Thursday, December 11, 2008

Measure For Measure

Does toptube length mean anything anymore? What with all the changing angles—from steepened headtubes to slacker seattubes—is one 21" equal to another?

Apparently not.

Fit was first, labelling their Eddie Cleveland frame as if they were Champion sweats, in M, L, XL, etc. Now Fly has joined the "eh, we have no idea what size it is" party by sizing their new Tierra frames based on what they're supposed to feel like rather than what they are. It gets more confusing by the minute.

Maybe some good will come of this. Maybe more companies will start to go by the sweatshirt sizing method rather than releasing frames in 20.25" and 20 5/8" and 20.666" and 20.31415926535897932384" and leaving us to wonder what the hell it all means. Your frame isn't a pair of shoes, it doesn't have to be an exact fit. This is checkers, not chess.

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29 comments:

VxD said...

On the flip side, a medium shirt from one company may be way too small while a medium from another company may be a good fit. Giving a number *should* mean that you can compare across companies.

Josh said...

"I don't care who you are back in the world, you give away our position one more time, I'll bleed ya, real quiet. Leave ya here. Got that?"

In all seriousness though, stop treating me like I'm 8 years old or just getting into this game. Don't tell me "how it's going to feel." Just give me the measurments and let me make my own inferences. Why do we have to dumb down everything? Do you know how I figured out that I like to ride a 21" top tube? Over the years I rode a 20", 20.5", 21" and even a 21.25". and after all of that I settled on the one that felt right. Seems simple, but apparently not.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the days when a "Mini" was for pre-pubescent kids, an "Expert" was for kids in a growth spurt, a "Pro" was for a small-framed adult, a "Pro XL" was for a larger-sized adult, and the "XXL" was for anyone really tall? Seemed to work back then...

To this day I still have no clue what the TT length of my 93' Holmes was, but I did know it was longer than the Dirt Bike, and it fit me perfectly.

Honestly, When did the BMX community become engineers obsessed over the tiny details of a HT angle down to .125", or a tube length differing by .25" ? IT DOESNT MATTER!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:29 took the words out of my mouth.

Anonymous said...

20.pi

Tricky tricky.

Beau said...

Pi is old news, when will bike companies capitalize on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio , it's more proven than Nascar science

Skidmarkpdx said...

I prefer to know top tube length, head angle, seat angle, and chainstay length. Armed with that information you can compare it to what you are currently riding and determine what bike you want to buy next. it also let's you know how many frames are almost exactly the same.

BITD you had to wait for BMX Action to test the bike and put the geometry in the article. These days there aren't bike tests in magazine anymore, just new product press releases. Thankfully those include the frame's geometry.

Anonymous said...

this is the best label for a blog ever.

"I guess you're all a bunch of slack jawed pussies!"

Mark Westlake said...

Honestly, When did the BMX community become engineers obsessed over the tiny details of a HT angle down to .125", or a tube length differing by .25" ? IT DOESNT MATTER!

Really? I'd have to argue that stuff like top-tube lengths "differing by .25"" does matter, but if you're so convinced it doesn't, then feel free to stick a pin into your next Dans Comp catalogue and buy the nearest frame. I prefer having a choice, and being able to buy the product I want, rather than just living in blissful ignorance.

Regarding the Fly measurements - maybe point the blame more at bike shops requesting that change rather than Fly themselves. The Tierra's been fine for 2 years now, but it's now that people are wanting this change. Doesn't seem like it's their fault?

Russ said...

I'm not saying that size doesn't matter, but with headtube and seattube angles varying so much, toptube measurement doesn't mean much. A 21" from one company is different than a 21" from another. A 20.75" might feel big, while a 21.75" might feel small.

I would even go so far to argue that toptube size is considered so crucial because it's the only measurement offered. I ride a 21" because I think I should ride a 21". If some elves stretched my toptube to 21.25", or shrank it to 20.75" would it make a difference? Probably not. Maybe it would feel weird for a day.

Maybe there isn't a better answer. Wheelbase wouldn't make much sense, given different chainstay lengths, and obviously seattube height is completely unrelated to frame size. But if you have to list the toptube size based on what the frame FEELS like, obviously that's not a perfect measurement, either.

I give up.

Russ said...

I meant a 21.25", not a 21.75".

andy said...

if i'm paying 400$ for a frame i want every measurement they got.

we need to introduce BMX to the effective top tube measurement.

bill said...

Really? I'd have to argue that stuff like top-tube lengths "differing by .25"" does matter, but if you're so convinced it doesn't, then feel free to stick a pin into your next Dans Comp catalogue and buy the nearest frame. I prefer having a choice, and being able to buy the product I want, rather than just living in blissful ignorance.

Blissful ignorance? eh

Maybe my point was to vague. You did make a valid point. But here is my rebuttal.

If you were to tip your bars forward .125" and hop on your bike.. Will you notice a difference after 15 minutes of riding? I doubt it. If you were to raise your seat .5" and go ride. Is there a difference? Answer is no. Lets even go as far as changing a gear ratio, which in turn would re-position the wheel in the dropout, regardless of chain modification. After 10 minutes of actual riding, would it make a world of difference? Would you being able to whip it better than before or accelerate your progression? No.

My point was it's these little things that have almost brainwashed the up-n-comers of this generation. Frame geometry has been changing for the sake of change. Some for the good, some for the WTF? OF COURSE I want to know what top tube length my frame has, but the nit-picking and tweaking and manipulation resulting in the frames today is pure nonsense. The saying "run what'cha brung" is so true. Just ride.

Throw a pin in your Dans Comp catalogue and ride it. Within 1 week it will be just another bike. Stem length, bar position and crank length make up for a lot more than a quarter of an inch on the top tube of a frame. I was a 21.5" top tube rider, and now I ride a frame with a 21" top tube. It took me 1 ride to adapt.

Anonymous said...

I have a Tierra that "feels" like it has about a 21" TT. And if I took the parts off a frame that actually has a 21" TT and put them on it, it would "feel" totally fucked up.

That's basically what I did when I bought it. Then I had to change almost everything so it wasn't like riding a clown bike. (It is a clown bike, but you know what I mean.) Crank length (short) and stem reach (long) made the biggest difference.

Not hating. I like the frame, and juggling parts on and off it to make it fit was eventually worth the trouble. But the "feels" measurement is straight bunk. Nothing that isn't a plain old double-diamond 21" "feels" like one (and most of those don't, either).

Anonymous said...

I don't think anybody mentioned BB height. I want to know BB height in addition to TT length, chainstay length, HT, and ST angles when comparing frames.

DONALD J TRUMP said...

Companies trying to diversify their stock options and market offering...

Differentiating when there is really no sensible way of doing it at present save from heat treating a frame to fuck and then looking at price differentiation as an optional USP.

I'm calling bullshit, get back to the days of 20, 20.5 and 21. Kids aren't going to be able to tell the difference between a quarter inch or not so fuck em.

Anonymous said...

today should have been about kris bennett...i expect at least three shoutouts to kris bennett in the next blog entry.

Anonymous said...

how many stems come in sizes smaller than 50mm these days?

ben said...

I want a 22" frame with a 11.25 BB and the HT to be variable.

Russ said...

Is there a single measurement that would make sense? Should it maybe be bottom bracket height, headtube angle, chainstay length, and distance (center to center) from bottom bracket to headtube?

Bah, I hate math. I miss the days of the LIMO XXL (which would have had a 19" toptube and required the use of a braced layback seatpost).

addy said...

nice use of pi to lots of decimal places in the top tube length example.

Anonymous said...

i found a drainpipe seat post in my garage the other day

Beau said...

The universal measurement should be from the center of the head tube to the middle of the dropout, take the average distance to the ground from that line, and add the height of the bottom bracket.

Anonymous said...

Russ, the measurement you are describing is "front-center". Distance between the BB shell and bottom of HT, measured horizontally.
http://www.turnerbikes.com/08dhr.html
It makes alot of sense to described the size of a bikes that you never ride sitting down, and that have ST angles all over the place. Between that, head angle, bb height, chainstay, and wheelbase, you pretty much know what a bike will ride like.

Hey, are you interested in selling that Bandwagon?

Russ said...

I'm sort of up in the air with the Bandwagon. I might sell off all the parts and hang onto the frame. Just out of curiosity, did you read about it in the BSNYC comments or see it on my Flickr page? I can't even keep track of my own internet self anymore.

Anonymous said...

BIKE SNOB

Yeah, I would want the frame or complete bike. What is your flikr, I wouldn't mind taking a look at it.

Lettusdude said...

I totally want a frame with a 20.π" top tube!

I'll say that the "feels like" method is totally bunk. It just doesn't make sense. There's really no reason to have frames in sizes other than .25".

One of the worst examples of random decimal measurements I can think of off the top of my head would be Odyssey Chase Gouin bars. 7.672" rise? That's just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

kris bennet is the shit!!

Smitty said...

Stu Thomsen used to whip everybody's ass while riding a bike with an 18" top tube. I like to remember that when people obsess over 1/8 of an inch. We will adapt to whatever bike is placed under us. That said, I feel there has been an evolutionary process which has brought us to the range of measurements common today. Any 1/8" variations and 1/2 degree changes to angles, etc. are essentially attempts at product differentiation on the part of the frame maker - which is understandable. Can't blame anyone for trying to stand out among the sameness.