The Big Bike: Sizing Variations

When it comes to bicycles, everyone has a size. Most people are fit too small. Mine is 58cm top tube by 58cm seat tube for road riding. Its “french fit” according to Competitive Cyclist. But others who believe in Rivendell’s sizing would argue its too small, as you can’t get the handlebars up, up up. But for randonees and hard efforts over distance, I like the handlebars 1-4cm below the saddle, as both of my randonneuring rigs are 58×58:

My Protovelo is a big bike. Like Grant’s latest project, it has a long top tube. 60.5cm! And the seat tube is 60cm center-to-center. That’s a size larger than my preference. But for touring, a larger bicycle makes it easier to ride with the handlebars even with the saddle, which has the advantage of providing comfort and making it easier to enjoy the view on a relatively leisurely pace carrying a bunch of stuff. When I’ve tried to push the Protovelo on harder efforts, the size of the bike and the component choices (Riv-ish to a tee) seem to have a ceiling. In other words, the bike just wants me to slow down and enjoy the view.

I built it up as close to Rivendell’s preferences as I could. 7-speed freewheel, Nitto parts, Brooks saddle, touring gearing, etc. Its a big, luxurious ride. Feels like a Cadillac. It can be good to have variety in bicycles if you have more than a couple.



  1. James Black

    Your Protovelo is about the same size as my favorite bikes, and looks similar in terms of handlebar and saddle position. Smaller bikes feel too small to me, although I know it is rather irrational or perhaps reactionary to feel that way….

    I no longer think of Rivendell as the champion of the “French Fit” since they went all sloping top tube and “expanded geometry,” but I benefited greatly from the influence of their erstwhile philosophy on frame fitting.

  2. Chris Kostman

    Great to see you blogging again. I’ve missed you! Come on up to LA and ride the Santa Monica Mountains with me some time! Bring Dustin, too, and we can triple-blog the adventure!

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