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36" Inseam 5'10" Vintage Sizing

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36" Inseam 5'10" Vintage Sizing

Old 03-03-22, 09:15 PM
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ericlowney 
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36" Inseam 5'10" Vintage Sizing

Hey from Tampa, Florida. I've been reading a lot on here since picking up an old (early 1970s) Dawes Galaxy from Craigslist a few years ago. I also just recently bought my daughter a Fuji Royale mixte (1980s I suspect). I've been trying to read here about proper fitting and frame sizing, especially for these vintage bikes. I think my Dawes, as much as I like it, is just a bit too large for me. I'd like to pick up a frame and start working on building it up to suit, and so here are some measurements in case anyone can help me out with suggesting a proper size. If it helps, I'm looking to find a 'top of the line' vintage sport touring frame (whatever that means). So maybe a Miyata 610, Bianchi Randonneur, Colnago Super, etc. I currently commute 7 miles each way by bike and only pack enough for the day - computer, change of clothes, etc. and like to push the speed as much as I can both ways.

Saddle Height - 31.25"
Seat Tube 24.5"
Exposed seatpost 4.75" from the top of the seat tube to the rails of the saddle (brooks swift)

I am 5'10" and no matter how many times I take an inseam measurement I end up getting near 36" (which breaks the Trek online size calculator). Any thoughts?
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Old 03-04-22, 09:37 AM
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Saddle height from where to where? From top of saddle to center of BB?

If that is the max saddle height you can get on that bike with that seat post then that might be too small for your 36" inseam. Assuming 172 mm pedals, then I'd think you need something that will give you somewhere around 31.5" to 32.5" of saddle height from the BB center.

And be sure you watch for that max extension mark on the saddle. Even if not worried about it blowing up on you, then it may start annoyingly rocking back and forth while you ride or cause creaks that will drive you nuts.

If you are going to be riding a touring bike for actual touring rides for hours on end, then reach from saddle to bars will be one of the other things you need to consider.

I rode a 25" (seat tube length from BB center) Schwinn Varsity for over 35 years comfortably and I only have 34.5" inseam. Though now I know the bike was oversize for me.

One way to measure your inseam is to stand close to and facing a wall you don't mind putting a mark on. The pull a carpenters square, a large book or something rectangular or square snug into your crotch keep one edge flat on the wall. Then put a pencil mark on the wall and measure that mark to the floor

Don't wear platform shoes or stilettos. Otherwise, I'm not a stickler for shoeless or not.

Last edited by Iride01; 03-04-22 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 03-04-22, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Saddle height from where to where? From top of saddle to center of BB?

If that is the max saddle height you can get on that bike with that seat post then that might be too small for your 36" inseam. Assuming 172 mm pedals, then I'd think you need something that will give you somewhere around 31.5" to 32.5" of saddle height from the BB center.

And be sure you watch for that max extension mark on the saddle. Even if not worried about it blowing up on you, then it may start annoyingly rocking back and forth while you ride or cause creaks that will drive you nuts.

If you are going to be riding a touring bike for actual touring rides for hours on end, then reach from saddle to bars will be one of the other things you need to consider.

I rode a 25" (seat tube length from BB center) Schwinn Varsity for over 35 years comfortably and I only have 34.5" inseam. Though now I know the bike was oversize for me.

One way to measure your inseam is to stand close to and facing a wall you don't mind putting a mark on. The pull a carpenters square, a large book or something rectangular or square snug into your crotch keep one edge flat on the wall. Then put a pencil mark on the wall and measure that mark to the floor

Don't wear platform shoes or stilettos. Otherwise, I'm not a stickler for shoeless or not.
I should have mentioned that the saddle height is the height to the top of the saddle from the center of the BB and that is how I am currently riding the bike (so set up comfortably for me). The reach on the frame is a bit long for me though, as the top tube is 23". I was thinking if I drop the frame size down I would just expose more seatpost and my reach could shorten up a bit. Most comfortable position for me on this bike is in the drops, so I ride there most of the time. Also, that is exactly how I measured it and I was bare foot. Do you think a 36" inseam correlates to that saddle height? I do have 172mm cranks.
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Old 03-04-22, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ericlowney View Post
The reach on the frame is a bit long for me though, as the top tube is 23". I was thinking if I drop the frame size down I would just expose more seatpost and my reach could shorten up a bit. Most comfortable position for me on this bike is in the drops, so I ride there most of the time.
Sizing down will give you less reach but you'll also get lower stack height and more bar drop from saddle height. So a concern will be that stock seat posts might be too short to extend to your proper saddle height and stems might not raise high enough.

Do you think a 36" inseam correlates to that saddle height? I do have 172mm cranks.
That?
Your saddle height you gave or the saddle height range I gave?
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Old 03-04-22, 10:37 AM
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Sorry, my actual saddle height where I am currently riding (31.25"). Since my frame is currently about a 62cm, I'm considering moving to a 58 or so which should expose about 1.5" more of the seatpost and pull the handlebars a similar amount towards me. I just wasn't sure if that move is enough or too much, i.e. would a 56 or a 60 be better. My overarching goal is to get a higher quality frame, that fits, so I don't have to feel bad about dumping money into it and making it 'nice'. I'll use it for commuting too/from work during the week and strip all of the gear off of it (maybe swap wheels/tires) to do group rides on the weekends. Thinking a 'sport touring' frame would likely fit both bills. Trying to simultaneously identify what make/model frames I want to keep an eye out for, but hard to do until I nail down what size frame I need, if that makes sense. Short list includes the Miyata 610, Univega Specialissima or Gran Tourismo, or Fuji S12S.
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Old 03-04-22, 01:35 PM
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Well, like I said, I think your saddle might be too low if your inseam is 36". But without actually being there to see in person everything else, then nothing is for certain.

The thing with the smaller frames is that you might have to get a longer seat post. And you'll have more drop from saddle to the bars, but you said that you normally stay in the drops currently, so that might just result in you staying on the hoods more. Or if a threaded headset, getting a longer quill stem which at some point starts looking ridiculous. At least to me stems that sit far above the head set look odd.

Whatever you get, I'd avoid downtube shifters. Go to STI type levers, I was very glad I finally after many years of resistance to the idea did that and then regretted holding out so long.

Unless you are paying museum piece prices for those old "quality" bikes, you should be able to get a couple of them. So get a specific bike for the specific purpose. Though if you are willing to get new bikes, you might find the newer geometry more accommodating if you understand what to look for. And new bikes are just as much "quality" as old bikes when compared at the appropriate tier level of then and now.

edit.... just went and measured my saddle from the top to the BB center and it is 31-1/8" . I only have 34.5" inseam.

Last edited by Iride01; 03-04-22 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 03-04-22, 01:47 PM
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I'm within 0.5" the same height. Your legs are 6.5" longer than mine! (In Trek sizing, I am at a 54, but with the long reach of a 110mm stem.)
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Old 03-04-22, 02:34 PM
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I just remeasured the inseam with the help of my wife this time, she got 35.5" so maybe slightly more accurate than my DIY approach. Interesting about the saddle heights... I just hopped on the bike and it does seem like I could probably hike the saddle further up and decrease the amount of bend I have in my knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I may end up riding it into an LBS this weekend so they can take a look at me and see what they think. I was aiming for an older frame just because I really like the ride of steel and the appearance of those chromed luggs that come on some models. I just think they look a lot better than some of the new steel bikes that are lacking that character.
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Old 03-04-22, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ericlowney View Post
I was aiming for an older frame just because I really like the ride of steel and the appearance of those chromed luggs that come on some models. I just think they look a lot better than some of the new steel bikes that are lacking that character.
I rode those old skinny tubed bikes too up until 2020 because I liked the looks of them. Still think they are the prettier bikes out there. However my new Tarmac is the most fun bike I've probably ever ridden. And every bit as comfortable and good riding as any other vintage bike I've been on.

My '78 Raleigh has the chromed fork ends and stays. Really nice look I hope to preserve when I finally get around to painting it.

Last edited by Iride01; 03-04-22 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 03-05-22, 08:17 AM
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You can always get a longer seatpost if you need more extension. If you find the drop to the handlebars not to your liking, you can get a taller stem (nitto technomic). Also you need to figure out how long of a stem you need. You might need a shortish stem. I'm obviously guessing since I haven't seen you on a bike but given your inseam length and height and bike size (24.5 frame), that may be the case.
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Old 03-05-22, 03:18 PM
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Just a couple of thoughts. I use the LeMond-Guimard method of frame sizing. Basically .665 X inseam in CM and it gets me in the ball park. Before I got old and then broke my neck and had C1 & C2 I was also 5'10". My inseam is 32.5" With your unusually long inseam I'm guessing you could ride a 60-62 frame. (I should note that I measure frame size using a virtual TT rather than the sloping TT.) I'm also guessing that you have a short reach and would need a shorter stem. As for saddle height. I don't measure from the BB. That can give you a false reading since crank length varies. I've checked that with people who do professional bike fits and they agree with me. Better to measure from top of saddle to pedal spindle.
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Old 03-06-22, 09:10 AM
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I'm a little stretched out on the frame, so may need to make a frame purchase/size based on that length. I have a straight TT on my Dawes (I think normal for vintage bikes). From about the center of the pedal spindle to the top of the saddle for me is 38.5". I think my LBS can do a fit for $150 although they said it can up to $300 depending on how much time they have to spend on it.
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Old 03-06-22, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
As for saddle height. I don't measure from the BB. That can give you a false reading since crank length varies. I've checked that with people who do professional bike fits and they agree with me. Better to measure from top of saddle to pedal spindle.


And it makes checking the saddle height on multiple bikes easier too. Though there may be little changes in saddle height from one to another, measuring from the top of the saddle to the pedal when furthest away from the saddle gives a good place to start and doesn't have error from the bikes having different crank lengths.
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Old 03-18-22, 10:41 AM
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You said that you are commuting, do you ride in cycling shoes or do you wear some form of athletic shoe with a flat pedal? The reason for asking is that when I commuted, I rode with flat pedals and found that I rode a lower seat height than my road bikes due to a different foot position. I tended to ride with my the pedals more centered under my midfoot, just felt better pushing the pedals that way, but it definitely means a lower seat height.

I am 6'0" with a 35.5 inseam, not as long legged as you but still on the longer side. The best fitting vintage bike I owned was a Trek 560 in size 60cm, I believe. It had a shorter top tube than my other bikes. I bought it in 85 and wish I still had it!!
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Old 03-28-22, 01:51 PM
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Frame geometry of that era was nearly always designed for criterium racing and not great for general riding. Check out a modern bike like the Trek Domane and compare its head tube angle and fork rake to these old bikes.

For my part something like the Trek 5200 made from 2001 to 2011 would be what I would be considering. It is a big improvement to have brake shifters instead of downtube shifters for any rider. Ones with a carbon frame and in excellent condition with 105 or Dura Ace components and 2x9 gears sells for around $1200.
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Old 03-29-22, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Just a couple of thoughts. I use the LeMond-Guimard method of frame sizing. Basically .665 X inseam in CM and it gets me in the ball park. Before I got old and then broke my neck and had C1 & C2 I was also 5'10". My inseam is 32.5" With your unusually long inseam I'm guessing you could ride a 60-62 frame. (I should note that I measure frame size using a virtual TT rather than the sloping TT.) I'm also guessing that you have a short reach and would need a shorter stem. As for saddle height. I don't measure from the BB. That can give you a false reading since crank length varies. I've checked that with people who do professional bike fits and they agree with me. Better to measure from top of saddle to pedal spindle.
Ok, so the OP said his inseam measured with help is 35.5. To get the frame size, multiply by 0.665 to get a frame size of 23.6, rounding up to 24. So the nominal frame size is 24. To get the saddle height, BB center to top of saddle for 170 mm cranks, multiply 35.5 by 0.889 to get 31.56 from BB to saddle top. Lower the saddle by 0.1 to account for the longer 172.5 mm crank arms. So your Lemond-Guimard frame size is 24 and the saddle height from the BB center is 31.46. From the pedal axis its 38.23 saddle height.

I think I got all the Guimard factors right, but these are, like KOPS, only starting points. Ill leave the rounding up or down to you guys. 510 tall? Im 55.5 tall, and I like my bikes 52 to 55 cm, depending on the rest of the geometry.

If the OPs cycling inseam really is 36, Id say 24 is still the suggested frame size, and the saddle height goes up to about 38.6 above the pedal axis.

I also use heel on pedal as a saddle height starting point, wearing the shoes and shorts I usually ride in. I usually have to adjust from there, down a bit.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Ok, so the OP said his inseam measured with help is 35.5”. To get the frame size, multiply by 0.665 to get a frame size of 23.6,” rounding up to 24”. So the nominal frame size is 24.” To get the saddle height, BB center to top of saddle for 170 mm cranks, multiply 35.5” by 0.889 to get 31.56 from BB to saddle top. Lower the saddle by 0.1” to account for the longer 172.5 mm crank arms. So your Lemond-Guimard frame size is 24” and the saddle height from the BB center is 31.46.” From the pedal axis it’s 38.23” saddle height.

I think I got all the Guimard factors right, but these are, like KOPS, only starting points. I’ll leave the rounding up or down to you guys. 5’10” tall? I’m 5’5.5” tall, and I like my bikes 52 to 55 cm, depending on the rest of the geometry.

If the OP’s cycling inseam really is 36”, I’d say 24” is still the suggested frame size, and the saddle height goes up to about 38.6” above the pedal axis.

I also use heel on pedal as a saddle height starting point, wearing the shoes and shorts I usually ride in. I usually have to adjust from there, down a bit.
The only caveats I would add would be to do this all in CMs assuming the bikes are sized in CM. When I convert a 36" inseam to CM and do the math, I get a 60.8 CM frame measured C to C. And, be careful with measuring saddle height from center of BB because it won't work if you have bikes with different crank arm lengths. As I said this always gets me in the ballpark. From there it's a matter of adjustments. I'm just sharing what has worked for me.
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Old 03-29-22, 08:55 AM
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Top tube length is going to be OP's bigger issue. Bigger bikes have longer top tubes and his upper body is very short.

I have a 36 inch inseam and am 6'4 ish.

I can squeeze into some 58 cm frames and have ridden as large as a 62 cm (touring bike). 59-60 cm is about my normal size
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Old 03-30-22, 11:18 AM
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31.5" was the standover height of the frame of my vintage Raleigh Team USA, and I could only straddle that with cycling shoes on. I am also 5'10". The top of my saddle was at least 6" higher than that. A 31.5" saddle height is almost physically impossible with any properly sized frame for the o.p. Absolutely slammed, I would imagine a minimum possible saddle height of 35" on my frame which was admittedly too large, but assuming a proper 22" frame (vs 24") well you can see how things scale down. I usually shoot for a center of BB to top of saddle measurement (tape measure angled to follow slanted centerline of seat tube) of 28.5" on all bikes regardless of crank length, then I adjust for comfort (+/- 0.5"). Obviously that would vary by person, but NOT 6" worth of variance! I always send people back to measure again (and again, and again) when their result are as outlier from the norms as in the present case.

Measuring cycling inseam ideally requires two people, but it can be done by oneself. In a pinch, add 2" to your tailors inseam (if male) and you wind up in the ballpark of a cycling inseam. The best way to measure cycling inseam is with a thin, but rigid, book that can be slid up alongside the ... package, and nestles in the crotch, right up against the bony structures. In bare feet, measure from the floor to the top of the book. Do that twice more. Average the results. There you are. Informed with a fairly significant, but useless, piece of information. Here is how you really find your ideal saddle height: center the saddle on the seat rail. You should have about as much rail ahead of the clamp as behind. Tilt the nose of the saddle up slightly. If you have a saddle where the tail is kicked up, you may have to tilt the nose up even higher. You are aiming to have the area of the saddle you sit on, dead level.

Now straddle the top tube in footwear. The nose of the saddle should hit you right about at the top of your ... split. Now, get your usual take off foot up to 10 or 11 o'clock on the crank and push off. As you are rising (you should be rising) to the saddle, note that you should find the saddle 'right there' when your trailing foot comes up and you are in the saddle. It shouldn't have required any 'skootching', up or down, to find the seat. You should simply be able to start off from a position astride the top tube and land in the saddle without drama. After you can do that you can use any kind of fancy takeoff you have mastered during your formative years.

A 'normal' shoe size for a 5'10" male is between a 10 and 12. At these shoe sizes it should be fairly impossible to put even one toe on the ground and remain on top of a saddle that is properly adjusted. That's just the way it is. The reach to the bars should definitely put between 45 (racingish) and 55 (commuting) degrees of angle in the riders back. Bolt upright should be impossible. Obviously pictures would really help identify issues in this thread. There are, of course, allowed variables for individual tastes but there are ... conventions. There are limits in the adjustments of seatposts and saddle clamps and also stems and handlebars but if one starts off with a frame in the ballpark, a workable result should be possible.
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Old 03-30-22, 02:22 PM
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Wow, I thought it had it rough with a 32.5" inseam at 5'7". I've got one of these pricey, but very sturdy, stems to shorten the reach on my vintage roberts: https://crustbikes.com/products/nitto-x-crust-ui-stem. They're out of stock at the moment. I had to wait for mine when I bought it a couple years ago.
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Old 03-31-22, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Top tube length is going to be OP's bigger issue. Bigger bikes have longer top tubes and his upper body is very short.

I have a 36 inch inseam and am 6'4 ish.

I can squeeze into some 58 cm frames and have ridden as large as a 62 cm (touring bike). 59-60 cm is about my normal size
ericlowney - I quoted GhostRider62 due to the fact he & I ride the same range of bike sizes even given substantial different body measurements; AND your inseam falls between us.

GhostRider: 6'4" 36" inseam bike size range 58 - 62cm, ideal size = 59/60
Wildwood: 6'1" 34" inseam bike size range 58-62, ideal = 59/60

1. You have super long legs
2. You should be able to ride 58/59/60cm bikes
3. Top tubes (for bike sizes larger than 58cm) do not always increase proportionally with the seat tube.

4. Make sure your seatpost does not have setback.

5. Is your wingspan equal to your height? More? Less?
6. How flexible are you? Do you ride in the drops?
7. The answers to #5+#6 would help determine an ideal top tube and stem length combo.

My wingspan is greater than my height (by 2.5"), and I prefer a top tube of 58cm and stem length around 12.5cm.
Given that there are options for stem length and the handlebar dimensions, top tube measurements may be less critical.
Perhaps GhostRider will offer his preferred top tube & stem length for comparison.


I measure my cycling inseam (PBH = pubic bone height) by inserting a book between the legs, lightly pressing to the bone (while standing against a wall) and measure directly to the floor (not down leg length).

edit: My saddle height is extremely close to yours, but given the variations in saddles, it is not a good fitting measurement.

Last edited by Wildwood; 03-31-22 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 04-04-22, 08:26 PM
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I will have to measure wingspan, I'm honestly not sure what it is. I did swap out my stem and rotated my bars, I also slid the hoods further up and that helped a lot! I'm a ton more comfortable on my Dawes than I ever was before, in fact I'm pretty confident I'll be keeping this bike for a while, or at least until a great deal on a true tourer pops up (like a Miyata 1000). Here it is before I got a better spindle sent to me and was able to put the drivechain back together again. I'm slowly going to piece together a DA 7400 set and maybe this summer swap the drivechain over to something a little more modern than my cottered cranks. To answer your other questions, I do think I'm pretty flexible and I do ride in the drops very often. My seatpost is one where I have a clamp on top of it, so I don't think it has any setback. Although I'd like to change it out because the black clamp looks hideous. Anyway, I'll get that measurement and get back to you. Thanks everyone for all of the input/help!
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Old 04-13-22, 11:55 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by ericlowney View Post
I will have to measure wingspan, I'm honestly not sure what it is. I did swap out my stem and rotated my bars, I also slid the hoods further up and that helped a lot! I'm a ton more comfortable on my Dawes than I ever was before, in fact I'm pretty confident I'll be keeping this bike for a while, or at least until a great deal on a true tourer pops up (like a Miyata 1000). Here it is before I got a better spindle sent to me and was able to put the drivechain back together again. I'm slowly going to piece together a DA 7400 set and maybe this summer swap the drivechain over to something a little more modern than my cottered cranks. To answer your other questions, I do think I'm pretty flexible and I do ride in the drops very often. My seatpost is one where I have a clamp on top of it, so I don't think it has any setback. Although I'd like to change it out because the black clamp looks hideous. Anyway, I'll get that measurement and get back to you. Thanks everyone for all of the input/help!
The clamp on top of your Dawes seatpost has some setback. For a useful measure of setback, I drop a plumbline to the BB axis and measure backwards to the back of your Brooks saddle, or alternatively to the point where your saddle is widest. The wide point is generally where your sitbones are the most comfortable.

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Old 05-31-22, 05:42 PM
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no pedals! Interesting. I'm gonna follow!
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Old 07-02-22, 06:10 AM
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Perhaps it would tell you nothing except how to fit "Mr. Average", but a normal '70s aesthetic for that frame, would, IMO, be:
  • seat about 1" farther forward, and level
  • stem 1 cm or 2 cm longer
  • brake levers about 1" farther down the bars
  • bars rotated so the bottoms slope about half as much as they do now
With the high hoods and rotated bars, it looks like you are emulating more modern bars. Nothing wrong with that, as Seinfeld says. You could try the first and last items above without much effort. Maybe you don't need the other two. They would all basically shift your CG forward a bit. That will either feel better, or it won't.
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