Bespoke racing bike sizes or standard sizes: the differences

Bespoke racing bike sizes or standard sizes: the differences

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Size and measurements of the bike are one of the decisive aspects for the choice of the frame of a bicycle, be it racing but not only. Choosing a bike means first of all validating and selecting a frame (and related measures), or the skeleton of your vehicle which is made up of the intersection of tubes of various construction materials such as the carbon monocoque, which has been very popular in recent years.

Racing bike sizes: differences between standard frame and custom frame

The frame is joined by the various components that are subject to ad hoc adjustments and customizations: wheels, saddle, handlebars and cranks to name a few. The frame could be "standard" or "tailored" which are the two great existing constructive philosophies. The frames made to measure are characterized by greater precision resulting from the fact that they are made starting from anthropomentric measures complete and, for those who want to be more precise, even from one analysis carried out by biomechanics who are experts in "bike positioning" which use classical instrumentation but also the most advanced technology such as kinematic tests made with infrared cameras and / or wind tunnels. These very accurate services range from optimizing your bike position, to aerodynamic evaluation on the track and positioning the cleats on your bike.

Standard frame does not necessarily mean cheap and low quality as bespoke does not necessarily mean impossible prices and high performance. This is because there are many factors to take into consideration and tailoring also depends on the individual who drives the vehicle, on his style as well as on variable components over time (think of the level of practice, age and weight) and place (the routes traveled most frequently affect the choice). As enthusiasts know, there are racing bikes with standard sizes (and customized extensions in the adjustment) of excellent performance and significant costs and there are good tailor-made models with average performance made by the few (unfortunately) craftsmen left on the square. However, it is good to reiterate one concept: “Made to measure” is a concept of a theoretical balance point which as such represents a desirable status but in any case modifiable over time.

Road bike sizes: tips, sizes and measurements for choosing a standard frame

As mentioned in a previous article on the measures of the tout cout bike, the standard frame is produced in fixed dimensions exactly like the clothes sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL. To adapt it to physical measurements (other than just height and horsepower), your dealer or cyclist plays on the moving parts of the racing bike as a whole: saddle height and backward, head tube and handlebar adjustments as well as crank arm length. The choice of the size of a standard racing bike can be done through various methodologies:

  • The calculation of the bike size according to a basic mathematical method: Height of the horse in cm * 0.65. The result expresses a first concept of size and identifies the length of the bike seat tube
  • Detected the dimension which identifies your size (for me, who are small, the 50), this size is associated with the size itself (in my case an S). The tables and technical data provided by each manufacturer may, however, differ substantially because the constructive philosophies of racing bikes are different because the design geometries of the frames themselves are different (although you will notice an evident flattening in recent years); the more the house offers sizes for their bikes, the more those who are in the neighborhood between one size and another have the opportunity to choose a more precise model for their needs. If you think about it, this is also what commonly happens with clothing: given the due proportions it is common to verify that some "brands" dress in a way and have unexpected sizes for you (I commonly if I buy certain US or Northern European brands I often have to go down one size). Below is an example of a table showing the indicative values.I also repeat the standard setting of these calculations which are often valid and correspond to reality but which do not take into account, for example, factors such as the setting of the rider's bike (lying or more erect) and of the cyclist's build (you can be short but not short for example).

Cyclist Height Horse Size Road Bike Mountain Bike

155 – 160 69 – 73 46 – 48 38 – 40

161 – 164 74 – 75 48 – 50 41

165 – 168 76 – 77 50 – 51 42 – 44

169 – 174 78 – 81 52 – 53 46

175 – 180 82 – 84 54 46 – 48

181 – 186 85 – 88 56 50 – 52

187 – 192 89 – 91 58 – 60 52 – 54

Nowadays the standard frames, if well chosen, allow you to manage well "all the measures" that refer to your body positioned on the bike such as body size, height and setback of the saddle, saddle distance and handlebar width and length of the cranks. But if you feel we say so "anomalous" the biomechanical will find the solution for you which can be why not the choice of a custom frame and components.

Road bike measurements: how to take anthropometric measurements for a frame that is as tailored as possible

The made-to-measure frame is instead made by taking all anthropometric measures and choosing tubes that fit these that we will cover in this specific post: crotch length, femoral length, foot length, torso length, arm length, shoulder width, hand size as well as weight and height.

This paragraph is therefore dedicated to understanding and advice on how to best take the anthropometric measurements of your body in order to have a custom-made frame or look for the best frame for your needs among the standard manufacturers.

  • How to measure the crotch length: the horse's length is the distance between the ischial support of the supra-saddle and the ground. To measure it, you have to stand up against a wall, spreading your feet from each other by about 5 centimeters; take a hard cover book with a spine of reduced thickness comparable to that of the saddle tip and press it against the saddle. The distance between the edge of the book and the floor will be the length of the horse.
  • How to measure the length of the femoral tract: the length of the femoral segment is the distance between the ischial support of the suprassella and the lower edge of the wheel. The most useful method for the measurement is that of subtraction: it is necessary to measure the distance between the patella and the ground starting from the same position used to measure the horse; subtracting this value from that of the horse length you will get the length of the femoral tract.
  • How to measure your foot length: the length of the foot is expressed in centimeters and to measure it well it is advisable to place the toes on a wall and measure from it up to the rear edge of the heel
  • How to measure your bust length: the length of the torso measures the distance between the upper edge of the sternum bone and the crotch; also in this case, the subtraction method is recommended. First, the distance between the breastbone (the typical V-shaped indentation just below the Adam's apple) and the ground is measured. By subtracting the crotch size from this value, you will get the length of the bust; it is advisable to carry out the measurement well keeping the torso erect and the shoulders high after holding a deep breath.
  • How to measure your arm length: the length of the arm is the distance between the acromio or the joint of the clavicle on the shoulder and the handle of the hand formed by the adjacency between the index and thumb. For correct measurement, the arm must be extended laterally at 45 degrees. Biomechanical advice: to identify the acromial joint with greater accuracy, while rotating the arm with a lateral movement, have the person who helps you press the shoulder joint with the index finger.
  • How to take your shoulder width measurements: shoulder width measures the distance between the points where the right and left clavicles articulate. The distance between the right and left acromium is measured using the front / inside of the body.
  • How to measure your hand size:for the size of the hands, reference can be made to the sizes of gloves: S, M, L

To these measures are added the aforementioned height as well as the weight. It is always advisable to be assisted in the measurement by another person who may be your trusted dealer or cyclist. If you are inexperienced, it is better to retry the measurements several times to get an accurate measurement. The anthropometric measurements are then reported by your cyclist, dealer or trusted builder in more complex tables and simply generate your "racing bike" suit which includes the size plus other adjustments mentioned above (height, retraction and height of the saddle, distance and handlebar travel, handlebar saddle offset, crank arm length and cleat positioning and handlebar width).

Racing bike sizes and measurements: tips and practical suggestions

Unless you are experienced connoisseurs of themselves as well as cyclists with some experience and knowledge it is undoubtedly The choice of a frame based on do-it-yourself is not recommended. Measurements are important whether you are talking about buying a standard vehicle or whether you are focusing on tailor-made, which is why you should always follow some small tips:

  • know your measurements reference cited above
  • consult the websites of the manufacturers you are most interested in and download the technical data sheets of the models on which you are orienting yourself and take the necessary information
  • go to your local dealer and, as you do when buying a car, test on a model similar or equal to the one you have chosen so that you can check if getting on it and doing a few km is the right choice for you. No one would ever dream of buying a pig in a poke, yet some spend hundreds or thousands of euros without ever testing the desired bike model
  • make sure you have no particular or out-of-threshold measures
  • an old rule says that "It is always better to choose a loom that is smaller than what you would need" because then you can play better with the other components to adjust and be comfortable in. An opposite mistake would leave you very little room for maneuver for your customizations. This last point may seem obvious but it is a mistake that many make (more in the past when the frames were on average larger) especially the little ones like myself. It arises from the fact that you want to appear taller in the saddle without considering other factors. Comfort is sacrificed in favor of a desired elegance that will never arrive anyway: pedaling too low and too high as well as too long in the saddle can generate problems for your body as well as performance problems.

Finally never fall in love with an idea that isn't for everyone: a racing bike (model or brand that it is) that can suit someone, maybe it can be harmful to someone else. To make an understandable comparison: many would like a Ferrari but a car of that type must also be able to drive it. For the racing bike it is the same: if I, who do a maximum of 3,000 km in a year or have little use of the vehicle in general, when I get on a professional bike I would certainly be fascinated but after 5 minutes I would get out of the saddle and return home on foot; its stiffness will not advise me to feel at ease every time I take a hole or when cornering. Better to orient yourself elsewhere.

Biomechanical chapter: there are many currents of thought; there are those who argue that their intervention is only for those with posture problems or in special cases; instead there are those who support a scientific verification of the position on the bike at 360 degrees and are convinced that it is also and above all useful for those who start precisely because it is easier to correct incorrect positions in the saddle of birthright than defects those who have dragged along for years of pedaling amateur. Obviously, everything also depends on your ambitions as well as on the level of practice you want to aim for.

Sport and cycling in the specific case, first of all they are passion and as well as fun but if you know the rules, tools and reactions of your body, the awareness and the pleasure itself will increase accordingly and you will hardly be able to stop (and maybe you will also lose a few superfluous pounds).

Cheap racing bike: pay attention to the price but not only

Would you like to know more? For lovers of online shopping there are also proposed on non-specialized sites in the sector and with the possibility of choose the size of the frame.

Of course we are talking about articles entry level but guaranteed and from price definitely competitive starting from just over 500 euros

Opening photo: the Nibali brothers and their Merida racing bike: Source Twitter @vincenzonibali

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