Another Bike Sizing Question...

Firstly, apologies for asking what has probably been asked a million times already!

Secondly, I currently have a Domane AL2 in 54cm, I've had this since May 2020 and have done 2800km so far, 13 rides of between 100km and 160km and most of the others around the 50km mark. I'm into running mainly and I'm quite flexible according to my Sports Physio, I'm 46. Other than two occasions when I had lower back pain all of the rides have been fine. The Lower Back pain has been around for a number of years and I don't attribute it to the bike at all, I just think every now and then it gets aggravated.

I'm loving the cycling (and the bike) so much I want to upgrade to a better bike with discs, so I'm looking at the Domane SL4/AL5 or possibly the Emonda ALR 5 (lack of mudguards is an issue though) as I'm not sure whether to go Carbon or not... I like aluminium so I'm tempted to stick with that.

Anyway, my dilemma is as follows - I'm 168cm (5ft 6), 76cm (30 inch) inseam, ape index of +3cm and I'm literally bang on between the 52cm and 54cm sizes, Trek has two size guides, one puts me in 52cm and one in 54cm (the difference is due to my height). My standover on the 54cm gives me about 3/4 of an inch clearance.

I used to race MTB's many. many years ago and I was always a 16inch MTB frame with loads of clearance and it was so much more responsive than a bigger frame. I know Road is different but part of me thinks my new bike should be 52cm but then I've had no issues with the 54cm... I'm literally stuck with what to do. Due to stock levels I can't really try both out side by side.

What would your advice be? Drop down to a 52cm for the extra standover height and what I assume would be a more responsive ride, or just stick with a 54cm as I've had no issues so far.

Is there anyone else in this situation and if so, what did you do?

Thanks.

Comments

  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    edited January 2021
    normally its small and adjust up - longer stem, seat post. Far easier and better than trying to make a big bike fot a smaller person but as you like your 54, it fits you fine, you've never had a problem why change?
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • MattFalle said:

    normally its small and adjust up - longer stem, seat post. Far easier and better than trying to make a big bike fot a smaller person but as you like your 54, it fits you fine, you've never had a problem why change?

    I mean, when you put it like that I suppose yeah, why change. I think it's just got into my head that I might be better on a 52cm and it's a niggle I can't seem to shift at the moment.
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    Thing is, if you go 52 then you'll be permanently wondering if you would be faster/comfier/cooler on a 54 like you had before and why did you change?

    Does it have deep rims by the way?
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • MattFalle said:

    Does it have deep rims by the way?

    No, the AL2 I have at the moment just has cheap stock alu wheels that flex laterally really bad. The bikes I'm looking at have the Bontrager Affinity wheels but they aren't deep rims.
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,764
    edited January 2021
    Few questions re your 54.

    What length stem does it have?
    What orientation is it in - ie pointing down/flat, or inverted so it gives extra height?
    Is the saddle in the middle position with regards to it's rails versus the clamps?
    Do you have any spacers under your stem or is it slammed?
    If it is slammed, would you like the possibility of having the front lower?
    Is your saddle higher, lower or the same height thereabouts as your handlebars?

    I am 5ft 10, and have a 34" inseam, so my additional height, versus yourself, is in my legs.

    I ride a 54 in both Cannondale, and Scott, and especially the Scott fits me perfectly.
    110mm stem, normal setback seatpost - nothing out of the ordinary.
    I do run a few spacers, as like you I have/had lower back issues which can rear their head now and then, but still have a fair amount of drop from saddle to bars.

    The key measurement I tend to stick to, and which has served me well, is the effective tob tube length - I know with my dimensions and current flexibility, that a 545 TT with a 110mm stem is pretty much spot on for me.
    I also keep an eye on the stack height, as this affects the position or positions that the handlebars can sit in.

    I'd analyse my position on the current bike, check a few measurements, and then make a call based on that - is there any scope for test riding a 52 at all, potentially not in the current lockdown I guess.

    Have you considered the Scott Addict at all?

    I started way back when with a 56cm Felt - I was not very flexible, and ended up having to ride it with a 60mm (inverted) stem, persevering with 44cm wide bars and a 110mm stem for ages until a few things began to click into place - this was some 14 odd years ago.

    My flexibility and conditioning on the bike through many turbo hours has enabled me to put the stem in the right orientation and elongate it, so that I now ride it with a 90mm stem/40cm bars as my dedicated turbo bike with zero issues.


    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • big.bream83SGjmJv
    big.bream83SGjmJv Posts: 53
    edited January 2021
    daniel_b said:

    Few questions re your 54.

    What length stem does it have?
    What orientation is it in - ie pointing down/flat, or inverted so it gives extra height?
    Is the saddle in the middle position with regards to it's rails versus the clamps?
    Do you have any spacers under your stem or is it slammed?
    If it is slammed, would you like the possibility of having the front lower?
    Is your saddle higher, lower or the same height thereabouts as your handlebars?

    Thanks for the reply, to answer the above I've just taken some pictures. I didn't realise I could attach images - doh.





    Most of the longer rides I do incorporate roughly 1500m-2000m of climbing, so a large part of the reason I am wanting to upgrade my bike is that I want to basically ride faster on the hills alongside doing some solid days out this summer, i.e. 200km rides.
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644

    MattFalle said:

    Does it have deep rims by the way?

    No, the AL2 I have at the moment just has cheap stock alu wheels that flex laterally really bad. The bikes I'm looking at have the Bontrager Affinity wheels but they aren't deep rims.
    best get rid of them and fit some deep rims my friend.
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,764
    edited January 2021
    The pics are very useful - so as I suspected, going by the brick line, even though you have the stem not inverted, and spacers above it (Not quite slammed by the look of it) to me it seems as if the handlebars are on the same level as your saddle.

    Not a problem at all, but if you want to spread your weight a bit more, and are flexible enough to take it, then a 52 would give you that option.
    You could also engineer it out of the bike to start with (Probably) by having the saddle at the correct height for you, and maybe utilising all of the spacers below your handlebars - then gradually you could try and take one out from below, and pop it on top, until you either get used to it or not - I'd be surprised if you did not personally.

    Did you measure the stem on your 54 - tricky to tell from the pic, but it doesn't look super long, and if you did switch to a 52, check the TT length difference, and then add that onto your current stem length to work out what length stem you would need.
    Conversely if you feel a bit too stretched, or cramped, then look to tinker with the length one way or another.
    2nd hand, or even brand new stems can be had for pennies online, I've bought brand new ones before for £7.

    Some stems have the length printed on them in mm, but if not this is the method - centre to centre pretty much, the one below being 70mm:

    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • daniel_b said:

    The pics are very useful - so as I suspected, going by the brick line, even though you have the stem not inverted, and spacers above it (Not quite slammed by the look of it) to me it seems as if the handlebars are on the same level as your saddle.

    Not a problem at all, but if you want to spread your weight a bit more, and are flexible enough to take it, then a 52 would give you that option.
    You could also engineer it out of the bike to start with (Probably) by having the saddle at the correct height for you, and maybe utilising all of the spacers below your handlebars - then gradually you could try and take one out from below, and pop it on top, until you either get used to it or not - I'd be surprised if you did not personally.

    Did you measure the stem on your 54 - tricky to tell from the pic, but it doesn't look super long, and if you did switch to a 52, check the TT length difference, and then add that onto your current stem length to work out what length stem you would need.
    Conversely if you feel a bit too stretched, or cramped, then look to tinker with the length one way or another.
    2nd hand, or even brand new stems can be had for pennies online, I've bought brand new ones before for £7.

    Thankyou very much, very useful.

    The Stem is 100mm.

    Some background on the "fit" in the pictures. The bike came brand new with the bars set to the maximum height (both spacers underneath the bars) and the seat positioned further forward. I've been tweaking the setup bit by bit over the months and what you see above seems to work for me. I feel as though I could lower the bars a little bit more, the reason I haven't is quite simply I don't have a smaller spacer to do it.

    I'm guessing that a 52cm frame would just mean I have a little more seatpost showing and as you allude to, I'd have to play around with spacers and probably the stem length to get the correct bar height/reach, etc.

    I'm now feeling a lot happier, if anything I'm lucky in the sense I can probably make two sizes work with a little effort.

    Thankyou for the feedback.

  • MattFalle said:

    MattFalle said:

    Does it have deep rims by the way?

    No, the AL2 I have at the moment just has cheap stock alu wheels that flex laterally really bad. The bikes I'm looking at have the Bontrager Affinity wheels but they aren't deep rims.
    best get rid of them and fit some deep rims my friend.
    I did look into buying some... but I'd have to re-mortgage the house to afford them! Couldn't believe how much good quality wheels cost.
  • daniel_b said:

    Few questions re your 54.
    Have you considered the Scott Addict at all?

    Forgot to answer this question. I haven't seen it no, I don't have any stockists near me for some reason. I do use Scott Trail Running shoes though!
  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,764
    Yep spot on, a 52 would have more seatpost, well likely 2cm I guess.

    IF the current Trek toptubes match up with what you are looking at and your existing one, the TT difference is only 8mm, so a 110 stem would likely do the job, but maybe a 100 or 105 might be fine as well, as the effective reach might be slightly greater, as you'll be pivoting that little bit more from the hips, and putting more weight on your hands - so if I was in your shoes, I would go for the 52, leave all the spacers in (As your original bike had) to ride it, see how it feels over a few rides, and then start lowering it, and or looking at a longer stem.

    Fair enough on the Scotts - I'm a big fan having stumbled on them by accident really, I now have two :-)
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • piker2
    piker2 Posts: 50
    I am 5 ft 6 and I had Domane 5.2 in size 54. Like you Big bream I had no problem riding the bike but like you I had too many spacers above the stem for my liking. I always thought that the frame was a bit too big and I did not want to cut the steerer.
    I sold the bike and the replacement and subsequent bikes have been 52 ish. As has been said, a bike that is a bit too small is always much better than one that is a bit too big.
    Ignore MF and his deep rims nonsense.
  • MattFalle
    MattFalle Posts: 11,644
    edited January 2021
    why didn't you want to cut the stem?

    why are deep rims nonsense?
    .
    The camera down the willy isn't anything like as bad as it sounds.
  • Apologies if this has been mentioned (can't see it in the replies so far), but as you mentioned Emonda as well as Domane, the Emonda will have a lower front end (stack height) than the domane. Worth bearing that in mind if you did switch models.

    As has been said, you could make both sizes work. If your current 54 works for you, I'd stick with it.
  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,984
    I think you should play around with the position on your existing bike a bit before committing. If you get really keen on cycling, it could end up quite different from the current position. Figure it out a bit more and then drop a couple of grand on a new bike.

    Right now the bars are very high compared to the saddle. Could be that the bars could be lower, the saddle higher, or both.
  • Thanks for the comments everyone, they are appreciated, very helpful.

    MidlansGrimpeur2 - I am actually going to look at a 54cm Emonda today in the LBS, I'm going to see what the lower bars are like on the 54cm. I'm going to have to be strong... the Emonda is the 2021 SL5 model and is currently at the "old" price - £2275 instead of £2500.

    First.Aspect - It was only when I took the photo yesterday that I really noticed how high the bars are in comparison to the saddle. The saddle height is pretty much spot on for me - 67cm from centre of BB to top of the seat which fits in with all of the methods I've used, i.e. the inseam * 0.883, heel on the pedal at 6 o'clock with a straight leg, etc. I do feel I can lower the bars a little more but I'd need to get a thinner spacer to go underneath the bar as I don't think I can put the stem right on top of the headset. I'm a little limited with the bars I think as the Headset is quite long, but your absolutely right, I should play around a little more first (unless the Emonda I'm going to look at fits real nice).
  • piker2 said:

    I am 5 ft 6 and I had Domane 5.2 in size 54. Like you Big bream I had no problem riding the bike but like you I had too many spacers above the stem for my liking. I always thought that the frame was a bit too big and I did not want to cut the steerer.
    I sold the bike and the replacement and subsequent bikes have been 52 ish. As has been said, a bike that is a bit too small is always much better than one that is a bit too big.
    Ignore MF and his deep rims nonsense.

    Thankyou piker2. Would you say you have noticed much difference between the two sizes? Was there an instant/noticeable difference at all?

    Thankyou.

  • First.Aspect
    First.Aspect Posts: 15,984
    I am going to guess that the frame is a bit large. As you lower the bars, you will also feel more stretched out. Hard to say if this will feel better or worse.

    I'm 3 inches taller than you and I would fit a 54.

    On the plus side, an Emonda is quite nice to ride. Rented a few in Mallorca. A bit wooden compared to my own, but comfortable and one of those bikes you don't really notice riding - which tends to be a good thing.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    edited January 2021
    Based on OP's height*, OP's anecdotal evidence re: back pain and the setup of OP's 54cm frame, I am going to stick my neck on the line and say a 52cm frame would fit much better.

    *I'm 5ft11 and wouldn't rule out riding a 54cm with a bit more stem and seatpost showing.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
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  • I have a similar issue being 5'8" and come out on the crossover between S and M frames. I would go for the smaller size, as I find it often difficult to get the saddle far enough forward to get my knee over the pedal spindle, especially if the bike has a seatpost with layback.
    Had to replace the seatpost with a zero layback one on my current
    M road bike to get it to fit.
  • piker2
    piker2 Posts: 50

    piker2 said:

    I am 5 ft 6 and I had Domane 5.2 in size 54. Like you Big bream I had no problem riding the bike but like you I had too many spacers above the stem for my liking. I always thought that the frame was a bit too big and I did not want to cut the steerer.
    I sold the bike and the replacement and subsequent bikes have been 52 ish. As has been said, a bike that is a bit too small is always much better than one that is a bit too big.
    Ignore MF and his deep rims nonsense.

    Thankyou piker2. Would you say you have noticed much difference between the two sizes? Was there an instant/noticeable difference at all?

    Thankyou.

    I think the biggest difference was between my ears. I just felt that the smaller frame bike looked better and felt better. I am certain that you will not find a 52 frame too small.
  • paul_smith_srcc
    paul_smith_srcc Posts: 247
    edited March 2021
    Most of us will find more than one size a viable consideration.

    Looking at your set up providing the saddle height and set back are correct I can see that there is not much seatpin visible, so the 52 Emonda and Domane should will also be valid. Interms of bar height and reach the Emonda will be longer and lower but you have removed the some of the spacers from the Domane so again you should find it suitable interms of bike fit , I have composed some BikeCAD drawings that maybe of value:

    52cm Trek Domane SL



    54cm Trek Domane SL




    52cm Trek Emonda ALR


    If you have time and enjoy some free technology you could measure your current bike and compose that BikeCAD free then compare that to the Emonda and Domane; I've just added the 52cm bikes their Design Archive.

    If that appeals before you do anything create your free account so that you can save your drawing when finished. You can start with either their quick start drawing, or any from their design archive that includes mine above. Whatever drawing you start with in each case you can edit and save to your free account as your own drawing and keep it 'private' or make 'public' as desired. When you have found the drawing you want to start with simply click on the green "open in BikeCAD' tab, note as they correctly state "it can take several minutes to load". Although the free version as you'd expect offers less than their Pro Version if you draw up your current bike you may find it of use.

    Normally the free version works best if you do not display the chain and rear derailleur, plus even though technically you can I would not try and upload any brand logos as it is inclined to crash; I made those above in BikeCAD Pro so it's not an issue. I have a few tips on my own BikeCAD blog that may help, there are also quite a lot of useful Videos they publish on youtube
  • paul_smith_srcc
    paul_smith_srcc Posts: 247
    edited March 2021
    For some reason my post above was queued and not posted, I thought had done something wrong so started over; the following day both showed and I can't delete. So as not to duplicate I have morphed the 52cm Domane into the 52cm Emonda (note 30mm headset spacers on both) so you can see the differences in an alternative way to just comparing one drawing with another. (Click for larger gif)


  • For some reason my post above was queued and not posted, I thought had done something wrong so started over; the following day both showed and I can't delete. So as not to duplicate I have morphed the 52cm Domane into the 52cm Emonda (note 30mm headset spacers on both) so you can see the differences in an alternative way to just comparing one drawing with another. (Click for larger gif)


    Hi paul_smith_srcc,

    That is really great, thankyou for that. I appreciate the time and effort you have put into that, really great.

    As an update to the original post, I eventually bought a new bike, I bought a 52cm frame and it fits me so much better it's unreal.

    To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that I was sold the 54cm in the first place as the difference in bike fit is massive (IMO).

    Still, at least I now know what to look for in a bike. Learning all the time.