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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    compact frame versus traditional frame - comfort?

    I'm in the planning stages of having a bike built from Columbus XCr.
    The frame would be on the small side with an effective 51 cm top tube.
    And because the overall frame is on the small side, it will be naturally stiff due to the smallness.

    Being that I'm 130 lbs, and the frame being a small size, I'm not worried about the frame not being stiff enough. In fact, I'm worried that it might be too stiff. I have read one custom builder mentioning in his blog that XCr steel rides very nice especially in a large frame. Given the same tubing, a larger frame will have more flex than a smaller frame

    So my question is, should I consider going with traditional geometry as opposed to a compact geometry? Traditional geometry will make the frame have longer actual seat stays, longer actual seat tube, and longer actual top tube.. and these longer dimensions will make the frame more "flexy", give the frame an overall greater compliance and suppleness. Correct?

    I fear that if I go compact, my frame will ride like a brick over bumps, which totally defeats the purpose of me building a steel bike.


  2. #2
    Cranky Old Bastard
    Reputation: Randy99CL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Ask your builder what he thinks.

    Yes, theoretically, the slightly longer tubes would allow them to flex a little more. But unfortunately, theory and reality don't always agree. You might not feel any real difference.
    I'd try it; I'd go with a traditional frame.
    "When you know absolutely nothing, anyone who knows 1% more than nothing sounds like an expert."

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Ventruck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    I've had two compact frames, one carbon and one mixed, and I've weighed as low as 135lbs (usually around 140). Never found comfort against road vibrations an issue.

    Then again I'm getting along with some of the stiffest wheels, stem, and handlebars on the market while riding gloveless on a bare saddle. So it's all relative.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    With modern tubbing the internal thickness will vary even on smaller frames so if the tube set is butted then the ride will be good for your weight/size.
    As the builder about that.

    You can also tweak your ride with a carbon post made to your weight that has a natural built in flex. A good carbon fork and bar will also improve comfort will also be good.
    The last part is tire choice, my carbon bike with my tubulars at 140psi ride like a rocket powered train, I feel everything.. with my carbon clinchers at 100psi its a dream to ride and these are my go to wheels for anything but pure racing.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    I'd talk to the builder and then go with a traditional diamond frame anyway. All kidding aside, I'm a fan of traditional diamond frames.

    I see the whole issue as a wash, comfort wise, because while the larger frame may be more comfortable, the flex of the longer seat post on the compact can be tuned to take some of the harshness out of the ride of the smaller frame.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Comfort issues aside, I'd go traditional just because that's what a steel bike should look like.

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