Bike Too Big?

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LC has bought a second hand bike and is worried that it may be the wrong size and wants to know if the old 1 inch step over rule still applies even with a frame with a sloping top tube. If the frame is wrong there are ways round the problem

Question:

Back on a bike after many yrs-can I manage w/a bike (I’m trying it out now for 1week- feels OK so far) that has a little less than 1#clearance crotch to the bar whilst standing as recommended to get proper fit-over bar (slightly sloping bar) Don’t have any advisors except internet, just bought it used.

Hi LC,

The 1 inch rule is a bit old fashioned, it was invented for the old style of bikes with a horizontal top tube, not the sloping style of today. If you stand over a sloping top tube then there should be more than an inch between crotch and top tube, take a steel rule or wooden stick and place that where the top tube would be if it were level and then do the stand over test.

If the frame is a little big or small its not an enormous problem, as you can make some adjustments with saddle height, saddle adjustment back or forward on the seat pin and then with the stem, with either a shorter or longer stem and the height and angle of the stem. With these adjustments you should manage to get a good fit, one way or the other.

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Make sure your legs are correctly positioned on the saddle with the forward knee is over the pedal when the cranks are horizontal and with a slight flex in the knee when the pedal is at its lowest point. Then you have to sort out the stem length and height of the handle bars, there are methods to work this out, but I would give it a few shots of trial and error until you find you are comfortable and your body is not either stretched out or cramped up. This can take time and even experienced cyclists change there position over the years. Comfort is very important and unless you are racing, then aerodynamics take a back seat, being able to pull on the bars when climbing and sitting your hands comfortably on either the top of the handle bars or the tops of the brake leavers.

TOP TIP: Get your legs right first, and then get the bars correct.

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