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Anybody out there know when compact frames became available? I remember the Giant TCR frame from late 90's. Was this the 1st or were there smaller frame builders who evolved the idea?
 

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1887 Illustration.

The idea of sloping the top tube is almost as old as the invention of the safety bicycle in 1885. I believe the term "compact" for a sloping top tube frame was coined by Giant in the mid-1990s, as you said.
 

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wim said:
The idea of sloping the top tube is almost as old as the invention of the safety bicycle in 1885. I believe the term "compact" for a sloping top tube frame was coined by Giant in the mid-1990s, as you said.

I would love to get a blown up print of that picture. Classic illustration.
 

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Had no idea they've been around so long

Here's a pic of a 1988 Cunningham Racer, courtesy of First Flight Bikes. Slightly cheating, since its a mountain bike. Kimo Tanaka, a framebuilder in Davis, California has been making sloping top tube road bikes since the mid or late 90's. I bought a '99 Tanaka to build up for my girlfriend's daughter.
 

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Sablotny said:
Here's a pic of a 1988 Cunningham Racer, courtesy of First Flight Bikes. Slightly cheating, since its a mountain bike. Kimo Tanaka, a framebuilder in Davis, California has been making sloping top tube road bikes since the mid or late 90's. I bought a '99 Tanaka to build up for my girlfriend's daughter.
Interesting bikes! When it comes to bicycle gadgets, the amazing thing is how they get invented, completely disappear, then re-appear. The rotational float clipless pedal was invented in 1895—113 years ago.
 

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good call Sablotny

as Charlie Cunningham was building them as such in 1981-82
he was also the first to use oversized Alu Pipes
where's the drop bars?

Tanaka was also early in the compact road design
 

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wim said:
The idea of sloping the top tube is almost as old as the invention of the safety bicycle in 1885. I believe the term "compact" for a sloping top tube frame was coined by Giant in the mid-1990s, as you said.
I can't beat that one. :)

The first compact road I ever saw was a Bontrager. ...early 1990's?
 

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The first time a compact frame was used in mainstream cycling by someone who could actually ride was when Marco Pantani broke out a compact Bianchi for the Tour in 1998 (IIRC). Then they became a viable design for all high performance bikes of all sizes, even though Pantani used a compact because he was so small. Personally, I still like regular bikes but that's because I ride with a saddle 10cm higher than my bars.
 

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Sherpa23 said:
The first time a compact frame was used in mainstream cycling by someone who could actually ride was when Marco Pantani broke out a compact Bianchi for the Tour in 1998 (IIRC). Then they became a viable design for all high performance bikes of all sizes, even though Pantani used a compact because he was so small. Personally, I still like regular bikes but that's because I ride with a saddle 10cm higher than my bars.
Pantani did not use a compact mainly because of his small size. The reason he used a compact and the reason Bianchi built him a compact was mainly the result of his climbing style. He preferred to climb mainly while in the drops, this was true when he was both seated and in standing climbing positions. Because of this in the drops climbing style he asked Bianchi to develop him a frame with a proportionally very tall headtube for the frame size so that he could get his bars higher. It sounds odd that you would ask for such a frame while desiring to ride climbs mainly in the drops but that is how the guy preferred to climb, almost exclusively in the drops even when out of the saddle. The Bianchi compact design allowed them to build him a frame with a tall headtube and still give him a bit of clearance. It was not a design aspect based mainly on his small size but rather his preferred in the drops climbing style and desire for a frame design with pretty tall proportional headtube leading to a higher bar position while still giving him some clearance.
 

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Troy16 said:
. It was not a design aspect based mainly on his small size but rather his preferred in the drops climbing style and desire for a frame design with pretty tall proportional headtube leading to a higher bar position while still giving him some clearance.

Giving him some clearance is another way to say "because he was small."
 

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AlexCad5 said:
Giving him some clearance is another way to say "because he was small."
Nonsense. The entire reason the clearance was required was because of the unusually tall headtube design he had Bianchi build for him DIRECTLY as a result of his preferred style of climbing almost exclusively in the drops. It had NOTHING to do with him being small, medium or large in physical stature, nothing!

Had he been 6 foot tall and ridden exclusively in the drops he would have still requested that Bianchi once again build him a proportionally very tall headtube design for that frame size and once again they would have sloped the toptube for clearance not because he was small or tall but because of the requested proportional tallness of the headtube. The slope need was driven by his HT length request it had zero to do with his size as a rider. Had he climbed in a more conventional style on the tops and hoods primarily there would have been no request for an unusually long HT length on his part and no sloping TT need.

PS = the reason that Sachs hates sloping toptubes has to do with the fact that he's a lugged frame builder and his designs are limited in this sense by the lugs which are available. No one to date wants to design entire new lines of lugs to accomodate sloping toptubes. Name all the lugged builders building sloping toptube designs??????? Lets hear em all, who????????????? Lugged builders aren't building sloping TT designs with lugs and it has absolutely nothing to do with a sloping TT design being inferior to a flat TT design. Not a friggin thing and anyone who claims different is a complete 100% unmitigated Bullsheot artist extraordinaire! It has to do 100% with the lugs themselves and nothing about sloping TT's being better, worse or the same versus flat TT designs.
 

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Troy16 said:
PS = the reason that Sachs hates sloping toptubes has to do with the fact that he's a lugged frame builder and his designs are limited in this sense by the lugs which are available. No one to date wants to design entire new lines of lugs to accomodate sloping toptubes. Name all the lugged builders building sloping toptube designs??????? Lets hear em all, who????????????? Lugged builders aren't building sloping TT designs with lugs and it has absolutely nothing to do with a sloping TT design being inferior to a flat TT design. Not a friggin thing and anyone who claims different is a complete 100% unmitigated Bullsheot artist extraordinaire! It has to do 100% with the lugs themselves and nothing about sloping TT's being better, worse or the same versus flat TT designs.
Geez, don't blow a gasket...

Dazza McCulloch has a line of mini 6 lugs for frames with sloped top tubes. He builds lugged frames with them and also sells the lugs to other framebuilders.

Here's a new frame by Craig Forest Ryan (not even painted yet). using mini 6 lugs.

 

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Scooper said:
Richard Sachs on compact geometry and straight bladed forks

"Capitalism has a way of absorbing the marginal into the mainstream."
Yep. And quite well said by Mr. Sachs... that quote's a keeper.

I personally find dramatically sloping top tubes pretty pukey-looking, even beyond my dislike of them as a vehicle for bike makers to get away with providing fewer sizes (as Sachs talks about in the link). I mean geez, if I'd wanted to ride something that looks like a kiddie BMX bike, I woulda just got a BMX bike.

Now, a couple of degrees of top tube slope, like you see on a Surly LHT or Rivendell Bleriot, that's fine... it even looks kinda cool.

Sadly though, I now hear that Rivendell is going to ruin... er, change... their entire bike lineup over to heavily-sloped top tubes next year in order to (like Giant in the '90s) get away with offering fewer sizes. Ugh.

I thought Grant was into taking only the good stuff from biking history? :(

...
 

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Mike Burrows & Dave LLoyd in the UK had a lot to do with it......

Back in the late 80's.

Burrows ended up doing work for Giant.


Dave LLoyd was an ex Peter Post Raleigh squad rider who retired with a heart problem then came back in the 80's on the UK TT scene blowing all others away (well most of the time).

He was involved in the design of a bike called the "Concept 90" which was the first compact frame I saw - he sold them as bespoke frames. Hilary Stone wrote an article on it for one of the UK mags like Cycling Plus........
 

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e-RICHIE said:
here - http://youtube.com/watch?v=VFo5Ky8YE8c&feature=related

Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing
of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach
a course in anything is totally amazing!

e-RICHIE©™®
http://rscyclocross.blogspot.com
IF IT WORKS, IT’S OBSOLETE?
http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/poster.html
So I had to look up who Marshall McLuhan is/was. Then there it is "You mean my whole fallacy’s wrong?"


"We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into
the future."
 

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SystemShock said:
Sadly though, I now hear that Rivendell is going to ruin... er, change... their entire bike lineup over to heavily-sloped top tubes next year in order to (like Giant in the '90s) get away with offering fewer sizes. Ugh.

I thought Grant was into taking only the good stuff from biking history? :(

...
Fewer sizes means lower manufacturing costs & less inventory for the LBS to carry, which hopefully will translate into lower costs for consumers - making the bikes more accessible to more people. Personally, I rather like the sloping top tubes, but then I don't have as much experience or related nostalgic enlightenment as the rest of you.
 
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