Get a larger frame, or taller/longer stem?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by ryanspeer, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. ryanspeer

    ryanspeer New Member

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    Earlier this year I purchased a 53cm (C-T) frameset that I built up with Ultegra 9-speed components. I rode it for several hundred miles, but after realizing that I wanted to join a racing team and start racing next year, decided to keep the current bike as a rain/commuter bike and buy a second bike dedicated to racing and fair-weather training. I got fitted to a 56cm Specialized Tarmac, which coincidentally actually has a 530 seat tube (C-T) as well. It's 56cm (virtual), but with the compact frameset. The primary differences between the two are the top tube length and head tube length. Otherwise the seat and head tube angles are almost identical.

    The Tarmac fits like a freakin' glove. I can't speak more highly of it. The Leader on the other hand feels so constricting in comparison to the Tarmac. It's not a compact frameset (much more horizontal top tube) and with the shorter top tube and approx 20mm shorter head tube, I'm currently bent over significantly more than I am on the Tarmac. I never realized how bad I had it until I was properly fitted to the Tarmac. I like the components and stuff that I chose for the Leader, but am wondering if I could make the ride more comfortable/enjoyable if I simply chose a longer stem with a higher rise, OR if simply choosing a larger frameset alltogether would be wiser. In all non-gear-lust reality, is there a noteworthy reason why I should do one over the other, cost not being a factor?

    I have a 30" inseam and am comfortable with the standover height of the Leader (and the Tarmac), but have a 90mm -6 degree rise stem on the Leader and the stock 110mm -6 degree stem on the Tarmac. Could I simply get a stem of probably 120mm length with, maybe a 10-degree rise and end up with a comperable fit as the Specialized?

    My team is negotiating a bike sponsorship this year and so I'm going to have the freedom to purchase a frameset or new bike at dealer cost or close to it, but if I don't have to spend the money, I might be more inclined to just keep what I have and try to compensate with different parts. Buying a new bike would give me the benefit of a second bike with a 10-speed setup allowing me to swap parts with the Tarmac in the event of a crash (wheels, etc.), but again if I can spare myself the expense, the money could probably be better spent elsewhere.

    If you were me, what would you do?
     
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  2. John M

    John M New Member

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    I would keep the Leader as your back-up/commuter/rain bike. Put a longer, higher rise stem on it to get the position that you like. With your 30" inseam, you probably fit better on the 53cm non-sloping frame with longer stem than with a 55 or 56 non-sloping. As you identified, it is the longer reach and higher front end that feels better on the Tarmac to you. It is nice to have two bikes, particularly for a Pacific NW guy like you (and me) who will deal with rain alot--also if your primary bike gets out of commission for some reason, you won't have to miss a group ride or race for lack of a bike.

    As an aside, I predict that as you get more experienced and get more into racing from the drops, you may eventually flip your stem to get the bars lower for a more aero position in the drops.
     
  3. ryanspeer

    ryanspeer New Member

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    Financially-speaking, I suppose it makes sense to try a new stem first. If it works, great. If not, re-sell it on eBay and go for a new frame.

    Regarding riding in the drops, due to the slightly shorter top tube (Tarmac is 565mm, I think it is, and I think the Leader is only 550 or so) coupled with the smaller stem, the drops were never comfortable for me. I'd see other guys on our group rides go to the drops and take off like rockets, but it felt really . . . wrong . . . to me. First time I tried it on the Tarmac though, it felt like a lightbulb had just exploded in my head. The difference was indescribable. Almost. Never felt so good to ride the drops before. Maybe the new stem will fix all the problems. The standover height of a non sloping frame is another thing I've thought about. I wouldn't mind getting a Specialized Allez or something like that as a rain bike because of the compact geometry (friendly standover height) but also so that I have two bikes with very similar geometry (doesn't exactly mimic the Tarmac, but it's close).
     
  4. John M

    John M New Member

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    Yeah, I think a new stem is the place to start. The Leader sounds like it puts your bars too low and too close to your saddle, making you all cramped up.

    Try to get a stem that puts your bars in a similar position in relation to your saddle that the Tarmac does.
     
  5. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    Use a stem riser, they come in black and silver:
     
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