Forum home Road cycling forum Road beginners

[Gravel Bike] Size 52 feel a bit small, 54 a bit big.. how do you deal with that ?

I'm 172-173cm (with apparently shortish legs for my size) and the few times I got to try a gravel bike (I'm looking to buy) I seem to have the same problem : "S" (52) seem to be a bit small, "M" (54) a bit big.

I got to try a Specialized Diverge the other day and the S/52 was feeling more right to me, but the 2 employees were insisting - looking at me riding it - I should probably look at the 54. Which I did, but i'm definitly not convinced.

I was told by one of the shop employees that going for 54 but with a different stem is probably the way to go. Would it really make a difference ? How would you approach my problem ? Is there any solution or do I just need to go for a brand that has either S or M feeling perfectly right to me ?

That would kinda suck as it's SO hard to find the kind of gravel bike i'm looking for these days due to the insanely low bikes availability.

Thanks in advance for any advice !


Posts

  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 1,016
    buy a 53? :D
    (cube Nuroads are 53cm frames)


    I'll get my coat.... B)
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,464
    Smaller frame with longer stem, possibly even longer and with a higher degree rise, if you want a more upright position.

    Bit surprised at the bike geometry looking at https://www.bikeradar.com/news/2021-specialized-diverge/ , the 52cm only has a 430mm C-T seat tube and the 54cm a 470mm, while stack/reach is 577/374mm and 592/383mm respectively.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 3,031
    How long are the stock stems? Quite a few gravel bikes are starting to adopt the MTB ethos of longer bikes with shorter stems.

    If the stock stems on those bikes are relatively long then the bigger size with a slightly shorter stem might well be the way to go. I'd be asking them to swap out the stem and then have a test ride to see how it feels.
  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 1,016
    im 172, with a 30" inseam and am comfortable on a 54 (Cervelo C3, & S3, and I ride a small Canyon Grail as well) the top of my saddle is 720mm from the centre of my BB.

    my wife is also 172cm, but she has long legs 33" with a short torso and feels stretched on my 54, but finds my Small Grail ok, and the 53cm Cube Nuroad fits perfect. Oddly, despite having longer legs, she actually rides with her saddle lower at 690mm (as I ride toe down, but she tends to drop her heel) so its very personal.

    our gravel bikes have shortish stems (around 80mm) compared to our road stems at 100mm - you don't want to go too much shorter than 70mm, or much longer than 120mm, as you start to mess about with handling
  • Norz80Norz80 Posts: 8
    edited 11 April

    (...)

    Thank you for your post.

    Any reason why smaller frame with longer stem is better than the other way around ?

    Also, my heart is melting for the 3T Exploro Pro GRX. I could only test it in "M" but it felt REALLY too long somehow, like i'm pretty much lying on the bike. It's probably a terrible idea but just to make sure it really is, blind ordering it in "S" size is a huge gamble right ? On the other hand, I don't see a world where I'd need XS, I'm not tall (173cm) but not THAT short either, I don't know...

    3T Exploro is really on the top of my list compared to Specialized Diverge, is there a way for me to sort of make sure "S" size would work for me without riding it ?

    (Again, probably a bad idea I know, but man, those 3T Exploro... ^^;)

  • super_davosuper_davo Posts: 617
    It is much easier to make a smaller frame "bigger" with longer stem, spacers or flipped stems and more seatpost showing than making a bigger frame "smaller". If you're after a gravel bike then the seatpost plays a role in cushioning you from bumps which it can't do very effectively if there is only a couple of cm showing. Add to that better standover height and likely less weight - smaller frame will almost always be the way to go if you're between sizes.
  • Norz80Norz80 Posts: 8
    edited 11 April
    Alright, so apparently no consensus on whether going smaller stem on a bigger frame or the other way around is better ?

    -----

    While I'm at it. I need you guys to help me understand something.

    Specialized Diverge Comp :

    Size 52 : 374 reach -- 577 stack
    Size 54 : 383 reach -- 592 stack

    3T Exploro Pro :

    Size 53 : 366 reach -- 517 stack
    Size 55 : 378 reach -- 546 stack

    Why does the Specialized 54 feel a LOT smaller than the 3T 55 ?
  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 1,016
    fwiw, my 54cm Cervelo C3 looks close to the 52cm Diverge with a Reach of 372mm, Stack 572mm and
    a Small (53cm) Cube Nuroad is Reach 386mm / Stack 544mm, and a
    SMALL Canyon Grail AL is Reach 390mm / Stack 556mm
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 3,031
    A lower stack will make a bike feel longer - think of a triangle with a line from saddle to end of stem being the hypotenuse.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 3,031
  • Norz80Norz80 Posts: 8
    edited 11 April
    moonshine said:
    Nice tool ! Though I must be missing something but according to this chart, I don't get how the Specialized M(54) feels so much smaller than the Exploro Pro M. Do you have any idea ? I'm starting to believe they didn't make me test the right bike lol
    mrb123 said:

    Very interesting thank you !
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,049 Lives Here
    As per everyone else, if in doubt, smaller frame.
  • Check you can get the saddle far enough forward on the bigger frame to get your knees over the pedal spindles (cranks at quarter to 3 position), if not it is unlikely to ever fit comfortably (from experience!)
  • Norz80Norz80 Posts: 8
    The shop I could buy the Specialized Diverge Comp from has been nice enough to put a 70mm stem on the size 54 frame and a 90mm stem on the size 52 frame for me to try. I'll get to see what's actually best for me !
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,059
    When you start getting very short stems on larger frames to correct for reach, you are compromising the steering which can start to feel really twitchy. This article has comments from several experts including frame builders.
    https://cyclingtips.com/2015/03/how-does-stem-length-affect-a-bikes-steering-and-handling/
  • Norz80Norz80 Posts: 8
    edited 17 April

    When you start getting very short stems on larger frames to correct for reach, you are compromising the steering which can start to feel really twitchy. This article has comments from several experts including frame builders.
    https://cyclingtips.com/2015/03/how-does-stem-length-affect-a-bikes-steering-and-handling/

    Interesting read, thank you

    Finally went for the Diverge 54 with 70mm stem. I understand it's not ideal, but still feels better than the 52 with a 90mm stem.

    I'm definitely between S and M size, what can I do...
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 3,031
    Norz80 said:

    When you start getting very short stems on larger frames to correct for reach, you are compromising the steering which can start to feel really twitchy. This article has comments from several experts including frame builders.
    https://cyclingtips.com/2015/03/how-does-stem-length-affect-a-bikes-steering-and-handling/

    Interesting read, thank you

    Finally went for the Diverge 54 with 70mm stem. I understand it's not ideal, but still feels better than the 52 with a 90mm stem.

    I'm definitely between S and M size, what can I do...
    I think it will be fine for you.

    The advice to generally go for a smaller frame with longer stem is correct for road bikes but I'm not sure it necessary holds for a gravel bike.

    Look at modern mountain bikes - they're all about getting the longest frame and shortest stem possible.

    Quite a few gravel bikes are now following that thinking, coming with shorter stems as standard.
  • OnegearOnegear Posts: 59
    Interesting choice.. I would have gone with the smaller frame and longer stem as long as the stem wasnt over 110mm but i imagine the 70mm will handle a lot better for tougher gravel sections. Enjoy the new ride!
Sign In or Register to comment.