Longer top tube/shorter stem or shorter top tube longer stem
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  1. #1
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    Longer top tube/shorter stem or shorter top tube longer stem

    If you had to choose one or the other which is the better way to go?

    Longer top tube with a shorter stem

    Shorter top tube with a longer stem

    Assume that both would offer the right saddle to bar drop as well as saddle height.

    Are you better off going with a smaller frame or the larger when you are between sizes?

  2. #2
    A wheelist
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    If that is your sole consideration then I think a smaller frame with longer stem looks much better than a bigger frame with a shorter stem.

    For instance - I use a 55.5cm TT frame with a 140mm stem (**). It looks fine (pics available!) but I think a 60.5cm TT frame with a 90mm stem would look wretched. And they're both the same reach.

    But I think there's more to it than that. Wheelbase, front center and maybe something else I can't think of would be different on the two frames.

    (**) I started out years ago (7) with a 100mm stem on that frame and that's about the "right" stem for that size. But with months of Physiotherapy and lots of core work and position adaptation I can now easily use a 140mm stem. I'm way more aerodynamic as my head is about 4-5" lower than it used to be. The lower position allows me to use more glute power too. My average speeds last year (2010) was 1mph faster than the year before due to all that.
    .

  3. #3
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    On the smaller end of the scale, a shorter top tube might give you some toe overlap with the front wheel while a longer one might avoid it. Toe overlap isn't the end of the world, but if you can avoid it, why not?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    If that is your sole consideration then I think a smaller frame with longer stem looks much better than a bigger frame with a shorter stem.

    For instance - I use a 55.5cm TT frame with a 140mm stem (**). It looks fine (pics available!) but I think a 60.5cm TT frame with a 90mm stem would look wretched. And they're both the same reach.

    But I think there's more to it than that. Wheelbase, front center and maybe something else I can't think of would be different on the two frames.

    (**) I started out years ago (7) with a 100mm stem on that frame and that's about the "right" stem for that size. But with months of Physiotherapy and lots of core work and position adaptation I can now easily use a 140mm stem. I'm way more aerodynamic as my head is about 4-5" lower than it used to be. The lower position allows me to use more glute power too. My average speeds last year (2010) was 1mph faster than the year before due to all that.

    Great feedback. The top tube of the frame I just picked up is 56cm. My last one was 57.5 with a 100mm stem and I felt like to reach was too long so I think the 56cm top tube with a 110 to 120mm stem will work out better. An another poster mentioned I may experience some toe overlap but we will see.
    Last edited by Ranger Pride; 01-15-2011 at 10:44 AM.

  5. #5
    A wheelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Pride
    Great feedback. The top tube of the frame I just picked up is 55cm. My last one was 57.5 with a 100mm stem and I felt like to reach was too long so I think the 55cm top tube with a 110 to 120mm stem will work out better. An another poster mentioned I may experience some toe overlap but we will see.
    Yeah toe overlap was the one I missed. But as carve said, it's over-rated. Of two frames that are fairly close I'll take the smaller one every time.
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  6. #6
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    Small correction on my geometry. The top tube effective is 56cm, not 55 so without any other changes I would be changing my reach by 1.5cm. I think it is going to be a lot easier to get the fit I want.

  7. #7
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    One word of caution here. Be careful to not mislead yourself by segregating out only one part of a bikes geo and thinking your answer will net you the desired results. As one example, when comparing two similar but different bikes, if you don't also consider STA along with ETT, you may be misled into thinking reach is 1.5cm's different when it may actually be more... or less, depending on differences in STA's. Varying HT lengths also affect reach, albeit to a smaller degree.

    As far as toe overlap is concerned, considering that we lean into turns more than steer into them, above speeds of about 7 MPH it's pretty irrelevant. Also, IMO/E the amount of toe overlap is dictated more by the combinations of HTA and fork rake than reach.

  8. #8
    A wheelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352
    One word of caution here. Be careful to not mislead yourself by segregating out only one part of a bikes geo and thinking your answer will net you the desired results. As one example, when comparing two similar but different bikes, if you don't also consider STA along with ETT, you may be misled into thinking reach is 1.5cm's different when it may actually be more... or less, depending on differences in STA's. Varying HT lengths also affect reach, albeit to a smaller degree.
    I did say in my post "If that is your sole consideration................." (regarding TT length and stem length). Hopefully, anyone into frame sizing will know that all bets are off if STA's or HTA's differ between the frames in question.
    .

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    I did say in my post "If that is your sole consideration................." (regarding TT length and stem length). Hopefully, anyone into frame sizing will know that all bets are off if STA's or HTA's differ between the frames in question.

    Seat tube angle is the same on both frames at 73 degrees
    Head tube angle is different with the bike I am coming off of being 73.8 and the new frame being 73.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Pride
    Seat tube angle is the same on both frames at 73 degrees
    Head tube angle is different with the bike I am coming off of being 73.8 and the new frame being 73.
    Then figure on adding in about 3mm's to your reach calculations for the new frame.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    I did say in my post "If that is your sole consideration................." (regarding TT length and stem length). Hopefully, anyone into frame sizing will know that all bets are off if STA's or HTA's differ between the frames in question.
    Not sure why you're defending your post seeing as I wasn't directing my comments to you. That aside, all bets are not off if ST/ HT angles and HT length vary between the bikes being considered, but the differences (if any) need to be included in the reach calculations. That, was my point.

  12. #12
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    I'd go with the longer top tube, for sure.
    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them you'll be a mile away & you'll have their shoes.

  13. #13
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    My road bikes are mostly too big for me. Kind of irritating, but at least I got it right on the only one I bought new and recently. I think 80mm stems handle funny. So I'd go down another frame size in order to avoid going that short.

    I'm not sure what too long is, in a stem on a road bike. I'm sure someone out there has an idea.

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