Compact vs Standard Frame
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  1. #1

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    Question Compact vs Standard Frame

    Can anyone tell me what the difference in the ride between a compact and standard frame. I understand there is personal preference for size. Have had several different reaponses from LBS and other sources :confused, some say compact rides faster, standard is for longer rides; compact lighter than standard, or compact for women. Any input appreciated. Have narrowed down to Litespeed Ti and trying to decide on model.

  2. #2
    eminence grease
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikebelle
    Can anyone tell me what the difference in the ride between a compact and standard frame. I understand there is personal preference for size. Have had several different reaponses from LBS and other sources :confused, some say compact rides faster, standard is for longer rides; compact lighter than standard, or compact for women. Any input appreciated. Have narrowed down to Litespeed Ti and trying to decide on model.

    As far as I'm concerned, there is no difference whatsoever. I own several of each and they ride the same. They don't ride faster, they're just as good on long hauls and while they can be lighter, they can also be heavier. Buy one if you like the looks (I do), if you need the extra clearance (I don't) or if you're in love with the paint job.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikebelle
    Can anyone tell me what the difference in the ride between a compact and standard frame. I understand there is personal preference for size. Have had several different reaponses from LBS and other sources :confused, some say compact rides faster, standard is for longer rides; compact lighter than standard, or compact for women. Any input appreciated. Have narrowed down to Litespeed Ti and trying to decide on model.
    ... with tons of other factors to consider... and in the context of your question... there ain't a lot of differences...

    Compact may be more of a manufacturing technique than blanket tangibles that apply to all frames built to these specs... your personal preferences/needs should take precedence over compact v standard.

  4. #4

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    Compacts are made to save the manufacturer money. Personally, if I dole out big bucks for a frame I don't care to have the manufacturer try to shave costs; it's an insult. I want the correct size down to the centimeter.

    Besides, compacts are fugly.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Utah CragHopper
    Compacts are made to save the manufacturer money. Personally, if I dole out big bucks for a frame I don't care to have the manufacturer try to shave costs; it's an insult. I want the correct size down to the centimeter.

    Besides, compacts are fugly.


    AMEN!

  6. #6

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    The technical difference between a compact frame and a traditional frame, is the compact has a sloping toptube while the traditional has a level toptube. So on a compact you have more seatpost showing and standover clearence than a traditional frame. Traditionally, frames were measured by the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the toptube, top of the toptube or even the tope of the seattube, depending on the manufacture with Center of toptube being most common. Compact frames are usually measured by toptube length.

    The important measurement when finding a proper sized bike is toptube length. Standover height only matters to the extent that you can stand over the bike, whether it has 1" or 4" of clearence doesn't matter.

    As far as ride differences, there is no way to tell how a compact frame will ride compared to a traditional frame, as there is no way to predict how any frame will ride. Frame materials, tubing diameters, and tube thickness all play much more into how a frame rides than compact v. traditional.

    Finally, just to throw in my thoughts on litespeed. Litespeed builds some nice bikes, but unless they are on sale at 25% off, I believe them to be overpriced. I would suggest you check out some other TI manufactures like Seven, Moots and IF before plopping down the money. Finally, you may want to check out Dean, they make great frames, but their wait time is 3-4 months (they will tell you 6 weeks, but it isn't true).

  7. #7
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    subtle differances

    Quote Originally Posted by cdmc
    The technical difference between a compact frame and a traditional frame, is the compact has a sloping toptube while the traditional has a level toptube. So on a compact you have more seatpost showing and standover clearence than a traditional frame. Traditionally, frames were measured by the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the toptube, top of the toptube or even the tope of the seattube, depending on the manufacture with Center of toptube being most common. Compact frames are usually measured by toptube length.

    The important measurement when finding a proper sized bike is toptube length. Standover height only matters to the extent that you can stand over the bike, whether it has 1" or 4" of clearence doesn't matter.

    As far as ride differences, there is no way to tell how a compact frame will ride compared to a traditional frame, as there is no way to predict how any frame will ride. Frame materials, tubing diameters, and tube thickness all play much more into how a frame rides than compact v. traditional.

    Finally, just to throw in my thoughts on litespeed. Litespeed builds some nice bikes, but unless they are on sale at 25% off, I believe them to be overpriced. I would suggest you check out some other TI manufactures like Seven, Moots and IF before plopping down the money. Finally, you may want to check out Dean, they make great frames, but their wait time is 3-4 months (they will tell you 6 weeks, but it isn't true).
    I've been riding a slightly sloping top tube frame for close to a year now and there is a differance in the way the bike handles compared to my more traditional steel frames. I've always sized my bikes by the top tube length and not the height which you can compansate by the seat post. Unlike the traditional frames I'm used to, my new compact frame seems to excellerate faster and climb faster due to short chain stays, or is it just the new bike feel? My frame is 853 Reynolds tig welded and can feel a little whippy. The one fundamental thing I've observed by talking to other compact frame owners is even with the same top tube length as a traditional frame you wind up going with the next size up in length for the stem. After I changed my stem to a 12 I find the bike more comfortable and stable. I can let go of the bars on the straight roads with no hip "english". Anyone else experiance this? Don't be afraid to try something new.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thommy
    I've been riding a slightly sloping top tube frame for close to a year now and there is a differance in the way the bike handles compared to my more traditional steel frames.
    Unless your frame is of the exact same material, using the same size tubing with the same thickness and has the same head angle, seat tube angle, bottom bracket height, chainstay lenght, and headtube length, with the same compenents down to the tires, you have no idea if it is because your frame is a compact design that makes it feel different or something else. Any other thought is pure speculation.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for the input-- I will look at the others manufacturers before I make th final decision...








    Quote Originally Posted by cdmc
    The technical difference between a compact frame and a traditional frame, is the compact has a sloping toptube while the traditional has a level toptube. So on a compact you have more seatpost showing and standover clearence than a traditional frame. Traditionally, frames were measured by the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the toptube, top of the toptube or even the tope of the seattube, depending on the manufacture with Center of toptube being most common. Compact frames are usually measured by toptube length.

    The important measurement when finding a proper sized bike is toptube length. Standover height only matters to the extent that you can stand over the bike, whether it has 1" or 4" of clearence doesn't matter.

    As far as ride differences, there is no way to tell how a compact frame will ride compared to a traditional frame, as there is no way to predict how any frame will ride. Frame materials, tubing diameters, and tube thickness all play much more into how a frame rides than compact v. traditional.

    Finally, just to throw in my thoughts on litespeed. Litespeed builds some nice bikes, but unless they are on sale at 25% off, I believe them to be overpriced. I would suggest you check out some other TI manufactures like Seven, Moots and IF before plopping down the money. Finally, you may want to check out Dean, they make great frames, but their wait time is 3-4 months (they will tell you 6 weeks, but it isn't true).

  10. #10
    eminence grease
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thommy
    The one fundamental thing I've observed by talking to other compact frame owners is even with the same top tube length as a traditional frame you wind up going with the next size up in length for the stem. After I changed my stem to a 12 I find the bike more comfortable and stable. I can let go of the bars on the straight roads with no hip "english". Anyone else experiance this?
    Hasn't been my experience - I ride a 120 stem on every bike I own, compact and traditional unless they are purposely sized down a bit. They all have the same reach, same bar height, same everything. The only bikes I ride a 130 on are traditional design.

    I can't for a minute imagine why you'd change the stem length due to compact design if the virtual TT length was the same as the TT length on a traditional. Sounds like superstition to me. After all, 57cm is 57cm (at least in my case, using my tape measure.)

  11. #11

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    I only have a semi-sloping frame to compare a traditional frame to (Fondriest Carbon Lex - Cannondale CAAD7). Aside from the seat tube, they both are practically the same size. The CAAD7 has a 5mm longer effective top tube length, the BB drop is 4mm more than the Lex, and it has a 0.5 deg steeper head tube. For the remainder all other dimensions are basically with-in 1-2 mm. I use the same stem and bar set-up on both. Wheels and other components are basically the same as well. The response of the Lex feels quite a bit quicker however. Probably more due to a combination of better stiffness, the slightly smaller BB drop, and a bit over a pound less weight, than the slope of the top tube. I guess perhaps a lower CG might play a role as well....who knows......

  12. #12
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    stem

    Quote Originally Posted by terry b
    Hasn't been my experience - I ride a 120 stem on every bike I own, compact and traditional unless they are purposely sized down a bit. They all have the same reach, same bar height, same everything. The only bikes I ride a 130 on are traditional design.

    I can't for a minute imagine why you'd change the stem length due to compact design if the virtual TT length was the same as the TT length on a traditional. Sounds like superstition to me. After all, 57cm is 57cm (at least in my case, using my tape measure.)
    First of all, stop the "virtual" talk. Try "actual" TT length, yes I measured it. Sounds like you have a pretty nice fitting frame for your compact. Just my experiance and that of a few others. After riding for a few years I know when to change the stem length. Now, if you want to talk "superstition", talk to my VooDoo Wazoo. LOL.

  13. #13
    eminence grease
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    I guess I'm not sure how you measure, but on a sloping frame the actual TT length is not the same as the virtual TT length. Unless of course you're using a 90 degree STA. The virtual length (as in the actual horizontal length) is what determines the reach.

    Maybe that's why you and everyone you've ever asked (except me) changed stem lengths?

  14. #14
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    TT length

    Quote Originally Posted by terry b
    I guess I'm not sure how you measure, but on a sloping frame the actual TT length is not the same as the virtual TT length. Unless of course you're using a 90 degree STA. The virtual length (as in the actual horizontal length) is what determines the reach.

    Maybe that's why you and everyone you've ever asked (except me) changed stem lengths?
    I respect your views but keep in mind my TT is only slightly sloping unlike some of the more radical designs I've seen out there. Merlin (I think the Cienna?) comes to mind.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thommy
    I respect your views but keep in mind my TT is only slightly sloping unlike some of the more radical designs I've seen out there. Merlin (I think the Cienna?) comes to mind.
    It doesn't matter that it is slightly sloping, measuring the actual toptube length on any frame other than a frame with a toptube that is parallel to the ground will result in an error. Lets take a couple of examples:

    57cm c-c traditional frame, Actual and effective toptube = 57

    57 cm Compact frame, 52cm cc gives us a 5 degree slope (5cm/57cm Inv Sine = 5 degrees), with a 57 cm actual toptube and a 56.8 cm (5 cosine x 57 = 56.8).

    57 cm Compact frame, 47cm cc gives us a 10 degree slope (this is a semi-compact frame like a Klein Aura), with a 57 actual toptube and a 56.1 cm effective toptube.

    57 cm Compact Frame, 42 cm cc gives us a 15.25 degree slop (a real compact) with a 57 actual toptube and a 55cm effective toptube.

    As you can see a semi compact frame reduces the effective toptube length by 1 cm and a real compact frame reduces it by about 2cm. This is why virtual toptube is so important, as it measures the actual length for figuring cockpit length and allows valid comparisions between frames of different sizes.

    Sorry if it is confusing to you, but basic trigonometry dictates the rules, and while you may not like it, Virtual toptube length is the only easily comparable way to measure sizing on bike frames that depart from the old toptube parellel to the ground designs.
    Last edited by cdmc; 02-22-2005 at 10:48 AM.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdmc
    It doesn't matter that it is slightly sloping, measuring the actual toptube length on any frame other than a frame with a toptube that is perpendicular to the ground will result in an error.
    Would someone please post a picture of a bike with a top tube perpendicular to the ground? I for one would like to see one...

  17. #17
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    just a cost saving measure

    they'll sell ya on it makes the frame stiffer (smaller triangle) but strength has to be 'lost' in loooong seatpost. I don't mind the slightly sloping, but compact are as UCH said fugly
    ( wow we actually agree) especially in larger sizes. I don't mind them as much in small frames but anything over 57 c starts losing its attractivness IMHO. I don't like them looking like MTB's, but then again I am a tad of a luddite.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Utah CragHopper
    Would someone please post a picture of a bike with a top tube perpendicular to the ground? I for one would like to see one...
    Edited to read parallel like it should have.

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    good

    otherwise I was thinking measured during endo.

  20. #20
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    For TerryB and cdmc

    Quote Originally Posted by cdmc
    It doesn't matter that it is slightly sloping, measuring the actual toptube length on any frame other than a frame with a toptube that is parallel to the ground will result in an error. Lets take a couple of examples:

    57cm c-c traditional frame, Actual and effective toptube = 57

    57 cm Compact frame, 52cm cc gives us a 5 degree slope (5cm/57cm Inv Sine = 5 degrees), with a 57 cm actual toptube and a 56.8 cm (5 cosine x 57 = 56.8).

    57 cm Compact frame, 47cm cc gives us a 10 degree slope (this is a semi-compact frame like a Klein Aura), with a 57 actual toptube and a 56.1 cm effective toptube.

    57 cm Compact Frame, 42 cm cc gives us a 15.25 degree slop (a real compact) with a 57 actual toptube and a 55cm effective toptube.

    As you can see a semi compact frame reduces the effective toptube length by 1 cm and a real compact frame reduces it by about 2cm. This is why virtual toptube is so important, as it measures the actual length for figuring cockpit length and allows valid comparisions between frames of different sizes.

    Sorry if it is confusing to you, but basic trigonometry dictates the rules, and while you may not like it, Virtual toptube length is the only easily comparable way to measure sizing on bike frames that depart from the old toptube parellel to the ground designs.
    Thanks for the info fellas. Makes kind of sense to me. Probably explains the requirement for a stem one centimeter in length longer.

  21. #21

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    ....just a small update to my post above. It appears that manufacturers aren't quite accurate/truthful regarding their published geometry tables. After reading a test on the CAAD8 I decided to actually measure the front to center distance on my CAAD7 instead of relying on the their geometry chart and came up with the following:

    CAAD7: 60.7cm
    Lex: 60.1cm

    This definitely helps to explain the relative slow steering of the Cannondale. Estimated trail of the CAAD7 is around 61mm and the Lex 55mm
    Last edited by divve; 02-23-2005 at 05:33 AM.

  22. #22

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    Hugh???

    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie
    but strength has to be 'lost' in loooong seatpost.
    Makes no sense.

  23. #23
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    Really Short Legs and Long Torso

    Quote Originally Posted by KATZRKOL
    Makes no sense.
    due to the above I'm having a custom steel frame made (the fact that I'm friends with the builder has nothing to do with it!). I anticipate that I will need something like a 48 cm seat tube and 53-54 top tube. I think my frame will have a slight slope to it. If I were buying a production frame I would look for a compact frame to get a relatively long TT and have lots of room for adjustment with the seat post. I prefer the looks of the standard frame and the least slope the better. The point being some riders may benefit from some ot the compact frames dimentions that otherwise may need to be address with a custom frame.

  24. #24
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    Save Money

    Compact geometry designs were made for racing teams that could not afford a whole slew of bikes. This year Giant added a M/L but prior to that, with four different sizes (S to XL) and stems of various lengths, you could fit a rider between probably 5'2" and 6'5". With traditional geometry, you would likely need 7 or 8 different sizes. Unless a team has someone really short or tall, 9 out of 10 riders is either going to use a M or L and even with M/L now, only need 3 sizes to fit an entire team. Bikes can be interchanged quickly.

    There are of course benefits for the manufacturer because instead of making a dozen different sizes, you make just a handful.

    I've heard many people complain, at least with Giants, that they just cannot get comfortable with the sizing. But if a bike fits, it fits, whether its classic or compact.

  25. #25
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    any frame stiffness gained

    by tighter triangle will be nullified by long post. if you don't think you sway more (left to right) on a long post you are wrong. Long post puts all rider weight on a structure only supported on a single axis. you lose support of TT and frame triangle. you are creating a longer 'lever' to sway and thus cancel triangle bennies.

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