I have been watching the Tour de France on television and noticed that a lot of the professionals ride bike frames one size smaller combined with what seems like a 130 or 120mm stem. Aside from being lighter, is there any advantage to this kind of set up?
Um, I would say they are riding the right size frame not a small one. Maybe for touring you want to ride a larger frame but for racing you want to ride the "right" size frame. A 120 or 130 stem places the rider in the correct position on his ride. The right size frame will place the rider in the best possible position while keeping all other variables proper, i.e., weight, rigidity, etc.
I ride a 130 to 140 stem and have been doing so for 20 years.
One thing I have noticed, albeit not scientific, is that many folks on this site ride, what I would consider, too large of a frame, i.e., folks that are 5'6-7 riding 52 or 53 cm frames, with corrisponding top tubes.
I'm 5'8" on a good day and have ridden 49-50 cm frames and the best TT for me is around 52cm, which I would throw a 130-140 stem on. Crank to saddle hieght is around 27 inches. Yes, I have a bit of a long torso but not too unusual.
I was talking to rider the other day who was around 5'6" and he was telling me about his bike collection. I immediately joked that they would be my size and would love to take them off his hands until he told me they were 53 and 54 cm.
I have always used the method of frame size that Greg Lemond adopted, which can be found in his book.
The reason whey it looks like they are riding small bikes is because many of them need the shorter head tube that a smaller bike provides. The Pro's need to get low and generally are long limbed and a normal sized bike that you or I might ride generally doesn't fit them because of this since they are generally designed with the "General Public" in mind which means a taller head tube and even most companies "Race" bikes are taller than what a Pro would need.
So they go down a size and use a longer stem and longer and more laid back seat post.
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