There is a school of thought among comfort cyclists that the frame of the bike should be large. Considerably larger than, for example, by following traditional road bike or cyclo-cross sizing. One rule of thumb is that the frame should be selected as big as possible while still maintaining a bearable stand-over height – the rationale being that in such a way the handlebars can be brought at a comfortable height. We are sure that many a cyclists have reached their bike heaven following these methods and we’re cool with that. It’s just that the claim of being able to raise the bars with a bigger frame doesn’t really hold water as it’s not the frame size that determines the handle bar height but it’s the fork length. OK, of course it’s obvious that there is a connection between a frame size and handle bar height as with small frames and long forks one ends up with ridiculously long steerer tubes which are considered uncool, especially with threadless forks.
- Decide on the length of stem – most people prefer longer stems for the extra stability.
- Pick the handlebars.
- Pick the seatpost, straight or setback.
- Pick the seat.
- With the above selected components, seat fore/aft set midway, select a frame (a top tube length) that gives you the optimum reach.
The above method should provide plenty of flexibility tuning the riding position later on. One point to keep in mind is that with a longer stem, changing the degree of rise raises or lowers the height of the handlebars more than with a shorter stem.
Of course, going along with this method, you’d first need to know the optimum reach. It’s easy if you already have a bike, with similar handlebars and a seat that fits you perfectly. If you have no idea what it could be then one way of finding out might be a visit to a local bike store with a measuring tape and simply test riding bikes with different reach.
So, did we use this method selecting a frame for the bike in pictures (with that ridiculously long steerer tube)? Not really but it doesn’t sound that crazy. Of course, if one is so proportioned, with any method, one might still end up with a huge frame and hardly no stand-over clearance.