Does Head Tube Length have a bearing on fit?
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  1. #1
    eb
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    Does Head Tube Length have a bearing on fit?

    Does Head Tube Length have a bearing on fit?

    I recently asked an internet bike dealer for the length of the Head Tube of a bike they were advertising and was told first that they did not have that information, and second, that it has no bearing on fit. They said the stem could be flipped and spacers could be added.

    Is it true that the Head Tube Length has no bearing on fit?

    Thanx,

  2. #2
    Windrider (Stubborn)
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    Head tube length is very important..........

    Quote Originally Posted by eb
    Does Head Tube Length have a bearing on fit?

    I recently asked an internet bike dealer for the length of the Head Tube of a bike they were advertising and was told first that they did not have that information, and second, that it has no bearing on fit. They said the stem could be flipped and spacers could be added.

    Is it true that the Head Tube Length has no bearing on fit?

    Thanx,
    If you want to make sure that you can either, get the handlebars up high enough, or do this without many spacers or a riser stem. Most Forks (especially Carbon steerer tube forks) have a limitation as to how many CM of spacers is safe......go above this (to get the bars up) and you could have trouble.

    Find another fitter.

    Len



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  3. #3
    eminence grease
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    It actually affects fit in both directions - too long and you may not get the bars low enough. Too short and height can become a problem since you shouldn't add a huge amount of spacers. And riser stems are not for everyone.

    When I'm frame shopping, I look at the TT length first and the HT length second. In my case, I've stopped looking at frames with a HT shorter than 160mm or longer than 180mm, regardless of TT.

    The person you've been speaking with is not giving you the whole story. Don't buy from them unless you're positive that it's correct.

  4. #4
    Rocket Scientist
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    Is it important?

    It's super important. When I have a custom bike made, I don't even spec the size of the frame or length of the seat tube. I tell the builder the head tube length and the bb drop, tt length and the seat tube angle and that pretty much dtermines the fit. Those four dimensions have a bigger bearing on fit than anything else. You only have 5 contact points: 2 pedals, places on the bar, and the saddle. The head tube length has a direct correlation to your front contact points.

  5. #5
    Rocket Scientist
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    Quote Originally Posted by terry b
    It actually affects fit in both directions - too long and you may not get the bars low enough. Too short and height can become a problem since you shouldn't add a huge amount of spacers. And riser stems are not for everyone.

    When I'm frame shopping, I look at the TT length first and the HT length second. In my case, I've stopped looking at frames with a HT shorter than 160mm or longer than 180mm, regardless of TT.

    The person you've been speaking with is not giving you the whole story. Don't buy from them unless you're positive that it's correct.
    Terry, don't forget that BB drop has a bearing on the head tube length being right for you or not, although most road bikes are around 7cm bb drop.

  6. #6
    eminence grease
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa23
    Terry, don't forget that BB drop has a bearing on the head tube length being right for you or not, although most road bikes are around 7cm bb drop.
    Yep - I generally run around 7, but have gone as low as 8. Either one gives me 91-93cm of bar height above the ground and roughly 8cm saddle drop to bar. The difference generally ends up in whether I use spacers or not.

  7. #7
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    Yes and no. It somewhat depends on you fitness and physiology. You may be more concerned about how far the HT extends above the TT. In many instances I have seen people riding the correct size frame, but not the correct frame style for their body type.

    What I am saying is that two people of the same height and inseam length may need different frame types to fit well. The person who is fit and trim can ride in the drops with more seat to bars differential where a person carrying extra weight around their gut needs much less drop to reach the bars comfortably. If this is the case for the less fit rider using a frame with a threadless stem configuration, more spacers are required to get the bars to the proper height. Sometimes that is not safe as others have mentioned. However there are some frame builders that make frames with a HT that extends further above the TT. This eliminates the need for additional spacers. I believe that Merlin and Litespeed make frames like this. Some more custom fabricators do so as well.

    I helped fit a friend on my fitting machine. He sized out between a 52 and 54 depending upon the obvious variables. I suggested he either find a frame with an extended HT or go with the larger size. He falls into the less fit category. Well he didn't listen and ordered a Colnago CT1 in a 52. He now rides it with a very short riser stem and lots of spacers. Were he to go with either a larger size. lest of a true racing frame or a frame with an extended HT, he would be much better off.

    The first pic below is a Steelman with an extended HT on a traditional geometry frame. The second pic is a Merlin Solis with an extended HT on a compact frame. I think the Steelman pictured is owned bt an RBR forum member. Looks real nice





  8. #8
    eb
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    Does Head Tube Length have a bearing on fit?

    Steam,

    I probably fit into the less fit category. I'm 6'1", 190 lbs. I've got a 93cm inseam, short torso, and long arms.

    I've been riding a garage sale 1986 Schwinn SuperSport since June 2003. It fits great, very comfortable. I've put a little over 5000 miles on it and I'm looking to purchase a new millenium ride. I don't race, just fast(?) club rides and tours.

    I really like the new style road bikes, fat tubes, slopes, curvy shapes, etc. But they all seem to have short head tubes as compared to the Schwinn. The Merlin & Steelman you posted are styled similar to my Schwinn. My Schwinn has a 212mm Head Tube, plus 44mm Head Set, plus a 89mm Quill Stem. Oh, the frame size (seat tube c-to-c) is 63.5cm (25") and Top Tube is 58.5cm (c-c) or 23". I just want a more updated style.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanx,

  9. #9
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    Howa mucha u gonna spenda? Need a budget man You'll get a ton of recs here, but you need to start with a budget. If money isn't a serious problem, you will obviously have more of a selection.

    I would think with long arms you should have less of a problem with the bar height issue. It doesn't sound like your gut will give you a problem getting down into the drops. If you plan on really becoming a stronger rider then you might want to get something you'll 'grow into' - meaning something that will keep you happy after your fitness catches up to you. That generally means more of an aggressive setup for your physique.

    Think about whether you want traditional frame geometry - straight TT or a compact frame - sloping TT. Think about materials. You can research much of that here from old threads. Read the reviews of different frames and full build bikes, then ask questions that those didn't answer for you. "Fat tubes" as you put it generally mean aluminum or carbon construction. Everyone wants a bike that looks goood, but don't let that be the deciding factor. Again as in most purchases for the average person, budget is the best starting point.


  10. #10
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    how NOT to do it...

    The Steelman picture is a perfect example of how not to set up a bike. The stem and spacers raise the bars and then the odd curve of the bars drops the brakes hoods quite low, canceling out the benefit of the spacers and stem angle.

    If you want more height in the most common riding position, (on the brake hoods) you must also select bars that are relatively horizontal from the top section to the brake hood, or rotate the bars upward, if it doesn't foul up the position in the drop section.

    The link below shows a much better setup.

    http://www.steelmancycles.com/Carbon.html
    Last edited by C-40; 11-28-2004 at 07:18 AM.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherpa23
    It's super important. When I have a custom bike made, I don't even spec the size of the frame or length of the seat tube. I tell the builder the head tube length and the bb drop, tt length and the seat tube angle and that pretty much dtermines the fit. Those four dimensions have a bigger bearing on fit than anything else. You only have 5 contact points: 2 pedals, places on the bar, and the saddle. The head tube length has a direct correlation to your front contact points.

    Oh, for Pete's sake....

    You know, I'm worried about the pitch of my chain links - it's not a "contact point," but it is where the power goes. Shouldn't I get custom fabricated chain links to coordinate with my femur length, and have custom chain wheels, cogs, etc. cut to match them?

    The most powerful cyclist in the world for the past six years rides a stock Trek, with the same geometry you or I would get off the floor at the LBS. I doubt he cares about the "super important" head tube length.

  12. #12
    aka Zonic Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille
    Oh, for Pete's sake....

    You know, I'm worried about the pitch of my chain links - it's not a "contact point," but it is where the power goes. Shouldn't I get custom fabricated chain links to coordinate with my femur length, and have custom chain wheels, cogs, etc. cut to match them?

    The most powerful cyclist in the world for the past six years rides a stock Trek, with the same geometry you or I would get off the floor at the LBS. I doubt he cares about the "super important" head tube length.
    Huh? It's apparent you have absolutely NO clue as to what you're talking about. Hardly worthy of a response.

  13. #13
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    Thumbs down sadly,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed Peters
    Huh? It's apparent you have absolutely NO clue as to what you're talking about. Hardly worthy of a response.
    that did nothing to keep you from responding....

  14. #14
    eminence grease
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille
    I doubt he cares about the "super important" head tube length.
    That's probably because the "stock" Trek he rides has the correct length for his size and set-up.

    But hey, you go ahead and ignore it. Do us all a favor though - post a pic of that hot frame of yours with 50mm of spacers and the adjustable riser stem. We get a big kick out of those!

  15. #15
    funct
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    I've never been quite so tempted by a carbon bike

    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Sensible lugs, profiled tubes
    torsional flex eliminated
    seriously tight rear triangle and a decent head tube for all
    paint to die for
    AND bars that won't break!

    can I have one for a test ride please?

  16. #16
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    Go, C-40

    I set up my handlebars much like the picture you recommend. To do this I use a longer than average (13 or > cm) stem and ride with the bar about 8 cm below the seat, which is a little lower than recommended for brevet riding. I do this only because my hands are so much more comfortable when the bar, from stem to hoods, is parallel to the ground.
    I see plenty of people riding along looking comfortable with their hoods lower than the stem. Often their arms are straighter than mine and their palms are faced somewhat downward where mine face more towards eachother. I conclude that the position of the hoods is more one of personal preference than right and wrong.

    What's being missed, I think, in the original discussion is that the angle of the head tube means that raising the stem also shortens the distance from the seat to the bars. That moves the shoulders up and back changing the rider's balance point on the bike. Imho, getting this balance point in the right place is the most significant factor in fitting a bike to work for both comfort and performance. Anything that moves my center of gravity forward or back matters a real lot to me.
    We have nothing to lube but our chains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terry b
    Do us all a favor though - post a pic of that hot frame of yours with 50mm of spacers and the adjustable riser stem. We get a big kick out of those!
    I'm sorry - I had misunderstood the issue.

    I mistakenly thought the issue was whether it made any meaningful difference in the real world. I didn't appreciate that the issue, instead, was whether guys like this would "get a big kick" out of appearance.

    By all means, then, it certainly must be "super important." Probably not quite as important as having the "right" colored water bottle, but by all means don't get seen passing this guy up a hill if your head tube is too short; you'll never live down the shame.

    My fault. Sorry for the confusion.

  18. #18
    eminence grease
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille
    I'm sorry - I had misunderstood the issue.

    I mistakenly thought the issue was whether it made any meaningful difference in the real world. I didn't appreciate that the issue, instead, was whether guys like this would "get a big kick" out of appearance.

    By all means, then, it certainly must be "super important." Probably not quite as important as having the "right" colored water bottle, but by all means don't get seen passing this guy up a hill if your head tube is too short; you'll never live down the shame.

    My fault. Sorry for the confusion.
    You're pulling my leg right?

    Meaningful difference in the real world? Well, perhaps you think it's just fine from a safety perspective to buy a bike with too small a HTL and then add spacers well beyond the recommended height just to get the bars up to the right height? Or maybe you like a lower riding position and you can't get there because the HTL is too long - hey, let's mill 20mm off the headtube!

    If you're not pulling my leg, then the one part of your message that is on the money is the bit about you "misunderstanding the issue." HTL is not about "passing somebody up a hill," it's about the proper fit. And if you've spent 5 minutes understanding the geometry of fit, you'd know this instead of defending a silly stance with even sillier examples. But you are pulling my leg, right?

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    The Steelman picture is a perfect example of how not to set up a bike. The stem and spacers raise the bars and then the odd curve of the bars drops the brakes hoods quite low, canceling out the benefit of the spacers and stem angle.

    If you want more height in the most common riding position, (on the brake hoods) you must also select bars that are relatively horizontal from the top section to the brake hood, or rotate the bars upward, if it doesn't foul up the position in the drop section.

    The link below shows a much better setup.

    http://www.steelmancycles.com/Carbon.html
    now you are teaching brent steelman how to fit a rider on a bike. you must be the godfather of american cycling..
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  20. #20
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    sure he set it up???

    Just because he built the frame (and stem?) doesn't means he selected the bars and assembled the bike does it?

    My point is that the same brake hood height could be achieved with less spacer or stem angle by choosing a different bar. Most folks would also find a level or angled up brake hood position more comfortable. Although I've been setting up bikes for 20 years, I found on my very first campy equipped bike that a downward sloped brake hood concentrates most of the weight on your hands in the crook of your thumb and it's not comfortable. Better to spread the weight out over the palm. Pay attention to european pro bikes. They won't be set up anything like the Steelman.

    If this makes no sense to you, fine.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Just because he built the frame (and stem?) doesn't means he selected the bars and assembled the bike does it?

    My point is that the same brake hood height could be achieved with less spacer or stem angle by choosing a different bar. Most folks would also find a level or angled up brake hood position more comfortable. Although I've been setting up bikes for 20 years, I found on my very first campy equipped bike that a downward sloped brake hood concentrates most of the weight on your hands in the crook of your thumb and it's not comfortable. Better to spread the weight out over the palm. Pay attention to european pro bikes. They won't be set up anything like the Steelman.

    If this makes no sense to you, fine.
    if the pic is on his website as proof of his quality and vision, i believe brent aggrees on the set up, even if he didn't build the bike himself.
    as far as head tube length on that particular bike, the rise (or 0 degree) stem may be a compromise fix: when or if the rider gains flexibility he can install a lower bar. a longer head tube would limit the options..
    www.flaviocolker.com.br
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  22. #22
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    well then...

    I guess I am suggesting that the setup is certainly "unusual" to say the least. Perhaps you should setup your bars and brake hoods with this downward slope and let us know how comfy it is. Maybe most mechanics for pro riders could use a lesson from Steelman?

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    I guess I am suggesting that the setup is certainly "unusual" to say the least. Perhaps you should setup your bars and brake hoods with this downward slope and let us know how comfy it is. Maybe most mechanics for pro riders could use a lesson from Steelman?
    there isn't a "right" incline of bars and shifters. you amy find a position that's more comfortable to you and proclaim it's best for you. i wasn't addressing the shifters or hoods but the stem and bar height of that bike btw...
    yeah, steelman could lecture a lot people. he is a known builder. unlike you or me..
    www.flaviocolker.com.br
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