Why does riding a smaller road bike feel better?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
jeanjacques
Posts: 225
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am
Location: France

by jeanjacques

Actually, road bike haven't enought trail and wheelbase, there are too nimble for nothing. At the point a long stem is needed to compensate that. A short handlebar will make the whole worse (road bike geometry aren't turned around a 38 or 40cm handlebar).

An another way, already applied with success on MTB world (don't count on the roady to change the least thing), is to have a slack head tube and enought fork rake to have a high trail but with a short stem, here is the main point. With this configuration, you can use a short handlebar and you have all the agility needed and stability, it's the recip of downhill bike.

g32ecs
Posts: 389
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:50 am

by g32ecs

Just wanna share my observations LATELY:

I'm noticing more and more bikes are using shorter stems now - Allaphillipe just for example only uses 100mm and I'm forgetting another pro cyclist.

Also seeing some regular joes with 90mm stems in bigger sizes

I don't know if there's a trend "shift", but just an observation.

by Weenie


AJS914
Posts: 3592
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

I've been looking at Madones and Venges and the geometry in my size seems to use a longer reach with a shorter stem (say 10cm). I'm used to using a 12cm stem in frames of my size.

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corky
Posts: 1349
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2006 5:53 pm
Location: The Surrey Hills

by corky

There has been no proven correlation between stem length and manhood length, people are realising this and are much more comfortable going stubby........

ichobi
Posts: 979
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:30 pm

by ichobi

I am 5'5" and have always preferred short stem set up. I am in between 49xm and 51/52cm. The former I will have to use 120mm stem the latter either 90 or 100mm depending on the bar reach. I found the latter set up gives me better handling in corners and descent. It feels more natural. This is across all multiple bikes I have tried. It might be personal though. Once I tried the 49cm frame with 120mm plus stem I just find the bike clunky.

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zefs
Posts: 438
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:40 pm

by zefs

I would be careful choosing smaller sizes, the frame might be stiffer/lighter/agile but if you have long legs you need the correct seatpost angle as well as headtube height for a comfortable fit. It's another story if you are racing or doing crits.

You can put a longer stem and use a setback seatpost but need to consider if you want to have the saddle clamped in the center (which in my opinion is important fit wise). But yeah, depending on your saddle height you need the correct headtube length if you are looking to do long rides.

Karvalo
Posts: 757
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:40 pm

by Karvalo

ichobi wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:09 pm
I am 5'5" and have always preferred short stem set up. I am in between 49xm and 51/52cm. The former I will have to use 120mm stem the latter either 90 or 100mm depending on the bar reach. I found the latter set up gives me better handling in corners and descent. It feels more natural. This is across all multiple bikes I have tried. It might be personal though. Once I tried the 49cm frame with 120mm plus stem I just find the bike clunky.
Makes sense, most 49cm-ish bikes have compromised HT angles, trail figures and/or seat-tube angles simply to allow shorter TT with longer wheelbase. Essentially they don't share any of the geometry figures that have been chosen to make the larger sizes handle 'right'.

Now, several companies (notably Cannondale and Cervelo) have made an effort on their latest bikes to keep trail figures constant down to the smallest sizes and claim to have excellent feedback from their smaller riders.

ichobi
Posts: 979
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:30 pm

by ichobi

Most importantly the 49cm bikes just look wrong. Especially the ones with dropped seatstay. The proportion is way off.

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Alexandrumarian
Posts: 491
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:34 pm
Location: Romania

by Alexandrumarian

There is also the overlap thing...

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Lelandjt
Posts: 526
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:10 am

by Lelandjt

When I ride a smaller bike they feel nervous and like too much weight is over the front wheel. I guess one person's nimble is another's nervous.

spdntrxi
Posts: 3263
Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:11 pm

by spdntrxi

Alexandrumarian wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:05 pm
There is also the overlap thing...
I get that on 99.9% of the bikes I ride.. it's annoying. Even the larger bikes I have owned in the past and I dont have clown shoes

dukisha
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:45 pm
Location: Serbia

by dukisha

Me, as recreational cyclist, I would go with one size smaller (2 sizes is too much for me) frame simply because it's better overall feeling and bikes with longer stems look very cool!

And I rode bike that is a little bit longer (2cm which is a big deal in cycling where each millimeter is important) and it was also very good feeling, great handling, and I was very very aero because stem was reversed down, very very good feeling, but I would stick with perfect size.

CAAD8FRED
Posts: 231
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:52 pm

by CAAD8FRED

Conza wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:50 am
I had a size smaller than I should have 52cm (dad's old bike that got warrantied) and went ahead with a pro fit to adjust (longer stem 120mm), 140mm drop - so very aero, and was great. Giant Advanced Defy.
Could not slam, because needed the stack height.

Slightly bigger bike, 54cm - not slammed - temp, but felt good. Merida Scultura 7000-E.

Now BMC Team Machine Disc 2018 - 56cm, which translated to 54cm - with the idea of slamming the stem / cut the fork - but pro bike fit indicated not necessary etc.

Initially felt like driving a jumbo jet. Still kinda do. I guess the heavier factor. 7.7kg now, vs - 6.99kg, and 7.2kg previously.
The reason I made this post is that I'm a 54 on a majority of brands, but when I tried a 2019 TimeMachine in size 47 (translated to 49) I felt like I could exert a lot of control over the bike. I feel right on a 54, but the BMC made me feel like I could sprint and corner like nothing.

g32ecs
Posts: 389
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:50 am

by g32ecs

AJS914 wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:35 am
I've been looking at Madones and Venges and the geometry in my size seems to use a longer reach with a shorter stem (say 10cm). I'm used to using a 12cm stem in frames of my size.
This is what I'm seeing as well.

It wasn't til this year I started looking at Giant bikes - long reach. Most of these aero bikes have long reaches as well with long TTs and the stock stems are short (well they're always short, but looking at the larger sizes im spotting 100mm in some 54-56 frames which usually would be in 51-53s)

I'm not a geometry expert, but maybe there's more focus on a more balanced ride nowadays than just outright "race-aggressive" bikes? I don't know. I'm vertically challenged myself - all bikes have toe overlap, have funny shapes (although my current bike, a Felt AR3 looks a bit more "right").

by Weenie


spdntrxi
Posts: 3263
Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:11 pm

by spdntrxi

ichobi wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:30 pm
Most importantly the 49cm bikes just look wrong. Especially the ones with dropped seatstay. The proportion is way off.

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only if the TT has too much slope.. but that's how you get the lower seattube number I guess... a higher seattube and you have no seatpost showing.. which is super retro. It's a fine line. In the case of the BMC TM01R.. I went small(47), I might have a couple spacers for the stack but the front center is same as my old medium Parlee so I expect a little too overlap. The 51 I probably would have no toe overlap but the with nearly 40mm more Seattube... that's just too much.

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