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'tall riders'

Hi There

My brother and I have been doing triathlons for 4 years now and feel we both need to get new bikes. The problem is I am 6ft6 (36inch inside leg) and my brother is 6ft7 (38inch inside leg).
We have both got the biggest 'ebay specials' we could find and adjusted to fit (probably badly) when we started as we didn't want to spend a fortune until we knew how we felt about triathlons. Obviously we are both addicted and after some recent bike searching we have discovered what we knew already, we are too bloody tall for bike manufacturers!

Realistically we are looking to spend £1000-£1500 each, can anyone recommend a manufacturer that builds for the taller rider or do we need to go down the what I suspect is a very expensive bespoke bike route.

Thanks in advance for any help



  • I'm 6'3 with a 37" inseam; my brother is only 6'5 so you win hands down!

    Seriously though, I commiserate with you, bike shops just dont stock our sizes which is an pain in the rear as we cannot just go and sit on them to check them out.

    I'm going through the same thing now, but I'm looking at more expensive bikes than your price range so can only give the process I've been using.

    Leg length is easy. First you need to work out your saddle height requirement. E.g measure your current bike centre-bottom-bracket to Top-of-saddle. Mine is 86cm currently.

    Just for example I was looking at the Focus Izalco Chrono on Wiggle. This has a seat tube C-T of 522mm. I asked, and the custom seatpost is 36cm, with 8-10cm needed to be in the frame. Allowing 4cm for saddle height, the highest possible setting is 522+360-80+40 = 842 which doesnt quite cut it for me. Just apply this to whatever bike you are looking at.

    Top tube length is potentially more difficult.

    My current bike was a 62cm Trek 1.7. Fits fine in the leg, but the top tube is too long for 3+ hr rides in the aero bars. Its top tube is 61cm measured from centre seat post to centre head tube. So I know thats beyond my upper limit, and I'm having to look at top tubes of max 58cm or less likely with a shorter stem than the normal 120mm.

    So I know I suit narrow tall bikes; see http://www.slowtwitch.com/Bike_Fit/Geom ... _1321.html for what this means. For tri bikes its Cannondale and Scott.

    For information, Evans shop were very helpful and they ordered in the Trek for me as I could see they had the right size on the website. But it wasnt till long rides I got round to realising it didnt fit that well.

    Hope the info is useful; good luck, its not all fun being large.
  • AtomicAtomic Posts: 126

    Have you tried GIANT?
  • thanks 'largeade'

    Thats exactly it, my bike is fine for shorter rides however as soon as up the distance it all goes wrong. Its easy to get a seat extension but as you say thats only half of it, the main problem being the distance from saddle to bars. We both want to do an iron man at some point so really want to get properly fitting bikes.
    Thanks very much for the link Ill be honest I didn't realise that there was such a difference in one companies sizing to the next,

    If ever a company advertised themselves as something they are not, its 'giant'
  • I am 6'6" and I too have been struggling to find a new bike.

    As others have mentioned, Cannondale do a 63cm frame, but they are v hard to get hold of. Surprised about your remark re Giant. They measure them in a weird way, (their XL is quoted as being 58.5cm but I think that is due to their geometry) and they tend to come up quite big. Wilier make a couple of their frames in XXL (again, hard to get hold of, never actually seem one in the flesh).

    Trek also do a few 64cm frames.

    I have been looking for a bike (same budget as you) for a few months now. I'll probably go for a Cannondale CAAD10 with the 105 group (RRP £1299 I think), but LBS told me the other day that the 63 will not be in UK until 12th Jan. Bah. There are people getting the little diddy ones already. If I could afford it I would go for their SuperSix, but the wife keeps banging on about 'feeding the children' etc.

    We live in a heightist society
  • Ah, we are indeed similar.

    You could try these things which helped me get a little more comfy.

    a) shorter stem (I've dropped from a 120mm to an 80mm 3T one)
    b) move your seat forward as far as it will go (gives you 4cm ish)
    c) reversible seat post: profile design FastForward or 3t Palladio (not done this yet)
    d) tri saddle to make it more comfortable, e.g. Fizik Arione Tri 2 (not done this yet)

    a) makes steering a bit twitchy, but I've done loads of mtb'ing and I'm fine with it.

    b+c) make your weight more over the front wheel which is not great for handling. Which is why I've only done b).

    Plus, if you've got clip on tri bars I was told by a non-LBS yesterday that you shouldnt have them too far away. Fix them back towards you as apparently it doesnt matter if the arm pads are effectively almost under your wrists (which was my concern - I thought the pads needed to be near your elbows).

    I've often wondered whether there was a market for a specialist shop for big blokes, like a Biking/Tri "High and Mighty". Any more monsters out there let me know, work is scarce at the moment and I've got time to open one.....
  • The new 2011 Wiliers are being advertised. Looking at the geometry, their XXL appear to have a shorter top tube than some of the American brands. That might work for you.

    http://www.wilierbikes.co.uk/2011/detai ... No=11IZXEN.

    Entry level carbon is £1499 so within your price range.

    The alternative, (if you are looking at IM) is to speak to Planet X, and build a bike from the frame up. Probably much cheaper....see the Project Avoneer Bike Porn thread from earlier this week.

    I look on Ebay almost every day, but have not found anything right, and I have spoken to shops in Germany, New York and Oregon about getting frames sent. (The US sell bikes for stupidly cheap money, but importing to UK adds c. 40% tax, duty, whatever which rather negates the point of it). By the way, there is a German site, (biker-boarder.de) that ships free to UK and is slightly cheaper due to exchange rates than UK RRP. They are a bit pants at updating their stock levels, but might be worth a look if you find a particular model you want.

    If you find a magical solution, please do let me know!!

    Oh and while we are on the whole tall vibe, does anyone know of a brand who makes running / cycling tights "for the taller gentleman"?
  • hi

    thanks very much for the replies, some good stuff to have a look at.
    I also look on ebay to no avail, My brother has found what looks like a great company in canada...Guru bikes. Obviously in canada though making buying a bike v expensive...
    lol the comment about 'feeding the kids' my girlfriend doesn't have that to shout at me, but can think of plenty of other things to say when I want to spend money on something I consider vital:)
  • Thanks Conehead - what is the bike shop called....?
  • [img]Hi guys

    Just came across this posting and what you guys describe is sadly all too familiar to us. We are Kinetic-One cycling Dynamics in Stroud, Glos.

    We are fit and position specialists and have our own range of bikes too http://www.kinetic-one.co.uk

    Of course I'm plugging what we do but I hope you''ll agree its based on good knowledge and doing things right!

    The situation for tall guys is bad and getting worse in our experience. partly its nothing more complex than more tall people getting into riding bikes and the manufacturers not getting this!

    We see lots of people at our fitting sessions on bikes too small for them - Several comments on this posting focussed on top tube length - though i have to say we see more tall people with back problems arising out of the fact the saddle needs to be high for taller guys whilst the front end invariably ends up being very low. the result is a huge drop down to the bars.

    This is not surprising when you think that the height of bars from the ground varies relatively little whether you are 5ft6 or 6ft 8. this is because all wheels tend to be the same size (700c) and the length of head tubes tend to be pretty similar - plus or minus 7 or 8cm or so. Of course the killer issue is that the 5ft 6 guy does not need a saddle that sticks miles in the air where the tall guy does. I'm a mere 6ft2 myself and had this problem for years. which is how i got into this game. in fact almost 80% of riders we see who are over 6ft tall say they never use the drops on their bike as it is just too far too reach down! Other issues such as instability on descents, knee pain from the saddle not quite being able to go quite high enough and just a general lack of satisfaction with their existing bikes is what brings people to see us.

    There's kind of a double whammy effect here too: its bad enough that frames aren't designed right for taller guys - but add to this the fact that tall guys are proportionately longer in the leg than shorter guys and you'll see that this takes the saddle height up even further.

    We had been meaning to write an article on this for 220 for some time now and even had a working title: "Tall guys Short Changed by Bike Design". Seeing this posting got me going again - so here's a quite quick version of it!

    The main thing i want to say is to firstly get measured up and fitted to establish what size bike and stems etc would be right for you. We provide this service as do many bike fitters now. http://www.shop.kinetic-one.co.uk/profe ... e-44-c.asp

    What we do have that bike fitters on the whole don't have - is our own frange of bikes starting at £1000 that fit riders up to about 6ft6. beyond that height we have to custom build frames to make sure that fit is right.

    I hope this info is of some use!

  • "Tall guys Short Changed by Bike Design" could be a series.

    Tall guys Short Changed by ...

    .... Aircraft Seats
    .... Bus seats
    .... train seats
    .... the 6'5" standard for door frames.

    Its genetic discrimination I tell you. I am not a statistical outlier.

    @aero blob, I reckon a good start would be to ensure the max servicable length for custom seatposts was published in geometry tables....
  • Hi Largeade

    Like the series idea - Fr some bizarre reason I keep getting the Image Of Magnum (as in moustachioed 80's Priveate detective) driving around in his Ferrari with the top permanently down as his head was about 4 inches higher than the roof would be! Not sure what category that would go into mind......

    As for the max seatpost issue thats an interesting idea - though as i say in the previous posting the issue for us tends not to be so much about getting the seatpin high enough - Some seatpins can be 400mm long so at full extension on a Large frame would appear to "fit" someone 6ft6 or so - the problem is more about making sure the front end doesn't get left behind when you jack the seatpost up. Like in the image here:


    If a bike is built right then the head tubeneeds to be long. I just trawled the web to find what i was looking for and the image below illustrates it well.


    Our own range frames have a 24cm head tube in the largest sizes which means we can ensure that the bars can go high enough.

  • Agree with Conehead, it does look a bit pants.

    For me personally, the epitomy of very long legs short body, long arms, its not flexibility which is the issue, I can get down with the best of them and my long upper arm length means the drop is not as deep as you imply. For me personally its how far away the aerobar pads are, which creates an extended arm angle. All top tube/stem length controlled.
  • Hello all,

    Good tip - moving the seat forward- I'm going to try that one. I am unfortunately a 6ft 2 skinny bird and having spent as much as I could afford on an off the shelf bike (custom is out of the reach of mere mortals) the fit for my ridiculous legs is fine, but it's too long in the top tube and too wide in the handlebars leading to massive pain between the shoulder blades on any ride over 40 miles.
    Maybe in about eight years time i could have saved up enough money to get a bike that actually fits properly, we all have a dream.
  • @ARobinett

    What size handlebars do you have at the moment?
  • I just thought that I would add to this discussion one more time....just to recap, I am 6'6" and slightly bitter about the challenge of buying bicycle and trousers that fit, (please, don't recommend High & Mighty)!

    I discovered this morning that Cycle Surgery in Spitalfields has a 2010 Giant TCR Advanced 4 in XL in their sale, reduced from £1650 to £1300. Not bad for afull carbon framed bke.

    Now having spent a bit of time on this forum, I now know that basically owning a carbon frame would mean that I could ride faster than the wind and never have to train again so I pottered over there at lunchtime for a go on it, As always, I was pretty optimistic. They moved the seat to a ludicrously high position so my knees did not bang me on the chin, meaning that I could not touch the ground, but we played around with that, flipped the stem so that it was pointing upwards, and I went for a spin round the local area. Admittedly, conditions were not ideal, East End back streets on a Friday lunchtime, but the main problem seemed to be that the relatively short headtube meant that it was pretty uncomfortable. They do not have "specialist" bike fitters there, so while the guy was pretty helpful; they do not even have a turbo trainer to put the bike on to make adjustments. Just a bit of trial and error. And a sort or "well, we just adjust the saddle and send you on your way" approach to bikes. Nice people though, don't get me wrong.

    Anyway, I did not make a purchase, and when I cam back to work, rather than tackling the joys of spreadsheets, I looked at the relative headtube lengths of the largest framed Trek, C'dale, Specialized etc and discovered that the Giant is the shortest.

    Now it must be painfully apparent from my ramblings that I know next to nothing about bike geometry, but do any of you clever chaps know if the head tube length would make a significant difference? It seems to be that was the "problem" preventing me from realising my dream of being a carbon owning contender for Kona, and not the lack of genetic appropriateness, training, love of crisps etc etc
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