can compare the stack and reach of the two bikes. That will give you a good idea of the stem size required on the new bike to match your current position. If you can get the 3 contact points setup exactly the same then I don’t see any issues. If you have to change your position I’d skip the small bike and get the right size.
Exactly what I was thinking... How it looks is not important to me as long as it can be adjusted & fitted as per my current specs.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:30 AM
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What kind of "deal" are we talking about on the used bike? Is it good enough to overcome the cost of a change to the stem and possibly seatpost? If so, maybe go for it. You could do a search across the country for a used one in the size you wanted. Shipping/transportation charges might equal out to what a new stem/seatpost would be.

Here's one website.

https://www.bikeexchange.com/s/road-bikes/giant

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Old 08-23-19, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
I'd say you're close enough. 55cm is my ideal frame size, but most of my bikes are 54cm. I can ride any of them comfortably. You can always resell the bike.
Using the formula (86.36cm X .67), it equals to 57.8cm. I'm riding a 57.5, and don't believe a 57 would be too small either.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
What kind of "deal" are we talking about on the used bike? Is it good enough to overcome the cost of a change to the stem and possibly seatpost? If so, maybe go for it. You could do a search across the country for a used one in the size you wanted. Shipping/transportation charges might equal out to what a new stem/seatpost would be.
2k below MSRP for a bike that's was ridden less than 5 times...
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Old 08-23-19, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
2k below MSRP for a bike that's was ridden less than 5 times...
It sounds like you have talked yourself into it. Might as well get it..............unless the color is not to your liking. No matter how much you try and get used to that, it won't work. It will haunt you till the end of time. You will end of rattlecanning it on a late night after a drinking binge.
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Old 08-23-19, 08:21 AM
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Seems most manufacturers now have frames that span several "sizes." Canyon recommends a small Aeroad for me, based on height and inseam. But their small has a 55cm top tube!
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Old 08-23-19, 08:46 AM
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My worthless opinion.....Buy once cry once!

I would never settle for a bike that is not fit right or doesn't speak to me.. Motivation is hard enough for me and I love the fit and ride of my bike.
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Old 08-23-19, 11:15 AM
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The one thing that you really need to pay attention to when considering a smaller size, is stack height. A frames reach is easily corrected via steam and/or handlebars, but the stack...not so much. The difference in stack between the M/L and L is 19mm, which is a lot (reach is a more manageable 4mm). Having to use 30mm of spacers, is only going to do a disservice to the bike. These bikes are designed with the intention of running 0mm of spacers, so adding a lot of extra mm's throws off the frame's characteristics. And it just looks very strange.

I was right on the cusp of a 51 and 53 when I bought my Orca, so I went with the 51...which ended up being the wrong choice. The saddle-to-handlebar drop was massive (like more than world-tour pro's, massive). It was fine for a while, but then I started to develop hip issues and ended up buying a new bike. The reach is the same, but the stack is 22mm higher, and it's a game changer.


So, if you can handle an extra 1.5-2 cm of saddle-to-handlebar drop then go for the M/L. If you feel like you'll have to load up on the spacers, then hold off till the correct size comes along.
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Old 08-23-19, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
The one thing that you really need to pay attention to when considering a smaller size, is stack height. A frames reach is easily corrected via steam and/or handlebars, but the stack...not so much. The difference in stack between the M/L and L is 19mm, which is a lot (reach is a more manageable 4mm). Having to use 30mm of spacers, is only going to do a disservice to the bike. These bikes are designed with the intention of running 0mm of spacers, so adding a lot of extra mm's throws off the frame's characteristics. And it just looks very strange.

I was right on the cusp of a 51 and 53 when I bought my Orca, so I went with the 51...which ended up being the wrong choice. The saddle-to-handlebar drop was massive (like more than world-tour pro's, massive). It was fine for a while, but then I started to develop hip issues and ended up buying a new bike. The reach is the same, but the stack is 22mm higher, and it's a game changer.


So, if you can handle an extra 1.5-2 cm of saddle-to-handlebar drop then go for the M/L. If you feel like you'll have to load up on the spacers, then hold off till the correct size comes along.
^^ This.
Stack height may well be the limiting factor.
Also the tcr is a race frame so does have a reasonably low stack to start with, though certainly not as low as some.
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Old 08-23-19, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
The one thing that you really need to pay attention to when considering a smaller size, is stack height. A frames reach is easily corrected via steam and/or handlebars, but the stack...not so much. The difference in stack between the M/L and L is 19mm, which is a lot (reach is a more manageable 4mm). Having to use 30mm of spacers, is only going to do a disservice to the bike. These bikes are designed with the intention of running 0mm of spacers, so adding a lot of extra mm's throws off the frame's characteristics. And it just looks very strange.

I was right on the cusp of a 51 and 53 when I bought my Orca, so I went with the 51...which ended up being the wrong choice. The saddle-to-handlebar drop was massive (like more than world-tour pro's, massive). It was fine for a while, but then I started to develop hip issues and ended up buying a new bike. The reach is the same, but the stack is 22mm higher, and it's a game changer.


So, if you can handle an extra 1.5-2 cm of saddle-to-handlebar drop then go for the M/L. If you feel like you'll have to load up on the spacers, then hold off till the correct size comes along.
You also have some flexibility with the stem. With a 120mm stem the difference in height between a -6 and -17deg stem is around 23mm so you don't necessarily need to just add spacers to achieve the same fit.
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Old 08-23-19, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
You also have some flexibility with the stem. With a 120mm stem the difference in height between a -6 and -17deg stem is around 23mm so you don't necessarily need to just add spacers to achieve the same fit.
Yes, there is sizable height difference between a -6 and a -17 degree stem, but the TCR isn't going to come with a -17 (it's a -8 I believe?). And reversing a -17 stem to increase height just means the bike doesn't fit.

Now, if you really need to slam the front end, a -17 is the answer.
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Old 08-23-19, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post

I'm 6'1 with a 34'' inseam & 26-27'' arm length & my current bike is a Large (57.5cm). What do you think?
i think you could ride a 62cm bike, certainly 60cm. The stack height issue is not going away, and I suspect you will feel cramped over time. I rode a fixed gear a size or two small but that was intentional, and often uncomfortable.
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Old 08-23-19, 03:52 PM
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I'd wait and find the right size bike. Simply duplicating the three contact points would not be enough for me. Long stem and seatpost on a small frame affects stiffness. Short wheelbase and long stem affects handling. Headset spacers are not as aero as a taller head tube. If the steerer has been cut you may not be able to add enough spacers. Much better in the long run to ride a bike that fits.
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Old 08-23-19, 05:58 PM
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The Trek store tried to put me on a 56 when everything pointed to a size 54 for this particular bike. I couldn't see 10' in front of me because of the bike helmet and the steering was so squirrelly I thought I was going to drop the bike a few times. Tried the size 54 and put a downpayment on it.
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Old 08-23-19, 07:04 PM
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I did a smaller frame once and had to take it back.

If the employee is worried about seat height, I would check to see that at the height you need, the seat post is not near the minimum insertion point.

That's the reason I took the smaller frame back. Seat post height was not safe.
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Old 08-23-19, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
You also have some flexibility with the stem. With a 120mm stem the difference in height between a -6 and -17deg stem is around 23mm so you don't necessarily need to just add spacers to achieve the same fit.
If it is a higher end TCR with the oversize steerer (1.25") the stem options are limited.
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Old 08-23-19, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
The one thing that you really need to pay attention to when considering a smaller size, is stack height. A frames reach is easily corrected via steam and/or handlebars, but the stack...not so much. The difference in stack between the M/L and L is 19mm, which is a lot (reach is a more manageable 4mm). Having to use 30mm of spacers, is only going to do a disservice to the bike. These bikes are designed with the intention of running 0mm of spacers, so adding a lot of extra mm's throws off the frame's characteristics. And it just looks very strange.

I was right on the cusp of a 51 and 53 when I bought my Orca, so I went with the 51...which ended up being the wrong choice. The saddle-to-handlebar drop was massive (like more than world-tour pro's, massive). It was fine for a while, but then I started to develop hip issues and ended up buying a new bike. The reach is the same, but the stack is 22mm higher, and it's a game changer.


So, if you can handle an extra 1.5-2 cm of saddle-to-handlebar drop then go for the M/L. If you feel like you'll have to load up on the spacers, then hold off till the correct size comes along.
Thanks, very useful information. Going from a Defy to a TCR, I'm expecting a more aggressive position (therefore less comfortable), but I certainly don't want it to be too much. 1.5-2cm does not seem enormous, but it could be. Even worse, my Defy in Large has 605mm of stack, the M/L TCR has 562mm (43mm difference). The Large TCR has 581mm of stack, which is still lower than my Defy in the same size.

Judging by how high my seat is right now, I can't imagine what it would be on a M/L. It would probably look odd.


Yep, the cat is looking at me!

Last edited by eduskator; 08-23-19 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-23-19, 09:26 PM
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You won't be able to get that fit on a M/L TCR.
Also the seat post may not even be long enough to get the saddle height you need either.
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Old 08-23-19, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
Thanks, very useful information. Going from a Defy to a TCR, I'm expecting a more aggressive position (therefore less comfortable), but I certainly don't want it to be too much. 1.5-2cm does not seem enormous, but it could be. Even worse, my Defy in Large has 605mm of stack, the M/L TCR has 562mm (43mm difference). The Large TCR has 581mm of stack, which is still lower than my Defy in the same size.

Judging by how high my seat is right now, I can't imagine what it would be on a M/L. It would probably look odd.

Yep, the cat is looking at me!
The difference between a Defy and a TCR, in the same size, would be very noticeable. Going to a TCR one size small, even more so. 1.5-2cm doesn't sound like much on paper, but to the body, it's a big jump. But it's also doable depending on your flexibly/strength/body type. When i first made the switch from an endurance to a race bike, the stack height dropped 60mm, and I found it more comfortable.

It looks like you have you have about 20mm, so if you want to get a feel for what the TCR in a large would feel like, simply remove the spacers and take it for a ride. That would (somewhat) simulate what the position on the TCR would be, with the equal amount of spacers (which, I think is too much. Ideally you want to be 10mm or less). If you don't like it, than maybe a race-spec geometry isn't right for you.

As far as the seat height goes, a little more seat post/saddle-to-bar drop wouldn't look funny at all....personally I think it looks better
Here is a photo of my Orca (*cheap plug* which is currently for sale if anyone is interested) which has 12.25cm drop. If you went with the M/L TCR, you'd probably end up with something similar

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Old 08-24-19, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
The one thing that you really need to pay attention to when considering a smaller size, is stack height. A frames reach is easily corrected via steam and/or handlebars, but the stack...not so much. The difference in stack between the M/L and L is 19mm, which is a lot (reach is a more manageable 4mm). Having to use 30mm of spacers, is only going to do a disservice to the bike. These bikes are designed with the intention of running 0mm of spacers, so adding a lot of extra mm's throws off the frame's characteristics. And it just looks very strange.
If that's the case, why do Giant have photos on their website of TCRs with 30+ mm of spacers? Even at the highest end, most road bikes are sold with excess steerer tube that people routinely choose to either chop off or not. The only appreciable change to the bike's characteristics will be a slightly shorter wheelbase, which is arguably a good thing if the OP is planning on doing any aggressive descending.

I went a size down for my CAAD10, and added a 120mm stem at the top of my unchopped steerer tube. I love it that way and wouldn't change a thing. I have the option of dropping the stem and adding aero bars for riding a TT/tri. The smaller frame gives a bit of flexibility with your fit in that regard; once you've slammed your stem all the way on that 56, you can't go any lower. If you go for a 54, you still have another 2cm to go.
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Old 08-24-19, 04:31 AM
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The "too small" TCR will have a much lower stack than you Defy, assuming that is also not "too small". Buyer be ware.
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Old 08-24-19, 05:50 AM
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My Defy came with spacers. I checked, and I have 1'' of them between my stem and my head tube. After checking the picture on my local add website, the TCR advanced pro I'm considering buying also comes with some, who seem to be higher than on mine (somewhere around 2 inches - see picture). The handlebars also seem to be tilted upward as compared to mine who are currently almost parallel to the ground, just a little bit tilted downward. Perhaps the actual owner is also a little too tall for it lol. I think I'll just go see it in person, and compare with my actual bike.

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